How to Become a Bestselling (Romance) Author

I don’t know how to become a bestselling non-genre writer, which is what I am — a non-genre writer. (Recently a reviewer took exception to my non-genre status, giving A Spark of Heavenly Fire only two stars because she expected the novel to be romantic/suspense, an action/adventure or a good mystery. She admitted the book contained all of these elements but not enough to tag the story as such. I wanted to leave a “duh” response, but I’ve been around long enough to know that arguing with a reviewer is never a good idea.) But I do know a bit about how to beome a bestselling romance writer since I’ve studied so much of their techniques in my quest to become a bestseller myself.

First, write good story, create or have a cover designer create a compelling cover that says “buy me,” and give your book a thorough edit or get someone to do it for you. A good editing is paramount. With so many romance novels on the market, you need to be a bit better than average to stand out. (Unless, of course, you are the first person to write erotic vampire bondage books or any such novelty, then of course, you can write however you wish.)

Second, finish book two and three in the series, and give them a good editing, also. Then give away the first book in the series to as many people as possible using a Smashwords coupon. Give the book away on blogs, on FB, as a mass mailing, maybe even on Smashwords itself for a short time. Sign up for a giveaway on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and wherever else you can. But this only works after the three books are published because otherwise it doesn’t gain you much of a marketing advantage. If all the books are published and readers like the first book in a series, they will buy the others. There are too many books published now for readers to want to wait for additional books in a series, which is why more than one book in a series needs to be published if you really want the marketing push to count. If the book is professional, one of a published series, is romance and especially regency romance, and has a touch of eroticism (more than a touch is even better), that’s all you have to do. Amazon’s algorithms will do the rest. Theoretically, at least.

Although social networking is often touted as the best way of promoting books, it is slow and doesn’t really help a lot in making you a bestselling author, but it can increase awareness of your books once you become known. Also, a bit of social networking can help you find other romance writers who might promote your books if you promote theirs (such reciprocal promotions have catapulted many romance authors and thriller writers into stardom). You might even find fans who will be delighted to help spread the word about your book for a bit of swag. It’s good to have a blog or be part of a multi-author blog so your readers can keep up with you, though you don’t have to blog regularly, just once a week on a personal blog or once a month on a multi-author blog since for the most part blogging doesn’t sell books.  A Facebook presence or a Twitter account is also nice, but none of these will make you a bestselling author by themselves. Oh, sure, there are people who have made a killing using Facebook, but they are generally those who sell books about how to make a killing on Facebook. And some people play the link (spam) game, posting their book links to thousands of groups on Facebook, but since most of the people in those groups are also playing the link game, the results are variable.

In today’s book world, as much as I hate to admit it, Amazon is the key.

If you don’t have a romance series or if you do have such a series and wish to give your book an extra push, do KDP select but list the book for $.99 on free days. You don’t get as many downloads as you would if the book were free, but the book stats are figured with the regular books not the free books, and so it has a longer lasting effect.

In addition, try giveaway sites like http://readcheaply.com/, 99 cent sites like http://www.pixelofink.com/sskb/ and paid sites like http://digitalbooktoday.com/join-our-team/

This is such good advice, I wish I were interested in writing romance series!

As for A Spark of Heavenly Fire: if you’re interested in seeing if the above mentioned reviewer is correct, until November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Resume Worth Writing

For years, I’ve been doing social networking for a company on a largely volunteer basis. Recently they asked for my resume and were quite miffed when I didn’t send it. The truth is, there is nothing in that potential resume that would help them in any way — it would not affect the work I do, would not change my results, would not even give them any bragging rights if they were trying to get funding since I’m basically self-educated and self-employed.

I’m not sure what they expected to find on that resume. I’ve never set myself up as an expert in online work and promotion. Although I know how to navigate the internet, how to create blogs and profiles on networking ripplessites, even how to develop an online presence, I’m self-taught in this as with everything else in my life, and none of these skills show up anywhere in my work history.

Actually, I’ve never set myself up as an expert in anything. I am what you see. This, to me, is the beauty of the internet, especially blogging. If you are an expert in some facet of life or business, then it makes sense to splash your credentials across cyberspace, but if all you are trying to do — as I am — is to make sense of life, love, relationships, death, purpose, aging, then the only credentials you need are to live, think, write. Online, you are what you do. Your words are who you are. Whatever you are in offline life is immaterial. Failures don’t count. Clothes don’t make the man or woman. Possessions have no substance. Physical limitations disappear. A wall full of degrees doesn’t automatically make you better than the person with a high school education. If you act like an illiterate slob, then that’s who you are. If you act like a grande dame, then that, too, is who you are.

