C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Twitter Etiquette, Book Promotion & the Narcissist Inversion

How much should authors tweet to promote our books? Buckle up, because I’m about to get a little contrarian on your brain. We are told that Twitter is a conversation and if all we do is promote our books, we deserve to be unfollowed. Agreed! Let’s be clear about that. I agree. Okay? We get it!

But…there’s always a but… it’s tough to find the balance. If all you get from an author is “BUY MY BOOK!” then, yes, absolutely, the complainers are right. That’s too much. I’m not sure how they feel about all the promotion I do of other people’s books. Maybe that’s offensive to somebody, too. Anyway, work out your own cost/benefit analysis and do that UNFOLLOW math.

Now comes the contrarian counter programming: You want me to find the balance? I’m trying.

But is your view balanced?

I’m going to turn the narcissism charge around on the accusers and usual suspects for a change.

1. One person’s sensibility isn’t everyone’s sensibility. We’re taught in school to never start a rant, argument or sentence with the words, “I think.” This programs our brains to think they aren’t subjective machines. We mistake our words for universal law. I call this “King (or Queen) of the Universe Syndrome.” K(orQ)US is a common affliction which makes the afflicted think everyone should share their opinion. For example, I’m infected right now. (The only antidote I know is to go for a walk at night and look at stars.)

2. You’re telling me what to do. I don’t like to be told what to do. I’m interested in what other people think, but I like to decide things for myself. I don’t wear a collar well — everybody gets the devil’s advocate thing — but there’s a larger point: There are no rules. It’s the Internet. The only rules are in service contracts. Etiquette changes. Etiquette is not universal. Aside from the blogs of hyper-marketing gurus and scolds, we can do what we want. It’s the Old West and that’s what we love about the Internet. You and your tin badge don’t have no jurisdiction outside of town, Sheriff.

3. Twitter is a microblogging platform. People use it in all sorts of ways: to search out new customers, to find new friends, to discover grisly pictures of weird roadkill and cute baby animals. Some use it like it’s Instant Messenger. To some, a blog; to others, a flog. There’s a lot more diversity to our choices than simply insisting that people “engage” you all the time.

4. If I’m filling up your feed, you’re the narcissist for not following enough people. My incoming tweet stream is a roaring river of information, diversity and neural input. I love that. Even the most verbose can’t dominate my stream for long because I’ve got so much input coming at me from so many cool people.

5. What’s your problem? It’s free. Twitter is free and opting into someone’s stream is free. Complaining about something you got for free is beyond the “First World Problem” category. It seems rude to me.

6. The agony I’m putting you through is voluntary and your safe word is UNFOLLOW. If you are following anyone against your will, please call the police and take jujitsu so no one can snatch your autonomy from you again.

7. Just because you’re not interested, it’s not necessarily spam. It might just mean that you’re not interested. That doesn’t make all authors spammers. That makes you a Lookie-Lou. You’re a browser who has no intent to buy. What good am I doing you? What good are you doing me? What is this “Some pigs are more equal than others” con you’re trying to pull on me?

8. You’re a delicate doily. With Netflix, PVR and DVDs, the populace is trained not to sit through commercials to get to the good stuff. We used to have to sit through ads and now we don’t. (Tangent: Have ad rates come down significantly to reflect this fact?) But Twitter is not Netflix, PVR, or DVDs. It’s live people and a bunch of them are offering you the opportunity to sample their wares and delight you for hours for less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. And it’s not killing you. Ignoring stuff is easy. The people who are delicate doilies stopped reading after the first paragraph of this post, for instance. They only read stuff they agree with. Hm. I should try that. It sounds peaceful.

9. You’re limiting my creativity. One morning I watched Kevin Smith’s Twitter feed fill up as he wrote a long treatise on art and aspiration. I loved it and couldn’t wait for the next tweet of argumentation and inspiration. However, some people complained he was filling up their feed. His answer was, “I’m expressing myself here! If you don’t want to read it, don’t.” That unfollow button is so darn handy.

Some people take a dim view of following too many people, but I think that means your interested in your world. However, if you’re really not interested in what someone has to say on Twitter and it offends you in some way, maybe you’re meant to follow only those for whom you’re a true fan. And if you’re a true narcissist (or weak-minded or insecure in your convictions) I suspect you follow no one on Twitter because this is Sparta and following is for sheep! Or some such macho BS.

10. To write, narcissism is necessary. It takes a truckload of delusion to write and allow the words outside of your house for others to read. Why should anyone care? Most won’t. Writing is a quixotic affliction. If we had a choice before birth, the smart babies would choose to be better at math so they could get a paying gig. Writers don’t choose writing. It chooses us. The crazy narcissism of expecting a readership to discover us? That’s what keeps us writing (and from stepping off that high ledge.)

11. We are all narcissists. All social media taps into the secret we keep from ourselves. We are all the stars of our own movies and the little people are waiting for our grand pronouncements. Let the extras eat after me. Deliver the pheasant under glass to my trailer.

