Tag Archives: twitter

One Writer Tells of Her Success on the Internet

Kathleen O'Keefe Kavanos, author and cancer survivor

Once again I wish to thank Nancy Burke Barr for her guest post on Facebook.  I respect both her wisdom and views on social media. Nancy has generally been patient with me, but my comments to her post resulted in a suggestion that I tone my skepticism done a notch.

I responded saying we are yin and yang on social media. Yin and yang are complementary opposites. They do not, however, represent good and evil. Yin is the shady side, and yang the sunny one. In Wikipedia the definition of the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang includes this description: “As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.”

Nancy stands in the light. She has faith in the power of social media. I stand in the shadows looking out at the social media wondering if the promise of  its  brilliance is real or perceived. I also ask whether there are more risks than benefit.  Nancy clearly lives in sunny Southern California, and I in a more pragmatic northern cline.

One area where Nancy and I occupy the same position on social media is in its networking potential. In the six months since I have began learning about social media I’ve met some good people. One of the most amazing is Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos. She is a two time cancer survivor. Kathy is also the author of a book designed to help cancer patients advocate for their successful recovery. This approachable, generous lady has achieved enormous success in only 8 months on the Internet. She has more than 5,000 followers on her FB page one and more than 3000 Twitter followers.

I present her story in two parts: the first is a discussion of the value of social media for writers, the second contains Kathy’s views on traditional vs. indie publishing.  Her posts are both encouraging and cautionary, but above all else Kathy is genuine.

Q. How long ago did you get involved in Social Media? Where did you start (eg. Twitter, FB, blogs)?  Why did you decide to use SM?

A. I got involved in Social Media after I signed a contract with my agent. He felt a social presence on the Internet was important for my book’s platform. He suggested that I set up a Web site, get on twitter, and Facebook. That was ten months ago. I now have 5,000 followers on FaceBook , over 3,000 on twitter,  and I share my blog http://survivingcancerland.blogspot.com on over 10 sites.

An author’s SM presence reflected in the book proposal’s platform is one of the most important areas at which a publishing house will look. It doesn’t matter if you have the best book in the world if you cannot tell others about it to sell it. Publishing companies are not in the publishing business to sell books. They are in it to make money. You, as an author, must show them that you have the contacts to do that.

Q. Did you find SM helpful from the start or did it take time?

A.I found it extremely helpful. I made many friends who were helpful in building contacts. I am followed on Twitter by many publishing houses. One of them contacted me to answer a questionnaire about the future of publishing. I was pleased, honored and shocked. Me, Miss Doesn’t-Know-How-To-Turn-On-A-Computer one year ago giving advice to publishing houses. I was rewarded by a free book of my choosing.

Q. What are your stats? Have they grown slowly, steadily or only recently jumped?

A. I found that they grew steadily and then started to snowball. My FB page became very lively with comments and sharing. Before I knew it I had 444 requests a day before I quickly hit my 5000 limit. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started off with a fan page and just let it “Rock ON!”

Q. How has SM helped as a writer? If you weren’t promoting the book, how has SM helped you?

A. I believe writing is a skill that improves with use.  Developing a “voice” takes time and patience. When I review old blogs I realize I may have stated things differently, although the main topics would have remained the same.

Q. How important do you view SM to the success of today’s writer?

Social Media is booming. It is easier now more than ever in the history of communication to contact and interact with people all over the world. Unless you are Dan Brown and already have a following, SM is very important.

To learn more about Kathleen O’Keefe Kavanos connect with her on Facebook Facebook PAGE II,
http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php?sk=contact#!/pages/SURVIVING-CANCERLAND-The-Psychic-Aspects-of-Healing/142803307934?ref=m. Follow her on Twitter @psychichealing.

Next time we’ll explore Kathy’s book and the publishing industry.

To read more stories of extraordinary women go to Living in the Heartland.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.

