The Writer’s Achilles Heel

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I am going to go out on a limb here.  This is strictly my personal opinion but it may be of some use to some other writer(s).
The three areas where most Indie writers blow it as far as presenting polished prose that doesn’t reek of AMATEUR, in my not so humble opinion are:

1.  Point of View – For some reason first person rules in Indie.  Worse yet, the trend of writing in first person present tense.  Yeah, it’s trendy, everyone is doing it but unless you are an old master, it stinks of novice writer.  Now some might say, “what’s wrong with first person?  A lot of great novels are written in first person.”  And I’d say there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is appropriate for the story.  Some styles and genres, particularly detecitve novels SCREAM to be written in first person.  And that’s great.  But then I would refer you to the old expression ‘ONE TRICK PONY.’  A writer has to be versatile.  If the vast majority of INDIE is written in first person (and I’m not sure it is … I’m just stating what I have seen which is an overwhelming preference for that POV) then I’d suggest that a good writer should try to write in third person at least some of the time.

2.  Exposition – Getting that oh so important back story into the narrative without info dumping and other haphazard, clunky methods.  This is exceptionally complicated if a writer conforms to the ‘Media Res’ concept and / or if he insists on opening with an Inciting Incident.  I’m not a big fan of either style of writing for the simple fact that a. it’s again super trendy and b. my stories just tend to want to be told in a straight line.

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3.  Present vs. Past – This is the one I have struggled with most in my writing.  How does one describe / contrast the action of the moment with the constant in the scene.

Example:  The Mount Everest stood tall in the distance.   Doesn’t putting that sentence into the past imply that Mount Everest is no longer standing? Was there a terrorist attack?  Did I not get the memo? (not a great example but you get my point)

In my novel LOBO I jumped back and forth a bit too much for my l liking.  I described a lot of scenes that were traditional, customary celebrations in Mexico and those I described in present tense.  Then when the action and narrative started, I’d switch to the past.

This isn’t WRONG per se but there is a better way to do it.  The trick I have determined after thinking about it for over two years and trying to figure out how to handle this is to NOT contrast the present.  Think about it as if the action happened in the past and the mountains WERE a background to the action in that moment.  In other words, you have to totally change your perspective, change it up and stick to the past tense almost exclusively.  If you cannot make that sentence work in the past tense, it probably shouldn’t be there and you have to find another way to get that info into the story without emphasizing the ‘CONSTANT’ element of whatever you are describing.

Sounds complicated.  And again, it is the author’s choice.  Many good novels jump back and forth.  Monterrey is a 3 hour drive from the border of Texas with at Nuevo Laredo and it always will be.  But if you want your story and your sentences to jibe, to agree and to be consistent, you’d do well to try to keep it all in one verb tense.

It was a three hour drive to Nuevo Laredo.  Juan bought a family size bottle of Carta Blanca which he balanced on the seat of the old pick-up.  Whenever he hit a long stretch of highway and could see there were no cars coming in the opposite lane, he took a chug from the bottle.

Now isn’t that a lot better than a paragraph or sentence that might start;
It is a three hour drive to Nuevo Laredo.  Juan bought a family size bottle of Carta Blanca which he balanced on the seat of the old pick-up. ???

In closing, let me mention again that this is a personal preference and opinion so take it or leave it.  My goal is to overcome these weaknesses in my own writing.  So far I have leant a bit too heavily on first person.  My memoir and my short story collection were both 100% First person.  My novel LOBO was a mix of third person narrative with first person interview sections and my latest WIP is first person.  The novel I have planned for later in 2016 HAS TO be 100% third person and 100% past tense and I absolutely HAVE TO get the back-story in there in as elegant and subtle manner as possible.  That’s my goal.

Speaking of my novel LOBO (which despite its obvious flaws is still my favorite of my fiction so far) I just got a new review.
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4 Stars
Killer Instinct and Loyalty!
Fights to the death! Destruction! Love and Loyalty. Lobo is a powerful story about a dog that does whatever it takes to get back to his family. A family that needs him. One of my favorite quotes in the book is that “maybe people just aren’t capable of understanding the love our pets have for us.” The love and loyalty and the extent that a dog will go to in order to save, protect and be with his family is unexplainable, but true. The family has endured pain and loss, and it makes for an enjoyable and interesting story. Lobo is a hero, and a great story that’s main character is a German Shepard!
This review was featured on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews – Thank god I have a few supporters out there.  Thanks so much for the postive review.  Postive reviews like this keep me going and remind me that while I am hyper-critical of my own writing, there are still a few people out there that are enjoying my books.

