Tuesday, 28 June 2016

UK Referendum, Anthologies, and Summer Storms, by Enid Richemont

It would be hard to ignore today's results from the UK's Referendum. Like most people I know, I'd assumed we would (and had voted for) 'Remain', but came down this morning to the news that the Farage tribe had succeeded. We now seem to be in bed with some very unlovely people - 'Approved by Trump' is not a sticker I'd want to flaunt, and as for Marine le Pen... I've just signed a petition to request a second referendum, which is gathering pace - apparently some of the people who voted Out are now regretting it. There's also a feeling that the Brexit team didn't ever expect to win this one, so making unrealistic claims was OK as they'd never be called on to implement them. My husband, David, used to say that there's an old Chinese curse: 'May You Live In Interesting Times'. Well, unfortunately, we do, we do.

'Another Flash in the Pen' came out recently. I'd already pre-ordered it, but forgotten, so its arrival came as a delightful surprise (oh, and if you haven't already grabbed it at its current bargain price, do so quickly, because it's a treat.) I love short story anthologies - they're like opening an exotic box of chocolates, each one with a different flavour and texture - yum! At present I'm hovering and picking, in no specific order, so I started at the end, with Nicky Browne's tongue-in-cheek 'The Sisterhood Of The Unseen', and then moved backwards into Susan Price's 'This Is Hell'. Later, I jumped into 'Mussolini's Hat', by Kathleen Jones, of whose work I never tire, and there are more treats to come. I think this is Authors Electric's best anthology yet.

It's been a very long, and often tedious, journey, but it does seem as if my first children's book: The Time Tree, might have finally earned itself a proper film contract (WATCH THIS SPACE), with legal papers etc to be signed in September, and work scheduled to begin in Spring 2017, but I will still believe it when I see it. So many authors have had film contracts dangled in front of them like fairy carrots, only to see them vanish, as objects from Fairyland have a tendency to do, but this one, at last, feels real. How the world has changed, though, since I dreamed up this story - for just one thing, the research my two young protagonists do would now take place online, although physical books might still come into it. Stories are still stories, though, and that doesn't change.

Thunderstorms have vandalised our little local fete, and I weep for all those small traders who turned up this morning and set up their stalls. Somehow, this situation feels classically British ( or maybe it was all those pesky foreigners who caused the weather in the first place...) There's an interesting article in the current edition of The Author about writing and the weather - it seems academics prefer working through the summer months, although there are practical reasons for this, too. I find dark evenings and bad weather more conducive to creative thought. Sunshine keeps nagging me to come outside and smell the roses.

Lastly, and at the risk of being labelled a dream bore, I had a curious one during which, already inside a dream situation, I fell asleep, dreamt and woke up - so a dream within a dream. I'm still trying to get my head around it. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

40 Years Earning a Living as a Writer - Andrew Crofts

I first published a version of this article in the Guardian on-line, so please forgive me if parts of it sound familiar. 

I left school with a burning urge to lead the life of a writer; travelling like Byron, fĂȘted like Wilde before his fall, creating laughter like Wodehouse and crafting sentences like Nabokov. I had no professional contacts so I wrote my masterpieces speculatively and every path I went down ended with a rejection slip or total silence. The perceived wisdom then, as now, was that earning a living as a writer was about as likely as winning a lottery.

Then I discovered the secret of marketing. Instead of writing things and trying to persuade people to buy them, I would find out what writing services people needed and offer to provide them. So, at the same time as begging publishers and editors for commissions, I made myself available to anyone who might want to write an article or a book but did not feel able to do it for themselves.

I have just finished a three year stint on the management committee of the Society of Authors and therefore know how hard it is for many writers to make a living, but it was never easy. I have now spent just over 40 years as a freelance author and ghostwriter, during which time I have kept a meticulous record of every penny earned and can with hindsight see exactly how my personal experiment has panned out.

Although it was about ten years before I could support myself fully from my writing, in the course of those 40 years I have earned around £4-million. Obviously there were some feasts and famines along the way but by and large the graph has travelled upwards year upon year. From a starting point of about £1,000 a year, I hit six figures for the first time twenty years later and for the last ten years the annual figure has wavered between £150,000 and £200,000. That puts me roughly on a par with the Prime Minister, (but no free accommodation), which is a level I am more than content with.