Nowhere else in the world does this sort of egalitarianism exist. I do understand that offline we need those various ways of categorizing people, though now that I think about it, they are just as unimportant offline as online. If you have a car that gets you where you need to go, does it matter what the car is or how much it costs? Outside of your job, does it matter to anyone but you what degrees you have? If your clothes keep you warm, if you enjoy wearing them, does it matter if they are brand names, off-rack, handmade, or thrift store castoffs? If other things in life are more important to you than your bank account, does it matter if you have much money or none at all?

I suppose the problem with the request for my resume is it reminded me that on paper I seem like a failure since so many of my business ventures didn’t work out, but I don’t believe in failure as something separate. It’s all part of life — the good and the bad, the financial successes and fiascos. And more to the point, where on a resume is there a place for life? I loved totally, grieved profoundly, affected many lives, laughed and cried, learned, and even in my deepest sorrow found that life was worth living. Now that’s a resume worth writing!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What to Charge for Social Networking

Someone just contacted me and asked how much I would charge to promote his books. Funny, that. Because I am so prevalent on the internet (or at least I was; recently, I’ve been curtailing my online activities), people think I know how to market, but I haven’t a clue. If I did, my books wouldn’t still be languishing in unbestsellerdom.

Spending time on the internet — researching, blogging, networking — takes so much time and expertise that there doesn’t seem money enough to charge for all the work and aggravation, and yet, considering my dismal results, any amount I’d charge would be too much.

According to my research, “the biggest factor in how much you can charge is your work experience. If you’re new to the working world, you might want to stick with $15-$40/hour. If you have five years of professional experience under your belt, transition into the $45-$75 range, and if you have more than five years experience, you can usually get away with charging $80-$100 or more.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But getting results is something else entirely. For a business, perhaps a local car repair place, any social networking is good. You find Facebook groups in the town and post occasional updates. You start your own Facebook page, and maybe promote it to people in your area. (FB can target such a localized audience.) You start a blog about car repairs, telling people the sort of thing to look for in a repair shop or giving them hints about troubleshooting and how much certain repairs should cost. You can twitter bits of car information, get people to post reviews on car sites, comment on other car sites, sign up for LinkedIn, perhaps, and try to network with people in your area. Whatever you do online helps because it keeps your name in front of people so they think of you when they need someone to work on their car.

As you can see, if you have a booksspecific business with a specific type of person you need to target, it’s a lot easier to social network than if you are trying to sell one book in a stack of millions of books similar to yours. Writers are always told to find their target audience, but the truth is, novels that go viral sell to people who have seldom bought a book before, so it’s impossible to target them. Targeting readers in your genre (especially if you don’t have a clearly defined genre as I do) is even more difficult. Readers already have piles of books they bought and want to read. They are not necessarily looking for another book to add to their backlog, so targeting such an audience, even if you know where to find it, is hard. (Except perhaps for romance readers. They seem to be voracious consumers of novels, especially titillating stories. Too bad I have no interest in romance.)

Even though I have a lot of experience in blogging and social networking, I wouldn’t hire me, that’s for sure. On the other hand, I know authors who hired an expensive publicist, and they ended up not selling enough books to pay the publicist’s bill, so the high-profile publicist didn’t get any better results than I do.

And if I did know how to get results? I still wouldn’t accept his offer. I’d be so busy banking money from my royalties, I wouldn’t have time to do his work.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Fodder For the Facebook Machine

I have a discussion group on Facebook, Suspense/Thriller Writers, that is constantly evolving because of the site’s ever-changing policies, and what was once fun, has now turned into a burden.

In the beginning, when I was new to Facebook, the groups were pretty much worthless. They were mostly discussion groups where no one discussed, but I found a way to make it work. At the time, FB had separate areas for links and promos and such. I was fine with whatever anyone wanted to post — I just wanted the discussion group. And it was a great discussion group. Each week I’d ask a different author to pose a topic, I’d email the group members, and we’d have an interesting discussion. I learned a lot from those people.

Well, Facebook couldn’t leave well enough alone. They changed the group format, and since our original groups didn’t fit in with their new format — we had too many members — they planned to get rid of all of us. Eventually enough people complained, and they let our groups remain, but they changed them completely — got rid of the discussion forum, took away the ability for Facebookgroup administrators to send messages to the group, and combined everything else into one huge mess on the wall.