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Filed under agents, Amazon, blog, book, editors, Facebook, frustration, good read, media, networking, Pamela Ferris-Olson, publishing, social media, Twitter, voice

Is Facebook a Social Media Wunderkind?

I am most grateful to Nancy Burke Barr aka Mentor Mama for her guest post about Facebook.  I value both her wisdom and advice. A lawyer in another lifetime, Nancy clearly argues on behalf of the Internet. I am impressed by her testimony, yet the jury on social media’s value is still out for me.

I would agree with Nancy that Facebook and Twitter are utilities that help people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. Statistics demonstrate Facebook is a part of tens of millions of people’s lives. I don’t believe, however, that social media can do more than plant the seeds of ideas or draw the attention of potential clients. In my experience, social media is not all that efficient or effective in fully developing big ideas or businesses.

Twitter appears to be designed for efficiency. Messages must be kept to 140 characters. To achieve this a language of abbreviations such as RT, #FF, and tiny.urls has grown up so people are able to convey larger messages within the confines of tweets.  But, lobbing messages out in a constant stream of similar looking tweets doesn’t impress me as an effective way to do business. I expect that if I wanted to take the time to research it I could find data on how many messages must be cast into the Twitter stream before a real conversation or a potentially valuable contact is reeled in.

Facebook is more conducive for conversations. Facebook though more generous than Twitter also limits the length of a conversation. Here too there is a constant stream of conversation. The audience is much smaller, and limited to a group who are described as “friends.”

Both Twitter and Facebook provide the option to have more personal, direct conversations among specific individuals. Unless these people are online at the same time and actively involved in chatting with each, the messages may become disjointed as a result of the delay in time

Nancy likened Facebook to the Parisian cafe used by previous centuries’ literati. Facebook, she said, is a social hub available to “today’s creative elite with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.”  I would offer an alternative analogy:

Twitter is a fast moving train. A person with something to say puts their head out the window and yells.  People within hearing distance of the train, those who are following you on Twitter, hear bits of a bigger message. If they are interested they can make an effort to seek you out and hear more of the message. Keep in mind that the train you are on is full. There are passengers yelling their messages out of every window. Someone who might be interested in your message may not be along the side of the watching the train (ie. reading tweets) when you yell out, so you’ll have to keep riding the train over and over and over again in the hopes they will get your message.

My husband likened Facebook to sitting on the front stoop of your neighborhood. It’s more relaxed than Twitter. Your friends can chose when to drop by for a brief conversation. One limitation is that the Facebook community is gated. You have to invite your friends and they must accept before you can talk to each other. As in Twitter there’s an element of competition. Everyone else in the neighborhood is seated on their stoops carrying on conversations. Unless you send a direct message to a friend, you have to hope your friends will take the time to read what you have to say from the news stream. If your friends are social butterflies, you have to compete with a lot of people.

In terms of  potential, both Twitter and Facebook have merit especially when trying to reach a large audience. In terms of message content and exchange of ideas, Twitter potential is limited. Facebook’s possibilities are far greater. I don’t believe that it will ever substitute for the phone or person-to-person interactions.

Both Twitter and Facebook involve a good deal of upfront investment in order to establish a network of  friends and followers. The dynamics of social media is one of diminishing returns. From thousands of followers only one percent are likely to be people with whom you converse. Many of these are people who are simply interested in selling you something. An very small percentage of the followers will be individuals with whom you’ll be in regular contact.

I have yet to see any concrete evidence that Twitter and Facebook can produce the kind of sales that one would expect from a platform with tens of millions of users.

Social media works well for those whose business is social media. For writers, and bakers, and candlestick makers social media is tool we probably shouldn’t avoid but it is certainly not the magical grail we all expected it would be.

Next time I’ll relate some of the tips I learned in NYC about publishing. Then I plan to swing back and discuss blogs.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland

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5 in a series of 4 on Twitter! Is Twitter a Good Resource for Writers?

