Ten Tips for Twitter Beginners

Twitter is an amazing social media tool, and used correctly, can promote and advertise yourself to the world. But in order to be effective, you must understand how Twitter works. For one, you must realize that it is not Facebook, Myspace, or Google +. It’s entirely different, and therefore contains entirely different rules and guidelines that you must follow to use it properly. That being said,  I believe everyone should have a Twitter account, and if you do not, then hopefully this article will convince you to come out of the Dark Ages and into the future of communication.

Tip #1: Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet. This is, in effect, a quick way of sharing something of relevance, or irrelevance, with the world.

Tip #2: There are no “friend requests” in Twitter. Twitter uses a very simple system of following someone who’s tweets you’re interested in reading. They will receive notification of your follow, and have the option of following you back. Their tweets will show up in your Twitter feed, and you can also receive tweets on your mobile device by subscribing to users that are important to you(friends, family, co-workers, etc).

Tip #3: Anyone in the world can read your tweets, unless you make them private, and likewise, you can tweet @ anyone with a Twitter account. This is an easy way of connecting with celebrities, business people, friends, musicians, etc. Most celebrities do not have a public Facebook account, simply because there’s a 5,000 friend limit, and there are many fake celebrity accounts. With Twitter, there is a system of verifying that the account does indeed belong to its celebrity user. Also, many celebrities will respond to tweets, because it is so simple.

Tip #4: If you want to gain followers, then follow complete strangers and friends alike. Many people will follow you back, and this practice will get your numbers up. This doesn’t mean you have to follow them forever, but be forewarned that some people, upon discovering that you’ve stopped following them, will do the same for you.

Tip #5: You will not sell your book, products, movie, pictures, etc through Twitter. It is not a sales tool, it is a marketing tool. Twitter is a way of expressing yourself and your work through short tweets. If you want to sell your product, purchase ad space on Facebook, Google Adwords, etc.

Tip #6: Hashtags. These are a critical part of Twitter’s success. Placing a hashtag in front of a word will highlight it in your tweet and make it a trending word(i.e. #amazing, #facebook, #subway), and once your tweet is posted, you can click on the word you’ve hashtagged and see what other users are saying about it.

Tip #7: Connect your Facebook and Twitter account for the most effective means of reaching your audience. This saves time, and is great if you use Twitter on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Even regular, non-internet capable handsets can be used for Twitter. Just go into your Twitter settings > mobile > text messaging, and follow the instructions.

Tip #8: Be active with your account. If you want followers, you have to be somebody worth following. Share a funny quote, tweet something random, reply to followers tweets, and be as interesting as you can.

Tip #9: Don’t be “that guy” who always tweets about their book, or always asks for followers, or tweets every two seconds. People will shun you sooner than you can say “oops”.

Tip #10: Have fun with your account, and realize that it’s just another way of sharing what’s on your mind with the world. Grammar is not necessary, and you will have to commit grammar crimes regardless, since there’s a 140 character limit.

Advertisements

Spamming until you see Results

So, you’ve finished writing your book, script, graphic novel, etc. Now what? This is where the going gets tough, and if you’re tough, you’ll get going. By this I mean sending your book into the cacophony of literary agencies, publishing houses, editors, etc. At this point in the game, you’ve just spent months or years completing your novel, and you’re ready to move onto the next project, right? Not just yet. You still have to find someone to publish your creation. There are several methods to achieve this sought after goal, and I’ll take you through a few of them.

Step One: Research. Find out what companies books that are similar to yours are being published through. Contact other authors and seek their advice. Many popular writers have a blog, and like to share the journey they took to become an author, so I would suggest starting there. Authors aren’t selfish people, and most would gladly help you the same way they were. Visit the Literary Marketplace (www.literarymarketplace.com) which has a comprehensive list of agencies and publishing companies to send your manuscript to.

Step Two: If you have the funds available, consider hiring a Publicist. They specialize in promotion, and perhaps they can generate more interest in your book than you can. You might be the next J.R.R. Tolkien, but you probably don’t know the first thing about the advertising industry. There are things that agencies look for that might not even realize. Your book might be the best thing since sliced bread, but if you can’t explain it the right way, it will forever remain a document file on your computer.

Step Three: Spam. You spam them until they shut down their website, or change their email address. Ok, so maybe not quite as dramatically as that, but you will want to continue sending your manuscript into the world until you receive a positive response. If an agency turns it down, hopefully they’ll also have given you a few reasons as to why they refused your manuscript. Take this in good spirit, and revisit, revise, and resend your manuscript to them. Don’t place all your bets on one agency or publishing company, however. Send it to them all.

