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Jumping up and down, screaming "Look at me!" (or; the ideal frequency for tweeting, revealed!)

Hey, sorry I've not posted one of these for a few weeks - I've been immersed in a new book, and barely paying attention to things like blogging, tweeting and Facebook. Which is kinda the point of this blog, actually.

Writing is a business, and businesses need to do a number of things, which you could summarise as producing and refining a product, promoting it, distributing it to point of sale, and accounting for the proceeds.

When we contract to a publisher, we are entrusting large parts of the process into the hands of that publisher: refining the product, most of the promotion, all of the distribution, and much of the accounting. The book goes from being a personal daydream, to a joint project being run by a multinational corporation. That multinational stills expects us to do our bit to raise awareness of our product, which is fair enough. They like us to attend what school visits, literary events and similar gigs we reasonably can; and to establish a website and use social media.

Some writers do this amazingly well. Go onto Twitter and check out people like Chuck Wendig, Laini Taylor, Joe Abercrombie, and New Zealand's own Rachael Craw, and you'll see people owning that space - they tweet frequently, lucidly, and entertainingly. They're using social media to connect with readers and create buzz. It's time-consuming, and requires great social awareness, wit and skill to be entertaining without a slip of judgement ruining everything. Respect.

Other writers completely own the school visit market. Why? Because they put on a great show! The kids love them, the teachers love them. There are writers whose income from school visits is a high percentage of their overall income. Traditionally schools pay a fee plus costs for the writer's visit, but those who get a lot of those visits are those with the reputation as a performer.

MOST writers though, myself included, don't operate like that. We might be articulate speakers and presenters, but we're not born showmen. We can make the odd witty tweet, but we're not capable of sustaining the cut-and-thrust banter of social media for hours at a time. However that doesn't mean our books don't sell! Not all people buy books based on social media buzz. Many don't follow social media at all. And school visits are a labour-intensive and narrow marketing approach.

Online, various "experts" advise writers to spend x% of our time on social media if we are to succeed; while others will say that social media is not worth the effort, and that 100% of our time should go on writing. That school of thought says that standard marketing, getting good reviews, getting your product out through traditional channels, is still the best way to go. I don't know which is right: both theories have merit, and flaws.

After a lot of thought, my personal approach is this: I'm best to concentrate on the thing I'm best at, and let the professionals I work with - in this case my publisher - do the heavy lifting on the other stuff.

So, I'll tweet a little, I'll blog a little, and if school visits, or opportunities to attend events like Storylines come up, then if it makes sense cost wise, and I've got the time, yeah, I'll give it a go. I've got a 'contact me' on my website for fan-mail and get a steady stream which I always reply to and why wouldn’t I, it's lovely to connect with readers. This approach feels comfortable for me, and lets me get on with the writing.

If I was self-published, and responsible for all my own promotion work, I'd need a new plan, of course. At the moment though, I do have a publisher, and the luxury of doing things my own way. Fingers crossed that continues! For now, I'm happy to concentrate on what it is that I do best, and gently feel my way through the rest of the self-promotion, "Look at me!" stuff.

So the ideal frequency for tweeting is... as often as you feel like it.

See you next time!


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