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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?

What is chivalry? How writing The Camelot Kids provided the answer.

What is chivalry? How writing The Camelot Kids provided the answer.

 Chivalry is the act of defending those who cannot defend themselves.

That’s a simplification, but I’m going with it (for now), and you can’t stop me.

The same way magic is the code that holds Harry Potter’s world together, chivalry is the code, the foundation and the social dynamic of Camelot.

Now that I’ve completed Book One, I understand that something in the core of the mythology was drawing my own sense of chivalry out of me. It was injecting these complex, flawed characters with a sense of doing the right thing, no matter the cost. Sure, the complex moments of bravery, stubbornness and kindness were emerging in a mystery/action/adventure yarn. But within the mask of story was a seed of humanity that I’d never considered deeply for my protagonists before.

An orphan helps an orphan.

A bullied student helps the new kid escape a gang.

Even those who live a life rife with heartache and hard knocks emerge chivalrous. No, especially those who live a life rife with heartache and hard knocks emerge chivalrous.

But why? How? Where does this instinct to protect those around us come from? What happens inside us when we drop our own interests and risk everything for other people?

The answer became clear as I wrote the book.

The dynamic of wanting to connect with people is the same dynamic that makes us risk everything to help them. In other words, our connection to each other, simply because we’re human, has costs as well as payoffs. For our humanity, we get friendship, love and support as a “payoff”. But does that mean that heartbreak, pain and rejection are the “cost”?

No. That was my revelation as I wrote The Camelot Kids.

 

Gwen-and-Excalibur-Facebook

The cost of this human experience isn’t heartache, pain and rejection. It’s chivalry.

Being loved, supported, hated, ignored creates an astonishing power to do the right thing for anyone — friend, foe, or stranger. That human connection is so complex that something in us is willing to give our lives for it in a split second.

For me, this revelation does something profound to my sense of modern life. Don’t we live in an insulated bubble? I’ve assumed that most of us reach a certain age of reason where we construct a world with as much love as possible, and avoid the most pain. It takes a while, but it seems to me to be a standard human thing to do. To the degree that we have control over our surroundings, don’t the vast majority of us expend a tremendous amount of energy on building comfort and avoiding discomfort?

While I still think the answer to these questions is yes, it’s clear that we have a Trojan horse of bravery, duty, kindness and chivalry in us. It’s rolled into our gut at around the same time we look at another human and realize we want to keep them close forever. And it’s solidified when we meet our first enemy.

I think it’s the most exquisite insight we could have today. I think mythology that reinforces this inherent power in each of us is what we all need right now.

Taking this idea further; our disillusionment with Arthurian lore is indicative of our disconnect with our own chivalry.

Prove it!

Okay. When was the last time we felt connected to the second most famous myth of our time? We get chance after chance in the Merlin or Camelot TV shows, the recent King Arthur movie — but they don’t resonate outside a small group of fans. It’s not because the efforts suck, necessarily (though some do). It’s that they’re stale. They treat chivalry like it’s a noble thing only, and not the complex force it is.

Chivalry is Gandhi.

Chivalry is Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chivalry is Malala Yousafzai.

The heroes of Camelot don’t need to tell the same thousand year story again.

The heroes need to be among us. More importantly, they need to be chivalrous among us.

So for all my humility and fear in tackling the lauded lore, my goal with my new book, The Camelot Kids, is to give the world a peek into Camelot in our time. I want to make Camelot fun again. And I want to do it in a way that’s respectful of the tales’ whimsy, boldness and deep conviction that to do right for others is to do right for everyone, including yourself.

After all, the more in touch we are with our inner Camelot, our sense of chivalry, the better off the world will be.

Add your book to Goodreads

Add your book to Goodreads

add my book to goodreads

I’m not sure why Goodreads hides their “Add a New Book” page from us. Are they afraid of some kind of literary hack? Or an avalanche of white papers? A storm of porn? Whatever the reason, just try to search for “add my book to goodreads” and you’ll find what you’re looking for waaaaaaay down on the search results page.

All you have to do is go to this url, and you’re set:

Add my book to Goodreads

Simple post for a simple process. Made hard by Goodreads.

