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Guest Blogger: Mark Iles

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That Lonely Profession

Like so many others I’ve always been interested in writing. A few years back a work colleague mentioned her brother had done a Master of Arts in writing and I decided to give it a go. Something life-changing had happened to me and I desperately needed something to focus on - to prove to myself that I could go beyond what I believed I could achieve.

During the course I was given one piece of advice by a tutor that I’d like to pass on: ‘being a writer is a lonely profession, make time for those you love or you could easily lose them’. If you think about this you’ll realise that it’s easy to spend hours absorbed in your work, saying little to our partners nor interacting with them, and this could lead to all kinds of problems. One of the ways around it is to have set writing times, say during the morning. Your partner will then know they have you for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

That saying transposes into all sides of our writing. For instance, ramming your books down your friends’ throats can soon cost you those bonds. That goes for twitter and Facebook followers too. There has to be a happy medium and thankfully I’ve actually found a way that really works for me.

Gaining and Losing Followers

Only posting about your writing will soon lose you followers, and I mean in droves! Find something else to hook them. Personally I cast my net wider than writing. I look at things that I personally enjoy and post about those. For instance, if you’re an avid fisherman post about different types of fish, tackle, rods – good fishing spots and so forth. Post photos and videos of your catch and that of others, tips about fishing. Search out people who are interested in what you are. If you travel then tweet about that - and use hash tags! For instance #fishing #angling #bait #amwriting, #travelling. People search for those. Do the same and follow other people who do this and you’ll quickly find they’ll reciprocate.

Amongst other things I tweet about martial arts, which I have done for over forty-six years and hold a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. This was basically how I started out, by writing short fiction and martial arts features for various magazines. Anything that really grabs me I post about and try to do this several times daily (note tries!), slipping in something here and there about my writing. This could be a taster, blog, book promo, my Amazon author’s page, a cover shot - ANYTHING! You’ll find those who are interested in your hobbies will start to read these too, rather than being turned off by constant promotion.

As a qualified copywriter, having run email campaigns and blogs for major companies, I know that the idea is to post several times about new subjects. Then you gradually slow down, to about one or two a week – on each of your works. I also know that blogs should be 600-800 words, but many of mine turn into more like features.

As people follow you look at who they follow and snap those up too. They should be like-minded and so your numbers will soon start to grow. Check out book clubs and publishers, not only in your genres but others too. You’ll soon find your daily twitter recommendation will contain writers, editors, agents and so forth. Follow them, no matter what genre (I’m a firm believer in writers supporting writers). You’ll see who their fans are and, using good judgement, consider following them too. Retweet other people’s posts and you’ll find they’ll do the same for you.

If you can get a list of your followers, then regularly post a ‘follow these fabulous authors/anglers…’ You’ll be surprised at the results!

Does it help?

I find twitter really works for me. I also run a blog and do lots of writer interviews and book promotions, and I’d advise anyone to do this. Why? Because writers love reading about writing - be it rejections, success, advice, publishing houses wants, book covers...the list is endless. Oh, and don’t forget those you help will remember it and host blogs from you in turn, again great fodder for Twitter.

To me it’s really important to NEVER buy followers. Should you upset someone, such as a reviewer, it’s quite easy for them to check you out. False followers could flag up, and that’s a great deal of ammunition for them!

Be friendly and courteous at all times and regularly thank people for retweets and following you. When you have too many followers to mention, a generic ‘Thanks for all the RT’s and new followers...’ type of post works wonders. I had to begin doing this when I found I was spending a great deal of time writing numerous posts simply saying ‘thanks’. Do keep an eye on your followers though, and continue to retweet and comment.

A word to the wise. I’m a member of a twitter monitor group and I’ve recently discovered that so-called ‘unfollowers’ aren’t necessarily that. So, don’t automatically unfollow those who flag up. Click on them and check to see if that’s indeed the case. Chances many are they are still following you.

Bio

Completing his MA in Professional Writing in February with a Distinction Mark also holds Diploma Level 4’s in Copywriting and Proofreading. Currently he’s undertaking another in Data Analytics and is considering his PhD in Creative Writing, while working part time as a writer and editor.

Mark’s had short stories, photographs, features and poems published in a wide variety of magazines and media, including the anthologies Monk Punk, Escape Velocity, Auguries and Write to Fight. He’s had one non-fiction book published, two novels, two short story collections and four novellas. A few years ago he was approached by an Editor and asked to write the script for a self-defence App. This was financed in New Zealand, edited in New York, filmed by Bristol Film Studios, published by Kiwa Media and is now available from the Apple App Store and in Android.

Mark’s now working on his third novel, Roar of Lions.

Links US Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Iles/e/B004YZBP3I

UK Amazon author’s page

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