12. I won’t miss you. I’m not into making rules for others, just the odd argument that is hopeless in the face of cultural entrenchment. However, if pressed for a rule it would be: When clicking unfollow, don’t tell anyone. “I don’t like what you’re saying, so I’m announcing to everyone that I’m leaving! I’m taking my marbles and going home!” How petty. That’s the ultimate douchey, narcissist move.

There once was a guy who was very rude to me on Twitter. I unfollowed. I never listened to his podcast again, either, but I will never name him. I’m sure he didn’t notice my absence or care. We’re both better off.

13. You’re not engaging me in conversation, either. That’s what Facebook is for. Seriously, I have noticed that the people who insist the loudest that they be “engaged” in conversation, are waiting for me to come to them. They’ve never tried to “engage” me with anything. They don’t retweet anyone. They wouldn’t pee on me if I were on fire. They are princesses, sitting on pillows, waiting to be asked so they can experience the delight of pointing their noses at the ceiling and saying no.

14. There are too many people on Twitter to have a conversation with everyone. That’s a silly, unrealistic requirement. That’s math. If you insist I engage you constantly and personally you, who’s the narcissist?

That’s the equivalent of requiring authors to go door-to-door…and…and…hey! Waitaminute! That’s the answer! I could sell my crime novels door to door! Excuse me. Gotta run.

No, before I go pound on strangers’ doors, one more:

15. Somebody I kind of like said that the only way to sell is by not selling. To me? That seems like a slap in Art’s face. Maybe that’s shame and fear masquerading as etiquette and high-mindedness. Whenever we tweet about our books, yes, we risk turning someone off. That’s focusing on the wrong end of the equation. What about all the people turned on to our books? Don’t focus on the I Hate Everything Cult. (There’s a clue. They hate everything! They only download books for free so they can crap on the dreams we are fulfilling!)

What about readers who actually enjoy reading a good book? What about your fan base, out there somewhere, searching for you? You’ve got a Twitter beacon but they can’t find you because you’re being so darn polite, you won’t risk a shout into the darkness. You don’t want to risk annoying people who don’t care about you, anyway! Grow a spine and tweet. Yes, for the love of all that’s chocolate, balance it out as best you can, but go ahead and tweet about your book without all the worry. You won’t kill anyone. And if you do, call me. I know a guy who’s good about making bodies disappear.

Does beating Twitter followers over the head with sales offers work? No. But keeping our magnificence a secret shame sure won’t do the job, either. Authors: toughen up and find your balance. Twitter etiquette fascists: for the sake of Art and your own enjoyment, ease up and toughen up. Or get out.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute, the award-winning writer and author of the world’s first bathroom/marijuana/suspense/humor book Self-help for Stoners and the twistiest, funniest crime novel Bigger Than Jesus (among other things.) 

Follow me on Twitter @rchazzchute.

Or unfollow me on Twitter @rchazzchute.

 

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Social media: Twitter Etiquette & Maybe Myths

 

Get Bigger Than Jesus

We’re told content is king, one-to-one engagement is paramount and direct messages on Twitter are rude. Maybe not. Before you swallow somebody else’s rules, we need to be careful we aren’t hiding our lights under bushels again. As the resident introvert pretending to be an extrovert, I’m not suggesting “rules” here. I’m suggesting not all rules are for everybody all the time. Question the rules and let’s rethink what’s rude when you’re on Twitter. Let’s examine the self-appointed arbiters’ assumptions about marketing manners with some Maybe Myths. I may not change your mind with this contrarian post, but I’ll be happy you made up your own mind.

Maybe Myth 1: Content is king.

Sin: Last week I promoted more authors than ever through Twitter. In return, they promoted my new books, Bigger Than Jesus and The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. The Tweet Teams at World Literary Cafe and me friends at Triberr helped sell books. It’s a tricky balance, figuring out how much to tweet, how much to retweet and how much to engage. I thought I was risking my follower count by tweeting a drumbeat of, “Buy my book! Buy these books!” I promoted others more than myself, but it was still a big stack of book flogging. It was, you might well argue, what many people object to when they think of desperate authors trying to get attention and yell past the ambient sound.

Redemption: Or, if you think of it differently, it’s helping out and giving more people more opportunities to discover cheap entertainment they might otherwise have missed. Silence or too much self-conscious inhibition would not have connected with people or moved any books. Besides, my numbers of Twitter followers increased with this promotional campaign. No, don’t harangue anyone, but don’t be so shy, either. Be proud. Assert. Declare. Let yourself be known.

Maybe Myth 2: Engagement is queen. 

Sin: You can’t get more followers, and you don’t deserve more followers, unless you engage with people. “Twitter is a conversation,” the gurus say. I think that’s often right, but what I did last week wasn’t much of a conversation. The signal went out, not back and forth.

Redemption: I want to be clear: I remember my pleases and my thank yous. I do engage with people on Twitter a few times a day. I’ll respond to a question or a comment here and there. However, I follow 2,000 interesting people on just one of three Twitter accounts. How much real engagement is logistically or reasonably possible to expect?

