Sunday, 9 March 2014


Time to talk about authors using Twitter. I have no friendly advice for you. Other blog post titles were available.
   The less said about those the better. (And you, madam. Nay, I say unto ye. Thrice nay. Etc.)
   Twitter is a micro-blogging site, limiting users to messages of no more than 140 characters. Reach the world. Here's how to use Twitter if you are an author...
   (There will be swearing.)


1. Don't use 140 characters to plug your work in the manner of a B-52 carpet-bombing vast tracts of land.
   (Okay, you are allowed to do that last one. Twice. Never on the same day. Unless using a photo of a tiger.)

2. For fuck's sake don't constantly tell me you are a bestselling Kindle author. I'm a bestselling Kindle author. Secret of my success? I held a sale. The book was free. It roared to the upper reaches of the steampunk charts when no one was purchasing anything else.
   On the back of a few money-free sales in a niche market, conducted at a heathenish hour of the night, Amazon upgraded me to bestseller status.
   So don't constantly tell me you are a bestselling Kindle author. Quit that shit. Remove it from your evil plan. Have a better evil plan.

3. Do not engineer your Twitter site to read ZERO. No followers. Hasn't sent a single message yet. No one following. And you call yourself an author in the profile.
   I'd rather vomit breakfast than deal with your strange drama. And I don't eat breakfast.

4. See point 3.

5. If you must automate your messages with all the subtlety of a clown throwing napalm on a barbecue, get the fuck off Twitter. You've missed the fucking point. And I am here to tell you that you've missed the fucking point.
   I've toned the fucking swearing down for this blog.
   You might as well automate your entire life and pay robots to inject you with a coffee-substitute made from the tears of endangered creatures. Fuck, no!
   (Pay your robots in cogs and gears.)
   I understand the convenience of automation. These days, I blog a week or two ahead. Blogger sends my posts into the wilds around midnight-thirty on a Sunday morn. (Caledonian time.)
   And so I must comprehend the convenience of automated Tweetery. This has its place. Not at a barbecue. And certainly not spread like a batch of napalm at said barbecue.
   Carpet-bombing your needy book-flogging Tweets is bad enough. Don't magnify the problem by means of saturation automation. Remind the world, and yourself, that you are human.

6. Do not use the TrueTwit Validation service. What is that? It's a service you should not use. CHLAMYDIA. You don't want CHLAMYDIA.

7. Be yourself. Even if you are a grumpy fucker. Some people say don't swear on Twitter. Is that good advice? Fuck knows.

8. Embrace banality. Twitter, for authors, isn't about carpet-bombing the great and glorious news that we're invited to like your page on Facebook.
   (Do not get me started on the topic of Facebook. HERE'S A BLOG POST ABOUT THAT.)
   Banality is vital. Having a coffee? Tell the world. What? That's beneath you? Embrace banality. My Twitter feed contains notes on the time that dinosaur passed my window. I was drinking coffee, as I recall.

9. See point 3.

10. Mention your work. Yes, I still plug my books on Twitter. I also plug books by other writers. Someone puts up a photo of a landscape, hell, I'll Tweet that.
   If someone puts up a painting of Hell, hell, I'll Tweet that too. Mention your work. Don't just mention your work and yours alone.

11. Use Manage Flitter to tidy your followers. By that, I mean execute a few at dawn. Don't be obsessed by statistics. I'll Tweet a message generated by the service, but I'll tailor it. Because I can.
   It's hard to throw in a witty aside using the eight characters you're left with after the service is done advertising itself. But hard is not impossible.
   I follow 55 people who do not Tweet in Klingon.
   I follow 928 chatty bastards who Tweet more than 5 times/day.
   Manage Flitter is but one example. Hunt around for free Twitter-based services that help manage the Twitterverse.

12. Yes, Twitter is banal. And you may remove the letter b from that last sentence.
   Twitter is also funny. Don't lose your sense of humour in there. Regain it.

13. If you want to start a war with someone, go within shooting distance. Twitter is not the place for that. There is no armistice in a Twitter war.
   I've seen people get that way over reviews. You are an author. It's your job to write stories. Having a lot of free time on your hands and the ability to wage war on Twitter earns you no medals. The same goes for haunting review sites.

