Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ruling Your Roost: Twitter Tips

I love Twitter. Out of all the social media sites, Twitter is my favorite. Mainly because it is quick and easy once you get the hang of it.  If you are an author who wants to use Twitter successfully, I suggest you read Ben Wallace's Twitter guide, Giving the Bird. It is a short, informative and very entertaining. Even if you weren't planning to use Twitter, the book would be a fun read.

I have been on Twitter for over a year and I was clueless when I set up my account. I did pursue learning as much as I could about Twitter. I've met some terrific people via Twitter. Recently, all the books I've purchased have been due to tweets by the authors that contain a tidbit about the book, character quotes or reviewer comment. Just a few words that made me decide to click the link included.

Below are some basic tips for making the most of Twitter and some pitfalls to avoid.

Set up your Twitter account in your writing name. Remember Twitter is part of your platform and every leg of the platform needs to be in your writing name.

Be sure you put a photo of yourself or your cover on Twitter. Do not be an egghead.

Have fun with your bio. Update it often. It needs to gain you followers.

The pound sign, #, is called a hashtag on Twitter. It serves two purposes. A hashtag groups tweets. If you go to Search at Twitter, put in #amwriting, the search engine will pull up all the tweets using that hashtag. The other purpose of hashtags is adding a personal touch to the tweet, this kind of hashtag can be part of your brand. It is all written as one word. #likethis

The @ sign is used when you want to mention a follower in your tweet. It will also go to their "mentions" feed at Connect on Twitter.

There are 2 types of Tweets you should use: Content Tweets and Promotional tweets. Content tweets don't contain links.  Promotional tweets do.

Retweets: A retweet by you will go to all your followers. Choose wisely.

If someone retweets you, your tweet will go to all their followers. This is a great way for you and your tweet to be noticed by new people. With one click, they can check out your profile page.

Make sure some of your tweets are worthy of a retweet.


This means do not do promotional tweet after tweet with promotional links. If you constantly do tweets with your links, you can be reported for spam and your account inactivated. Plus, everyone hates spam. #donotspam

There are writers who clog tweet streams with promo about their books despite there being fifty million articles out there on #donotspam. @RachelintheOC of Bad Redhead Media has some good advice on how not to alienate your followers in an article: Please: Do Not Spam Another Link Until You Read This

Limit your self-promo tweets and spread them out over a 24 hr period. Sometimes, I only do one a day. Today I did none.  You should have more content tweets. Plus you should be interacting with your followers, responding to their tweets, and retweeting their promo/content tweets when you see fit. #youwillbelovedandretweeted

Just as bad as spam is the constant stream of "my daily life" tweets. Like every five minutes:  "I'm taking my dog to the vet."  "We are at the vet's office." "We are sitting in the vet's lobby."

I hate these the most and I wonder how some people ever manage to get anything done when they tweet every few minutes. Do these tweets sparingly and try to brand them or make them entertaining. #sameaspromo. Remember, unless you are Lady GaGa, these tweets are going to be ignored and they won't get you on lists or retweeted. Why would anyone retweet that you are picking up your kid from school to their followers?  Why would anyone put you on a list?

Lists. The godsend of Twitter. As you follow more people, your tweet stream will be moving with the speed of light. Create lists and put select followers on that list.  I have around 20 lists right now. I put my peeps that  that have great tweets on lists. These are the people I retweet to my followers. The tweet stream of 10 people on a specific list is preferable to over a thousand on your main stream. I also have lists for movies, Southern living, etc where I put business sites that I follow and  retweet.

Back to spam and personal tweets every three minutes, if you do this you will clog up a list. That means when I open my list, all I will see is your tweets. The first thing I will do is remove you from the list. You are back in the main tweet feed where your annoying tweets are lost among hundreds. #getthepicture

Direct Message:  DM. #verytricky. I never DM any of my followers unless I have something specific to ask them. I never send a link in a DM. I never open any links in a DM regardless. If your Twitter account is hacked, direct messages containing a dumb message like "You should hear what blah blah is saying about you" and including a link will be sent to all your followers. Never open that link.

Some people on Twitter send automated DMs to thank you for following them and sometimes they will include a link to their website but I never open them. I also don't send automated DMs.

I use Hootsuite, a program that allows you to schedule tweets. I have had tweets posting while I've been writing this. Hootsuite will also post to Twitter and Facebook for you. Tweetdeck is another free program you can download. I've used it as well but prefer Hootsuite. I found it easier to organize.