Members of the group left in droves. They couldn’t stand the constant barrage of promotion. Finally, we decided to ban any sort of promotion from the wall and turn it into strictly a writing discussion group. (No publishing, formatting, or promotion questions are allowed — this is strictly a group to discuss the craft of writing.) It actually worked well. As a thank you to the members for adhering to our rules, I set up a separate event every Saturday. Well, FB decided there was something wrong with that, and took away my ability to set up events. So I set up a separate group for promotion.

All went fine for a while until FB decided to change things again. Instead of ignoring groups, they decided to promote them — and the groups with the most members got the most promotion. Sounds great, right? Wrong! Now every author on FB who has a book to promote is made aware of our group, and we’ve been inundated with new members. Members, I might add, who don’t pay attention to the group rules, which are pinned to the top of the wall for all to see. (It’s amazing to me how often someone will “like” the rules or comment about how great the no promo rule is, and then immediately post a promo. I guess people think rules apply to everyone else but them?)

I spend way too much time every day deleting promos and banning those who posted the promo link. I used to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if I didn’t ban them, they’d simply post something else. (Doesn’t anyone get the point of soocial networking? You don’t constantly beat people over the head with the links to your books. You get to know them and then let them find you.)

I realize that FB is not a public site — we are all fodder for the great FB machine, and are subject to whatever changes they deem necessary — but all these machinations are burdensome. Still, the group is worth saving. How often on the internet, and especially Facebook, do you find a group of people who help each other with the craft of writing? So I’ll just deal with the frustration and hope that eventually the gods of Facebook decide to turn their attention elsewhere.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What Works When It Comes to Book Promotion?

lbmugA new author asked me if I ever found a series of steps to take that have at least a small chance of working when it comes to book promotion.

That is a very good question, one I have been pondering for a long time. I have been doing various promos online for more than five years (I started with my blog in September 2007), and I don’t sell very many books, though my publisher assures me that ultimately I will sell many thousands of copies of each of my titles. I have come to the conclusion that promotion is what we do until luck finds us. If you don’t write erotic romances, horrifyingly violent thrillers, or vampire stories (or whatever the current fad is) that can catapult you into bestsellerdom, you will need luck to get your book discovered.  Many authors who have found success will tell you they did it on their own through hard work, but almost every time, a bit of luck played into the equation. And it’s always possible to get discovered — the media (which includes online and offline means of communication) has a fickle and roving eye, and it’s anyone’s guess where that glittering gaze will fall.

It used to be that you could do giveaways and contests to get attention, but there are tens of thousands of books being given away every day, so it’s almost as hard to give a book away now as it once was to sell it. And unless a contest somehow captures the imagination of people, they will pass on taking a chance (even if it’s a sure thing that they will win something) because they are inundated with hundreds of such promos every day.

It used to be that blogging would bring you a readership, but now blogging is so common that it is simply an expected part of being an author. Blogging can be a satisfactory and fulfilling means of writing and communicating, and it does help to create an online presence, but by itself blogging doesn’t sell books.

It used to be that MySpace was a good way to find a readership — the first authors who promoted on MySpace became instant successes, but when other authors signed up for the site by the thousands, hoping for similar results, no one paid attention to them.

It used to be that Facebook was the best place to find and connect with readers. The first authors who used Facebook to promote made a fortune. One guy became a best selling author by maxing out Facebook accounts (5000 friends is all you are allowed, so he had several accounts), and he will sell you a book telling you how he did it, but recently it came out that he also paid for reviews, so who knows what the truth of his success is. One thing I do know is that most authors are not selling tons of books via Facebook because Facebook continually changes their algorithms to keep that from happening. Where once I’d get hundreds of people seeing what I posted, I get maybe thirty now if I’m lucky. And of that thirty, maybe one or two respond. (Respond to the post, I mean.)

The first authors on Twitter, Pinterest, and all the other sites also made a name for themselves, but the rest of us? Not so much.

As for offline: authors who do book signings and festivals and such do well to a certain extent, but you have to be careful — I know several authors who sold thousands of books that way, but when it came time to figure out profits and losses, it turns out they didn’t make enough to pay for all their expenses. They’d have been better off just standing on a busy corner and giving the books away.

So, what do you do until luck comes calling? The best advice I can give you is to do three things to promote every day. It can be something as simple as signing up for Facebook if you haven’t already done so, adding a few friends if you have signed up, posting a photo on the site, or commenting on someone else’s photo. You could do a blog post on your blog or ask someone if they will let you be a guest on their blog. You can comment on the posts of other bloggers so that everyone who reads those posts will also read your words. You could sign up for Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any of the other currently popular social networking sites.