The vast majority of that money has come from ghostwriting, some from fees paid by wealthy individuals and some in royalties from books that became bestsellers. Every time I agreed to a split in royalties instead of a fee I was taking a gamble and sometimes I would end up writing a whole book for virtually nothing. Looking back now, however, I can see that it was projects where I took a gamble that paid off the most handsomely. One book, for instance, has earned me more than half a million and quite a few have earned me more than £100,000. It is possible to ghost four books a year, although three is more comfortable, which means that most years the ones that earned nothing have been compensated for by the successes

By making my primary living from selling writing services I have been able to risk taking the time out to write speculative “passion projects”, (as they are called in Hollywood), in the form of novels. Two of these novels have ghostwriters as narrators and all were inspired by people I met and places I gained access to as a ghost.

In Pretty Little Packages the narrator is plunged into the world of people-trafficking and sex-slavery, while Secrets of the Italian Gardener is set in the palace of a Middle Eastern dictator who is telling his story to a ghostwriter during the outbreak of the Arab Spring. The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride is set in the world of instant celebrity, a place where most ghostwriters spend at least some of their time.

Last year I published a memoir, Confessions of a Ghostwriter, which looked back over the last 40 years and I wonder how many palaces, brothels and VIP areas I would have had privileged access to if I had stayed in my garret and written the books I dreamed of writing as a teenager, and whether I would ever have been able to earn a living and support a family.

So, what would I say to the young person setting out to be a writer today? First I would ask if they want to write for their own pleasure and fulfilment or whether they want to use writing to support themselves financially. If it is the latter then they must furnish their brains with something that they can write about, gain access to information that other people are willing to pay for or provide a service that others need to buy. The odds that your passion projects alone will ever make enough money to support you in any decent style are about the same as when you buy a lottery ticket, so you are inevitably going to have to do something else to earn money in the coming years. The more varied and interesting your life and experiences, the more likely that you will have something worth writing about. The more time you spend honing your writing skills through crafts like journalism and ghostwriting, as well as by producing speculative passion projects, the sharper those skills will be when the time comes for you to try to sell your passion projects to an understandably uninterested world. 

When we get to the later years of our lives it is good to have some stories, adventures and interesting experiences with which to regale our grandchildren, being a writer can provide as many of those as you care to take up. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

By the Time You Read This I'll be in Bits by Ruby Barnes

Last Thursday, while Britain was busy voting on its EU divorce, I managed to indulge two of my passions - writing and martial arts - with a fundraising launch of the Zombies v. Ninjas series in Stonehouse Books, Kilkenny, Ireland.

Coach Gary (left) and author Ruby (right) at the launch of Zombies v. Ninjas
Coach Gary (left) and author Ruby (right) at the launch of Zombies v. Ninjas

It was a great event, well-attended and raising a good few euros for the club, Evolution Martial Arts Academy. The whole thing turned into a signing fest when we came up with the idea of club members wearing their outfits. Readers were encouraged to ask anyone in karate regalia to sign their newly purchased books as the trilogy features all the club members. It was a unique experience for everyone.
Members of EMAA as featured in Zombies v. Ninjas

The launch had been greatly anticipated. My ZvN trilogy was a rapid project, first chapters being penned in February 2015 and the final edit of the third book completed in May 2016 (they're only 40k words each). This project served several purposes - to have some fun writing really crazy stories, to see if I could produce some commercial work to a short timescale, and to keep my mind firmly fixed on the world of karate. The last is significant as, if you read this post on Sunday 26th June 2016, I will at that same time be enduring the extreme physical ordeal of my 1st Dan Black Belt karate grading. This is the culmination of five years of training for the oldest ninja in town. The fun starts at 10:00 a.m. and will finish (after my fellow ninjas have all taken turns to attack me with full force) several hours later when I'm in Primo restaurant that evening, holding a cold pint of Peroni in my trembling hand. Pass, fail or fall over (one doesn't necessarily preclude the other) this has been much harder than writing a novel. So then what? Write some facebook or blog posts about the Brexit? Revive my ambition to become a ballet dancer, scale Everest or just run naked into the sea?

Ex-pats head home after the Brexit vote
Ex-pats head home after the Brexit vote

On Monday 27th June (or whenever I'm physically able to raise a hand to the keyboard and cast a bruised and battered eye at the computer screen), I will launch myself at the next writing challenge. A series of murder mysteries, laced with dark humour, a natural spin-off from Peril and Dodge. The first of these is 22k words in so I'm optimistic about completion of that one in 2016. Maybe the occasional Zombies v. Ninjas release will be thrown in between those murder mysteries. The karate, however, will not take a back seat. At Evolution Martial Arts Academy we maintain our preparedness for the Zombie Apocalypse. We will survive.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Goats, Goats And More Goats - by Susan Price

It was about a year ago that my brother Andrew said, "How about
The Troll gets a look in
doing something with the Three Billy Goats Gruff?"