Twitter ratio. Until you are following 2000 people, you don't have a problem on Twitter. However, once you reach 2000, you cannot follow any more people unless you have balanced ratio of followers. Say you are following 2100 people and you have 2000 followers, that is okay. So, if you don't have the required ratio, you need to dump "dead wood" as time passes. This means get rid of those you have followed who have not followed you back. I do this weekly now that I have over a thousand followers. I use Manageflitter to unfollow accounts who are not following me or inactive accounts so I keep my ratio within the right limit and I can continue to follow back my new followers.

Hope to see you on Twitter!  Follow me @pat_preston and I will follow back. #luvnewtweeps

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Laid To Rest

This is the introduction to the story I've just finished, "Laid to Rest." It has been in the making for a long time and some of you may remember Richie, Tommy Ray and Darlene from previous posts last year. The story stalled on me for a long time until it finally dawned on me to make it Darlene's story.  Then, it flowed. Maybe because I just love Darlene and her attitude. The story will be part of my Down Home Humor series and published in June.

On a pleasant summer night in 1957, the womanizing mayor of Clayburn, Mississippi, Clifford Earl Stroud, the Third, died the way no married man wants to die.
This surprising calamity changed the lives of  Darlene Higginbottom, who had dreams of Hollywood as well as Richie Underwood, an unemployed service station attendant with a talent for playing the fiddle. And Tommy Ray Petty, whose daddy had stared at Tommy the day he was born and said, "Damn, this boy looks stupid. Are you sure he’s mine?"
Now, in Darlene’s own words, here is the story of what really happened that fateful night when she took the mayor for a ride in more ways than one. . .

          You can read other six sentence snippets here  or check hashtag #sixsunday
Thanks for stopping by and your comments are appreciated!   Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sweet Sat Sample: Almost An Outlaw

I'm home this Saturday and decided to share a sample from my  novella, Almost An Outlaw, set during the week of Jesse James's wedding in 1874.  This sample opens with Austin in a barber's chair, just after his arrival in Liberty, he has been thinking back about Darcy, whom he has just seen. This scene introduces one of my favorite secondary characters, Doss Hannon.

The image of Darcy’s pretty face vanished when the door to the barbershop slammed shut. Austin opened his eyes to see a familiar man with a no-nonsense face and sharp blue eyes glaring at him. A silver star hung on the chest of his buckskin coat. Marshal Doss Hannon turned to the barber. “Charlie, finish up and take a break.
 Charlie did just that. He handed Austin a towel to wipe the fresh-smelling soap from his face and raced out of the shop, leaving the two men alone.
Doss flipped the sign on the door to Closed, and Austin sat up in the barber chair. To him, Doss Hannon had always appeared larger than life. The marshal, who had fallen in love with his widowed mother, was the closest thing to a father Austin had ever known. Doss was like a tough old fortress that had survived years of battle and somehow attained nobility in its triumph. He took off his tan hat and smoothed back his white hair. Doss didn’t bother with any pleasantries. “Suppose I oughta let you come down to the jailhouse and pick yourself out a cell?”
Austin tossed aside the towel. “I didn’t come back here looking for trouble.”
“Then how come you told two Pinkerton agents you’d gut them and hang them with their own entrails?”
“I gave you my word I would stay on the right side of the law and I keep my word. You know that.”
Doss studied him for a moment. “It’s your loyalty that troubles me. You are loyal to the Boys and they are a lost cause. Sooner or later, their luck will run out.”
“I haven’t come back to join up with the James-Younger gang if that’s what you think.”
“There’s an opening,” Doss responded. “Pinks killed John Younger a few weeks back. You hear ’bout that?”
“Saw it in the newspaper.”
“Yep. The Boys are in all the newspapers. They’re making a name for themselves.” Doss shook his head. “You know fame can seduce a man to thinking he’s more than he really is.”
Check out more samples at http://sweetsatsample.wordpress.com/ 
You can read more about Almost An Outlaw on my website:  Here

Have a safe holiday weekend! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Having the Best Time Ever!

One of the sections in David Gaughran’s terrific book, LET’S GET DIGITAL, is entitled “It’s a Great Time to Be a Writer.” I agree. In fact, I don’t know of a better time to be writing than now.

Writers have more choices available to them and more opportunity to reach readers than ever before. The Digital Renaissance is here, giving authors unprecedented access to a global audience. Writers can follow their own path in this new wonderland. They can continue on the traditional route. They blaze a new trail as an Indy author. Alternatively, they can do both. Writers with out-of-print books have the chance to share their stories with a new generation and authors with stories that don’t “fit a publisher’s needs” no longer have to bury their books in a drawer.

