On the Eve of Hurricane Patricia

I haven´t been blogging much lately due to some personal issues that have arisen in the last two weeks (more on that in a later post.)  Tonight, while I still have electricity, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the past disasters and the one that is occurring in Mexico at this moment – parts of the country are being bombarded by a level 5 Hurricane; Hurricane Patricia.

This will be my fourth hurricane since I moved to Mexico.  Here in Monterrey we are surrounded by mountains so it is rare that we get much more than the tail of a Hurricane – the exceptions were Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Alex in 2010.  The latter was a principal character in the novel I wrote ´LOBO´ about a German shepherd dog lost in the streets of Monterrey after the storm  (shameless self promotion anyone?)
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Right now it is calm in the city with just a light drizzle.  That could change at any moment.  I don´t expect much from Patricia since it is coming in from the Pacific and will have lost most of its fury by the time it reaches us here in the North-East.  Still, I have taken the necessary precautions in case I am mistaken.

When Alex hit in 2010 I was living in a second floor apartment with huge front and back porches.  Sadly, the fool who constructed the building didn´t think to build the porch floors with a slight outward angle so I spend three days sweeping rain water in a losing attempt to keep it from seeping under the doors and flooding my home.  Really not a tragedy in the greater scheme of things.

The damage Alex did has yet to be repaired – there are still streets that never reopened and probably never will.  And now another hurricane is on route to our city.  The horrific lack of a decent drainage system means that some neighborhoods will flood.  These are the same areas affected every year and nothing is ever done.  Of course these are the poor areas of the city so no one in local government could care less.

Monterrey is a desert city.  Hard baked soil that barely absorbs the lightest rain.  Flash floods are commonplace.

My perspective as an outsider is inevitably considered tainted.  The people claim to enjoy a singular solidarity but I only see this phenomenon when there is a crisis.  The rest of the time it is a dog-eat-dog life.  I guess my socialist political leanings are showing.  The people don´t want to do anything to help themselves as a whole if that would mean that the politicians can´t steal from the public coffers as they always have done and especially if it means that taxes would be raised.

I thought of writing something that would capture the fear that many people must be feeling at this moment across the city but I probably used up all my best prose describing the hurricane in my novel.  For the moment I leave you with this video.  This is what we have in store for us tonight if the worst happens.

For the moment I pray that the storm passes us by or that it is mild.  Monterrey cannot afford another tragedy.

On the other hand, I might get another novel out of the deal so …. BRING IT ON!  Somehow, Monterry will still be here tomorrow morning.  Prayers to those people in the danger zones.

David Gordon Burke
Find my Books here.

Twitter Analytics – Can the Self Published Indie Author use it to their Advantage?

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Ok, let´s talk about a powerful tool – Twitter Analytics. To be up front from the beginning, I am in the process of learning this tool and figuring out how to use the information it provides about my twitter account to allow me to carve out a stronger position within my NICHE. After all that is my overall goal.

To recap, in a previous post I talked about ¨The 1000.¨ No, it´s not a new series on Netflix. 1000 is the target goal for any creative person.  1000 true, die hard fans that will buy everything you produce is enough to sustain a lifestyle according to some theories. Let´s remember that we are talking about $2.99 Ebooks, not $1000 impresionist oil paintings so I guess it all depends on how many books you produce and how high a lifestyle you wish to live. I´m a simple guy looking to suplement
his income with a steady trickle or flow of Amazon Kindle bucks. I´m  not greedy.

But I digress.

In everything we do, we have to keep in mind who we are trying to appeal to and what our goals are – I am trying to appeal to two different segments / Niches.
I have two different Twitter accounts.

@DBWriterTeacher
@InglesalP3

The first account is for promo of my English fiction / memoir / non-fiction books that to date have exclusively had to do with dogs. Think Jack London goes to Acapulco. That’s me.

The second account is for promo of my ESL (English as a Second Language books for Spanish speakers.

So right away I have two totally diverse Niches with their own potential customers. And these customers have needs, interests etc. and if I  am able to provide for those needs and interests, they will be much more likely to jump on the bandwagon and become one of my much needed 1000 true fans.

So my goal is to provide for those need and interests.

For the moment I have one BIG recommendation. If you are not checking out your twitter account via Twitter Analytics you need to start doing that.
https://analytics.twitter.com/

Once you get to the site you will be able to log into your specific twitter account and then you will see your statistics.

The first way I started to put this tool to work for me was by checking which tweets got the most interest. I am assuming that the collective interests of my followers must have some common thread.