You can get bookmarks printed up with your book cover, a brief blurb, and an online address or website where people can contact you or buy your books, then pass the bookmarks out to everyone you see. You can get business cards printed up with your book cover on the front side and information on the back where they can find you and your book. You can get addicted to Vistaprint — once you are on their emailing list, you will receive sales notices, and over time you can get all sorts of great stuff such as t-shirts and mugs, stickers and posters, for free or for a nominal fee. Then give those out or offer them as incentives for people to buy your books.

You can do book signings and other events such as fairs, festivals, and craft shows. You can offer your services as a speaker.

The best promotion is one that captures people’s imaginations, so maybe one of your promos for the day could be nothing more than brainstorming with someone to come up with a totally unique idea. Or you can check out my Book Marketing Floozy blog for tips from other authors. Book Marketing Floozy is an indexed blog of sixty-five different articles by various authors about book marketing.

I don’t think it really matters what you do. Just do three things to promote your book every day.

My final suggestion — keep writing. The more books you have, the greater the chance of having sales snowball, but you also have to keep improving your craft. Just throwing out any old thing in the hopes of making it big won’t help you stand out from the crowd.

And that’s all promotion is — trying to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

Is “No Promotion” Really so Hard to Understand?

I moderate a writing discussion group on Facebook where we’ve banned any kind of promotion. The point is to develop a sense of camaraderie among members, and to share writing tips, techniques, friendship. It’s supposed to be a destination, a fun place to hang out, rather than a bulletin board with links to other sites. It’s almost impossible to get people to understand the benefits of such a group. The following correspondence I had with a Facebook Friend (now a former Facebook friend) is a graphic example. FBF joined the group on December 18, participated in a few discussions, and then sent me an interview for my interview blog.

December 20 — FBF: Did you receive my interview? I felt really good about my answers. What did you think?

December 23 — PB: Yes, I received it. Haven’t read it yet, but I did see it. I’ll read it when I format it for the site. It will be perhaps in a week.

December 23 — FBF: Yeah. You answered me on a post in the group so I already knew. I’m very excited. Thank you for doing this for me. You are amazing. Don’t let those promo people bug you. They obviously lack the social skills necessary to make friends and understand what professional respect means.

December 23 — PB: Actually, the one that bothered me the most was the guy who posted on the wall that what he hated was my whining about no promo. Before you joined, all anyone posted was promo, and some of the members rebelled. I was pleased because I’d just about decided to dismantle the whole thing. I think we’re developing a great group. Thank you for joining and for participating in our discussions.

December 23 — FBF: Your welcome. I’ve already gotten my book on two websites. An interview and two reviews in progress. And I never promoted my book once! So thank you.

December 23 — PB: See, that’s the whole point. Get to know people, and let them promote your book! And you’re welcome. I am glad to do what I can.

December 31 — PB: Hi. I posted your interview. Thank you! Sorry it took so long. Let me know if you need me to make any changes.

January 1 — FBF: It’s great. Thank you.

January 10 — FBF (in response to the question what three words describe your writing?): Comical, dialogue, needs-improvement. But that’s why I’m here.

February 8 — FBF: I posted a promo (a book trailer) on the group wall yesterday for a good writer, and it was removed. I’ve had enough. I’m outa here. [And then he used a lot of not-so-nice words.]

Will Traditional Ways of Selling Books be Effective in the Ebook Era?

I participated in a discussion with several authors the other night concerning ways of promoting our books. For once, I didn’t say much, just sat back and listened to their suggestions for getting book reviews, getting the publishing company recognized by RWA and MWA, getting their books in stores. What struck me was that these were all traditional ways of promoting books. There was not a single mention of online promotion, of alternate means of promoting.

I’m the first to admit that online promotion doesn’t sell many books if you’re an unknown, but to be honest, I never said that it did. For me, online promotion has always been about establishing an internet presence. What I know about marketing books can fit on the head of a pin and still leave room for a host of dancing angels, but I figured that once my books reached a certain critical mass of reviews, sales, and readers (fans?), momentum (via the linked nature of the internet) would cause sales to mushroom. Hasn’t happened, but that’s the theory, anyway.