         He knows I'm a sucker for that story, that I've often said it's a master-class in suspenseful story-telling. So I said, "You're on!" and the Goatstravaganza started to roll.
       First we set up a story-board: a large sheet of plywood leaning against a bookcase, on which Andrew stuck sketches as he made them. I would scribble lines on bits of paper and tack them to the board. The pictures influenced the writing and the writing influenced the pictures. It was enormous fun.

 Pencil sketches from the story-board

       We wanted to publish it as a paperback with CreateSpace. Ah, but how to persuade CreateSpace to publish a picture book with speech-bubbles and explosive, coloured 'Ka-pows!' and pictures that bleed right to the edge of the page?
     We researched, and all the smart money said that making it into a PDF with a PDF writer was the way to go. We needed Adobe Acrobat Pro with which you can create a PDF rather than just read one.
      Adobe Pro is expensive. But there was a month's free trial. So we downloaded it and gave it a go, carefully following instructions. We loaded it up to Createspace's previewer and found we'd failed. So we tried again. And failed. We tried and failed again and again.
      No matter how many times we looked up 'how to do it,' no matter how many times we meticulously checked over what we'd done, when we ran it through the Create Space previewer, it was a disaster. Tiny pages pushed into one corner. Half the image missing - oh, there were endless variations of wrong, but they were all wrong.
          Life did seem to narrow down to Goats, Goats and yet more failing Goats.

          I even lashed out a whole £1-99 on 'How to Format Your Picture Book For Createspace and Kindle Without The Frustration.' The author has obviously been there.
     We carefully followed Olson's  instructions for making a PDF. Failed.
       Wrath and despair. 

        Then, while the brother chewed the rug, I turned to the part of the book which tells you how to format using Microsoft Word. Hmm, I thought. Worth a go.

         You go to the Word's Layout menu, to Size. You make a new Word file, to the size you will be using in Createspace. You add an inch all round to allow for bleed. So, as were using the 11" by 8" Createspace size, we made the Word file 13" by 10".

The book was so thin that the gutter in the middle made no difference. Our pictures were going to flow right across it.

Add a great many blank pages to the Word file, far more than you need, because it's easier to delete pages than to add them, once they're filled with images. (If you try to insert an image between two other images, the new one almost always ends up in the wrong place. Don't ask me why. I just know from experience that it does.)
         Remember that your book has to have at least 26 pages or C/S won't upload it. This differs from the traditional picture book format - but also gives you more freedom.
         When you have your Word file at the required size, turn to your images, in whatever graphics programme you use. Make sure your text is embedded - that means it's saved as a graphic image rather than as text. This allowed us to have speech-bubbles and coloured words that go 'Zoo-ooo-oom!' They're actually pictures of words rather than text.
     Save your images in a format acceptable to Word. We saved them as jpegs. The  resolution needs to be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch.)
          Then use the Insert menu on Word to 'insert picture.' Insert your jpegs, page by page and centre them. Pull them at the corners until they fill your 'page.'
          If you have a double-page spread, cut it in half and insert it as two pages.

         We gave this method a go, somewhat gloomily, expecting it to fail as all our other attempts had.
         It worked, almost perfectly, first time. Andrew, a perfectionist, did a lot more work to get the details to join up across the double-spreads but never mind, it worked!
         When we proofed it on Createspace, we were told it was wrong because 'the file was a different size to the one expected' and because 'live elements went over the page border.' But we expected this. We wanted the pages to bleed right to the edges. Andrew had designed it so that there was nothing important in the areas that would be cut off.
       So we ignored Createspace's warnings. There is a button to click which actually says something like, 'Ignore and go ahead anyway.'
         We followed Karen Bush's advice and paid for a proof - and made more changes because of it. On some pages, the text, which had seemed fine in the previewer, was actually too close to the edge of the page, so we went back to the master-image and changed it.

 The Story Book              UK                    US
 The Colouring-In Book   UK                    US

        And when we'd done it, it was Andrew who had the bright idea of turning it into a colouring-in book. "We've got all the pictures," he said. "The outlines and the colours are on different layers. All I have to do is remove the colour layer and we've got a book of black-and-white outline drawings."

