David M. Kelly

Science Fiction Writer

My science fiction short story, Reboot,  is free today on Amazon. Enjoy!

Reboot-Cover-webWith global systems under attack from cyber-terrorists, public protests rising, and his job under threat, Commissioner Bellarbi needs answers fast…

Mayrum Casteneda, the legendary founder of the Authority, is a relic from a bygone age who definitely doesn’t suffer
fools. She might just be the only person who can help, but is the solution buried too deep?

This post was written by fellow writer, K. Caffee, who has published “Out Of Darkness” and “Remember The Shadows,” the terrific first two novels in her “Followers Of Torments” series. A big thank you to her for generously contributing this post and providing me with a great deal of help as I try to figure out the ins and outs of social media.

Everyone has probably heard that you have to have a blog. That you need to be involved on multiple other social media platforms, and that you need to be active. Coming up with good content for your blog can be tough. Coming up with content for those other platforms can be even tougher – especially when those platforms are short to mid-term information sites.

Blog Content

Blog content is your bread and butter. Take your time to develop a sound theme to present to the world. Sure, when you first start the idea of generating content is going to be daunting, and you will probably wander all over the place while you work on developing your voice and blogging style. Don’t worry about this, yet.

Take the time you need to develop your blog. Don’t skimp, and don’t try to take short cuts. As I said, this is the heart of your platform. As you begin to refine where you want to go, it may be a good idea to begin developing a page for your own reference. This doesn’t have to be published, or even available to your followers. What you want to list here are your posts that are relevant to what your author’s “brand” is – articles about your characters, articles relevant to your work, articles about the work itself, and if you reach out to other authors or artists – list those projects here as well. . It is an organizational tool for you to use when re-purposing your content for other platforms.

Once you have established your theme and blogging style, not to mention your blogging schedule, then it’s time to start thinking about other platforms. If you’ve been building on those along the way, you are already ahead of the game. I started with just my blog, so that is the path I’ll be describing.

Facebook Content

The easy way to develop Facebook content is to have your blog flow through to either your author’s fan page, or to a dedicated author’s profile. You do not want to mingle your personal page with your author’s page. As you grow your fan base, you will start losing the ability to interact with your friends and family. Right now, I have an Author’s page only. I may decide to set up a dedicated profile, but it is not worth the effort, because I have such a small following.

Reusing your blog content on Facebook is a convenient way to gain people’s attention, and draw them in. Since most links will have the first sentence or two displayed, along with a link when it shows up, this gives you a ready made post. However, you will want some other original material to show up here. Just to reward your Facebook fans for being… well… fans.

That is a post all by itself.

Twitter Content

Because twitter has been my fastest growing following, and has generated the most interest in my work, I am going to focus on this platform quite heavily. For starters, you will need to decide what type of tweeter you want to be. Do you want to use image tweets, or text tweets

  • Image tweets – use pictures with text on them to get across some of your message. This is a very convenient way to post about upcoming books, blog posts, or provide longer quotes. After all, an image is supposed to be worth a thousand words, right?
  • Text tweets – Your basic, every day tweet. Anyone can write them, anyone can post them. These are the most common type of tweet.

You’ve decided which type of tweet to go with – at least to start. You can always mix and match later as your skills develop. What you will need is at least 30 high content blog posts. You can probably start with less, but it will make the scheduling part a bit more difficult, depending on your blogging schedule. You will also need at least one third party tweet scheduler. I prefer hootsuite, though I also will use tweetdeck. I did this because tweetdeck does not offer any analytics, and hootsuite does. Also, hootsuite has a paid version that allows you to bulk upload your tweets when you are ready, but the free version is extremely versatile while you are getting your feet wet. The only down side that may send me out looking for other options is the fact that hootsuite does not allow you to post pictures from their platform.

  • Tweetdeck – I use this one for the limited number of image tweets I have. Most of these are pure self-promotion, so this is not a major part of my tweet schedule.
  • Hootsuite – text base tweets, and the main platform I use to schedule from. It can also schedule into your Facebook feed if you so choose.

