Joking aside…

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I hate these memes.

I really do.

I mean, they’re first off a fantasy: no one is ever going to actually offer you money to do without tech for a solid year, let alone the month(s) or week(s) that these things pretend to offer.

Secondly: who wouldn’t be able to do this? Seriously – we all know we can do without Facebook if we have to.

But the third reason is the real kicker.

It shows just how desperate we all are to get free of the system we’re mired in.

We all want out of the capitalist system, the rat-race, the dog-eat-dog factory of despair that we live in.

But we want it at the expense of other people staying in. We want it only for ourselves – we want the requisite number of dollars or Euros or Japanese yen that lifts only ourselves out of the death spiral, so we can do whatever it is that our secret hearts need, but only if everyone else has to stay in.

We want freedom, but we want it in the form of other people’s envy.

That’s how fucked up we all are.

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Whateverist-er than Thou

bergman

 

There’s a thing that happens on FB groups and elsewhere that really drives me nuts.

It’s when someone posts something of an informative nature, and then someone else tries to amplify this and gets blowback from the original poster, accusing them of trying to – I don’t know? Pare down their purity? Steal their spotlight? Oust them as the authority in a discussion? Rob them of their uniqueness?

It’s as if some people cannot bear to be part of a larger whole – as if they need to be the only whateverist in the world, bravely speaking out – the lone voice in the wilderness of Whateverishness – and How Darest Thou…come on here and be whateveristic in my space?

It’s as if they have become so wedded to their role as “The Whateverist” that any other voice somehow takes something away from them.

I don’t know for sure, but it feels to me like one tiny step away from the “I’m not like ‘other girls’” riff some of us do when we’re sixteen and trying to hang out with the guys.

It’s not limited to any one subject or political stance or religious sect, either. I’ve seen the same refrain  from stay-at-home moms, and from supervisors in fast food joints.

(And let’s not even start with “libertarians”. Apparently, every single one of you is doing it wrong, as per every other libertarian…)

This need to be the One, True Whatever – maybe it’s “human nature”. Maybe it’s the competitive forces of a capitalistic society. Maybe it’s down to lousy toilet training.

Or maybe it’s a kind of pathology.

I don’t know.

But it needs to stop.

Ostriches

I love those people who “abstain from politics”, don’t you?

ostriches

They’re so virtuous. So above the fray. So holy.

They aren’t going to sully their social media with anything that might offend anyone.

Instead, they keep on, like Pollyanna, pretending all’s right with the world, right up until the day that they themselves are affected by some decision they refused to inform themselves about.

The dam breaks.

They howl. They weep. They beg for assistance.

Strangely, the people who do offer help, or at least empathy and support, are not their fellow Madame Panglosses, who immediately unfollow or unfriend, but the very people they have chastised for “bringing politics into everything”.

People who try to insulate themselves from the reality (which is that politics affects you, whether you choose to discuss it or not) are not trying for peaceful co-existence or for civil discourse.

They are trying to do one of two things: to please everyone out of pure self-interest and the devil take the hindmost, or they are cowards and know that their own beliefs are both wrong and offensive.

You can tell the first kind because they lecture people who sail even slightly close to definitive statements stronger than “Can’t we all just get along?” with homilies about Christian virtues or regurgitated Zen paraphrases. They tend to claim that “we don’t know the whole story” when something really egregious, something that really cannot be ignored, emerges. Their mating cry might well be “That’s just your opinion.”

The other ones reveal themselves through cartoons and/or shared memes that are obviously offensive, and then, at the first sign of opposition, retreating into “Can’t anyone take a joke anymore?”, or by trying to pretend that they’re approaching things with a rational, logical, objective stance, and you are just a) emotional, or b) a “socialist”.

I don’t unfollow or unfriend people on social media very often.

But these guys?

History is littered with them.

I don’t need to fuel their vanity. And neither do you.

 

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writing 6

 

Here’s the thing about social media that a lot of writers – too many writers – seem to miss.

Everything you write – every word that goes out under your name – reflects on you as a writer.

All of it.

Those tweets, those Facebook memes, those email newsletters.

 

And there are two really important things that you need to recognize and deal with.

 

One is philosophical. How “real” do you want to be?

 

Some people will counsel you to remain innocuous. To self-censor and stay away from controversial topics (ie: politics) in order to not alienate potential readers.

However, since we are constantly reminded (sometimes by the very same people advocating bland, impersonal, never-offend-anyone posting habits) that we need to establish authentic relationships with those potential readers, this can present a quandary.

I cannot advise you. My own values preclude maintaining any sort of pretense, even by omission, that I am not a strong and confident fighter for justice, for equality, for universal compassion, and for us to become stewards of this tiny planet, rather than raping her for short-term and petty gain.

