On the Drawing Board for 2016

Right out of the gate I have to say Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all the people that follow my blog.  My computer went a bit haywire around Dec. 22 and I had to get it into the shop.  It’s been fitted with a brand new keyboard which feels so great under my fingers that I guess I’ll have to break it in by writing a new novel.  One can hope.

It seems that I have strayed over the last few months – what started out as a forum for keeping anyone who might be interested up-to-date on the progress of my Indie Adventure has recently turned into a fountain of how-to info about building a Twitter following and all things marketing.  And you know what?  That’s ok!  I have learned over the last year that the one thing the great Traditionally published writers do really well is MARKET.

They may not even do it consciously but they have one thing and one thing only in mind when they write their books … THE READER.  They realize that the reader needs to identify … and the first greatest factor that they need to identify with is the main character.

That may have been what is lacking in my books.  The field of DOG FICTION is limited in its possible readership from the get-go.  Add to that the fact that my main human characters haven’t always been characters that my target audience could relate to and you can see where the problem is.

BUT … And this is the really fun part … I have three new projects gearing up for 2016.
First I have a story outside my comfort zone.
I am calling it ‘I was a Teenage Superhero’ – This is a Young Adult coming of age story that takes place in High School.  Should have large relatability there.
My second is another Dog Fiction novel called ‘The Secret of Sammi’s Silent Song – Scenes from a Stray Dog’s Life – That one has an ensemble case with something for eveyone.
And now here is the NEW idea that has come to me recently.
My novel LOBO was set in 2010 – 2011 and the main character Antonia was then 7 years old.  So by 2016 – 2017 she would be about 14 years old.  I feel a sequel coming on.  What it will be about I have no idea but if it follows the style of the original it will have a lot of current events.  So here’s hoping next year gives me some grist for my mill.

On the marketing front I am about to hit 20.000 followers on Twitter.  Very cool.  I have a plan to not only overhaul my writer’s platform but REVOLUTIONIZE AND SET A NEW STANDARD.  I am not going to let the cat out of the bag just yet but I will unveil the new developements as they go on-line.

So that’s the plan.  And of course I will keep on blogging here and at https://inglesalpoderdetres.wordpress.com/ – I also have some surprises for my language students and a plan to cross over my markets.  Anyone thinking about learning Spanish?  I have a book(s) coming out soon that you might like.

Here’s wishing an AWESOME 2016 to you all.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here. 


The New Twitter Reality

I guess my posts get way off track from the issue of writing.  In today’s climate of Self Published Indie Writers, marketing is as big a chore as writing.  Besides, who wants to read another diatribe on the virtues / failings of the adverb or some other dry technobabble about grammar or whatever?  If you can write, write.  If not, my advise isn’t going to be of much help.

So the new Twitter reality.  Since Twitter implemented changes to their follow / unfollow policy and castrated the big third party support sites such as Tweepi, I have seen a big change in the landscape.  Take into consideration that I am just an average Joe that wakes up every morning, makes a coffee and sits at his computer for an hour working on building his following.  I don’t know if that makes me an expert but after six months of working it, one begins to see patterns and recognize DRASTIC changes.

My observations.
There are active accounts that I often follow with Tweepi.  These are accounts in my Niche that have a lot of new followers every day.  Followers that tweet regularly.  Well, these active accounts have taken a big hit.  Where they used to have page after page of new followers every day, they now have a few pages of new followers every week.

I am building at 25% of what I was doing before the change.  Previously you could use Tweepi to follow 500 people per day.  You could unfollow 200.  I also used Unfollowers to unfollow another 100.  And I would get aproximately 100 new followers per day.  These days the limits are much less.
200 follows permitted.
100 unfollows permitted.
Still able to unfollow 100 with Unfollowers.
Average of 25 new followers per day.

So this whole new landscape has made me rethink my strategy.  Obviously my first and principal goal is to get in touch with people that might take an interest in my books.  For this I have two accounts.
@dbwriterteacher for my fiction / non-fiction books about dogs.
@inglesalP3 for my tutorial for teaching English to Spanish speakers.