 

 

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The Indie Author Book Marketer – How I gave up the dream of being a Bestselling Author and Found Happiness

The last two months have been brutal for book sales.  The Christmas rush came and went without affecting my bottom line at all.  So what is one to do?

The obvious answer is to conform.  Follow the trends.  Write what is expected.  Figure out what your target market is reading and give them more of the same.  In other words, stop writing what you write and write what you believe the market will buy.  Tailor your product to the wants of the reader.  (in case you don’t hear it …. add tone of sarcasm to previous paragraph)

The sad truth is that every time I get an idea for a new story, I realize that it doesn’t fit within any one genre.  It’s not just one thing.  I could make it fit just one thing but then it wouldn’t be the same story.  I’d have to hyper-emphasized one aspect of the story and delete or downplay other aspects to be able to list the book under ‘Romance’ or ‘Young Adult’ or whatever other genre would be most appropriate.  Do I really want to do that?  Will the story suffer?  Will it be as interesting?  Sacrifice story for Genre?

There is the rub.  The world of INDIE is dominated by Genre fiction.  And I realize that I don’t really write that kind of novel.

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My goal as a writer isn’t to write the next ‘Twilight’ (or especially 50 Shades … blech!)  It is to write something that sticks with the reader long after they have turned the last page.  I don’t know if I have even come close to reaching that goal with my previous works but I figure it is a worthwhile goal and I’m not about to give up.

I’m sure there are a number of other Indie writers in the same situation.  And if you factor in the frustration of seeing other novels doing much better than your own work, it’s enough to make you hang up the quill for life and take up playing the didgeridoo for tips in some bus station entrance.
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And who hasn’t been in this situation?  You surf around Amazon and find a book that’s similar to one of yours.  The cover is just god awful, looks like it was done by the writer’s grandkids using Microsoft Paint.  You click the ‘Look Inside’ feature and the writing itself is beyond unforgivable.  (I chanced upon a book the other day with a Grammatical error in the title / a lost dog book called “Loosing Billy” – what is LOOSING?)  And it’s doing WAY better than your book.  In the middle thousands for sales vs. your book that has been hovering around the MILLION mark for months.

Factor in the phenomenal number of people who are content to read the same old thing time and again – this is what psychologists clinically refer to as “Crazy Making.”  I ask you, how many ‘Vampires in Love’ books could you possibly read, one after another?  Not to mention the prediliction fiction.  Amazing the depths to which some writers have sunk.  So what is a writer to do?

I say just give up.  Don’t give up writing.  Just give up the idea that it is going to sell.  The moment a writer begins to write for the money, the moment he begins to write to get on that bestseller list on Amazon is the moment he begins to churn out derivative fluff.  And I’ll be damned if I’ll go that route.

That’s not to say that if you get an idea and it falls into a genre that there is anything wrong with writing it.  No problem.  But I’d rather suffer a Columbian necktie than kill off one of my stories just because it doesn’t fit into the expectations of today’s reading public.

And they are a fickle bunch.  You might just spend six months to a year polishing your great Vampire romance novel just to find that the genre has finally suffered a great and overdue ‘Stake through its dangling participle heart’ death and now you can’t give away one of your books.  Meanwhile, the stuff you were writing previously has hit and you have fallen out of favor because you don’t have anything new to offer.

So just give up on the money and the fame and the recognition and the Amazon bestseller standing.  Just write.  And be happy.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

 

The Writer’s Contract with the Reader

It has been said that every story has already been told.
‘Nothing is new under the sun.” So goes a Latin proverb.  There are only a limited number of basic myths and archetype stories told over and over.  At least that is the theory.  And I have to admit that a lot of my work falls into the realm of ´Refried.´ Meaning, I am telling stories that are a mix of things that have already been done.

You could say that my novel ´Lobo´ is a 50%/50% blend of ´Lassie´ and the Mexican film ´Amores Perros.´ I’m alright with that.  So where is the line in the sand that determines if a new story is new or is it just a tired old Trope?