The Digital Renaissance comes with change. I once bought music CD’s regularly. Now, I stream in music instead. I once went to the video store to rent movies. Now, I use my Roku box to rent from the comfort of my recliner.  I made trips to the bookstores. Whenever I was in a store like K Mart, I’d always stop and look even though there wasn’t a lot of authors to choose from. Now, I have made the transition to e-reader and the last few books I bought have been ones by authors I met on Twitter. A couple of years ago, I would have never even imagined that. Times have changed and so have my shopping habits.

This change in how people buy stories and the affordability of e-publishing means I get to write some fun stories that would have never found an audience because there was no print market for them. It has been a turning point for me as a writer, and I will blog more about that in the coming weeks.

For now, I’m having a great time. I laugh when I write. Sometimes, I get up and dance. How about you? How has the Digital Renaissance changed your life?  And to read more about the Digital Renaissance, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog post, The Age of the Artist.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Winner is Kate Warren

Congratulations to Kate Warren, whose name was picked out of the hat, for the free Ever After dvd!

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday May 6 & Giveaway!

"The Yard Sale" features a Prince Charming so, maybe, it is a little bit of a Cinderella story. It features a desperate heroine and a handsome honorable guy, who saves her. More or less.

This is a short snippet from "The Yard Sale" featuring the main character, Jennifer, and the arrival of Gabriel, aka Prince Charming.

As I entered the garage, the drum case in my arms, I noticed a man walking down my driveway. Now, there had been a lot of men come to the sale but there was something different about this one. For one thing, he was the best-looking guy who had shown up. He was tall, dark-haired, and carried himself well. Dressed in black slacks and a striped dress shirt, he was the kind of guy you’d expect to meet at the country club or in court.

What was he doing at a yard sale? 

"The Yard Sale" is a cute short story, a best seller in comedy. Check it out on Amazon: Here

Plus, to read snippets from other writers, go to www.sixsunday.com

Also, I'm doing a little giveaway to celebrate the story's success. If you would like to win the movie DVD, Ever After, which is my favorite version of the Cinderella story, please leave a comment. All names will be put in a hat and a winner drawn on Tuesday.    

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample: The Yard Sale

This sample is from my new short story, "The Yard Sale", available now on Amazon.  It made Amazon's Top 100 Best Sellers list in comedy.  

Jennifer Riley's yard sale changes her life as she meets a host of characters from Early Birds to Prince Charming.

This little clip features the arrival of the Pack Rats at Jennifer's yard sale. Gale and Buddy are helping Jennifer with her first yard sale and the story features the different types of shoppers who go to yard sales. Gail has all of them aptly nicknamed.

“Buddy!” Gail yelled. “What the hell did you blow up?”

“I didn’t blow up nothing.” He used a power driver on the karaoke machine. “That was the Jeters’ van.”

An old white van, with round headlights and dents in its rusty body, shuddered as it stopped by the curb. The van backfired again before the driver shut off the engine. I pressed my fingers against my ringing ears. “Who is that?”

“The Pack Rats.”

The van doors creaked as a family emerged. A tall bony man, his clothes drooping on his thin frame, and a muscular woman with a round face got out first. Three scruffy boys in faded jeans and torn shirts emerged from the rear of the van accompanied by an elderly female, presumably their grandmother, who wore a gathered skirt with ankle socks. The two women carried tattered shopping totes from Sears.

“The Jeters spend the summer going to yard sales and buying junk. God only knows what they do with all of it,” Gail explained.

I greeted the Pack Rats with a smile. “If you need any help, let me know.”

The boys were instantly bored because I didn’t have any toys for sale, and they started shoving each other around. 

“Boys,” their mother scolded them. “If y’all gonna fight, git out there in the yard. Right now.”  

They took off for the shade under the cottonwood tree where the fighting commenced. Fists and feet were flying as they kicked and hit one another. They slugged it out on the ground and tried to choke each other. 

While they were pounding away, I whispered to Gail, “Shouldn’t we do something? Try to stop them?”

“Are you kidding? They could whip us like nothing.”

To go to the Amazon page for "The Yard Sale" click http://amzn.to/Jmog8Z

or go to my webpage: www.patriciaannpreston.com

Thanks for stopping by!  Check out other authors and read their samples at http://sweetsatsample.wordpress.com/   You may find some great reads!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Best News Ever!

"The Yard Sale" is #1 on Amazon's Best Sellers in Comedy!  YAY!