Example – Since I tend to deal with writers and readers and all people interested in literature, I like to do my promos with some comedy or humorous bit about books or famous writers etc. and include a link to my books.
Or some comedy bit relative to the theme or topic material of the book.

For some reason Dictionary and Thesaurus jokes are a big hit.
My latest was “Sticks & stones may rupture my chassis but quarrels will never pummel me. I cannonaded his cranium with a Thesaurus.” Cute.
I got 11 retweets on that one in about 2 hours and expect more.  Got around to looking at how many followers the retweeters have … that ad could possibly be seen by over a million people. This is what twitter is for.

So when you open Analytics you get a first page which is a general  break-down of your account’s performance, month by month (28 Day summary section.)

It show how many tweets, what your tweet impressions were, how many people visited your profile, how many times you were mentioned and your increase in followers for the month. Beside each of these concepts there is an arrow up or down to indicate how you are doing compared to other months.

You then see the break-down for that month.
Top Tweet
Top Mention
Number of Tweets for period
Profile visits
Number of new followers
Tweet impressions
Mentions
Your Top follower (being the follower with the biggest numbers)
Your Top Media tweet – A blog or other media tweet you have uploaded.
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Great. All of this info can go into the brain pan and hopefully help you devise strategies to repeat past victories and not repeat the tweets and other promos that had little effect.

Now, across the top of the page you have navigation
Home
Tweets
Followers
Twitter Cards
Videos

I have yet to figure this all out but I do take a look at the tweets area.  For each tweet you can see how well it performed. I imagine that ‘Impressions’ is how many times people clicked on the tweet. Engagements looks like the number of retweets and then engagement rate is a percentage / clickers vs. retweeters.

So overall, which tweets are working and why? Good to know.

Click followers and you get a ton of info about your peeps. This info? I don’t know how you are going to use it to your benefit. I am actually a bit disappointed since within all the info about my followers, there isn’t a smidgen related to dogs. I’m screwed. Some readers and a lot of writers but no DOG PEOPLE.  Bummer.  Of course my Niche is very vague and ambiguous. This will be a lot more effective for people who are building their following strictly and directly from Niche related sources.
If you are a ‘Life Hacker’ and your entire strategy is built around selling self help Life Hacker DVD’s and you harvest all your followers from other Life Hacker Niche Peers, you are going to rock with the insights you can gain from this section.

This secion also gives you lifestyle stuff, their principal language, buying habits, even their wireless provider.

The next two sections are Twitter cards and Videos which I do not use and as such have no opinion on.

So, how are you going to use this tool to devise your Twitter Marketing Strategy?
No, seriously, that was a direct question to you, the reader. Please comment and share if you have some ideas.
I for one am going to, first and foremost, try to refine my harvesting of followers to find my NICHE related followers. More
book readers, reviewers etc. Also, more DOG PEOPLE.

I am going to keep doing blogs that get people’s attention with a joke or humor.

And I’m going to keep checking back with Analytics to see how my account is growing and performing.

Good Luck.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

More Niche, Twitter & Tweepi Tips – Big Numbers vs. True Followers & The 1000

Let´s face it. Facebook is so very yesterday. Sure, it is still huge but as far as real marketing value for the Self Published Indie writer, I´ve heard a lot of ´Does it work? – Is it worth it?´ inquiries but not a lot of positive testimonies. Actually, none.
Then there are the ´Facebook Writer´s Groups.´ If what you are looking for is a lot of inane book ads for erotica and porn, then for sure, sign up for one of those groups. How effective they are in generating sales is anyone´s best guess.

So what are you going to do to get a strong foothold on a social media platform?
In my humble opinion, the best platform for growing quickly is Twitter.
It obviously helps if you have some other, previous experience in social media. I had a small success with Youtube (more than 4 million reproductions of my English as a Second Language videos) It also can´t hurt if you run a blog, maintain your Amazon and Goodreads author pages, maybe a Pinterest account etc.

But the big potential for exponential growth with Twitter.
Now here´s the catch – You have to know how to use it.
I´ve written about this in the past. KNOW YOUR NICHE.
This can apply to anyone regardless of the product or service they are flogging. Who is your potential customer? What are they doing at this very moment? What are their interests? Where do they gather?
The whole purpose IMHO is to create HUGE numbers of followers.
But who qualifies as a follower? Anyone can click on that follow button. Does that make them of use to you as a writer? NO! NO WAY!

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Let´s take a detour for a moment.