On the other hand, do the traditional ways work? Or, more importantly, will the traditional ways of promotion continue to work as ebooks supplant print books? I never thought that would happen —  too many of us prefer the comfort of a print book —  but recently two bits of information made me rethink my bias. First, the day after Christmas, Barnes and Noble sold a million ebooks. Second, a recent poll found that college students don’t read books. I’m not sure all those people filling up their ebook readers are actually going to read the books they download, but the fact is, ebooks are selling.

Does it matter that our books aren’t in stores if people are going to buy ebooks? Does it matter that we don’t have offline reviews if people will have to go online to buy the books? Does it matter that we don’t have book signings if there are no print books to sign? Perhaps I’m looking too far ahead. Perhaps print books won’t disappear until long after we’re moldering in our graves, but the ebook era is approaching faster than we imagined. We need to find news ways of promoting to meet the challenge. Oddly enough, blog tours are already so prevalent as to be almost useless. But what’s beyond book signings, reviews in magazines, bookstores? What’s beyond blogging, Twittering, Facebooking? That’s what we need to be considering.

Ready or Not, Change is Coming Your Way

Most of my internet hangouts and hang-ups (meaning obstacles to smooth progress for those of you who are too young or too erudite to be familiar with the term) are going through massive changes. I checked in with MySpace (one of the aforesaid hang-ups — it never seemed to be worth the effort) and didn’t have a clue where I was or what I could or should do once I arrived. I did like some of the changes — it’s easier to find things, but the constant barrage of ads is enough to give one a headache. Still, it might have possibilities, though many long-time MySpace fans seem to be abandoning the site. They say Facebook is easier.

Facebook itself is going through major changes. Not only did they revamp the group feature, which will eventually undo everything I have accomplished on the site, it makes it virtually impossible to keep control of your identity. Anyone can add you to a group without your consent, and that means that their friends and the friends of their friends have access to your information. For me, that’s not a problem. I go by the assumption that everyone in the world will see what I post on the site, and so only post what I want people to see. So far, no one seems overly impressed.

Facebook is unveiling a new message system, which supposedly combines email, facebook messaging, instant messaging, and texting, which means you can interface with anyone, anytime, anywhere. Quite frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping track of the people I am connected to. Most of them I’ve never met, so gradually I’m checking them all, and weaning out those I would never, could never be friends with. Perhaps a page, with it’s unlimited number of potential fans, replaces the facebook profile, but so far I don’t see the point. I do have a fan page, but haven’t figured  out how to make it work for me. Maybe frequent status updates? Or even unfreqent ones?  I do know sending an update (a type of message, not a status update) does not work. No one reads them. Or at least very few. How do I know? I sent out a coupon for a free ebook and to over 1400 fans and only three people took advantage of it. Of course, that could be me — maybe none of my fans want a free ebook. In which case, I’m back to wondering why I even have a Facebook fan page.

WordPress is undergoing changes. They retired the theme I used when I set up the Second Wind Blog. Perhaps the new one will work. I’d like to add book covers to the sidebar to make it more like a website and offer visual-oriented people something to look at besides the header, and the new theme has an extra sidebar. My main problem with the change is what it portends. I did not know Wordpress retired old themes. What if they retire the theme I use for my many blogs? I always liked the color variations I created (green, blue, purple, red, orange) and I would not be pleased with a forced change. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another blog that uses this theme, which I always thought was wonderful since I could be unique. But unique means obsolete in cyberspace. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Twitter is also making changes. I like my twitter profile, and even left space for my fourth book, Light Bringer, which will be coming out in the spring of 2011, but now twitter has added more features, the main section where the tweets show up is off-center (I prefer my main reading pane to be smack-dab in the center of the screen), and my custom made screen is defunct.

The friends I’ve made online remains the best thing about the internet. I’m hoping that will never change.

Surviving Facebook

Social networking is now touted as one of the best ways for authors to promote themselves, and perhaps it’s true. If most of us primarily sell books to friends, it makes sense, and sometimes even cents, that the more friends we have, the more books we will sell. So we sign up for MySpace and Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook and start collecting friends like so many stamps. If a thousand friends are good, then two thousand are even better. If two thousand are good, then let’s aim for ten thousand.

While frantically collecting friends, we forget two things. First, social networking is about being social. It does no good to have connections if, to them, we are merely a nameless face, or worse, a faceless name. Too many people use their book cover for an icon, though it seems to me it defeats the purpose. How does one make friends with a book cover? You are, or should be, aiming for long-term relationships. You don’t have to waste your time playing games with your connections, but you can comment on their status updates and photos, you can post interesting links and notes on your profile, you can participate in discussions.