14. Did you click the link to read my comment about Facebook? That blog post is on sock puppetry. You can have more than one Twitter account. Personal. Business. Other business. That's okay. Don't wear socks and play out scenes, though.

TWITTER ME: Loving your book.
OTHER TWITTER ME: Crawler. But thanks anyway. LOL.


TWITTER ME: Someone hasn't a clue.

OTHER TWITTER ME: Hey. We're supposed to be plugging our book.

ANOTHER TWITTER ME: Loving your book.

15. If you are going to plug your book, mention it without endlessly linking to it. Constant links in Tweets may throw you into the spammer category.

16. I said just be yourself. But not if you are a spammer. Change. We don't want or need Rolex, Female Viagra, or non-existent Swiss millions that used to belong to Sani Abacha.

17. Don't judge. (Exception. Spammers. And other exceptions.)

18. Judge.

19. No, don't judge followers who post things you aren't quite into. Yes, judge people with ZERO accounts. (Go back and read the third point.)
   If you are using Twitter to reach an audience, then reach. You will alienate people in being your grumpy fucker self. But you'll find other audiences.
   Those audience-members will not have ZERO accounts.

20. Twitter isn't about writing novels, unless you are writing novels on Twitter. (Good luck with that.)

21. There's a lot of advice out there about using Twitter if you are an author. See what works for you. Don't eat the yellow snow. Or the brown snow. Red snow, I wouldn't recommend. Sickly green snow is right out. That glowing orange snow can't be good for you.

22. A Direct Message that reads people are saying awful things about you, with a link, is an invitation to allow hacking of your account. If I receive a message like that from you, it means your account was hacked. It doesn't mean I'm going to let mine be.

23. See point 3. AND YOU PUT AUTHOR IN YOUR PROFILE. AUTHOR. OF WHAT?! I have books on sale at Amazon. You won't even Tweet.
   Incidentally, how can you follow me if you are showing no followers? Don't answer. I care not. The answer is probably related to spam.
   People in the process of writing books can still call themselves authors, even though unpublished. But people who place AUTHOR in a ZERO-RATED Twitter account deserve (deleted for reasons of taste and decency) - which is just about worth the jail-term.

24. Don't Tweet under unusual circumstances. Drunk, say, or performing brain surgery. Performing drunken brain surgery whilst driving along a beach. That one foolish Tweet might tip you over the edge.

25. Did I mention point 3?

26. I follow back. Three words guaranteed to piss everyone off once they see you follow 101 people, though, mysteriously, you have 10,000 followers yourself.
   Just put FUCKING LIAR in your Twitter profile instead. Save us the bother.

27. Snapshot. I'm staring at my Twitter. Right now, I'm following a whole bunch of people. And there are slightly more people following me than there are being followed by me - to the tune of nearly 200.
   Why? I cut the spam accounts out - but spammer bots aren't quick to cut me out in return. Also, I suspect a few people died and their accounts linger. They follow me for eternity.

28. Category snapshot. There are eight people not following me back. Mostly, those are organisations. Organisations don't traditionally follow everyone back.
   As an author, I can't recommend that attitude. The basic form of audience engagement on Twitter rests on trying to follow a crowd following you. In some digital merry-go-round.
   Don't be obsessed by stats. But try to show willing. Twitter runs restrictions to deflect spammers, so after a wee while you hit a limit...
   If you follow no one and have a million followers, you reached that point by curious paths.

29. Another snapshot. I follow 0 people with no profile picture. If you don't have an image, Twitter shows an egg. I have no problem with that, and I have followed eggs in the past...
   (Usually downhill, at Easter. Uphill, that one time. Let us speak not of this gravity-defying miracle.)
   However, Twitter eggs seem more likely to be spammers or inactive. So I culled the eggs from my Twitter basket for other reasons - nothing to do with the look. Twitter is about the text you send, not the egg. I'm sure I'll follow more eggs at some point.