There is a theory out there that states:
A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

Read all about this theory here.
http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

Now what is cool, if you do read the whole post, is that this theory is based on the idea that a true fan will spend ´One day´s wages´ per year to support you. Damn, that´s a lot of cash. As an INDIE author, all I am looking for from my fans / readers is a measly $2.99. So a lot more doable. But the gist is to find 1000 loyal fans that will buy everything you produce.

So let´s assume that you get that 1000 true loyal fans and followers.
How is that going to affect your book sales?
Imagine a new release that gets a couple of hundred sales right out of the gate. That is going to clearly spike your ranking into a range that will be noticed by many people that would never have heard of you before. Great. And you still have 800 true fans who have yet to hear about or buy your product. This reserve of devoted fans is going to keep buying over the coming months and keep your product in the public eye. So the 1000 fans is a MUST for success IMHO. This is my goal.

So getting back to Twitter & Tweepi – How do you cultivate those 1000? Rush out and BUY Twitter followers. NOT. This is a complete waste of money. If having a large following gives you a sense of confidence, by all means, throw your money in the toilet. But this isn´t going to somehow magically turn into dollars on your kindle sales report.
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Whenever I see this Icon in my ‘Followers’ list, I delete the account immediately.  There are always vultures in every human endeavour.  

The most powerful tool I have found for creating a large NICHE following is TWEEPI.
http://tweepi.com/

I´ve talked about this before. Get to know this platform.
You can use it to weed out the people that aren´t following you back. Very helpful there.
But the most powerful function is it´s ´Follow Followers´ section. Here you can target your peer’s followers. So if you write Horror novels, find Stephen King and J. A. Konrath’s official twitter accounts and start following their followers.

Here´s a video Tutorial on how Tweepi works.

Within the video you learn how to install the ´Bulk Follow´ button for IE and Google Chrome. But just because you have the button, doesn´t mean you should always use it.

Now here´s a warning. Surely Mr. King has some followers whose sole purpose in life is to promote their plumbing supply company.  They aren´t on Twitter to find new writers and discover new literary gems. So I avoid those people.

When I get onto a page of a competitor´s / peer´s followers, I first look at how often these people tweet. For some pages, the initial pages are full of recent followers and these people are most active so I will bulk follow the first few pages. After that, I start selectively following only those people who fit my NICHE profile. Again, I avoid groups and companies and go for individuals who have their own following and who have tweeted within the last few days.

I also look at the follow back ratio. People with 6 followers are using twitter like it´s Facebook. They really don´t know what it’s about. These people are not likely to let an unknown person into their little circle. Skip them.

So the big trick is to identify your NICHE.

I also keep a ´USER´ list in a text file on my desktop. These are the users from whom I have harvested followers in the past. I go back occassionally to harvest their new users.

In my case, I have two accounts – one for promoting my fiction and another for new account for my ESL tutorials.
I harvest directly from accounts like @AvidReadersCafe & @TheBookTweeters for general book lovers and since my books are about dogs I go to @garthstein (The author of ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ … a book about a dog) to find folks who will read a book about a dog.  I harvest from a whole other range of users for my ESL account.

My accounts are –

@DBwriterteacher
@Inglesalp3

Now here is the kicker. At this moment I have 12,097 followers.
Let’s say that about 25% of them are other writers – no avoiding that since they all congregate to the book tweeter, avid reader users as well.  Could some of them be my TRUE Followers? Unlikely. Take them out and we have 9063 Followers.
10% are probably companies and semi-dead accounts that will show up in my ‘Unfollowers’ folder within the next few months.
Leaves me 8057.
50% are people like me – sellers, not buyers. Leaves 4026.
Another 50% of those followers are possibly people I have miscalculated are have absolutely nothing to do with my NICHE.
2013 left.
Another 25% might not even speak English.
1507 remaining.
25% Follow everybody regardless. Down to 1132 remain.
So let’s stop here. You see where I am going with this.
The most important lesson that I am saving for last is that there is always the possibility of converting any of your followers at any moment from the cast-off crowd, into a TRUE FOLLOWER. Keep them happy. Write something interesting or inventive or useful on your blog.
Tweet some funny, clever or useful stuff on your twitter feed.

My goal is to get 50,000 TRUE FOLLOWERS within my NICHE. I don’t worry about how many people UNFOLLOW. As a matter of fact, I invite those people that aren’t interested in my THING to leave. Leave NOW. I am looking for a long term relationship.  I actually get users that FOLLOW and then two or three days later they unfollow. How is this a smart tactic to get me to buy their product?

Finally, don’t be afraid to NOT FOLLOW back everyone that follows you.

Hope that’s been of some help or gets you thinking about your Twitter account. Good luck with that 1000.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.