Okay, Okay. I did say I was done discussing Twitter. However, Mentor Mama sent me some good Twitter information written by Glyna Humm (glynahumm.com). I felt obliged to pass it on to help everyone get the most out of their Twitterland experience.

Humm offered a list of some of her favorite Twitter applications. With so many available in Twitterland – some free, some not – I think it’s helpful to have a few recommendations. I’ve added a few of my own and I end with a question.

•   Twitzu – Promote your business, special offers, promotions and events with Twitzu. [I haven’t tried Twitzu. I have not running a business and, therefore, won’t be offering promotions, etc. I’ll take Humm’s word that this is a valuable application.]

•    Social Oomph.com – This app allows you to post Tweets at a later time and date, set up direct messages to be sent to your followers, among many other things. [I’ve tried Social Oomph. There is a free version, and an upgrade for a fee. The free version is cumbersome. I prefer HootSuite. HootSuite, a free app, allows you to see your Home Feed, Direct Messages, Mentions, and Pending Tweets on a single screen. I’ve begun to appreciate this feature more and more.]

•    Twitter Alerts – Keeps track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company and anything else, via mobile devices. [I’ve never tried this app. I signed up for Google Alerts which I imagine are similar. I find the alerts annoying, probably because I don’t understand how it helps to be told that GA has come across some information I launched onto the Internet a few days back.]

•   Mr. Tweet – A personal networking assistant for Twitter. It helps identify relevant followers, recommends other users and regularly computes Twitter usage statistics. [I could see how this could be handy especially early on or to hone in on users you don’t get randomly. At this point, as I’ve said many times already, I’m happy to have all the new followers I can get, but I am not actively seeking more. There’s too much else to spend my time on. I prefer responding to each of my new followers and letting them know I am happy to engage in real conversations.]

•   Twittonary – A dictionary of Twitter terms. It provides explanations of various Twitter-related words. [I don’t see much use in this except for newbies. I rarely come across a word I don’t know. If I did I could easily get an answered by tweeting a question.]

•   Twellow – The equivalent of Twitter yellow pages. [This one I’ll have to check out. I haven’t got a clue what yellow pages for Twitter means.]

•    Just Tweet IT – Just Tweet it makes it easier for tweeters to find other tweeters with similar interests. [This too sounds like a valuable app.]

•    Twuffer – Twuffer allows the Twitter user to compose a list of future tweets and schedule their release. [This can be done with HootSuite, see my comments for SocialOomph.]

•   Twtcard – Send a greeting card, a surprise message or an invitation on Twitter. [This is another app I’ll check out if I can find the time.]

•   Twitbacks – Free twitter backgrounds. [This sounds like a nice. If I ever have time to Twitteraway, I might try this. The best background I’ve seen so far is @domovoy2007. Hers makes me laugh every time I see it. Too bad she doesn’t speak English.]

Once again, I recommend you avoid TweetSpinner.  I mentioned in an earlier post that the company doesn’t appear to be interested in customer satisfaction, and they aren’t trustworthy about refunds.

Now look at these statistics:
225 Following, 11 Followers, 1 tweet
307 Following, 33 Followers, 7 tweets
371 Following, 87 Followers, 203 tweets

I suspect these are new Twpeeps. If I was asked which one I suspect is a ‘real’ person, I wouldn’t think twice.  The other night someone new began following me. I checked their statistics. They were following nearly 1000, and had less than 10 followers and 0 tweets. Can you explain that?

Those who can understand the significance of this question know why the number of followers a person has is not necessarily a good gauge of success.

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click to Living in the Heartland video preview to see stories of inspirational women.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland

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Filed under blog, cost, good read, guarantee, Pamela Ferris-Olson, social media, statistics, success, Twitter

So What’s My Verdict on Twitter – Is It a Useful Tool for Writers?

My friend Leslie (moondustwriter.com) asked her readers earlier in May to write something in 160 characters. She challenged: “What can you do in 160 characters? A story surely not! I have titles longer than 160 characters for goodness sake.”

