Managing Social Networks – The Ugly Truth

Whether you’re an indie writer, published by a small press, or have a publishing deal with mid tier and higher publishers, chances are a lot of the promotion will fall onto your shoulders. Unless you achieve the status of a Stephen King or Dan Brown (two people who actually don’t need a ton of advertising), your going to get your hands dirty. In the always connected world we now reside in, not only is an online presence suggested, it’s actually required.

As I’ve said in other posts, I’ve been online since the BBS days of the mid ’80s. I’ve hung out on usenet groups, chatted in AOL rooms, posted on Compuserve and Prodigy forums, and even had a GeoCities site.  Yesterday I got a notice that I had been on WordPress for Five years. I’ve been on Twitter since March of 2009, Facebook since about the same time and Google+ since June of 2011. I also had MySpace, and far too many accounts to far too many forums to ever be able to mention-let alone remember-them all.

All of that however doesn’t make me an expert. It does make me reevaluate the amount of time I’m online, but that’s a sad tale for another day.  What it has made me, is a scheduling expert.  Not for everyone else, just for me.  Everyone is different. We all have lives, family, friends, and obligations which take our time. Then of course there’s our writing, and there never seems to be enough time for that. So how do we juggle all that and maintain some kind of presence?

I schedule what social Networks I’ll be on for any given day. Twitter is a little bit different, as 98% of my posts are from my phone or tablet, and I can do that from anywhere.  Blogging takes the biggest chink of time at once. With G+ and FB, I can do that in little bites, but to blog means sitting down in my comfy chair, grabbing my laptop, a cup of coffee and grasping at straws for an idea. Due to this, I tend to blog the least. I try to keep them to about 500 words when possible.  Not too long to either write, or read, but enough to not feel it was simply filler.  On Sunday nights when I’m putting together a schedule, I’ll come up with three or four ideas for posts, and space them out throughout the week (and try to keep one for the weekend, as people like to have something new to read then). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If I get an idea throughout the week and I have time, I may write one on the fly. I’m working on being consistent after many months of a fallow field.

I alternate my days on FB and G+. Example, I’ll concentrate on FB Mon, Wed, and Fri while working on G+ Tues and Thurs. I don’t ignore them on their off days, but I don’t spend as much time on the pages and communities as I do when it’s their day. I try to be as engaged on the pages I subscribe to as possible.  On weekends, I mix it up, whatever I feel like hanging out on is where you’ll find me.  And twitter is throughout the day whenever I have the urge to say something, or a new post is up.

It’s very easy to get consumed in all of it, but remember it’s your time, you run them, they don’t run you.

Tools of the Trade II: The Software

In my last post I talked about the hardware I use for my writing, and this time I’ll talk about the software I use, what I use it for, and the reason why I use it. I’ll also provide links to where you can download/purchase them as well. Please note: I’m an Android fan, and both my phone and tablet run it (though my phone runs an older version). I’m sure there are equal applications for iOS (the same ones in most cases) but I haven’t listed them as I try to avoid iTunes as much as possible.

Laptop Software

MS Office 2007: While there are many Office equivalents at a fraction of the price that MS charges, indeed a couple are free, none of them seem to be able to convert to a .doc format with all the formatting. There always seems to be something off when I use a word processor other than MS Word. There are also newer versions of Office as well, but I really prefer the 2007 version, and since it still works I don’t see the need to upgrade yet.

Google Drive: Because I’m so tied into the Google ecosystem at this point, it’s much easier for me to use Google Drive for any of my cloud storage needs. There are others that may offer more storage (dropbox being one) but it’s far easier to use Drive. It comes with 15 gigs of storage for free, and since I really only upload documents and some pics, that’s more than enough. There are versions available for Windows and Android.

Skype: My default go to for chatting and voice on my laptop. Since most people use this, it’s what I also use, though I would really love people to start migrating over to Hangouts on Google+. Much easier to use, less processor intensive, and also looks better.

Tablet and Phone

I’m putting tablet and phone together as all of these apps can be used on either, none of them are tablet/phone specific.

Office Suite Pro: While you can do some editing on Google Drive, it’s not something that I would suggest except for very minor work. Office Suite Pro is about as close as you can get to a full featured Word cruncher. You can save files in virtually every file type, and is compatible with all the standard cloud services. I like it because it’s fast, easy to use, has an attractive interface, and it just works. There’s a free version to try, and a full version will set you back $14.95

Whatsapp: While I do use Skype on my phone/tablet I really prefer Whatsapp. The only drawback is it has no video chat, but that’s fine with me. It’s fast, smooth, and uses contact information to add people to your chat list regardless of where in the world they are. The first year is free and then it’s .99 cents every year after that.

Tweetcaster Pro: For all your tweeting needs, you can’t beat Tweetcaster Pro. Sure there are others that look better, or have certain features, but everytime I try a different client (and I’ve tried all of them), I keep coming back to TWP. It’s quick, stable, and I can mute those I’m following who tweet nonsense too much. There’s an ad supported free version, as well as a paid version for 4.99