Some of the words and letters have fallen out of our book!

         That reminded me of talking about how children learn to read with my cousin, Alan Hess, who until recently taught special needs children. I emailed him and asked, would it be a good idea to remove some of the words and letters from the text of the colouring-in book, so children could practice their reading and writing skills by filling in the blanks?  "It's an excellent idea," he said.
          So our Three Billy Goats Gruff story-book is accompanied by the colouring-in book, with 'closed' exercises to help children with reading.

         But here's the good news for picture book writers. You don't need incredibly expensive programmes like Adobe Pro and Photoshop. You can use Word, which you've almost certainly already got, and free graphics programmes such as Gimp.
         We're already at work on our next opus, which will be The Musicians of Bremen and I love the images Andrew has already sketched.

The 'Bremen' storyboard

The donkey gets the idea of going to Bremen
The donkey and the dog meet the cat


Friday, 24 June 2016

Thank goodness that's over, now I can get back to writing.

I've no idea where our readers are. But some of those in the UK might be preoccupied today. For we had a referendum yesterday in which we decided our future place in the European Union. The media has been overwhelmed with arguments (I call them arguments - some not much more than appealing to primitive suspicions and beliefs about people who are different) for months. I confess I reached the point of turning them off. I couldn't bear watching yet another rich white man pontificating and making promises he can't possibly keep.

However, it has absorbed my thinking. The implications, for myself and my family, are huge. We can't reverse this decision. It's not like an election; if we elect a bunch of tossers we can vote them out in another five years. We have to get this 'right'. (Today we find out what 'right' might look like).

Then came the murder of Jo Cox - there's nothing to add to the millions of words that have been written about this. But I can't have been the only one who never knew her but but still spent hours thinking about the senselessness of her death. Do I really live in a country where people kill other people who don't agree with them?

What's this got to do with writing?

Possibly not a lot. Because writing needs headspace. I have a Work-In-Progress lurking on my computer. I'm used to parking this in a corner of my mind when times are busy, knowing that it will talk to itself occasionally provided I give it a little attention (often in the form of a walk, when I allow myself to think about nothing else), and then it will re-emerge with solutions when I have time to get on with it.

But these last few weeks have been different. The combination of a full diary and political uncertainty has overwhelmed my capacity to contain the WIP in its safe corner. I've had to give up, admit that there is simply too much going on. I have given myself permission to let the writing go for a while, knowing that this will pass and I can pick up it again when things settle.

Today we get the results of the referendum and I shall be absorbing the implications. There will be no energy for writing - again. But you, can you put huge world events to one side and settle to writing? Or do you, like me, allow yourself to give up occasionally?

If you've got any headspace to think about writing today, you can find some on my website, www.jocarroll.co.uk

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Brown River by Lev Butts

It seems that Amazon.com just can't help screwing over indie writers. I don't mean to imply that Amazon has it in for indie writers. It would be self-defeating to set out to undermine such a significant source of revenue for one of your important subsidiaries. After all, without indie folks, Amazon's CreateSpace program, one of the primary venues for self-publishers and many smaller independent presses, would essentially be dead in the water.

No, the problem lies in Amazon's perhaps overzealous pursuit of quality control. More particularly, trying to ensure that its merchandise is not offensive, its book reviews are relatively unbiased, and royalties are obtained honestly.

Maybe Amazon should consider this as a motto for its quality control.

This is not a new thing, and we here at Authors Electric have certainly discussed Amazon's problematic relationship with independent authors (and with traditional writers, too) before. However, I'd like to take a closer look at the problematic methods Amazon has used to address the three concerns above.

1. Non-Offensive Merchandise

I've written about this issue before, but not with an exclusive view towards how it affects indie writers.

As an initial reaction to the Charleston, SC Killings, many retailers, including Amazon, declared a moratorium on selling Confederate flags, extending to portrayals on other products regardless of historical context. While Amazon eventually relented on the issue of book covers, so long as the flag was displayed in a historically accurate or culturally appropriate manner, the fact remains that for a while there, books were removed from the virtual shelves, and many wound up having new covers designed before the world's largest bookstore came to its senses.

So how does this affect independent writers? Well, cover design ain't cheap. A good cover can sometimes cost the publisher hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you self-publish or publish through a co-op house, that means the money comes from your pocket. Since most indie writers are not going to make enough money in royalties to cover such a cost once, much less twice to remove an offending image, this means that once a book was banned, it was gone, at least until the prohibition was lifted.