Leslie’s a poet, so I playfully sent her an email to ask if 160 characters had become a new form of Haiku. What writer can resist a challenge?  My response:

“Must say it 140 characters on Twitter. Leslie’s poet challenge 160. Ironic, no? Poets typically use fewer words 2 convey more meaning now want 20 more to do so!”

160 characters is a luxury one doesn’t have on Twitter. Although Twitter limits users to 140 characters, if someone wants their message retweeted (RT) they need to reduce their character limit further generally to less than 150 characters.

A good deal can be said within the confines of 140 characters. With the right message and what amounts to an Internet version of the kids’ game Telephone (where the first kid whispers a message into the ear of the kid next to him, who then whispers the message into the next kid’s ear, etc.) a writer has what appears to be a boundless audience. The caveat, as I have mentioned in my earlier posts, is that because of the massive amount of scam, spam, and garbage Tweets the likelihood that a tweet is read is small.

Assuming a tweet is read, how much value is it likely to produce for the writer? That depends on what you goal is. A writer who hopes Twitter will significantly increase sales is likely to be disappointed.  I can state unequivocally that in my first four months of using Twitter, it has resulted in an insignificant number of sales. However, some of the connections I’ve made have been worthwhile. There is a possibility down the road that some of these will become golden.

Early on, I was so focused on building my Twitter following that I had little time to attend to emails, phone calls and other, what I refer to as, old-fashioned networking. Sales plummeted. The lesson for me was that Twitter is a tool, but only ONE tool. Other tools I need to employ are Facebook, a variety of other social media platforms like Digg and Reddit, blogs, emails and more traditional means of getting the word out.

In my next post I will begin a discussion of Facebook. I have asked a SM coach to assist. However, before I end my thoughts about Twitter I want to make a disclaimer. My four posts on Twitter are based on my desire to promote a non-fiction book. I am looking for the best way to spread the word about my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. I am aiming at national distribution, and sales well beyond those commonly cited for an indie author and publisher.

I don’t think Twitter would affect sales much different if I were trying to market my book locally, I had written fiction, or the subject matter was about something other than women’s search for identity, self-esteem and happiness. What would change would be the mix of the social media and traditional tools I chose to use. Keep reading. I’ll cover these in future posts. In the meantime:

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click to Living in the Heartland video preview to see stories of inspirational women.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland

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Filed under Amazon, blog, book, cost, digital, distribution, good read, indie writer, media, Pamela Ferris-Olson, publishing, self-publishing, social media, statistics, success, Twitter

What’s Wrong with Book Stores?

Credit for this photo unknown.

Credit for this photo unknown as it was sent to me via email.

I had to take a diversion from my discussion of Twitter so I could share this photograph. It was emailed to me by a friend. I imagine there is a good chance  the picture has been Photoshopped, but whether it has or not I share it with no intention of making any negative commentary on the Chinese. Instead, I am commenting on what many writers and readers, I imagine too, have felt about book stores. In my case, as you will read in future posts, I’ve been frustrated in my attempts to get my indie published Living in the  Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories into book stores. When a writer can’t get her book into brick and mortar stores to share with readers across the country, and readers can’t find the books they want to read we ask ourselves” Am I in the ……?!”


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Social Media or Old-Fashioned Networking: Which is Right for Writers? Twitter Part 2

Just before I started writing this post I looked at my Twitter account. I had 1,621 followers, and was on 131 lists.

I began my adventure with social media by seeking the advice of a social media coach. One of the first assignments was to” follow” 50-100 new people every day.  There were many ways to accomplish this. The easiest and cheapest it seemed was to find someone on Twitter who had lots of followers. I could scroll down their list and click FOLLOW.  It was a fast way to accomplish what I had been instructed to do. Later I discovered it wasn’t an effective method.