The former account is the one I put the most time into promoting.
So where was I making my mistake?  I was looking for very active people with large followings.  This is nice if you can entice people to retweet your tweets and is still a goal but that has taken a back seat for the moment.

If you are able to identify you niche on twitter and follow the right people, or at least people within a similar area, you are on the right track.
(obviously there are many, many people that follow anyone within any niche with the hope of upping their numbers and looking popular … let’s call them slugs for lack of a better name)

Once you identify your niche and find a user account from which you can harvest followers via tweepi, it’s important to look at all of a user’s info before following them.  Hell, if the number of followers is limited, it makes sense to follow selectively so you will get the greatest return, ie number or people who will follow you back.
So the info is … User, Location, Last Tweeted, Follow Count & Follow Ratio.
There can be certain reasons within all of these concepts why you may or may not want to follow a user.  People from my hometown get followed almost automatically.  Most people who have tweeted in the last few hours get a serious consideration.  I say people because I generally skip companies and organizations since they are not likely to buy books.

images (1)

(this screen shot is out-dated but it gives you an idea of what to look for with tweepi)

The principal New element that I am taking into consideration is the Follow Count vs.  the Follow ratio.  For this I have looked at highly successful accounts.  Not just accounts with big numbers but official accounts of highly successful people.

Cesar Milan, better known as the Dog Whisperer @cesarmillan
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series @jk_rowling
What I notice is that the LEADERS (such as the previously mentioned SUPER successful celebrities) aren’t attracting people with big numbers. They are attracting followers.  (I found this suprising since Mr. Milan preaches the ‘Be the Leader’ message)

There are a number of ways to figure out if a person trying to carve out a twitter empire or are they just using Twitter to keep up on products, news and gossip.
Between their Follow Count and their Follow ratio you can learn a lot about a person.  (Again, I reserve my time for people who tweet regularly … those Unknown / Never Tweeted accounts are a waste of time)
The bottom line is that a person who tweets often, has a limited number of followers and a very low Follow ratio is the best bet for a followback and also has a greater chance of becoming a paying customer.

They are following more people than follow them.  The chances that they will follow back is much greater.

The overall reality is that a LEADER wants more followers than people he is following.  This is why I often take a  break from following new accounts to PURGE my account of people that don’t follow back.  Yes, I could have a 100% Followback policy and it would increase my numbers, but then I would have too many accounts that are not related to my niche.

So there is my new following plan.  Obviously, anyone can use this info or advice … it is not relative exclusively to Indie Authors.

Good luck with building that Twitter Following.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

Twitter Applies New Policies – I told you so

Just a week ago I posted my prediction about the inevitable changes Twitter was sure to implement.

Read the post


It turns out I was right.  They have greatly reduced the effectiveness of Tweepi and other third party programs for building a following.  I am not sure why Twitter has made these changes.  If you read their user agreement and policies you cannot help but be blown away by the hypocrisy.  They state within their rules “Remember, Twitter isn’t a race to get the most followers.”  Ok, who the hell are they fooling?  I mean really, I live in Mexico so I am used to having authorities lie straight-faced to me.  I can see through it.

The obvious advantage to using twitter is exactly in the fact that it is possible to obtain a HUGE following.  Why else do people strive for these large numbers?   Are we to believe that some plumbing supply company in Komomo, Indiana just happens to have 753,000 followers due to their witty tweets and the value of their content?  Yeah, right!

You can still use tweepi to see what other accounts are up to and it’s clear to the trained eye which accounts have either bought followers or have worked the system.  75,000 followers and they have tweeted 121 times?  Something smells wrong with that account.  27,000 followers and the majority have unknown/never tweeted status?  Just a guess but MAYBE these aren’t real followers and only exist to pump up the account’s credibility?  Just a thought.

It appears that between the Tweepi and Unfollowers sites and apps that the limits for following and unfollowing have been cut in half.

So where does that leave people who are actively trying to increase their following?  Well, in a difficult position.