Others such as our own Reb MacRath went ahead and had new covers created, but that essentially became an extra cost to their revenue that they would not make back until years down the road, if ever.

That the new cover (right) was actually a superior cover
doesn't negate my original point that it was an unnecessary
financial hardship to force on the author.

2. Unbiased Reviews

Amazon has, what looks on the surface, like an understandable if fairly strict review policy. In it, it states clearly that "family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items." Look, I get it. It's important that book reviews, which help drive sales, be as unbiased as possible. Obviously a spouse's review of their significant other's book is going to raise questions over whether it's an accurate depiction of the book's quality.

However, Amazon is a little vague about what constitutes a "close friend": a close friend, apparently is, they explain on their Frequently Asked Questions page, anyone who has a "direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or [is] perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist."

Again, on the surface this sounds perfectly fine. Except for the word "perceived." How can Amazon "perceive" a review came from such a person? While answers are not forthcoming from the company itself, evidence points to online surveillance of your social media. There are anecdotal reports of reviews being dropped because a reviewer and an author corresponded a few times on the author's website/Facebook page. I myself have had a review of a Neil Gaiman book denied once because we "knew" each other, and to the best of my knowledge, I've never met the man but once at a book signing, and he once replied to a comment I made on his webpage page about ten years ago.

I'm sure my lost review did nothing to harm the sales of American Gods, mind you, but this is Neil Fricking Gaiman we're talking about. The man could publish his grocer's list and make the New York Times Bestseller List.

Hello, I am Neil Gaiman, and this is a ledger of all the shits
the markets didn't give about Mr. Butts' lost review of my book.

For independent authors, though, every lost review counts. We struggle to get every review we can to make that minimum number of reviews that will allow Amazon to out our books in rotation on the "Others have read" and the "You might also like" and the ever popular "Frequently bought with this" lists. If we lose reviews simply because we once said "thank you" to a nice comment on our blog, or someone happened to "like" the picture we posted of our dog doing something cute, that has a direct palpable financial impact.

Though my dog is, to be honest, incredibly cute.

3. Honest Royalties

Recently, Amazon decided to pay Kindle Unlimited authors by the pages of their books read as opposed to a flat fee for whole book borrowed. There are all kinds of problems with this pay model, that I will let others discuss. The main thing from the two articles I've linked is that some folks have found a way around Amazon's page counting metrics, and they have found ways around Amazon's original solution to the scammers.

Again, I'm not saying that the scammers should win here. Far from it. I'm mainly concerned though, with the salt-the-earth policies that Amazon has enacted both for this and other perceived breaches of Amazon rules. Essentially, they can drop your books and ban you from publishing with them without so much as a token query to you.

If you write books that are "fast reads," and people finish them quickly (like overnight, because none of us have ever stayed up late nights to finish a book), Amazon may think you have paid a "click-farm" or 'bots to borrow your books and click through the pages to the end without reading them.

Amazon, stop me now!

Think it can't happen? It can and it does. It happened to Pauleen Creeden. Yes, her books are still available in paperback, but for most indie authors, the real money is in ebooks. Just as paperbacks became a cheaper and more portable alternative to hardbacks in the mid-twentieth century (thus making books more accessible to the poor and middle class), ebooks have become the new cheaper and more portable option for readers. With her access to ebook publishing removed, Creeden has lost a significant portion of her writer's income without so much as a chance to defend herself.

So what can we do?

In a word, not much. We can't delete our social media to ensure more reviews. Doing so only limits our access to the readers who may write them. We cannot prove a negative when it comes to employing click-farms or purchasing reviews, especially if we are not given the opportunity to even try to.

The main thing we can do as authors is try to lobby Amazon to institute a better appeals process to allow authors and reviewers to defend themselves before having their work summarily deleted.

How one does that, though, is beyond me. Perhaps someone in the comments has a clue.

We're sorry Mr. Butts, but we can't publish a new review on your book. It turns out
the reviewer's cousin was a caterer on a movie set where the director had once
worked with Kevin Bacon, who was in Footloose, which starred John Lithgow,
who was in The World According to Garp, based on a novel by John Irving,
who once wrote you a letter.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Waving or drowning? Ali Bacon reviews her social media situation

I don’t know what it takes to fall in love with social media (warped personality? lack of real social life?) but for a while I was head over heels, first of all with my blog and then with Twitter.