Step Four: While it might not be the dream you’ve always had, smaller publishing houses still offer a good stepping stone for your career as an author. This can be a great first stop on your way to the Bestseller list, as long as you play your cards right. Continue spamming(sending) your manuscript to the agencies, but if you receive a contract from a smaller company, you might want to think about it. Now, this is only after you’ve just about exhausted yourself spamming(sending) your book to as many agencies as you can, with zero positive reception. Small presses will give you everything the larger companies will, just in a smaller dosage. They’ll advertise, promote, and sell your book as best they can, because the future of their business is riding on your success.

In the end, don’t give up. I’ve known authors whose books have taken 5-6 years to publish, and authors who were published in under a year. It’s different for everybody, but if you have a good book, and it’s written, edited, and formatted correctly, chances are high that you will receive a contract for it. Keep spamming(sending) your creation to as many places as you can. Dedication is usually rewarded with success, so don’t quit, no matter what. And remember, spam on, my friends.

Finding the Inspiration to Write

Sometimes the hardest part of starting a novel, short story, script, etc, is the very first page. Even the beginning sentence is a challenge for many, as it can be difficult to come up with something that will instantly grab your reader’s attention. So how do you stop the procrastination and channel the creativity? There are several methods that have proven helpful to writers worldwide, myself included.

A big first step in the process is to shut out all the distractions. A noise-free, clean environment with all the comforts you need is an absolute must. No one can tune out the sound of children running through the house, or the obnoxious drivel of commercials on the television, or the barking dog next door. Finding a spot in your house, the Library, the park, etc, should be the first step in finding natural inspiration. Once you’re relieved of the stress that comes with unwanted distractions, you can begin writing your novel.

The next thing you’ll want to do is get off Facebook. Don’t even keep a tab open, “just in case” somebody opens a chat with you. They can wait, and I’m sure they’ll understand once you’re an accomplished writer. Turn off the cellphone if that becomes too much of a temptation. You know yourself better than anyone else, therefore you know your weaknesses as well. Whatever you feel might be detrimental to your writing progress should be cancelled out.

Once you’re free of distractions and sitting in an environment you feel comfortable with, the writing can finally begin. Now comes the hard part. You know what you want to write about, but how do you begin your masterpiece? One word: Imagination. Channel your inner child, because no matter how deep, dramatic, serious, etc, your book is, the mind of a child is constantly brimming with creativity. There’s a part inside all of us where that creativity is waiting to be extracted. “How do I find it?”, you might ask. The answer is to have fun with your book. Don’t take anything too seriously, or you’ll end up frustrated and facing dead ends. Let the book flow, and don’t force the words to appear, or they never will.

Enjoy the experience of writing a book, and don’t let it become a chore. If you feel that your book is burning you out, take a few days from writing and just relax. Even if you need a couple of weeks respite from the book, it will be worth it in the end. Be proud of the story you are creating, and let it become something you yearn to write every day. Some authors have even booked a night or two in a hotel, simply so they can finish those last few pages of their novel. That’s a little on the extreme side of finding a peaceful area to write, but if it becomes necessary, then by all means, go for it.

The best inspiration comes from your friends and family. Share your experience with them, and if it’s encouragement you need, they’re the best source for it. Another way to seek motivation is to find things related to your story, and use them as a creativity stimulant. If you’re writing a science-fiction novel, watch a few alien films, read your favorite extraterrestrial books, etc. For a crime-thriller, do some research into the field, consult an expert(i.e. a detective, crime scene investigator, judge, etc), or tune into a police scanner. Whatever it is you’re writing, you’ll want it to be as authentic as possible. People enjoy reading books that they feel could have real life connotations.

All in all, have fun with your story, don’t be afraid to mess up, and take all the time you need. It’s doubtful that somebody else is writing the same book you are, so don’t feel rushed. Even if you have a deadline, pace yourself, and enjoy the process. Being an author does have its stressful moments, but the composing of the story shouldn’t be one. If you follow this advice, then you’ll be well on your way to a good book writing experience.

The Lucifer Diary: A quick book review

I’m not sure how many, if any of you, have heard of or read The Lucifer Diary: Story of an Angel, but since it is one of my favorite books I will share my thoughts with you.
The story follows the adventures of the angel Lucifer, from his life in Heaven to the banishment on Earth. It is told from his perspective and the details put into the book are quite extensive. The reader gets a really good grasp on the thoughts going through Lucifer’s mind as well as the emotions swelling through him as he betrayed God and was sent to Earth. From here the book details his exploits and persecution of humanity, following every major Biblical event. Lewis R. Walton paints a very beautiful picture and sheds light on a story not often told. The only con I can think of in this book is that it seems at times to want the reader to feel a certain sympathy for Lucifer/Satan, and I’m not sure if that was the author’s original intent. Nonetheless, the pro’s outweigh the cons and I give this book 4.5/5 stars and recommend it to everyone.