Good luck!

The Camelot Kids’ Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Page

The Camelot Kids’ Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Page

Twitter

 

  (Please click the Retweet icon at the bottom of the post below)

 

Facebook

(Please Share or Like a Facebook post)

 

If you’re not seeing Share or Like buttons in the post above, then you can click on these links and share from there!

Click to Share!

Click to Share #2!

Pinterest

The Camelot Kids Part One cover by Nathan Fox

Part2-New-Camelot-Square-(U

 

Final-Cover-Medium-Size

(Please pin this image to one of your Pinterest pages)

Follow Ben Zackheim’s board The Camelot Kids on Pinterest. [divider divider_type=”dark”][/divider]

Take the quiz and share your result!

 

(Which Camelot character are you? Please share your results on Facebook)

How to price your ebook

How to price your ebook

How to price your ebook can be a tough decision.

Which is surprising since there aren’t many standard price points to choose from!

$.99 – $9.99

That can be broken down in fifty cent increments or one dollar increments. ($1.49, $1.99, $2.49, etc.)

Sure, you could charge $1.27, or $6.73, but price points like that tend to make customers think they’re buying a used item.

So with a max of 19 prices, how do you price your ebook?

What does the competition charge?

Get a clear picture of what people expect to pay for your kind of story.The best place to start is to look at what the competition charges in the Top 20, then price-match the books that you’d like to compete with.

For those of us who write in those annoying little gray areas where it’s tough to find the competition… well… we need to dig a little deeper to find good facts to work from.

My Shirley Link mystery series for Middle Grade to Young Adult is a perfect example. Not many indys write in this specific category, which makes it hard to price match with competitors. I’ve found that most people just won’t pay a Nancy Drew price for an indy book.

Not enough competition to price-match? Try, and try again!

After a lot of trial and error, I’ve settled on my latest pricing strategy of:

Shirley Link & The Safe Case (#1): FREE

Shirley Link & The Hot Comic (#2): $.99

Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest (#3): $2.49

Shirley Link & Black Cat (#4): $2.99

It’s a cross between the pricing strategy of Romance ebooks and Kids ebooks. Start free, make #2 cheap, then crawl up to $2.99, where I can start to make some good money.

Frankly, it’s been a tough road to find the right price for Shirley Link! But I’m definitely getting closer as I try different prices and roll out new books.

Should I go free?

Perma-free is the term we use to describe a book that is free “forever.” Many series authors make the first book in the series free because it helps increase visibility. Going perma-free, when done right, can mean higher sales for the rest of your series.

If you write a series, then do the following to decide if you should go perma-free on Amazon.

1) Do 3 Free Promo Days with book #1.

2) Measure the sales of the entire series post-promo.

3) Answer this question: If your entire series did this well all the time would you be happy? If the answer is yes, then ask a follow-up question. Would you be happy if your series did half as well all the time? If the answer to that is yes then make the first book perma-free. Why? Because the book is strong enough to act as a good entry-point for your entire series. So it’s likely that it will drive satisfying sales. If the answer to either question is no, then perma-free is probably not for you.

If your free book doesn’t rocket readers into your other books, then permafree is not a good pricing strategy.

The bottom line is this: your audience will send strong signals if your price is wrong. For instance, if you see slow sales after a successful free promo day on Amazon, then one reason could be the price point. “But I charge one buck for my ebook!” you might say.

The problem could still be with your price.

Your price may be too low.

Try jacking it up 50 cents. Yes, really. It worked for my third Shirley Link book.

One last tip is to reach out to fans. Ask them what they think the book is worth. Your readers can offer some keen insights on topics ranging from pricing to book description to, of course, story content!

How did you decide the price for your ebook? Do you experiment a lot, too?

Check out my post on how to make your book free on Amazon.

by Ben Zackheim

You may also like:

Prepare your book for its KDP Select free promotion days

Amazon KDP Select has a bridge to sell you! No, really.

The $11 Million question: Is KDP Select worth it?

 

Want to do more research on pricing your book? Here’s some good reading:

Smashwords survey 

PBS

Nick Stephenson (with nifty graphs!)

 

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