Behind the blog
     Blogging came about because of a work remit (I must be one of the few members of the human race who did a course on it!) and shortly after I was offered a paid blogging opportunity on behalf of a golf marketing company. Since I played golf, this was fun, and as long as I churned out a couple of posts a week I was sent a modest but satisfying cheque at the end of each month.
     Nice work if you can get it.
     And by the time the Rather-Be-Golfing goose had stopped laying its golden eggs, I had put together my own writing website using the free Wordpress facility which I knew would provide ‘static’ website pages as well as a blog, enabling me to feel like a) an IT whiz-kid and b) a proper author with a proper website.

Let me say again, all of this was fun, and for a good three years I blogged every week without fail.  I made connections with a quite a few other bloggers (not all writers, just anyone who liked taking their thoughts to the world without having an axe to grind). As time went on my occasional book reviews attracted the attention of publishers and book marketers who offered free review copies – more fun!

By this time Facebook had emerged from its academic and yoof origins but although I signed up (purposes of research, obviously) I steered clear – mere chitchat and gossip – not for me! Twitter on the other hand approached me by stealth. After I signed up (research ..!) it cheekily searched my email. The only two people it came up with already on Twitter (a local author and my niece’s husband) happened to be people I considered to be Quite Interesting - as they did turn out to be. A few followers and followings later I was chatting with a collection of people – a few of whom I knew in real life or had met on my blogging travels – on a regular basis and in a most diverting way. I crafted my tweets to fit the 140 characters and comforted myself with the thought that surely this was a good writing skill.

So what went wrong? Well nothing really because I had a novel published and my group of chatty friends turned into my social media platform – just what I needed!  Or was it?

Sell, sell, sell!
In what seemed like a piece of good timing, I had come across an authors’ collective (not this one) intent on (amongst other things) harnessing the power of social media to sell books.  I applied, I was accepted. Result. I now had a bigger band of followers/friends (FB could no longer be ignored) to have fun with. The only thing was that I was also duty bound to tweet and share on their behalves. No problem – a bit of time management was all that was required. I joined Linked In and discovered Hootsuite – a platform which will post for you across social media and schedule posts for different times of day. I dabbled in Triber too. Magic!

Hootsuit: notification, notification, notification!
 But somehow there was a subtle change in my social media activity. Basically it had become work, not play. Also, the Hootsuite interface – which I used instead of Twitter - gave more emphasis to mentions and retweets (i.e. my own profile) but discouraged me from reading the massive amount of stuff appearing in my news feed. 

Great, why read all that when it’s the mentions that count? But the overall result was that I lost interest in my old love, using it as a publicising tool rather than a chat room and transferring real socialising into Facebook. Of course the other reason I lost interest was that I was mostly reading other people’s publicity. I began to wonder if I was as annoying as they were!

Twitter - who's out there? 
Help – or sanity – arrived in an unexpected form. I took on the role of blogging and tweeting on behalf of my writing group (as no one else had the time or interest) and to save myself from confusion I restricted that activity to the original Twitter interface. After initial annoyance at its comparative clunkiness, I realised I was forming more interesting connections there than in my own account. By starting afresh I remembered Twitter could be fun.

Of course in the meantime there were notifications and new interfaces on phones and tablets just to add to life’s rich social media tapestry, but by then I had left the writers’ collective for other reasons and I’ve now divested myself of my Writers Unchained tweeting at least for a while. I’ve also for the most part ditched Hootsuite and returned to my spiritual Twitter home where I am assiduously unfollowing (sorry guys) anyone who throws out only promo material. And I am congratulating myself on never having taken up Pinterest – yes I know it’s great but I’d never be off it - although I am a little curious about Instagram …!

And my old friend the blog? I joined Authors Electric because I like the company – and could see that a shared blog makes far more sense. I use my old place for the occasional update or venting opportunity, but it’s due for a makeover of a fairly radical kind, and with so many other places to scatter my writerly seed, it may become what it was always meant to be – just an author website. 

Still afloat - just!
One or two things I have learned: - social media involves many things, including discipline, but also being yourself, whichever profile or identity you are using.

So how are the rest of you coping? Probably better than I am!

Fee free to wave to me as I keep afloat 

on Twitter @Alibacon

And of course I also have a story in Another Flash in the Pen anthology. 
Don't miss the 0.99 p introductory offer!