It’s entirely possible that I lose out in sales because of this. So be it. Your mileage might vary.

 

But the other important side of this is more technical.

 

Confidence in you as a writer is undermined by things you *should* be able to fix. Grammatical errors. Misspelled words.  Incorrect apostrophe usage.

I have deleted tweets seconds after posting, and redone them.

I constantly go back and make corrections on my FB posts and replies, to make sure that there are as few typos or incorrectly spelled words as possible.

I reread before posting (no, it never works 100%) to make sure I’m saying what I meant to in the best possible way.

These are the nuts and bolts of your craft. If you cannot manage these in a Twitter post – how will I trust you for something longer?

If your Facebook promos aren’t even slightly edited for these things – why should I believe you got a professional editor for your novel?

It goes to your credibility as a writer. Maybe it feels unfair (“All those other people get to write however they want to!”) but if you call yourself a writer, then every word you commit to the world at large is, essentially, your calling card as a professional.

People are judging your writing ability on – gasp! – your writing.

Every. Single. Word.

Twitter Don’ts

Or how not to win readers or influence people…

angry_mob

Totally, I’m telling you what not to do.

Generally, I try not to. I often *fail* at that endeavor, but I do try.

But this time? Oh, yes. Straight up, Imma tell you what not to do on Twitter. (And probably FB, as well, but YMMV.)

 

Stop with the non-stop self promos. That’s job 1, and you know it. Everyone keeps telling you to not do this, and every day I open my Twitter feed and start muting new followers because all I can see for the first screen-and-a-half is the same one or two promos (which their mom dutifully retweets immediately) (and that part I completely get, because what else are moms for?) five times for five minutes, before they go off to work or brunch or whatever.

Many experts have done the math for you. Bad Redhead shows it all here: http://badredheadmedia.com/2016/05/04/which-social-media-channel-sells-the-most-books/

And I know most of you have seen this and/or similar articles…and yet…

It doesn’t work. It doesn’t. The numbers tell you: Twitter is to build relationships and name recognition. Twitter doesn’t get you sales.

And doing it for someone else? You think somehow that’s going to work better?

Frankly, there’s a strong chance that when it comes to the annual Twitter cull (come on, you know you do it, too) you’ll be on the block, because when you do this for someone else, the immediate assumption is that you are a bot.

People want to follow other members of their own species, not some algorithmical construct formed solely for the purpose of begging for spare change on the corner of Bits Avenue and Byte Street.

I’m not saying you cannot ever post about your work. You absolutely should have your header and a pinned post that reflects your status as an author, and showcases at least one title available.

And occasionally, a cute or clever promo is no bad thing.

Even better are very infrequent “progress reports”, RTs of good reviews, and perhaps an announcement of a new release.

But note the caveat: “infrequent” means that AT THE VERY LEAST, you let a week or six go by between promos.

Because I swear to Cthulhu, if I have to scroll past 47 identical promos of your paranormal romance thriller with a hot sex scene concerning three government spies more than once in the same 24-hour cycle, not only will I mute you forever (I never block unless you suggest you are a Nazi I need to punch) but there is now no way in twenty-six separate hells that I will ever RT anything about your book.

And still less chance I will buy it.

Safety

 

16081595-skull-danger-sign-deadly-danger-sign--Stock-Vector-danger-poison-symbol

It’s all over on the social media front.

On the one hand, there are all the news stories, memes, and personal posts that imply that the western world is under siege from nefarious people from “other places” – that violence is stalking us and that we must do unpalatable things to keep ourselves “safe”.

On the other hand, there are the news stories, posts, and memes,  warning us that our worst enemies are domestic: this marginalized group, or that one, ready to tear our lives asunder out of jealousy or rage or just plain sadistic glee.

And then (on that third paw) those self-same people posting the dire warnings and the consequences of inattention constantly also forward us their motivational words of wisdom…

Do what you love.

Be true to yourself.

Never let go of your dreams.

You have to wonder, some days, whether these people have minds arranged like a modern call-in centre office: every thought neatly placed in its own discrete, self-actuated, and wholly private cubicle, where nothing from any other cubicle even gets a glimpse of another thought, let alone allows those thoughts to touch.

This world is not safe… but it never has been.

This world is many things… but it is not risk-free.

You can fail… and that’s okay.

You can die… and all of us will, sooner or later.

 

But instead of meeting these things with fear or overconfidence, we need to learn to weigh the costs, and do the right thing.

Not the easy thing.

Not the “sure” thing.

And definitely not the thing that makes someone else pay for our mistakes.