Sunday, 2 April 2017

What do you call a group of authors? A look at collective nouns

It’s usually at a pub quiz that we find ourselves delving deep into our minds for the various strange terms used for a group of something. Many we may recall quickly, such as a murder of crows or an unkindness of ravens, but I imagine most people would be unaware of the many unusual, descriptive and humorous words associated with these gatherings of animals. Even less would have any idea of their origins.

It was in the 15th century that gentlemen were in the pursuit of leisurely pleasures, namely hunting and fishing. The book to turn to at the time was the Book of St. Albans printed in 1486, with its sections on hawking, hunting and heraldry. It is believed that the book was written by a nun, Dame Juliana Berners, who was also referred to as the First Lady of fly fishing. The book was popular and the colourful collective nouns she assigned to animals are still in use today, such as a pride of lions and a gaggle of geese. Others such as a shrewdness of apes has not enjoyed the same popularity. In all, 164 collective nouns were listed in the book under “The Compaynys of Beestys and Fowlys” which also included people: A gaggle of women, an abominable sight of monks.

With popularity being the key to a collective noun’s survival, there have been many attempts to create them for our modern world. In 1991 James Lipton wrote “An exaltation of larks,” a compendium of these nouns that had long been established in our language, even for inanimate objects. (A flight of stairs, A quiver of arrows)

Last year, I posed a question on Twitter asking what the collective noun for authors was. The response was amazing with many brilliant suggestions, and where I was introduced to the hashtag #moderncollectivenouns. Well worth a look, but in the meantime here are my favourite picks for authors:

A publication of authors
A block of authors
A ream of authors
An epigram of authors.

And my own contribution: A solitude of authors. Please feel free to list your own suggestions. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Taking time to talk Twitter.

As an Indie author, much of what I've learned has come by trial and error, by following advice and experience, and by giving it a go. Four years later, I'm still learning, but I feel confident enough to share bits and pieces of what has worked for me. One of the topics that comes up frequently in forums is in how to use Twitter for marketing books.

This is one of those areas in which I've found a formula that works for me. No, I don't have thousands of followers, but the ones I have are greatly appreciated and I do my best to give them some entertaining and informative posts. According to my Twitter stats, I average about 9000 impressions a week. I don't use any programs to attract followers, and maybe I should, but I like it this way. So these are a few rules I've made for myself:

I don't always follow back. Those I do follow back are usually other authors, indie filmmakers, writers, writing bloggers or anyone who has a Twitter feed that interests me. I take time to check out anyone who follows me and I will decide then if I want to follow. If I do follow back, I try to greet with a retweet.  

I will retweet for mostly anyone who retweets my posts, whether I follow them or not. There are several wonderful authors who don't follow me, but from time to time tweet my books. When they do, I retweet their books or blog post or pinned tweet. That is my thank you for their kindness. If you tweet my posts, you have a 95% chance of me tweeting for you. Can't stand a twitter feed where the only posts are authors advertising their own work and no-one else's. 

I support New Zealand authors and writers in all genres. Not all of them follow me back, but as a New Zealander, I want to support the craft I love so much and expose the talent we have in this country, along with some breath-taking scenery. 

I don't expect everyone to follow me back or tweet my books. I often tweet erotic, sexual and other topics and images that may not be everyone's cup of tea. I certainly don't expect a children's author to tweet my books.

I will advertise my books. While I endeavour to keep my posts interesting, while supporting my fellow tweeter, I'm here for business as well as pleasure and I love showing off my books. 

I mostly avoid politics, religion and any other topic that seeks an opinion. Occasionally there will be a cause near and dear to my heart, and I will have my say, but I'm not on Twitter to engage in arguments or unkindness to any individual.

I will try to keep hashtags to a maximum of three, but no promises. Hashtags get your posts noticed and like I said, I'm in this for the business as well. Also I like playing hashtag games on Twitter. 

Have a pinned retweet that will display your best work. Change it up every couple of months. 

Always make sure your URLS work before you post a tweet.

If you never retweet for others and only tweet your own stuff, why would you expect any one to engage with you, unless you're a celebrity whose fans hang on every word. I tweet more for others than I do my own promos. 

My Twitter profile has a link to my Amazon author page. 

So here you have the few basic rules I follow and a couple of tips. When it comes to marketing books, Twitter has proven to be the most successful in all my social media platforms. If you aren't finding it effective, take time to see if you are supporting your fellow tweeter. Support me and I will support you. #selfpub #indieauthor #bookmarketing