The search for (ever)greener pastures

As November draws to a close, I thought it was time to talk about my plans for the upcoming year, both about my work and about my online social presence. On the work side, it’s been so long since I’ve released anything that you could be forgiven for forgetting that I write fiction. On the social side, unless you were on Twitter, you probably wouldn’t know I exist without a lucky hit on Facebook or Google’s search results. A lot of that is on me, so let me start with a modern mea culpa. My bad.

The thing with deciding not to publish is, during the earliest days of the COVID lockdown, I saw a lot of writers with traditional publishers struggling to sell new books because readers were facing months of financial uncertainty, and even a cheap ebook was becoming a luxury purchase. So I decided that since I had a job editing and very rarely writing for a trade magazine, we would be all right if I just hit the pause button and dropped out of the book trade until the worst of this mess blew over.

Then of course, COVID refused to blow over, and instead blew up into so many variants that there will never be a post COVID world. This fucker is with us along with the cold and the flu for good.

But I digress, even once folks got back on their feet, I procrastinated about coming out of my hiatus. I needed to find more places to engage readers than just my blog and Twitter, and Facebook hasn’t been the alternative approach for self-promotion since long before I’d metaphorically shuttered the storefront. It’s been great for reconnecting with past contacts. (Though not so much when many sought me out with news that friends and family younger than me have died. How’s that survivor’s guilt going? Pretty strong now, for someone who didn’t believe they’d live to see twenty.)

Then of course, there was Elon Musk, a rich guy I formerly knew jack and shit about, and had only a vague impression that his companies were trying to do good things for the world. But then he went and bought Twitter, and he had to make absolutely certain that not only was he not a Nice Guy, but that he considered me and people like me to be personal enemies. Then he went and turned Twitter into X

X gonna give it to ya!
Gonna give to ya!
Gonna give it to ya!

Ahem…I cannot stress enough that Twitter  has been a real home for me going back to its early days in beta. Instead of just being a place to sell books, it quickly became a place where I could curate all my nerdy joys in one place, pour in a healthy dose of world news, and add that heady high of occasionally talking to world famous writers WAY above my pay grade, and having them reply to me. (That one never gets old. It’s like, Oh, my GAWD, they know I exist now!)

The hiatus made it easier to avoid diversifying my social platform, because hey, I’m not selling anything. I just need a few minutes per day to read the news, catch up with friends, and then get back to what I was doing best, gaming and napping. (So, so much napping going on up in here.)

But then Elon turned Twitter into X

X gonna give it to ya!
Gonna give it to ya!
Literal fucking Nazism?
Gonna give it to ya!

Right, so with the writing very clearly on the wall, you would think that would have been my clue to get my ass in gear and scout out new places to park my digital butt. To a certain extent it was, but I wasn’t much enamored of alternatives like Tribel and Mastodon, which seemed distinctly niche, not to mention most Mastodon groups feeling very strongly opposed to self-promotion. (And as such, not a great place for a fiction writer to feel welcome to hawk their wares.)

Just a few months back, I also made the choice to slowly start getting back to writing new stuff, and I came up with two shiny new ideas, typing the first two chapters for each and then sitting back to let them stew for a bit. My logic was, one or the other would be ready for NaNoWriMo, and I was right. At this point, I’ve technically won by reaching fifty thousand words on one story, (not including those two chapters written in advance) but that’s really only the first half of the book. Still, I have a stronger idea of where the second half is going, and more importantly, I get up feeling excited to put words on the screen and get back to the thing that gave me joy before the rise of COVID and Elon Musk turning Twitter into X

X gonna give it to ya!
Gonna give it to ya!
Gonna give it to ya!

That’s the last one, I swear. Where all this is going, is that I already had finished books in the queue before I put the brakes on sales and on writing new projects. I’m just about ready to dust off the sales top hat and put myself back on the market, but that means also investing time in finding new ways to reach out to folks.

That can’t just be to set up a robot constantly posting “BUY MY BOOK!” I was told way before I published my first book that the real secret to success was to establish myself as a person first, and a writer second. To let people get to know me, so when I did put a book out, they’d see a person rather than an ad to scroll past. That advice led to some of my early successes, and I still think it’s important to approach each platform in the same way. I want to sell new books, yes, but I also want to use those platforms to meet people, learn about their interests and hobbies, and maybe sort out if we’re all part of the same clan of weirdos.

On that note, it’s time to roll out the partial list of places you will find me posting and promoting in the months ahead. This is not a complete list, as I’m still looking into renovating a very old digital home for a new run, and there’s another service that, while intriguing, isn’t available to us dirty Europeans just yet. So the new social platform squad is:

BlueSky – Currently available by invite only, BlueSky feels closest to Twitter before its fall from grace. What makes it different is that in addition to a followers stream, BlueSky offers topics curated into tabs that users can navigate through. It’s all nicely organized so I can get what I need in a ten minute session, and then get back to work. I really hope to make BlueSky my new main platform, so hopefully when it goes fully public, it can catch on and bring in all the folks doing the mass exodus from X.

Instagram – I don’t even know why I hadn’t thought to get an account before. I love taking pictures of stuff and sharing them online, so it should be a perfect match. But I was lazy and figured, why post the same stuff in more than one place? The obvious answer now being, there aren’t that many people left in my pool of followers to enjoy my dog in a new fake leather biker jacket, or my latest culinary creations (shot in terrible lighting, and frequently plated in such a way as to look like a drunk’s last meal after hitting the head.) And every once in a while, I can slip in a new book cover, like subliminal advertising of the 70s. It’s brilliant. Or at least I hope it will be.

LinkedIn – The only social platform where all my posts are promotional. I post updates for blog reviews and book releases, and nothing else. Part of that has to do with the site itself assuming I’m there to look for work or hire someone. (It’s even asked me randomly if my company Freelance Writer is currently hiring.) Probably the place where I spend the least amount of time other than to check the message center (full of spam) followed by the notifications before getting on with other more interesting social sites. It’s like a visit to Grandma’s house, but without the Danish butter cookies.

Facebook – Expect this one to be much less updated than the other entries. I’ve never much cared for the crowded screen space of Facebook to begin with, and it’s got a tendency to bury most attempts at promotion under its precious algorithm. But as I said earlier, it is the place where a lot of old contacts know me, so it couldn’t hurt to let them know that yes, I’m still alive, and occasionally ask if they want to buy my book. I mean, really, it’s not as bad as my last resource…

X gonna give it to ya!
Gonna give it to ya!
Gonna give it to ya!
(Sorry! (Not sorry.))

X – Because let’s face it, I can’t bring myself to pack up and leave until it’s well and truly burnt to the ground or so overrun by assholes as to make Rosie’s Shithouse a preferable hangout. There’s still some fine folks in my followers list who aren’t on BlueSky, and I get invite codes so slowly that I couldn’t commit to offering them out to anyone until I’ve saved up a small stack. So for now, we’re stuck with each other, till death do us part. (Really hoping it dies first, though. *fingers crossed*)

That’s it for now, but I plan to post more updates like this as I add new platforms, and also as I get new books ready to publish. For now, know that you can expect an eclectic mix of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi, all blended with my special ingredients, sass and love.

Once again, thanks for reading my stuff, and hopefully soon, I’ll have something for you besides just another review. (Though we are still doing that, too.)