I direct you to the new Star Wars movie.  This is not my idea of satisfying story telling.  It is a mish mash of old Star Wars tropes that leaves most intelligent views cold.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about with that term, go to this page.
http://tvtropes.org/

Judging by the reaction to the new Star Wars film, I’d say the snake has turned and is eating its own tail.
I won’t go on and on about the Star Wars film.  Others have done that for me.
The Force Awakens Sucks on Youtube

So what is my point?  There is a contract between the writer and the reader.  The writer promises to give the reader a satisfying journey over the space of a few hundred pages in which all will be revealed and resolved in a satisfying manner.  (The same could be said about the movie experience)

This is where sucess or failure lies.  There are hundreds of elements that go into writing a good story but if you fail to give the reader a satisfying experience … fail to provide anything more than a series of typical and tired reworkings of previously used plot devices, your chances for recognition or success are very limited.  And let’s remember that you are not just competing with the written word.  You are competing with every story out there from Network television, Netflix, DVD, Comic Books etc.  Anywhere a story can be found.  Why should the reader dedicate hours reading your story if he can get the same semi-satisfaction from an episode of CSI Miami or Friends?

And let’s face it – he has already paid his $10 for a Netflix subscription.  You are asking for his confidence, time AND some of his hard earned cash.

Although dated, I recommend reading ‘Writing Popular Fiction’ by Dean Koontz.  Mr. Koontz is a master of Genre fiction.  I’ve been a fan since I  read his novel ‘Watchers.’

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My point is that you may fall into the trap of writing a stale plot full of tired tropes or you may give it a new, unexpected twist.  It depends on your creativity in part but it also has to do with how well you know the genre you are writing.  Mr.  Koontz’ ‘How to’ book describes the most popular genres (keeping in mind it was written years ago so in some cases it is somewhat dated) and talks about the twists and tropes typically utilized for each.  To be forwarned is to be prepared.  If you can think of a different and original way to tell an old story, your reader will appreciate your work.

If not, you’re just trying to blast yet another bigger and better Death Star out of the sky.

David Gordon Burke
Find my novels here.

 

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.
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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.
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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.

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(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.
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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

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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!

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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?
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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.
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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.  

 

 

If You aren’t using Twitter Tools – Time is Running Out

If you know me at all you have probably read one of my rants against the evils of Facebook. Yes, I have three accounts (for all the goodit has done me) but I am a full-on-100%-die-hard twitter supporter.

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Facebook is like waking up every morning, turning on your computer and checking into your High School reunion. I think I was drunk for High School Reunion and may have thrown up on our former Prom-Queen’s shoes. I blame Tequila shots with my the former Spanish teacher.

So yeah, I don’t waste a lot of energy marketing to those “Friends” nor do I expect much help there for my campaign. For that I go to Twitter.

I have learned a lot about Twitter over the last 9 months – evidently a lot more than people who had 2 thousand followers when I joined up and who still haven´t broken the 3 thousand mark.

I have blogged numerous times about how to build your twitter following – especially about how to do it RIGHT!

Last night I discovered yet another great tool for working with your twitter account.

https://www.twitteraudit.com

Before getting into the mechanics of this tool, I did discover that you can only do ONE free audit of your account so I suggest you save this tool for after you break a goal. My first goal was 10 thousand users but I passed that milestone months ago so I went ahead and audited my account immediately.

The result? As I expected, my percentage of garbage accounts was only 2%. 16,892 Real Followers vs. 380 Fakes. Garbage accounts.

What is a garbage account? These are fake accounts that exist to falsly inflate a user´s following. They are empty accounts that no one really cares about. There are other accounts out there that follow just about everyone via bots. These too are false and do nothing to help your campaign.

So why do I urge you to use these kinds of Twitter tools to build your following and manage your account? Because despite helping buildthe Twitter universe, Twitter has spent recent years steadily forcing 3rd party solutions out of the market. So we have these tools
at our disposal today … but tomorrow? No one knows.