Why do I say it’s effective? Some of the Twitter accounts turned out to be inactive. Some of the accounts were rarely used, others were OVERused. I had other issues with a stream of tweets that were scams, spams or garbage.

So, until I knew better, I would scan down a page and click FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW wherever I saw a person’s face.  I was sure that in a month I’d accumulate a follow list equivalent to the population of Rhode Island. I got giddy watching my follow list grow. However, when I took the time to think about what I was doing I asked myself: “How is this was going to help me?” I realized I could click “FOLLOW” buttons until my fingers were sore, but it wasn’t going to help me achieve my goal. It wasn’t going to make people aware of my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. What I really needed was to have people follow me. That was the only best way to be sure they’d see the messages I tweeted.

Getting followers was a more complicated proposition. Not everyone automatically followed me. My mentor suggested I use Friend or Follow, a free program that identifies who among the people you are following is not following you back.  I considered dumping everyone who wasn’t following.  I realized this wasn’t a great plan. I wasn’t sure how long it had been since  I had starting following some of these people. Unless they had an auto follow program I needed to give people time to follow me. I certainly didn’t want to unfollow someone I had just started to follow. There were also people on the list I thought would be good people to follow even if they didn’t follow me.  I decided to poke these people to see if they simply needed a poke from me before they added me to their follow list.

Of course there are programs for purchase that are designed to increase followers. Some programs target specific demographics. These programs  search for Tweet peeps who are more likely to be interested in what you are  selling. As I was in a hurry to be successful I decided that such a program would be a terrific way to build my Twitter empire. I thought I had nothing to loose by taking advantage of  free trial offers. What I discovered was that some of the programs weren’t user friendly. At least not for this newbie. I didn’t understand the social techie language, and I didn’t need help managing multiple Twitter accounts.

I dumped each program long before the trial period expired. I gave up on Tweet Spinner in less than 24 hours. I emailed the company right away to tell them I was canceling long before their five-day free trial expired. Tweet Spinner still charged my Pay Pal account for a one-year subscription. The company has refused to refund my money! I’m out $14.95. Pay Pal says I have to get a refund from Tweet Spinner, but after my first email exchange with Tweet Spinner they have stopped responding. My suggestion is don’t try any free trial offers if they ask for payment information before the trial expires! Some companies aren’t user friendly!

Adding 50-100 people a day and watching the numbers grow might be the cheapest, least time consuming way to grow a list, especially as most of those tweeps are going to follow you back. It can be addictive watching the numbers grow. BEWARE! There’s a Twitter posse. They patrol for speeders. You can commit a violation by adding too many people TOO FAST. I’ve heard it said that there is also a rule about the ratio between follows and followers. A person can’t be following too many more people than are following them. Otherwise, you could be considered a stalker. I don’t know what these numbers are, because I quickly decided that I didn’t want to play the numbers game.  Adding people for the sake of increasing numbers is in direct conflict with the NUMBER 1 rule social media gurus place on their social media “do” lists. The NUMBER ONE rule is BE REAL.

A person can’t be real if they are only interested in numbers. The number that  is important to me is my tweet count. It’s 2,217!  Those aren’t auto-generated tweets. Some guy a while back called me a conversationalist!

Here’s how I operate. When I get a notice someone is following me, I check them out. I go to their Web site. If they aren’t a bot or aren’t simply selling something I send them a personal tweet. If they tweet back we may continue our conversation.

During my introductory phase in Twitterland I spent more than an hour or more in one session working on building and pruning my list – clicking follow buttons, weeding out non-followers or people with inactive accounts, or viewing mindless tweets. Now I may spend an hour each day, but I don’t do it all at once. Much of what I do now is have conversations. I enjoy most of my time on Twitter. I’ve got special tweeps I look forward to “seeing” every day. I’ve got a tweep who talks to me in French. “Bon jour Martien. Comment ca va?” My French is tres mal, but I still look forward to talking to him. Yesterday, someone I only recently met tweeted me with a possible lead about being on public television.

