Twitter chats and how to find them

Twitter chats and how to find them

WTF are Twitter chats, anyway?

Twitter chats are based on hashtags. If you’ve spent more than five minutes on Twitter, you’ve noticed that Tweets fly past with #amwriting, or #IDGAF embedded in them or stuck on the end.

Sometimes, a hashtag is just that – a way to find related content across the whole wide Twitterverse. Need inspiration? Search for #quoteoftheday and you’ll find as many Tree of Life moments as you can stomach. Want to find out what #Jlo’s been up to? There you go. Feeling like a walk on the dark side of life? #INTJ.

A Twitter chat is when a group of Twitter users schedule a time to discuss something together under a specific hashtag. They tag all their Tweets with that hashtag, and people online and looking at that hashtag can see what they’ve said and respond.

Why should I take part in Twitter chats?

It’s a great way to meet like-minded fellow-travellers and learn new things. As an indie author, I haven’t met a lot of readers on Twitter, but I’ve met many writers, marketers, artists, and subject matter experts – quite often, via a chat or a hashtag. If you participate in chats, you may make friends and gain followers, both directly through the chat and if someone retweets your nugget of wisdom.

Basically, exposure, exposure, exposure.

What are some good Twitter chats for writers?

Excellent question. Another good question is ‘How do you define good?’. Personally I like chats with plenty of participation that aren’t so rigid that I feel awkward chiming in, so here are a few to drop by and try.

  • Sundays, 6 PM – 7 pm GMT: #happywritingchat does pretty much what it says on the tin – writers having fun and writing irresponsibly.
  • Mondays, 9 PM – 10 PM GMT: #sparklybadgersunite is a chat for writers of all stripes to meet up and discuss what they’re working on, what they’re reading, and what they’re watching. It’s informal, fun, and occasionally degenerates into epic .gif wars.
  • Wednesdays, 2 AM – 3 AM GMT: #bookmarketingchat is a chat focussed on (you guessed it) book marketing.
  • Wednesdays, 1 AM – 2 AM GMT: #authorconfessionchat – it’s good to experiment with new writing ideas, and to confess your results. #authorconfessionchat also runs daily author challenges; check out the schedule for each month on the moderators’ profiles and have fun!

If you search for five minutes on Google, you’ll find a lot more, but these are active as of early 2019 and well worth an hour. You’ll meet new people and have a chance to try some writing challenges.

Halloween, Samhain – when the ghosts walk among us

Halloween, Samhain – when the ghosts walk among us

Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve…Samhain – when the ghosts walk among us

Samhain skeletonWelcome to Hallowe’en, the day when the boundaries between worlds grow weak.

Malicious spirits and the unquiet dead press across thresholds, seeking revenge, closure…or entertainment. With the rise of the Christian church, and the prohibition of the ancient rituals, their access has grown easier as the years pass.

Before All Hallows Eve, when Christianity prefers that the world consider the lives and the deaths of saints and martyrs, was Samhain, the night between – between the old year and the new, between summer and autumn, between death and life itself.

The ancient Celtic clans left offerings of food outside their homes to appease the wandering, the mischievous, and the malevolent, hoping that they would accept the gifts and take trouble elsewhere.

Bonfires were fed through the night on the hills and in the villages to hold back the forces of death and decay.

Others wore masks, hoping to confuse the vengeful dead and see them take their search elsewhere until the dawn came.

Samhain Sparkly Badgers halloween 2018Today, disguises and food are a ritual for children, and bonfires cause air pollution. The ancient rites of the Light are nearly extinguished, and the dead rejoice as the veils thin.

Watch yourself, as the world turns closer and closer to Samhain, and voices murmur in empty rooms. Watch yourself, when you feel a chill. Watch yourself, when you see a familiar face in the crowd.

It’s Samhain.

Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more

Ryder Author Resources – book reviews and more

Ryder Author Resources

…well, they do pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, reliably and within the meagre range of my budget; they offer author resources and services, including outreach to book bloggers, promo images, beta reading, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter management, and they’re willing to talk to you about other things on an ad-hoc basis.

I first met RAR! through my review blog (oh, yes, I do). They struck me as professional, (extremely) patient, and someone to look up when I had some cash to throw at book reviews for my own books. Among other things, I especially appreciated that they stayed in touch on social media, and seemed to have a similar sense of humour. (I’m not sure if that last is actually a compliment, but moving on…).

The set-up

Ryder Author Resources recently (well, since July 2018) updated their website, and the services they offer out of the box are clearly outlined on their author services page, along with how to get in touch with them to discuss other things.

They offer either package quotes, or an hourly rate for longer-term things, like looking for book reviewers. For longer-term things, they send out weekly updates to you on what they’ve been up to and how it’s going. The invoices show up monthly and itemised, with online credit card payment options – it’s all very painless and simple.

The results

Awesome! Not only have they patiently and persistently hunted down sci-fi reviewers, they also put me onto Hidden Gems, and all told Through the Hostage is now well past the miraculous 15 review mark on Amazon and headed for twenty-five. That’s not even counting readers who review to private blogs and / or Goodreads, or a few fantastic folks who review everywhere they have an account.