The other tools that I used to grow my Twitter following from 60 followers to 17,310 in 9 months are:

http://tweepi.com/

https://unfollowers.com/

www.dynamictweets.com/

Tweepi lets you follow your competition´s followers and unfollow accounts that don´t follow back.
Unfollowers is pretty self explanitory. Between Tweepi and Unfollowers you can purge about 300 accounts per day. This opens up room to follow new accounts that WILL follow you back.  Unfollowers is available as an app for android so that´s handy.
Dynamic Tweets allows you to program your tweets in advance.
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A couple of other tips. Users are more likely to follow or follow back if you have:

A photo. And since it is about YOU, a personal photograph please. I don´t even bother to follow NON-HUMAN icons. I want real people for followers.

A bio. Why would I follow you if I know nothing about you? And having someone stop by and read your bio may be the first step towards making a sale.

BTW – You may have noticed that although my blog is all about promotion for my INDIE AUTHOR publications, I haven´t mentioned books or Amazon or Kindle etc. until now in this post. This is because the tools and concepts are universal for any NICHE.

So good luck with that. I am always available for a bit of Twitter tutoring.
davidburke63@gmail.com

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here!

Stephen King´s ¨On Writing¨ – Read it again

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In case you are wondering whether I am using the past or the imperative of the verb ´Read,´ the answer is BOTH.  I read it again and I highly recommend that you do the same.

I say this with the almost complete confidence that if you are in the Indie writer – Self Publishing game, you have read it already.  I really wish I had read the book when it first came out as it most likely would have motivated me to resurrect my childhood dream of being a writer; something that was beaten out of my by the good old Canadian education system.  Have to thank Mrs. Jarvis especially for scarring me to such a degree as to make me give up at the ripe old age of 8.

But I digress.

Why do I recommend you read Mr. King´s diatribe on the art and methodology of writing fiction?  Well there is a lot of advice in their that has very little to do with the actual writing and a lot to do with keeping up your confidence and shunning the criticism that we run into as Indie writers.

Let´s admit it, if any of us were making big numbers (any of us serious writers that is … all the 50 Shades prediliction fiction xxx writers who are cashing in can and should have to read their works to their mothers in front of their own church congregation) we wouldn´t be blogging and twittering and marketing like a bunch of deranged girl-guides trying to flog that last box of cookies.  We´d just be writing and enjoying the fruit$ of our labour.

So let´s say you are a writer who is sticking to their guns, trying to find an audience for your quirky brand of fiction that doesn´t fit into any of the bestselling money genres.  It is bound to get you down.  It is bound to make you question your talent and just about everything about what you are doing.

A large section of ´On Writing,´ whether directly or indirectly talks about pleasing the people.  And yes, we must keep the reader in mind at all times but just who is your market and how much of your market are you going to please at all times?  Sadly, you cannot please some readers without outright pissing off others.  See, right there somebody got offended by my use of the colloquialsim ´Pissed off.´  As Mr. King might say …. tough titty.

Let´s say you are a writer of Mystery novels.  You might write those tough as nails characters like Spencer or Sam Spade. So in today´s market it would be no big surprise to have the occassional ´EF´ bomb explode from the lips of your protagonist.  However, if the person reading your novel more commonly reads mysteries of the ´cozy´ variety in the style of Agatha Christie, those fucking nasty bits are going to be a turn off.

My novels and books to date have dealt with dogs – in a large part about abuse of domestic animals.  So I had one reader write me to complain that he couldn´t continue to read my short story collection Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups + Chili Dogs because the main character leaves his dog on the side of the highway and drives off.  He said, and I quote – ´That´s just cruel.´ WELL DUH!

I have read a ton of those how to book about the art of writing and while some of them have been more informative and helpful in the area of actual writing – sentence structure and grammar issues etc. that may have plagued some of my work, ´On Writing´ is a great book in that it puts a lot of the issues we deal with into layman´s terms and also gives us an insight into what King went through before he got published, what his initial inspiration was and how he wrote some of his best know works and gives a ton of info about his process.  We each have to develop our own process.

To be truthful, while I have read many of King´s novels, I don´t count myself as a huge fan.  I like his work and occassionally his prose can border on graceful but it never sings to me.  Of course I only hear that melody when I read the classics or my extreme favorite writers such as Larry McMurtry, James Carlos Blake, Cormac McCarthy etc.  But I wasn´t born with their genius nor do I figure I have enough years of life left to me to develope it.  But maybe one day I´ll write something as layered and well constructed as ´IT´ or ¨The Stand.´ Maybe.

Read it again.  It will be well worth your time.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.