Before you answer, “So follow fewer people”, nope! I follow a lot of people for all that great neural input. Information and joke tweets stimulate my brain and I want to keep my brain stimulated. I value their tweets and all that fresh data.

3. Maybe Myth 3: Everyone’s a delicate little princess.

Sin: Some people object to auto-tweets welcoming new followers because they think direct messages to strangers are rude and bot tweets suck. (Who handed down that law to begin with, anyway?)

Redemption: I’d argue that if you follow somebody, it indicates a good faith act that you don’t want to be just strangers. You might not have them over for a barbecue yet, but the condemnation of a friendly, welcoming auto-tweet with a little more about me, my website and my book babies seems a wild overreaction. Please  don’t go to Defcon 1 and condemn one auto-tweet with the same vehemence as world hunger or skinning live puppies.

Some people complain welcoming auto-tweets are annoying. I think that’s a very vocal minority, probably the same subset of people who insist on validating Twitter accounts. I don’t do that, either. I tried it and it was cumbersome and if somebody’s that stiff and vituperative about a simple follow, they probably aren’t my crowd. I’ve had followers thankme for letting them know I have books (of Doom!) and podcasts (of Doom!) that they may want to check out. One person’s spam is another person’s tasty meat product in a can.

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.

More about the auto-tweet debate: Consider the case of Claude Bouchard, a brilliant author, who uses Twitter very effectively. I know this because his following is closing in on 273,000 people. Um. Wow. In a recent post, How I Really Got a 1/4 million Twitter Followers, he explained that he takes a few minutes each day to unfollow the people who don’t climb aboard his party boat to make room for people who get him. Click that blog post link for more information on his strategy and thinking. I would not presume to summarize it here. (You could also set TweetAdder to take care of unfollows and other tasks automatically, though Mr. Bouchard doesn’t trust such bots and does it manually.)

I read someone condemn the welcoming tweet idea as useless. My answer: Do you have half as many Twitter followers? Have you sold as many books? Then maybe Mr. Bouchard has something to teach, not learn. I’m glad I ran across his post.

Think you’ve heard it all? I’ve watched a couple of people on Twitter castigate someone who dared to hit “reply” to one of their tweets. These dicks, a couple of celebs so minor as to be nearly microscopic, took the minimalist  approach to Twitter engagement and made up a new rule: How dare you speak to someone you don’t even know? (Answer: um, so we might get to know each other?) For these guys, Twitter is a place for everyone to sit quietly while they talked. I think applause was allowed, as long as it was quiet golf green applause. You can monologue on podcasts, but when people declare that Twitter is only for people who already know each other? Really? Isn’t that what email is for? Unfollowed.

To the vocal minority: I make free podcasts, free blog posts (that are usually wittier, far less cranky and more fun than this one), cheap but pretty damn awesome books and give friendly-but-not-needy engagement to my Twitter friends. That ought to suffice, shouldn’t it? Sorry if I annoyed you last week, but if it did annoy you, apparently you were a small group and, respectfully, I hope you unfollowed so I won’t bother you further. I don’t want to bother anyone. Let’s just keep things in perspective. Twitter is free and you don’t have to listen to anyone you don’t want to listen to. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You no like? Unfollow. Don’t tell me you’re unfollowing. Just do it, no hard feelings. Not everybody likes mocha coffee. Crazy, but true.

What some people call spam, others thank you for. I fractured the royal rules and made them into Maybe Myths, gained more Twitter followers, helped a bunch of readers and writers connect, and sold some books. And not just my books, either. Maybe the Internet scolds need to reconsider the accepted dogma. I’m going to continue to let people know about my books as they keep coming. Lots of people seem to appreciate that. Those who do board my party boat and go for a fun fiction cruise with me have no idea how grateful I am for their enthusiasm and support.

Truly. Thank you.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , ,

#Twitter mistakes (Sorry, I didn’t mean to break your crazy rules)

Free twitter bar

Image via Wikipedia

You know what I learned from 20 Reasons People Unfollow You On Twitter? I learned people can be really cranky about why they dump you from Twitter. And yes, I’m guilty of some of these offences.

Meanwhile, Rachelle Gardner, literary agent extraordinaire, offers A Few Hints on Twitter. And yes, I’m guilty of messing up my manners in some regard according to these standards as well.

My God! I’m a Twitter monster!

Filed under: Twitter, , , , , , ,

Twitter Etiquette

I recently had to unfollow someone on Twitter, and it wasn’t because the information they were linking was bad. The problem was there was way too much of it.

Do not post too often.

I post in spasms of joy when I can, but I try to hold back from doing too much at one time. People love me in small doses. That’s the same way I love people. Some robots on Twitter are relentless and–even if they’re providing some solid links–too much at once pollutes your Tweet Deck and feels like spam. Don’t stand for spam. Don’t sit down and allow yourself to be force-fed spam, either.

BONUS:

Twitter is a conversation. You can talk. You have to listen, as well.

Filed under: Social Media, Twitter, ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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Brain Spasms a la Twitter

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