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Rhonda Herrington Bulmer
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March 8th, 2015
Update from a social media freshman
by Rhonda Herrington Bulmer

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Since last I wrote about my journey into self-promotion on January 25, my number of Twitter followers has grown from 342 to 723.

But I’m following 1288.

So far, most of the people who have followed me (after I followed them) are those likeminded souls who are also selling indie books.

Many, many books.

I am staggered by the number, both from traditional publishers (I’m following them, too, along with several agents) and the self-published.

If you retweet all these fine folks and like their pages on Facebook, they promise to reciprocate. So far, I have about 100 messages in my Twitter inbox, saying something to that effect. So far, I have not responded. Neither have I been going through each person’s list of followers and following all those good people, too, as was the prescribed strategy.

Because, as you might guess, this all takes a crapload of eye-squinting time. The fifteen minutes I first pledged to social media every day might as well be fifteen hours. Since as a freelance writer, I need to spend my time finding paid work, I can’t give it more than an hour per day.

Quite a few of my tweets have been retweeted, though, and I endeavour to be interesting and talk about my life rather than what I’m selling (most of the time), but so far none of this has increased sales online.

On the upside, I’ve been noticing the promotional strategies of other writers: the content of their blogs, their video trailers and their thoughts on the writing process. Twitter has informed me of contests devoted to certain writing genres and websites like Stage 32, a social networking and educational site for people in film, television and theatre.

The best advice I’ve gleaned so far was given by well-known indie author Hugh Howey, creator of the hugely popular Silo sci-fi series, who said that there is no magic formula for success. He had written and posted numerous ebooks before his short story Wool gained a huge audience and subsequently, a traditional publisher for the paperback version. (Not to mention a movie option.)

In other words, you must keep writing, writing, writing, until something catches the interest of readers, who will in turn likely also be interested in your backlist.

This makes sense to me, along with the advice to promote your name rather than your books by submitting pieces to literary journals, etc., although I have found this to be difficult as well. I have lots of non-fiction writing credits, but fiction has so far eluded me.

I always seem to come back to a quote from Brian Henry, who is a Canadian editor and writing instructor. I attended one of his writing workshops in May 2010, here in Moncton, and his final words were blunt.

“Writers say, ‘why is it so hard to get published?’ But editors say, ‘why is it so hard to find good stuff?’ So, go home and write something excellent.”

Hmm. Excellent. When will I know that I’ve done that? Or if I am even capable?

I wish that I could hurry up this process, but I do not churn out practice material on my journey to excellence the way others seem capable of doing. Since 2011 when I published Rachel’s Manifesto, I have only written one more novel (the kind that will stay on my shelf—not excellent) and I am just starting another, which I hope to finish this year. I self-published a children’s picture storybook, Please Let Me In, in 2014 and will release another in 2015.

A little progress, maybe, but not enough to suit my competitive streak. Perhaps it takes as long as it takes. Why do I compare myself to other people, then?

Aw…How would you know? This isn’t a psychiatrist’s couch—It’s my blog, for goodness’ sake.

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