Haven’t blogged because, as usual, I’m entering seven months worth of bank statements into Quicken instead of having set up a time on the calendar to do it monthly. I’ve also spent about six hours in the last couple weeks with Jim Loney getting his feedback on my novel, which I wrote about in my last blog entry, and there’s been a trip to Boston and the garden, so actually, no, I don’t feel guilty about not blogging.
But I thought I’d note here that I’m getting better at Twitter, and it’s not through the account I started because sources told me it’s mandatory for authors, especially self-published authors to have one. It’s through my work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which, to save time, I’ll call a human rights organization.
I edit the releases that come in from our field projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, Palestine and with Indigenous communities in North America. Our interim director, who formerly was our Outreach Director and guided our communications, suggested that I could start reposting our releases, which automatically appear on our Twitter account, with hash tags.
I was enjoying finding ways of drawing in audiences to our work that might not think to follow it. For example, a lot of environmentalists and animal rights activists are concerned about how palm oil corporations are decimating old growth forests and killing orangutans. I thought they might also be interested in how the corporation Aportes San Isidro was attacking the community of subsistence farmers, Las Pavas in Colombia, in an effort to drive them off their land, so I used the hashtags #PalmOil and #PalmOilKills for our Colombia team releases. For our work with the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick who was resisting the SWN corporation doing seismic testing on their traditional lands, I knew the #fracking hashtag would draw in the wider anti-fracking crowd and the #IdleNoMore hashtag would group the resistance of the Elsipogtog nation with a much wider Indigenous resistance movement across North America.
Then my interim director told me that a more media-savvy CPTer told him that I shouldn’t just repost titles with different hashtags; I needed to repost something a little different with each link to the team’s release. And once I knew that, it began to get fun.
#SOUTHHEBRONHILLS URGENT ACTION: Ask U.S. Secretary of State Kerry to heed Israeli jurists’ and writers’… http://dlvr.it/3lY9G7
#JohnKerry’s probably not listening to the right Israelis. Ask him to listen to these jurists: http://dlvr.it/3lY9G7
#JONESBOROUGH,TN: Activism, War, and the #MilitaryIndustrialComplex http://dlvr.it/3kWTxb #DepletedUranium #Aerojet
Why are those working against #DepletedUranium in #Jonesborough TN area having tires slashed? http://dlvr.it/3kWTxb
#ALKHALILHEBRON REFLECTION: A better than usual Friday (8 August 2013) http://dlvr.it/3nkg6N
“#TGIF” said no Christian Peacemaker Team member in #Hebron EVER. http://dlvr.it/3nkg6N #AlKhalil #IsraeliOccupation
When I first started on Twitter, I was told that I should put out at least four tweets a day and following each other was one way independent authors could support each other. I began to notice that my twitter feed was deluged with tweets by some of these authors, including one of my self-publishing “mentors.”
Here’s the thing. I have an eye condition that makes reading normal size fonts painful. I have to zoom everything to 300 percent on computer, so I will never follow twitter on a cellphone. And on an average page I only see about 12 tweets at a time; so if someone is touting their novel over and over, or zealously retweeting “tips” as they’ve been told to do, it really clutters up my feed.
Neil Gaiman wrote about this Twitter phenomenon in the last Poets and Writers (crude language alert):
I do it because I like it and it’s fun. And the fact that I like it and it’s fun communicates itself…People who are interested are going to sign up and stick around and follow me because I’m obviously enjoying it. If you are not enjoying it, for God’s sake don’t do it. There is nothing worse—sadder, more bleak, and more pitiful—than somebody who signs on, follows a hundred people, then sends out fifty to sixty tweets saying, “please read my book.” It’s like a sad little mouse, peeping in the corner… If you want to do it, you join. Talk to people. Talk to your friends. Talk to famous people. Talk with anybody you’d like. Twitter is completely democratic. If you’re a dick, people will notice you are a dick. If you’re nice, people will notice you’re nice. If you’re funny and smart, people will respond to the funny smartness. And if you want to get something read: Establish, be there first, and then say to people who are interested and like you, “By the way I’ve got a book coming out,” and people will go, “Oh, we’ll go and check it out then.
So I’ve started to unfollow the people who hog my feed. I tend to keep the ones who make me smile. I’m interested in literary agents of course, but I drop the ones who reject me unless their tweets make me smile.
I thought that once I started unfollowing, my follower-ship would also drop steeply, but it hasn’t. I currently stand at 318 followers. I am following 857 people/ entities. I figure that means I am a good listener—or whatever the word for tweet receptor is, tweetor? To be a good listener has a better connotation than to be a good follower, right?