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It's Not All About the Numbers

It's Not All About the Numbers

May 30, 2021

But the numbers help.

Good evening. Here we are at the end of another week and almost at the end of another month. I would ask where has the time gone, but that may be a little existential for a Sunday evening.

This week I want to talk about numbers, reads and engagement.

To be a writer, you need to have a way with words. You need to be able to string them together in such a way that people want to read them. However, to be a successful, published author, you need to be able to do much more than that - you need to be able to market yourself.

It's ok, nobody told me that either when I started thinking about publishing my work. I should have known really, given that my day job involves ghostwriting blogs and articles as part of companies' marketing efforts. Somehow though it didn't cross my mind that it applied to authors.

It makes sense though. If you consider how many books, articles, websites etc are out there, the chances of yours being a hit if you leave it to chance are somewhere between slim and non-existent. If you want to be found and read, you need to make a noise and let people know you exist. And, that means, at least to some extent, you need a social media presence. Ok, check, I have a Facebook page (2 if you include my personal, rarely used page) and a Twitter feed. The problem - so does pretty much every other author, poet and wordsmith that I know.

So, you need to stand out. Some people manage to make this look effortless, they seem to ride the wave of every Twitter and Facebook algorithm change with no negative consequence, always have fresh and exciting posts, never say anything too controversial, and avoid being banned (especially on Facebook).

But it's not effortless, they do this by a combination of trial and error, reading what the experts have to say and applying the parts that work best or are most applicable to them. There are a lot of 'experts' out there and not all are worth your time and effort, and that is partly where the trial and error part comes in. When you are new to social media and trying to build a following it is tempting to latch on to the experts and follow every piece of advice to the letter, regardless of how strange it seems or how much they want to charge you for the 'Only Piece of Advice You Will Ever Need.'

My advice, if you come across that sort of slogan, back away quickly and hit the block button. There is plenty of free advice out there, some good, some awful, some which leaves you feeling like you need an exorcism after reading it. Before you take any advice, look at the account of the person offering it. Are they following their own advice? Is their account active with lots of interaction from followers? Do they answer questions or glaze over the more complex points?

Also, if you are going to try anything that someone else suggests, don't make too many changes at once. To see if something is working you need to be able to measure the results. So, for example, a well-respected member of the writing community on Twitter suggested removing links from posts and only having them in your bio and pinned tweet. It is to do with Twitter suppressing tweets with links to try and encourage you to buy advertising space. I've made this one change this week, I will look at the number of post reads and interactions, as well as the number of people clicking through the link in my pinned tweet. This will give me an idea as to whether this is working. If I'd made other changes, I wouldn't know which change had caused the up or downturn in my numbers and interactions.

So, there you go, that's my thoughts for the week. Get yourself a social media presence on the platform(s) that are best suited to what you offer and that you are comfortable interacting on. Don't take on too many at once, consistency on one platform is better than absence across multiple channels, read and digest advice before acting on it, and make changes slowly so you can measure the effect.

On a personal level, I am pleased to announce that my ECG results were good. I have an occasional ectopic heartbeat, but nothing dangerous showed in my heart rhythms.

Work continues apace on the novel and I'm currently editing chapter 8, which involves a very tense and earsplittingly loud dinner and an intimate moment for Cornelius and Louisa. It may be the first difficult dinner Louisa experiences within the Bennet household, but it is not the last.

If anything you have read tonight has piqued your interest or been useful, please buy me a coffee and help fuel the creativity for another week. If you want to follow me, you can find me at and you can find a wide range of my work at including chapters from the fan fiction that started this chaotic and interesting journey.

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