There are good people out there. But in order for me to find them I had to stop playing the numbers game. I had to think about the people.  Now, I don’t even look for followers, they find me.

So what’s with Twitter? Some say Twitter is IT. Others say Twitter is already OVER. What I say is: Don’t use or abuse Twitter, it’s the people who matter. My Twitter peeps may not be contributing in any direct way to book sales, at least not yet, but I enjoy my peeps.

Find out about my new book which is the reason I write this blog at Amazon.com.

Click video preview to see the YouTube video of my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories.

My other blog is Living in the Heartland.

Click here for subscription to blog on Kindle Out of the Box Publishing Blog on Kindle

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Filed under blog, book, cost, distribution, dreams, frustration, good read, hopeful, media, Pamela Ferris-Olson, perseverance, practice, scams, social media, statistics, success, Twitter

Social Media or Old-Fashioned Networking: Which is Right for Writers? Twitter Part 1

I decided not to do any promotional work until my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories appeared on Amazon.com. As I’ve said in previous posts, I chose to independently publish my book after I’d received about two dozen ‘no thank you’ letters from agents and publishers. I thought: “How can I go wrong selling my book on America’s largest online behemoth, a retailer with nearly three times the Internet sales revenue of its nearest competitor?”

Since my book was cataloged among Amazon’s thousands upon thousands of other offerings, it seemed obvious that I needed to focus my marketing energies online. So began my social media (SM) education.

The first step was to build a SM platform. SM coaches tout the importance of starting with a foundation based upon Twitter, Facebook, and a blog. So that is what I did. Twitter was easy. Facebook required more time to set up, because  more information was requested. My blog, even though WordPress makes set up pretty simple, was even more time consuming. I admit I had plenty of frustration. For example, I had to evaluate nearly 100 layouts to choose the best layout for my Living in the Heartland blog. Then I had to figure out how to customize the banner and learn how to install and operate the widgets.

Initially, I hated Twitter. The few people who I started following seemed to have established their own clique. They tweeted predominantly among themselves. Much of what they said wasn’t interesting to me. I began to realize I was stuck in an infinitesimally small Twitter puddle. It was a small droplet in a Twitterscape where oceans of Twitter folk were chattering away. I had no idea how to swim into the deeper water. As I became more confident and competent, I was able to find new people. To my dismay many of the Tweets I received were either “words to live by”, quotes attributable to famous or anonymous people, or outright marketing.

Numerous people told me to persevere. They also told me that the number one rule on the Internet is to be genuine and build trust before trying to market anything on the Internet. My cynicism grew as I wondered about the disconnect between what I was being told were “and what people were doing. The response to my questioning the rules was always the same: give it time. In time I would see the benefits.

Being trained as a scientist I wanted evidence on which to base my hopes that Twitter was going to help me make people aware of my book. What I heard on Webinars and through Twitter were merely testimonials. Needless to say this was not a good introduction to the Internet for me. I was overwhelmed by all the SM tasks I needed to do, and wanted concrete evidence that all my hours of work building a Twitter following was going to pay off . In otherwords, show me some book sales.

The sales figures I saw that first month were UNBELIEVABLE. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There HAD to be a mistake! I could have sold more books door to door on my block!

Doubt began to flood in: Had I made the wrong decision? Should I have waited longer for a publisher; after all, I had received some handwritten letters. Maybe I shouldn’t have chosen to publish independently. Should I have sent out more manuscripts?

As you can see I’m still working with SM. I am more positive than I’ve ever been. Come back soon for the next installment. As I discuss my experience you will understand how I arrived at my answer to the question: Social Media or Old-Fashioned Networking: Which is Right for Writers?

Find out about my new book which is the reason I write this blog at Amazon.com.

Click video preview to see the YouTube video of my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories.

My other blog is Living in the Heartland.

Click here for subscription to blog on Kindle Out of the Box Publishing Blog on Kindle

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