I was nervous about going in with any kind of professional publicist, as prior to Ryder Author Resources, I’d had a string of bad experiences, including someone who absconded with a substantial amount of cash and did absolutely nothing, but RAR! has gone a long way to restoring my faith in humanity. The team behind the RAR! are also genuinely nice people, and the weekly update emails and online exchanges are always a fun experience.

I’d definitely go in with them for reviewer outreach, and based on my experience with them on gaining a few more reviews for Through the Hostage, I don’t have any qualms saying that if they say they do something, then it will be done, and you’ll have a fun team behind you on the way.

Social stereotypes and why they need burying

Social stereotypes and why they need burying

Society takes itself so damn seriously. There are such a lot of unwritten rules (see also ‘stereotypes’). Sometimes you just need to wear assless chaps and a suit jacket and walk on your hands for a bit. Do something the bastards don’t agree with, it’s good for society as a whole.

This thought came to mind when someone followed my Twitter feed (I know, awesome, right?).

This particular account was for a women’s self-defence organisation. Very laudable, I fully approve of women learning to kick ass. However, this account had a banner image of this determined-looking young woman with a clenched fist stretched out in front of her, the other one resting up on her cheekbone, and immaculate make-up. The sports bra was a nice touch, too. It was very scary. (No, I’m actually not being sarcastic. Bear with me again – I’m about to explain why it was scary.)

Making a fist is important. Doing it wrong means you go all Clint Eastwood on someone and damage yourself much more than their manly jaw (broken hands are not fun. Believe me). This chick was show-casing the how-not-to of fists.

Stretching your fist out as far as you possibly, possibly can is also a really crappy idea. It’s a really crappy idea because it means you’re off-balance, which means all your mugger has to do is grab your arm and yank, and there you are all spread-eagled on your ass for them.

Having a guard up between your head and incoming, on the other hand, is a great idea. However, if your guard hand, all fisted up, is resting on your cheekbone, it’s fundamentally not going to work. Ever seen those little desk ornaments, where there’s a row of suspended ball-bearings, and you can drop the one on one end down and the ball on the other end flies up and away due to transfer of momentum? Similar principle.

How not to fight

‘Cos everyone fights in their undies…

Basically, this women’s defence group’s set-up made me think of all the reasons that every female fighter I’ve ever trained with has put up with years and decades of being patronised rigid, usually by both genders.

Partner up with a male? “Oh, but I don’t hit women!” (Top favourite response I ever heard on the mat to that bit of chauvinistic crap was “That’s fine, I have no problem hitting men.”.)

Get asked by a friend what you do for fun? “Oh my, but surely you can’t enjoy that very much? I mean, women can’t fight, it’s so…violent!”

Listen to that kind of nonsense for a while, and you must either develop a very fuck-you attitude to social stereotypes (you saw that awesome response I quoted, yes?) or you get discouraged and move back into line, and a stereotype gets propped up a little longer.

“Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.” ~ Sir Terry Pratchett

So yes, that particular Twitter account made me groan and pound my head on my desk a little bit; not because I object to women learning to fight (quite the opposite), but because it propped up every single damn stereotype about female fighters while purporting to train women to be all independent and badass.

A truly great banner image would have been a woman who actually knew how to close her fist, standing as if she meant to do some damage, and wearing a top that wouldn’t result in her flashing someone if it got grabbed sparring. I’d have followed like a shot. Retweeted, even.

Hidden Gems – author services

Hidden Gems – author services

Hidden Gems – the low-down

Hidden Gems advertises as an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) program, although they also accept published books for their reviewers. As well as their core ARC program, Hidden Gems is branching out into cover design and editing.

Once signed up, your book is offered to their readership, and readers request the books they’re interested in reading and reviewing. You aren’t guaranteed any set number of takers, and you aren’t guaranteed any reviews; however, at time of writing, their review rate was 80%, meaning that if 100 of their readers ask for the free copy of your book, you’re likely to get something on the close order of 80 reviews.

The set-up

Hidden Gems asks for a minimum $20 US for basic set-up and send-out of a book in their newsletter. You must be able to provide an PDF and a MOBI variant of your manuscript file, as well as a cover image JPG. After that, you can set the bar for number of reviewers as high as you want, and you will be billed based on how many people volunteer to read and review.

It’s also a relatively simple submission and payment system, which I really appreciated, and their FAQ is well set up and answered pretty much all of my questions.

The results

Well, I was impressed.

I asked to have Through the Hostage circulated on 24th Sept, and I was notified that 15 people had asked for a copy. By 1st Oct, I’d gone from 10 reviews on Amazon to 23, with a nice mix of ratings. A couple of those readers were also kind enough to copy their reviews to Goodreads and even BookBub.

Hidden Gems is still building their reader base for sci-fi, so I presume that in a more mainstream genre like paranormal romance or new adult, you would probably get a higher number of takers, but frankly, I was very happy.

There are way too many review sites out there that ask for money, state (honestly) that they can’t guarantee a review, and then, sure enough, nothing ever happens. Hidden Gems isn’t one of them. Through organisation or some other alchemy, if one of their readers asks for a book copy, there’s a much better than average chance that they will also choose to leave a review.

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