Second, we forget that these online sites, especially Facebook and Goodreads, were set up for real-life friends to interact. They were not set up for promotion.

Goodreads automatically limits your activity, so it’s hard to abuse their system, but Facebook is a different matter. Several of my friends have had their Facebook accounts disabled because of “abusive” behavior, though they were doing what we all do — making connections with strangers. I have become good friends with many of the strangers to whom I sent friend requests, so by limiting myself to people I know would have greatly limited my Facebook experience. Still, Facebook says they aspire to be an environment where people can interact safely with their friends and people they know. Accordingly, they expect accounts to reflect mainly “real-world contacts.” They do not endorse contacting strangers through unsolicited friend requests as such requests may be considered annoying or abusive.

To prevent this type of behavior, Facebook has limits in place that restrict the rate at which you can use certain features on the site. Your account can be disabled if Facebook determines that you were going too fast when sending friend requests despite being warned to slow down, or because your friend requests were being rejected at a high rate. Your account can be disabled if you send too many of the same message, post too often to other people’s profile, or indulge in repetitive, promotional activities.

The problem is that Facebook does not tell you ahead of time what their limits are, so it’s a matter of guessing.

So far, I have survived Facebook. I have over 4, 000 friends. I administer one group and co-administer three others. I send weekly group messages informing people of the featured discussion. I have a fan page. I post daily status updates, feed my blog into my profile page, post links to sites where I am a guest.

So, how did I do it?

Every day, I added ten to fifteen friends — no more. When I reached 2500 friends, I stopped sending requests. The rest of the connections came from my accepting others’ requests. At the beginning, I accepted everyone, but now that I am nearing the limit Facebook allows, I am a bit more careful whom I accept. For example, I won’t accept requests from icon-less people unless I know them personally. (Here is the dichotomy of Facebook. You are allowed 5,000 friends, who are supposed to be people you know personally, but who in the offline world has that many friends and connections?)

Although it’s one of the things marketing coaches recommend, I never thanked people for accepting my friend request. Besides emphasizing that you’re not friends, the comment can trigger a warning from Facebook, especially if you post too many similar comments in one day. You can post almost anything you want on your own profile, but you are constrained by Facebook’s unwritten rules as to what you can post on other people’s profiles.

The best thing I can tell you about surviving Facebook is this: if you get a warning, stop. Do not use Facebook for at least a week. If you don’t heed this advice, and you get another warning within that time, your account will be disabled, and all your work will be wasted.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

Tweet-y Bird

I received a direct message from someone I was following on Twitter. (Notice I said was following? Anyone who sends me junk gets unfollowed.) The message included a link to a site that promised to automate my Twitter. It will find followers for me, it will Tweet for me, and it will read the feed for me. Well, perhaps I exaggerating a bit when it comes to the last point, but the first two are true. It makes me wonder what the point of it is. Who are we tweeting to? Birds? Bugs? Bots?

Even without signing up for the various sites that purport to help me live a tweeter life, I still participate in a bit of automation. Whenever I post a blog, WordPress automatically updates Twitter, which in turn updates MySpace and LinkedIn. Perhaps I am missing the point. I do know Twitter is supposed to about real people talking in real time about real subjects, but I have yet to participate in a real conversation. Occasionally I RT (retweet) someone’s update, sometimes I remember to return a #FF (Follow Friday), but for the most part I don’t see anything I want to comment on. As I said, I could be missing the point.

I’m rethinking my social networking time. After my blog tour, I’m going to be spending way less time on the computer. (Eyestrain, anyone?) I want to go more for quality than quantity. I used to friend everyone on Facebook I could, but now I unfriend anyone who spams me. I have a particular dislike of people who arbitrarily stick me in a group in order to send me junk, because even if I delete the message, I keep getting messages as long as anyone in the group responds. Don’t get me wrong — I like getting messages that are sent to me, specifically, and I always respond. I just don’t like anonymity. (If you knew me in offline life, you would be laughing at the irony of such a statement. Offline, I am the epitome of privacy.)

I’m looking forward to taking a step back from online activities. So much of it seems counterproductive, even foolish, that I will be better off working on my poor neglected WIP. At least I will have accomplished something.

Don’t worry, though. I bet none of you will notice any difference. I’ll still be blogging three or four times a week, will keep up with my discussion groups, will respond to genuine messages.

I’ll even tweet. And if I don’t, WordPress will do it for me.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook