I didn’t recognise you in that media!

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Apparently we all lie on our CV or Resume. I never did, but then I was brought up to believe that my sins would find me out, so I never took the chance. It would have been tempting to award myself a PhD in Business Management in the hope of landing a job paying big bucks, but I always knew that sooner or later, someone would come along and ask me that one deep question that would reveal my ignorance in all its glory. So I never lied on my CV.

But just like trolling, it seems we can often leave the straight and narrow behind once we get close to our keyboards. Bending the truth on your social media profile is okay, even desirable. Don’t get too carried away–the internet really isn’t as anonymous as we like to think. Out there somewhere are all the people who spotted that you had ditched another class back in the day, or that you got a terrible grade for that science homework, and they will tell all at the least opportune moment.

So keep yourself and your reputation squeaky clean. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate, let alone downright lie. There is no bigger fall than a public one, especially if you are hoping to use social media to market yourself for work or online business.

Keep to the truth. Don’t say you are a New York Times bestselling author if only your mum and your cat have read your book. Don’t post a profile pic of yourself that is thirty years/300 pounds out of date. Tell us what you have done with your life, we will understand if it’s not all been unalloyed success, we’ve all been there. Skate over the grimmer details by all means, but keep to the truth and don’t bluster or make excuses. Don’t spam. Don’t batter people with ‘buy my stuff’ messages and never, never, never put someone down if you don’t want it done to you.

Thanks for reading. Rant over.

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‘So tell us a bit about yourself,’ or upping your Twitter Game.

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Okay Writer-Tweeps. Yes. You need a profile. If you want followers, they need to know who they’re following. Plus they are drawn in by revelations of your human side.

Too many social media posts are impersonal, automated, and say nothing other than ‘BUY MY PRODUCT!!!’ So many of the tweets I receive every day are just a book title and a link to the sales page, nothing else, not even a ‘please’. I know we all want more sales as well as a larger following, but frankly a constant stream of unvarnished, bald sales pitch tweets are a massive turn-off.

Even a lot of the messages I get from people I follow or who follow me, and want me to reciprocate say quite simply, ‘Follow me on FB’ and a link, or ‘Check out my book’ and a link. There’s not even a pretence of being interested in me or my world. I am not seen as a person, I am a wallet, a statistic, and all I’m getting is a demand for payment. They rarely even offer to reciprocate by following me or buying my books. These people don’t care about me–they only want to stand on my corpse to reach a little higher.

Don’t be like that. That is not the way to build true relationships on social media or to gain real followers. Sometimes I send them a message back saying, ‘Follow me on FB.’ or ‘Buy my book.’ Usually I just ignore them. Only very occasionally do I think, actually yes, I will buy your book because it sounds really good.

Beware the ‘Buy 5000 twitter followers NOW’ bods too. If you don’t buy, they will unfollow you in a week or two. If you do, all you’re getting is people who ignore your tweet and won’t engage with your feed. Plus you will get bombarded with requests from everyone else trying to sell on their lists too. Are these even real followers?

But don’t only follow people like yourself. If you only follow other writers you will severely limit your reach.

Think about your interests. Twitter is all about comments and short snippets of information. follow gardeners, Mums, bird watchers, chefs, celebs, boy bands, The National Trust, The British Library–anything that you find interesting, retweet, engage, comment, ‘heart/like’, twill help to fill out your twitter feed without demanding too much brainpower, and is a great way to gain new followers who share your interests.

If followers are few, build up your following by searching the subjects that interest you or people who interest you, and follow their followers. go through the list of people you follow every to or three weeks and unfollow anyone who hasn’t followed you back unless you really, really find them fascinating or noteworthy. I should point out that if you don’t have many followers and you trawl Twitter for people you can follow, you will find you reach a maximum at 2001 at which point Twitter will not allow you to follow any more people until the numbers following you even up a bit.

And to come back to my opening comment, don’t just put in your name and a picture of your dog and expect loads of people to follow you – well, maybe they will, but if you put a smiling pic of yourself on their along with a few personal details in your profile such as ‘Rabbit whisperer and mother of six, writing Westerns in my spare time’ or ‘Bakes cookies, mum and chauffeur to six kids’, people will be more interested in following you because you’ve given them a little snapshot of your life and interests – you’ve made yourself into a real person they can relate to. No one follows a blank sheet. From this they know a) you;re female, and b) a mum, and c) ordinary just like them – you have to stop being fabulous and take your kids somewhere, and you wrangle pets just like they do. Now if you said ‘Bakes cookies, chauffeuse to six kids, and Author of Westerns’, that would tell them even more – a) you’re a parent of six kids, b) so you’ve obviously got no TV, c) you know French, d) you’re a bit nit-picky or an accuracy nerd, and e) you’re a little bit different. Then that might make them take a look at your books.

If you’re worried about having something to say, well it’s easy on Twitter–say it quick and get out. 140 characters (a combination of letters, spaces and/or punctuation) is the max, plus you can put on photos or other media too. My husband has a favourite acronym KISS which stands for, as you probably know, Keep It Simple, Stupid. I prefer to think of it as Keep It Short and Sweet. It’s a bit like writing a postcard, you’ve only got a small space, so make every word count: ‘Argggh! Hair Dye Disaster! Another shower curtain ruined!’ or something daft. Or, ‘What a fab film last night – really love Ridley Scott’. Reach out to people, and they will reach back. Keep it short and sweet, be precise. I tweet a lot of Haiku, because they’re really short – so they’re the perfect length for a tweet, and I love the discipline of having  to say what I want to say quickly.

So in short – tell people who you are, let them knowing they’re following a real person just like them and it’s not only about the sales. We don’t have to be Twitter Automatons.

Time for a recap – and plan ahead

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It’s that time of year. TV is full of programmes that round up the highlights of their Best Of lists, counting down from 100, or 50 or 30 or 20, to the mythical eminence of the number one spot – ta-da – the winner, the best…

You probably know by now that like a lot of writers, I’m a bit of an introvert, and rather self-absorbed. I constantly reassess myself throughout the year, not just here, at the year’s-end. In fact I’m notorious, at home anyway, for overthinking everything.

This year I’ve benefitted hugely by the amount of information, how-tos and research that is available on the Internet, and it has helped me to do a number of things I couldn’t before, so thank you to everyone who shares and publishes their knowledge ‘out there’ in the ether. I’ve learned how to link social media bits together to avoid having to put the same content out there numerous times, I’ve learned how to develop my contacts and connections and build my platform (ongoing project though!). I’ve learned that when people say ‘Do what ever you want’ they really mean ‘Do whatever I tell you to do’. I’ve improved my cover-designing skills, found new resources, built my freelancing profile, (earned some actual money!) I’ve become more organised. I’ve achieved some goals. I’ve missed some by a mile. And one thing I’ve learned, especially in this last two months is that it’s okay to have fun, to stop striving and enjoy life. I’ve ‘met’ some wonderful people and had some great conversations.

I didn’t finish the first draft of the third book of my Posh Hits trilogy. I’m maybe halfway through – not really, I’m actually only about a third of the way through. It should have been written, revised, revised and revised by now. It should be ready for publication. But no. Am I stressed about it? Not any more. I was, a while back, when the harsh reality of stuffing up my schedule began to dawn on me, then I decided that publication dates are arbitrary and if it’s not ready, it’s just not ready. I never usually miss a deadline, so this one time I have given myself permission to do so, and I think, I fervently hope, it will be worth the wait. So that’s still on my to-do list and will be making an appearance a little later than scheduled, some time next year.

And because of that not being finished, other projects have got pushed back too. But again, I feel it’s all going to be okay. Better to put out a good product late than a shonky product on time, I feel. So Miss Burkett will probably miss her May-promised (but only to myself) deadline. But I know she will arrive at some point.

But I’ve kept my blog going, more or less adding new material at least once a week, which has been a major leap forward for me, and one I hope to continue in the New Year. And on Facebook, my Monday Haiku has been going out weekly pretty well for a couple of months now, again, a new more disciplined approach for me.

Next year, Check Mate will, God willing, finally be out, as will the first of my Miss Burkett cosy mysteries. I also hope to publish a novel, Easy Living, which is something of a paranormal-type-kind-of mystery. There may also be another novel, as yet undecided. 2014 has been a year of drafting and consolidation. I believe 2015 will be a year of fruitfulness and fulfillment. I hope to continue the blog, the Haiku, to go on and on and on about books and cats and chocolate and deadlines.

So as this year closes, I want to remember the good days, and say goodbye to the bad, heaving a sigh of relief at the advent of a New Year, with new hopes, a new plan of action, fresh ideas and projects, and to say a huge Thank You to all those wonderful people who have followed this blog, tolerated my rants and self-absorption, encouraged and fed my desire to write, and shared their wonderful gifts of writing, painting and friendship with me. Thanks, folks. Have a good one. See you on the other side.

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