Now, down to the nuts and bolts of how to make all of this come together.

  1. From your blog, select the high content tweets. To make it easier, you may wish to copy the links out to something like notepad, excel, or word. Personally, I like to use notepad.
  2. Write the interest sparking text of your tweet. Necessary for either picture or text based tweets. Keep this in the 30 – 40 character range if possible
  3. Decide what type of schedule you want to tweet on. When I first started scheduling, I sent out 2 tweets per day for a total of 12 tweets. I alternated the tweets every hour, and had a “dead” time between 11 PM CST and 4 AM CST. As I gained more comfort with scheduling, I extended my times until I started at 2 AM CST. However, I noticed I wasn’t getting engagement all day. I have since changed to rotating through 8 tweets with each tweet going out 3 or 4 times per day. I still have a “dead” time between 10 PM CST and 2 AM CST. Eventually, I will probably forgo this, and develop my schedule to run continuously.
  4. Copy your tweet into the tweet box, and run the link through the link shortener. Since twitter does not allow exact duplicate tweets, each time you send out a tweet, you have to change something. For tweets containing links, this is easy – the link shortener provides a different link every time it shortens, even if it’s going to the same URL. (Cheater’s way of getting around the duplicate issue.)
  5. Fill in your schedule, and you are good to go. I choose to try to keep at least 2 weeks of tweets scheduled.
  6. Make sure to spend a little time every day on twitter in person. Yes, you’ve got your tweets scheduled, but the human interaction is very important. It keeps twitter from flagging your account as a bot, and it lets your followers know that you are a real person.

In closing, reusing your blog content is a great way to create content for multiple platforms. For most, the blog will have the slowest growth. When you select content to reuse, keeping it fresh is almost as important as keeping it quality and consistent.

Each platform needs something to let your followers there know you appreciate them. For me, I choose to use selections from my blog that are at least a week old. I tend to post something every other day at a minimum, more often if I have guest posts, or book reviews. So, pulling from the older posts provides regular content that is probably new to my followers on twitter. However, my blog followers get the “breaking” news first, and have a chance to comment, like, or ignore it before anyone else. I have one series of posts that I send to Facebook and not twitter, so the two platforms do not have the same content posting all the time. Only the day that a post goes “live” is there simultaneous content. However, twitter’s constant babble swamps out the post almost before it’s posted, and Facebook can lose the post within a few days. So, when I resurrect it a month or so down the line on either platform, it is still new.

How do you reuse your blog content? I’m always interested to learn new ideas and incorporate better strategies over on Pukah Works.

To see more from K. Caffee and checkout her books, you can find her at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PukahWorks
FB : https://www.facebook.com/PukahWorks
Blog: https://pukahworks.wordpress.com/
GR: https://www.goodreads.com/KCaffee
Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/kcaffee
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/KCaffee

Invented in the 1960s by the massive UK book retailer W. H. Smith (How I fondly remember many  hours spent in their store in the town where I was born!) the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is now used virtually everywhere that books are sold. If you want your books to be taken seriously, your book needs one. If you want your books to be sold in stores, you have to have one.

ISBNs are volume specific; if you sell an ebook and a print version of your book each should have its own number. How you obtain them depends on where you are. In the U.S. and U.K they are controlled by private companies who charge for blocks of them to be issued. Here in Canada they are controlled by Libraries And Archives Canada (LAC), a federal government branch that provides ISBNs for free (after registering with them) – a very civilized approach to my way of thinking.

I signed up for an account with LAC a few weeks ago and after a brief waiting time was approved and provided with the ability to create my own ISBNs. I had to try it out immediately and created one for my upcoming short story collection “Dead Reckoning And Other Stories“.

Though I am usually highly skeptical of all things bureaucratic, this was one of the rare exceptions. The process was quick and simple and required only small amounts of head-scratching, unlike my now redundant EIN.

978-0-9938890-5-9

That’s it! My shiny new ISBN!