30. Snapshot. I follow 57 people who don't Tweet in English. Not strictly true - they do Tweet in English. And they are delightful people. They follow me back and they are active. Being active brings me to...

31. Another service snapshot. I follow eighteen people who haven't posted in 30 days. They've stopped using Twitter. Illness or another event took over. Maybe death resulted.
   Of those eighteen, I'd say five are going to stay part of my Twitter no matter what.
   Using Manage Flitter, this is the category in which the ZERO-RATED accounts show up. A point which leads to...

32. Twitter Whoring. Mass-follow people. Click, click, click. Go for it. Don't follow more than your service can handle. Manage Flitter allows up to 300 executions per day.
   I Twitter Whored my way through 300 horrorists one night. Best result I ever had on Twitter. More than half of them followed me back almost immediately. I was stunned.
   Did I build a horror audience? Well, I haven't robot-spammed the poor bastards with book adverts. A few of them spread the word about my books, unbidden. If there's a lesson in this blog post, you just had it handed to you on a silver salver.
   After a week, you hit out with Manage Flitter and uncover the dead. That's when you see ZERO-RATED accounts you never spotted back when you mass-followed the hordes.
   Note that Twitter Whoring followed by unWhoring (?!) followed by more Twitter Whoring...all that shit constitutes spamming behaviour. Twitter might put you in the stocks and throw unexpected items at you until you cool down.

33. Snapshot. I follow 0 spam accounts. New accounts, I discovered, fall into that category because they are new. It takes a canny bit of Tweeting to shift that mild stain.

34. I follow 55 people who are highly influential. Yet I can only name one. I think Twitter is saying size matters.

35. Talkative? I follow loads of talkative people. Quiet? I follow 0 people who don't Tweet.

36. Screw the statistics. Don't get caught up in them. Why mention these snapshots in my blog?
   Try to keep following/followed by numbers close.
   Ditch almost all people not following you back.
   People with no profile picture stand a greater chance of being inactive/spammers. But you never know.
   The people who don't Tweet in English are active followers who do Tweet in English and they are good people - even if Manage Flitter is trying to warn you about them for some reason.
   Ditch almost all inactive people. (On Twitter. Away from Twitter, check for a pulse and use a mirror or piece of glass to detect breathing.)
   My experiment with horror fans worked. The previous experiment, with steampunk fans, was a disaster. I was followed by an army of steampunk fans so averse to the electric internet that most had gaslights on - but no one was home.
   The point being that I am trying to cultivate an audience for my work. If the audience hasn't Tweeted in four years, the audience is dead. A few steampunk fans understand the Difference Engine's Interconnected Network. If you are going to chat to your audience, stir the chairs in the hall. See who died. Don't feel bad about ditching strangers from the Twitter.
   Use a service that detects spam accounts.
   Pay no mind to lists of influential people. Who did or didn't make that list? Matters not. An influential cat-person isn't going to reach me with her message unless she's on a rooftop chatting to Batman.
   Check up on the stats now and again. But don't obsess.

37. Don't send Direct Messages unless you really must. And don't use any service that automates DM.

38. Time to bring up that third point. Worth noting.

39. As a user of Twitter, you are a publisher of statements that could land you in court. THE INTERNET MADE ME DO IT is not a defence in law. If you are sued for libel or defamation, it'll be in the harshest court the litigant can lay hands to. (Governments are trying to stamp out libel tourism.)

40. Never say on Twitter something you aren't prepared to say face to fucking face. (Goes for Blogger, too.)

Stay safe. But live dangerously.


This blog's title was brought to you by the Twitter. I was using the service to say that I couldn't be bothered carpet-bombing people with Tweets about my books...
   It was easier to mention other things. This led to talk of a fictional work of mine. I responded...

Your Tweet crashed Amazon and my cheese and pepper book sold out. That's hard to do when it's an e-book.

I'll have to reprint an e-book now. Awkward.

   And that, O Best Beloved, is how to take to Twitter if you are an author - with a hefty bag of salt.


(Pictured, a few of my messages favourited by Kacey Vanderkarr - with some corresponding messages beneath. Do try this at home, folks.)

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