Select Page
Social media tactics: Avoid the Twitter time-suck

Social media tactics: Avoid the Twitter time-suck

My goal with this post:

To give you clear tips on how to arrange your Twitter activity. The tips will be practical and will help you manage your personal and professional sharing. Let me know how I did in the comments!

I did it. I finally did it.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2007, which means, well, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about tweeting since 2007. Oh, I have a lot to say. I have a lot to share. I always spot interesting conversations. The problem for me has never been finding things to disperse. The problem has been The Twitter Time Suck.

The Twitter Time Suck is:

  1. The black hole of starting to tweet interesting material and not being able to stop.
  2. The anxiety around whether my tweets are having maximum impact, which leads to more tweeting.

I’ve spent the last several years trying to find a way to make posting take less time but be more rewarding. What do I mean by rewarding?

  • Just as every conversation I have with a person is part of the fabric of my life, I want my posts (on every platform) to reflect who I am (NO PRESSURE!)
  • I enjoy connecting with someone.
  • I like to get traffic to my site.
  • I like to sell books.

If those four points sound familiar, and you also fret about The Twitter Time Suck, then I may have some good news. I’ve found a perfectly reasonable system to keep my tweeting to 15 minutes per day.

Last year I started to manage social media for The School of Visual Arts’ MFA Visual Narrative program in NYC. It’s a fantastic low-residency Masters degree with faculty like Benjamin Marra, Joe Kelly and Edward Hemingway. Because the focus of the degree is on visual storytelling you can imagine how daunting the task of sharing information via Twitter was to me. Remember, I still had to manage my own social media efforts. Having so much to dig through easily led to brain-hurt.

So I started to try a few things to help me juggle it all. I’ll spare you the trial and error.

This is where I landed

1) Use your morning activities:

We have coffee, we shower, we brush our teeth, we read the news. Morning routines (even busy ones) are where many of us quietly review our priorities and our dreams/wishes/aspirations for the day. There’s a lot to find in that mental landscape. Be mindful of your thoughts. Don’t just think them and let them go. If the warm water on your head makes you think of something funny, say it out loud. That will help make it real and memorable. If you want to share it with the world, well, then you have your daily observational tweet!

If you come up with more than one thought, jot it down in a txt file asap. You can tweet it later using…

2)  Hootsuite. Use it.

Hootsuite allows you to queue up your tweets. This is the critical task in any effort to simplify tweeting. You can also use Hootsuite to post to Facebook and LinkedIn. Yes, I’ve used Buffer and Klout. Hootsuite is the best.

3) Set your tweet limit for the day.

My limit is six tweets. For some, that’s low. For some, that’s high. Find your limit and stick to it. But don’t worry about it if you go over or under your number. Worrying wastes time ;-) If you have an account that bridges both personal and professional, then break it down like this at first. Adjust as needed:

50% content tweets (cool articles, helpful posts, beautiful images, quotes)

25% professional tweets (book excerpts, deals, product images)

25% personal tweets (jokes, observations)

4) Tweet your best stuff again. And again.

Be sure to tweet your good stuff often. Don’t worry about it being seen by everyone every time. It won’t be. To stand out in the noise you need to put your best foot forward, and sometimes that best foot is wearing an old shoe. Yeah, my metaphors suck today, but I’m still right.

Tip: If you sign up for Twitter ads you can get incredible insights into what tweets get the most engagement.

Twitter-analytics-to-avoid-

Track this data and retweet the posts that have legs to them. Logically, you wouldn’t lean on tweets that are based on breaking news too many times. But if you make a funny observation about life, really it’ll never get old!

Sticking to these rules for my Twitter-life has cleared up my head so I can pay attention to work and family and Angry Birds Star Wars.

What do you do to maximize your time-spent:impact ratio?

Book trailer or no book trailer? The question that burns…

Book trailer or no book trailer? The question that burns…

Many of us think in words. Authors are like that. Our thoughts take on a distinct inner voice — dependent on mood, muse and cups of coffee.

So when we’re faced with the option of building a book trailer, with words and pictures and animations… well, it’s daunting.

With an NYU Film School education and several years of playing the Hollywood game, I’ve set out to craft a trailer for my upcoming series, The Camelot Kids. I’m delighted with it so far, so I thought I’d share some basic rules that have helped me focus.

Here are my impressions of what works, what doesn’t and how to avoid the common mistakes I spot in book trailers every day.

 

book previews donts

start-simplebook trailers terrify me

keep-it-short

 

Here are some resources for you to dig into:

Tools for book trailer creation

Adobe Voice for iPad

A spectacular tool. I don’t use that word lightly. That’s the term I save in my quiver for special occasions.

The app on the iPad does everything and does it well. You can make a slick presentation within minutes. If you want to make a fast, elegant trailer that focuses on your writing style, character voices or humor then Adobe Voice can help you. Oh, and they have tens of thousands of stock images for free. The app adds the correct credit to the end of the video so you’re pretty safe.

I can’t recommend this app enough.

Prezi

Some quality book trailers have been done with Prezi tools. Like Adobe Voice, the service will help you look slick. But unlike Adobe Voice, you don’t have simple and searchable access to free, accredited images.