If you’re setting up a print edition of your book you will probably want a bar code for the back cover. A search on the internet reveals several sources but here is a nice simple (and free) generator that allows you to download the result in a number of formats – and here’s the result

isbn_9780000000002_09938 If only everything were so easy!

Although Google provides some good and useful products, their behavior in the last few years, using their power to spy on everyone and everything they do makes them extremely frightening. Their motto may be “do no evil” but they seem to be missing that by a wide margin from my viewpoint. As a result of this I’ve spent a little time largely de-googling myself. Of course, the big killer app for google is the one that started it all, web searching. So synonymous with searches that we actually talk anout “googling”for things rather than searching.

If like me you’re concerned with privacy and want to get out of the google trap, or maybe you just want to metaphorically poke ‘em in the eye with a sharp stick. Here are a couple of alternative search engines.

www.duckduckgo.com

www.startpage.com/

Both these sites produce excellent search results and I’ve been using duck duck g o as my “go to” search engine for a couple of months now on a daily basis. The big addition here is that, unlike google, they don’t track your searches so you can breath a bit easier.

Of course, the irony here is that google will probably bury this post in their search results so you’ll never find it ;-)

 

Check out this animation of the plans SpaceX have for their Falcon Heavy lifter – the world’s most powerful rocket – due for lift-off later this year. The Falcon Heavy will be capable of delivering more than twice the payload of the Space Shuttle to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).

The way the booster rockets control their flight and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere to land back on the ground is awesome. Can’t wait to see this for real!

One of the questions often asked of fiction writera is “How do you come up with the names for the characters in your stories?”. The truth is that it’s actually quite a complex process and involves some little known writer’s secrets.

The process for naming fictional characters is similar to registering an ISBN number for your book. Writers have access to the ICWA (International Creative Writers Association) database, which contains every name registered in the world. This huge system not only contains information on names but also allows writers to register their selected character names so they won’t be used by other writers.

The system is an Artificial Intelligence masterpiece allowing writers to enter in detailed biographical data for their characters, including such things as physical appearance, unusual habits and even traumatic experiences and will then generate a list of the most suitable . names that haven’t been used previously. For example, say you want a name for a left-handed card-hustler from Texas with ginger hair, two divorces and a teenage daughter, you can enter all of that information and the system will give you a list like this:

Welly Heckendor
Marc Dunford
Sukhjeet Witchey
Leroy Halberg
Yousaf Lynsdale

Once the base parameters are set, you can narrow down your choices by adding further refinements such as whether a character likes pasta, seafood, or steak or what color socks they prefer.. Once you’re happy you can select the character name and “adopt” it for your next work

Of course, all this comes at a price and writers have to pay for the names they use. Pricing is on a graduated scale based on how common the name is. So for example names like Bob, Harry, Sue and Brad are very affordable, while others such as Corvorant, Iskemihl or Gwladys are expensive.

This explains why many detective novels are littered with characters called Mike, Sam or Hercule. It’s also one of the reasons science fiction and fantasy is so expensive – imagine the cost of a character name such as Bilbo Baggins or Zaphod Beeblebrox! (In an interview in 2001, Douglas Adams revealed that the reason his main two protagonists in the “Hitchikers” series were named Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect was in fact to offset the extreme cost of Beeblebrox and Slartibartfast.)

Of course, nothing in the publishing world is simple anymore and with the recent growth in popularity of Asian characters and movies, a rival character naming organization, the OSKW (Oda Shim Konin Qian chinese) has started to make big inroads into character name registration based on non-western alphabets. This makes it tricky to know which service to use if your book features an international cast.

Another serious concern in recent years is the rise of pirated character names becoming widely available through eastern European websites. With costs always an issue, many writers feel they are being forced to use such illicit naming sources even though they run a high risk of the character names not being officially recognized world-wide and the strong possibility of financial loss if a character becomes popular that has not been licensed properly.

The world of fictional character naming had never been so complicated!

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