You are going to have to follow a lot more selectively.  This means looking more closely at the person’s follow ratio, how often they tweet and how many followers they have.

iOS 5 Twitter Hole

You are going to have to be concerned in giving a lot more value added content to gain followers.

You need to be very careful to not CHURN (following and unfollowing excessive numbers)  Twitter frowns on this practice and can block or suspend your account.

You need to engage your followers a lot more in order to get the most from the followers you already have … sales and cross-followers.

Finally, I hope you have been working the system before now to build your following because it just got a lot harder.  As my mother used to say, “I told you so!” 

Good luck with that!


David Gordon Burke
Find my books here!

To read more on this issue, click here!

Unified Engagement Optimization

“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
– Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I’m not sure if that quote is from the book or the movie.  I remember Brad Pitt giving a sermon something like that in the movie and it couldn’t be more relative today in the world of Social Media.  We are all living under the belief that if we build a platform of massive followers, that one day our ship will come in and we’ll be RICH!

But the truth is that some of us are going to reap the benefits of social media while others are going to be left wringing their hands and wondering what went wrong.  Why didn’t their dreams come true?  Why didn’t they sell the millions of self sealing stem bolts or hair loss cream or Indie Self Published books that they were sure were going to lead to their economic independence?

So here is what I’m seeing as the downfall of many Indie Writers and their reliance on Social Media.

1.  They are under the impression that having a huge library of titles is going to lead to their success.  Ok, there is a certain truth there – you need a product to sell.  But I am seeing a bunch of writers that are churning out two or three novels a year.  Good for you.  Your family and friends may be buying them and there may be a short-term economic payoff BUT (and this is a huge BUT) if your books aren’t getting better with each progressive release, that just isn’t going to do it.  Eventually even your family and friends are going to get sick of donating to your dream, especially if they can barely get through to the last page.

2.  You have left the building of your platform to chance.  Most of the Indie Writers I know aren’t actively looking to increase their following.  And if and when they do try to build their social media presence, they are doing it all wrong.  If you aren’t finding followers from within your niche, you are just wasting your time.  If you are adding inactive followers to your presence, also a waste of time.

3.  You are not ENGAGING.  The new buzz word related to social media is Unified Engagement Optimization.  Also known as Customer Engagement Optimization etc.  This means using social media to build real relationships with people you meet through twitter and other social media.

4.  Having a less than professional platform.  I actually am guilty of this one since I don’t have the economic ability to hire out graphic artists to do sexy banners and such for my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  But at least I have a pic and a banner.  It is the same for all my accounts.  What kind of response can an author expect from their social media if they don’t even put a photo and a banner and a decent bio on their sites?  Well none of course.

5.  Using your twitter and facebook to exclusively push your product.  This just gets boring.  I have taken a break from pushing my books on Twitter which is my principal source of followers.  I’m not convinced that book promos have any influence on the bottom line so why bother?  Why not build a following and try to connect with people?  Real people who have similar interests.  It may be that people are more inclined to buy your product when they have a relationship or have gotten real quality help or advice from reading your blog or tweets or posts etc.

So how to engage.  This is a big problem.  I do not have the answer.  I just know that if you are going to try to build a following – and by this I mean a real following of people that read your books, not 100,000 inactive twitter followers that have no interest in your novels, you are going to need to think outside the box.

Within the next 6 months I hope to totally revamp my internet presence.  I’m not about to give away my secrets here.  Especially before I get a leg up but I will say that it might be an idea to consult with someone with knowledge of marketing who can show you how it is being done.  Because of the millions and millions of authors who are trying and failing at selling their books via social media, only a handful are looking beyond today’s model.  And let’s be frank.  How many book sales can you trace back to social media?  My success has been extremely limited to date.  I count on that changing as my following grows but when you factor in effort vs. sales, it is a very slow process with a limited payback.  Sure, better to have the media presence and not need it rather than need it and not have it BUT there has to be a better way.

The moral of the story – build a following of REAL people within your NICHE and then find a way to ENGAGE.  Otherwise you are wasting you time.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.