Friday, November 28, 2014

The Mysteries of Twitter

Oh Twitter, Wherefore Art Thou?

So last year I wrote this book.

After a long life as a musician/musical theater director/voice teacher/wife/mother (and everything those last two words imply), at the encouragement of a friend I finally sat down and actually wrote an 84,000 word novel. I was a little stunned that I had done it. It had been enormously gratifying and I was happy I wrote it. It is a very strong story, based on a tragic true event. I have three kind friends who are my “readers” and they said nice things.

Since I wrote it, I wanted to see it in print and hold a copy in my hands before I died. So I knew I probably should just find a way to publish it “non-traditionally” since at my age you never know and I didn’t think I had the time or the patience for years of submissions and query letters and no doubt many rejections. I decided to use a Print On Demand company, Virtual Bookworm. Yes, I paid them some money, and they produced an attractive printed book for me. I liked the book. I had a techno-savvy teenager, son of a former voice student and good friend, help me with a photo for the cover. It’s a pretty cover. You can see it on Amazon (and while you’re there, check out my author page, and maybe consider buying a book?)

Now I wanted to let people know I’d written it so they might buy it and read it. So I started searching the Internet to find out how to publicize … excuse me, “market” my book. I immediately found what an enormous industry book publishing is. Not just publishers, mainstream and P.O.D. and vanity publishers, but there are hundreds … maybe thousands … of people who are happy to tell you how to write and market your book. Mostly for a fee. I started to feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. Fortunately, one of my readers is a published author who gave me some guidance.

Things I learned for free on the Internet: I needed a “brand.” I needed a “platform.” I’m beginning to understand what those are, and I’m not sure I really have a platform. Who wants to read books about classical musicians? Other classical musicians? Oh, yes, I’ve written and published another book and have a third one in the offing. I’m addicted. I needed to write a blog and try to find a way to get people to read my blog. I needed to set up a Twitter account. A what? A Twitter account??

The blog was a good idea; free and easy to set up and since I was now hooked on writing, fun to write. But nobody much was reading my blogs. I created a Facebook author page. I created an author page on Amazon and on Goodreads. I joined a website for indie authors (see how savvy I am becoming?) and the website owner urged me to stick with Twitter. He kind of explained about retweets. Yes, I heard him correctly: retweets.

I’ve been “tweeting” now for several months, and one thing I’ve discovered is when I tweet about my blog posts, I sometimes get more people to read them. Okay, that makes sense, and I can do that. But there’s one thing about Twitter I’m having a hard time with.

Twitter is so fickle. People “follow” and “unfollow” you on a whim. Last week I had thirty new followers and then in one day five people unfollowed me. I currently have 512 followers, not the most I’ve ever had because two days ago I had 517 followers. I have learned that following people gets you more followers, but it doesn’t mean you’ll keep those followers. I don’t get this at all. Why “unfollow” somebody you’ve just started following? I’m a nice person! Now, 517 isn’t a lot. I see people I follow who have thousands of followers. I look at those numbers in awe … 12.5 K. Wow. I also see it’s possible to buy a bunch of followers. My contact at the website I mentioned discouraged purchasing followers. So I’ve resisted. Hitting 500 followers was cool, though.

And writing tweets is not easy for me. My second book has over 133,000 words. And I’m supposed to say something that catches people’s attention in 140 CHARACTERS?? SERIOUSLY? I’ve discovered that writing more tweets seems to result in getting more followers, so to date I have written 1,303 tweets. That’s probably not a lot in the grand scheme of things. I think I set this thing up about six months ago, but I’ve only been posting more tweets since late September. That was when I wrote a blog about the Eric Frein manhunt and had nearly 800 views of that one blog. That was nifty. It was a good blog post, and I wrote a few more on the same subject, and wrapped up Eric Frein (for the present) when he was captured. 

What I want to do is somehow persuade people to read my books. When people buy one it’s great, but I have no illusions about becoming a best-selling author at this stage of my life. Besides, who reads books about classical musicans? Oh, sorry, I already said that. So when someone local stops me in the supermarket or a parking lot and tells me they borrowed my book from a friend or relative and read it and really loved it, that’s a thrill.

Oh, about the books: the first was How I Grew Up, followed by Eli’s Heart. People who have read them have said nice things about them. They are strong stories and worth reading. The third, which I hope to release in January through CreateSpace (have I said how much I love Amazon?) is You Are My Song – a novel about a classical musician, this time a tenor who strives for a career in opera. You can read more on my website:

Excuse me. I should probably post a few tweets.