Sea Changes, Part Two

Sea Changes, Part Two

To read Part One, click here.

Since I’m reworking many of my habits this year, I thought I’d continue on the theme of Sea Changes. 

Now that I’ve decided to start leaving my iPad downstairs, I’ve made another change, this time in how I consume my social media.

I’ve been systematically turning off straight retweets in my Twitter feed.

It didn’t feel like a major idea, but once I started, it’s become a rather big deal. 

How does this work? Whenever I see an organic retweet, meaning the person I follow has simply clicked the retweet button, I go to that person’s page and turn off retweets. If the retweet comes with a message from my friend, then I see it, but if it’s just a regular click-to-spread thought, I don’t. 

Simple. And mind-blowing. 

It’s been a really interesting exercise, and one which has given me great pleasure, because I’m seeing posts from my friends again! I purposefully keep my follow count low on Twitter so I can actually connect with people there, and this has been one of the best things I’ve done in ages.

I’ve also noticed that people have a tendency to retweet things they may believe but would NEVER say themselves. Interesting, right? I know I’m guilty of doing that, too. But from here on out, if I’m retweeting, I’ll be commenting as well, so my followers know why I want them to pay attention to the post. Intentionality. I think it will help my interactions tremendously, because Twitter stopped having a lot happy feels for me a while ago.

And on Facebook, I’ve been doing some housekeeping as well. On my personal page, if I see a post from someone I don’t know (vestiges of my 5000 friend days — I moved everyone I didn’t know over to the fan page years ago, but there are still some I missed), I hide it. Especially if it’s something incendiary. I am a believer in democracy. I took an oath to protect and defend this country, one that I still take seriously. And I have faith in our people to make their own decisions. Some of the posts I’ve seen lately have been obscene, and hateful, and even though I’m not thrilled with the way of the world right now, I respect the process of democracy.

Now, if someone I know and like says something I don’t, no big deal. I firmly believe in free speech, and seeing my friend’s different opinions isn’t an issue for me. I might make a mental note to tease them a bit the next time I see them, or even comment, but in general, I read and try to understand where they’re coming from. I learn from my friends with whom I don’t agree 100% of the time. This is a good thing. I like a good clean debate, well-reasoned arguments, and being exposed to new ideas. I actually don’t know many people who don’t.

But strangers clogging up my feed with hate get unfollowed. Simple as that. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, either. 

Now if I could just teach Facebook to give me the most recent posts ALL THE TIME…

There is No Truth More Self-Evident...

... than the simple, unassailable fact that authors are losing writing, reading, and sanity time on the social networks.

The season of Lent is upon us. Though I consider myself to be much more spiritual than religious, Lent is a special time of year for me. It's always functioned as my version of a New Year's resolution - pick one thing that you'd really, truly miss, and give it up for six weeks.

Six weeks isn't a very long time.

But it really is. Six weeks can be a lifetime in the publishing industry. Traditionally, the first six-week sales are absolutely vital to the success of your novel. If you're a list author, the first week is crucial, for the rest of us, it's that first few weeks on sale that can determine future print runs, contracts, etc. After all the hoopla leading up to a book's release, the stress doesn't really start until the official release day, when the numbers become the focus.

We do what we can to help further these sales along. We tour. We do stock signings. We do interviews in print, radio and television stints. We blog about the book, and we Twitter and Facebook constantly, letting people know where we are at all times, our mental standing and our hotel room niceties.

In the long run though, distribution is the most important factor in how well a book does. If you're in Walmart, for example, you can really see some dramatic sales as compared to just being on Amazon. Distribution is one of the big dividers between self-published and traditionally published books.

What does all this have to do with Lent?

Last year, when social networking was entering its frenzy, I gave up Facebook except for Tuesdays and Fridays. What I realized was shocking - in the ensuing six weeks, I wrote 63,000 words. I had no idea just how much time I was spending on Facebook and Twitter until I was off of it for a while.

With THE COLD ROOM officially launching next week, I've been struggling with the fact that I'd like to repeat my sacrifice from last year with the fact that I need to promote my new book. But late last night, I found the solution.

The Tao of JT feeds into Twitter, Facebook and my Facebook fan page through a wonderful program called Twitterfeed. I'm going to use this blog to communicate with the outside world for the next six weeks. I've turned on the comments so if you have something to say, you can pop on here and let me know. If you like the book, hate the book, want me to post a picture we took at a tour event, anything goes. And I in turn will post tour stories, pictures, and my hotel niceties here, without being hampered by 140 character limits.

And since on Sundays we are allowed to cheat, as it were, I'll pop on Facebook and Twitter to do housekeeping - friend requests, clean my page of random meatballs thrown and angels promised. 

How's that sound to y'all? Oh, and I'm giving up sweets, too, just in case I slip. It's always good to have a backup plan, right?

If you need me, you can email me through the website here. Don't DM or Inbox me important things - heck, you shouldn't do that anyway. It's too easy to lose business information in the chatter - always go to the author's real email if you need something business-oriented. Let's see how this experiment works, and just how much work I can get done. I'll report on my progress as we go.

Have a wonderful Lent.