Graphicstock and BigStock are (as of this writing) offering a free one week trial to their library of images. You need to give a credit card to get access, but you can cancel if you don’t think the service gives you enough value.

Blue Yeti mic for book trailerIf you decide that voice is a critical component of your trailer, then you really can’t go wrong with Blue’s Yeti mic. It looks great and sounds even better. While the sensitivity can be high it’s nothing that can’t be adjusted for with a little distance from the mic.

Book trailers that work

Fantastic book trailers and the reasons they’re so good

7 Brilliant Book Trailers

A funny piece in The New Yorker about book trailers

 

Have you made a book trailer? What do you think of book trailers? Let us know in the comments!

By Ben Zackheim

 

You might also like:

How to write an author bio that sells books

Choose the best genre for your book on Amazon

8 tips for a powerful book description (video)

8 tips for a powerful book description (video)

Welcome to the first in a series of video tutorials!

The series will cover best practices for today’s author. I don’t want the information to be useful to one type of writer or another. I don’t care if you’re self-published, small press-backed, big publisher-backed… good info is good info. Authors are in this thing together. The more we share our common experiences, the better we’ll steer our own boats.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

Choose the best genre for your book on Amazon

Five steps to choose your book genre on Amazon

Cheat sheet. Use it once you’ve read the rest of this post!

 

In my last post, I covered the general rules of choosing the right genre for your book. I spoke briefly about Amazon’s categories. I’ll go into more details now.

The ground rules for Amazon categories are simple:

Every genre on Amazon gets to have its own tidy list of popular titles.

Each of these lists is often visited by fans of those genres.

Amazon scours their popularity lists for books to promote.

 

So how do you show up on a popular Amazon list?

Choose the right genre when you publish your book on Amazon.

Once you’ve identified which genres you belong in, you need to decide which genre is easiest for you to get in the Top 20. We’re shooting for the Top 20 because that means your book would show up on the first page of that genre’s Amazon page.

Good place to be…

After we find the easiest genre to place in, we’ll shoot for a tougher genre. Just to keep things interesting!

 

How to choose the right genre for your book on Amazon

Okay, let’s say we write a Mystery ebook for kids with a female detective (like oh, say, Shirley Link). Here are some of the possible categories on Amazon. I dug these up by rummaging through Amazon’s genre lists (seen on the left hand side of this page)

Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives

Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives/Detectives

Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Action & Adventure

Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Literature & Fiction/Beginner Readers

Kindle ebooks/Literature & Fiction/Chapter Books

Kindle ebooks/Literature & Fiction/Women’s Fiction/Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Women Sleuths

Any of these genres would work for the book. So how do we choose which genre we can get to #20 in?

Using Theresa Ragan’s sales estimator, I get a ballpark idea of how many books I’d need to sell to crack the top 20 of each possible genre.

So the #20 book in Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives/Detectives is Nancy Drew & The Bungalow Mystery.

But, more important to us is the book’s overall Kindle rank of 39,589 (see image below).

Checking Theresa’s sales estimator, this means the book sells between 3-15 copies per day.

Nancy Drew: The Bungalow Mystery sales rank info from the book’s product page on Amazon:

nancy-drew

 

On the other hand, Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives is a tough one. The 20th ranked book has an overall Kindle sales rank of 3,239. This means the book sells between 30-50 books per day.

Spirit Animals Book 1 sales rank info from the book’s product page on Amazon:

action

I think I can manage to sell 3-15 books per day, but 30-50 will take some ingenuity. If I can find a way to crack the tough Action & Adventure Top 20 list then that will mean much more exposure to more people. I’m willing to claw my way up that genre’s listings over the long haul. One good sales day could be a game changer.

Conclusion

It’s fine to choose low-popularity genres for your picks. You’re more likely to be seen by fans of those genres if you rank high! But don’t be afraid to experiment if you’re not happy with sales. Yes, it’s possible to lose sales because you’ve changed genres, but if you do it with a marketing plan to back it up then you can gain crucial customer knowledge.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments. Don’t forget to use the cheat sheet above. And pass it on to a writer friend.

Thanks for reading!

By Ben Zackheim

Helpful tool: Sign up for EBookTracker to get details on any book’s ranking over time. The tool won’t help you see actual sales, but it will give you insights around your favorite genre’s movers and shakers.

 

You might also like:

Amazon has a bridge to sell ya!

The $1.1 Million question: Is KDP Select worth it?

Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest is #1 on Amazon! Thank you!

Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest is #1 on Amazon! Thank you!

Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest by Ben Zackheim

I wanted to post a quick thank you for your support in making Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest the #1 free Kids Mystery book on Amazon! The book is highly rated with 13 reviews and 4.8 stars, so I’m sure that helped my current promotion go well. But I also have you to thank for spreading the word about my favorite detective!

If you haven’t tried Shirley yet, give her a read. The Treasure Chest is free for the rest of the day, and The Safe Case is free forever.

My favorite image of the day ;-)

Shirley Link is #1

 

Though I like this one too…

Shirley Link is #26

#26 overall in Kids ebooks! Nice.

Thanks again, folks.