Its been a while, my friends, since fiction was spoken about in these parts. It is not like I’ve lost the urge to tell stories, just that life has decided there were other, more pressing matters that needed to be considered first. Now they are out of the way, it is time to sit down and consider a way forward. There is, quite amazingly for me, a plan to boot.
First order of business is to get MMXCI complete and in a workable state to edit. You’d think after seventeen years I’d have cracked this, but a vital piece of narrative development only became apparent late last year. The plan is to try and have this finished by the end of July.
Once complete, I’d like to destroy it enough so it could be offered as a potential manuscript. It remains the best original narrative I’ve ever been able to create, and I’d like to make the most of that as a selling point.
Then, there is Chameleon, still incomplete after my start on it during NaNoWriMo last year. I’ve now rethought the plot and have significant reason to extensively rewrite what already exists. What is more likely to happen is that I’ll edit to the current finish point and then continue onwards to completion.
This I’m planning to do through August and September, leaving October to consider what will get the nod for NaNoWriMo 2017. I already have an idea on the table, in the planning stage…
After that, I’m going to use the Internet of Words as the means to write short stories better. The call has gone out this afternoon for beta readers, and if you’ve expressed an interest you can expect to see a story in your Inbox early in July.
However, that’s not all there is to it: join my Patreon and on Thursdays you’ll have a chance to contribute to the following Friday’s exclusive fiction content! If you don’t know about this already, click here to find out details of how to pledge.
If you’re interested in my storytelling abilities, and original fiction pieces going forward, then please feel free to follow this Blog.
It is time to get my writing aspirations back on track, and that meant today some serious thought over why I’m here and what’s happening long term with blogging as a future. This morning, a simple objective was publicly set:
This week's plan on this account is to try and increase my followers and keep them.
There is a plan for this, that will play out across the week. I make no lie that it will involve incentives. This is a harsh reality in which we live, and I am well aware that to promote any ‘brand’ means getting dirty, providing sweeteners to help highlight what you do. I watched this play out across a weekend of ‘vintage’ bicycle festival: you pay to ride, and countless companies throw free stuff at you in the hope that you’ll like it enough to take the plunge and become a long term consumer. Our rider bags for Eroica were stuffed with alcohol, cosmetics and other gubbins. Free beer was offered during the ride, and when you completed. All of this has a purpose: buy into the lifestyle. That’s what I’m doing here, and if I’m up front about that, there’ll be no confusion.
The problem is, right now, that I’m not really terribly happy how Twitter’s platforms are being altered in order to make the company more relevant. We’ve spoken at length about the issues with analytics (that is still going on) but today my web-based platform of choice altered for good. On the back of last week’s ‘cleaner’ redesign (which owes a lot to the Android version of the UI) a fundamental change came into play that it took a while to work out. However, thanks to one of my most trusted followers, the answer was incredibly simple, once it became apparent some fundamentals have altered in Tweetdeck’s filtering functions.
Here's a screengrab of my timeline. I'd like you to look at the Tweet both above AND below mine in this sequence. pic.twitter.com/4NOTvfGo2f
At 5pm this evening, random tweets started appearing in my timeline from people I did not know. More importantly, these were accounts I did not follow, but in many cases had direct relevance to stuff I’d been discussing in my own timeline. The ultimate indignity was when Teresa May appeared, out of the blue, ON HER OWN ACCOUNT (that I’m positive nobody on my timeline would ever retweet). A sneaky switch to Hootsuite to check it wasn’t just a glitch showed promoted tweets are now appearing in their timelines, where this was not the case before. More significantly, it then became apparent what the issue was: these were cleverly picked posts being presented as ‘retweets.’ The thing is, unless I can see who’s retweeting them, or unless they are quoted, there is no way I can associate them with anyone I know on my feed. Once I worked out these were what Tweetdeck considered as a ‘retweet’, the filtering is a no-brainer.
One click of a button and the noise effectively vanished. It is now apparent that Twitter’s not mucking about with trying to promote new followers: by presenting ‘retweets’ that match the same content I’m talking about? There’s a better than average chance I’ll follow someone. The key here is, of course, these messages are anything but random. They were carefully targeted, just as that alcohol and other products were at the weekend. The problem with me, sadly, is that I won’t ever play that game if you don’t ask first. Just giving me everything and hoping I’ll click won’t work. In that regard, I will probably need to make sure I start using my own personally curated lists going forward so I can avoid all the noise. Today was a salutatory lesson in what a company will be prepared to do in order to make their product marketable.
It might seem like bad planning on my part, but I’m going away this weekend for the first time in many years, just with my husband. The spontaneity of the moment was part of the appeal, I’ll be honest, and it’s not two days lying in the sun. I’ll be riding a bike, indulging in vintage everything and having fun at the Eroica Britannia. If you follow my personal Instagram and Twitter accounts, there’ll be lots of pictures across the weekend, but I’ll be calling a halt to ‘normal’ posting until Monday morning.
Before I go go however, I wanted to extend a MASSIVE thank you to everybody who has committed a pledge to the Patreon thus far. I really do appreciate your support, and starting next week you’ll get to see exactly what it is you’ve handed over your cash for.
Until then, may you have a restful and enjoyable weekend.
I’m not going to lie today, I’m pretty hacked off. When you start something as an experiment, one does so with the understanding that the data you’re using is going to be constant and untainted. In the last few weeks, it has been impossible to accurately gauge anything from Twitter’s analytics. If I was being paid to do this for a living I’d feel angry and upset, and I doubt that paying for the service would give me that much extra recourse either. I understand enough about how the Internet works to grasp that this ‘software’ has to be upgraded on the fly: you can’t realistically shut down the Twitter servers for twelve hours a week for maintenance. That means if summat’s broken, it stays that way until you can find the means to realistically fix it ‘live.’
The irony is, of course, that on the other page I’ve quite obviously tweeted, quite a lot, and that’s gathered the interest of a few people:
Here’s the issue: according to the metrics, I didn’t tweet anything on June 1st yet garnered over 20k impressions. In fact, the first time Twitter acknowledges I did tweet anything is June 5th. What this has done is made my engagement rate not simply plummet but become a completely pointless statistic to gauge anything by:
If I was wearing my tinfoil hat, I’d say May 19th was when all this ‘trouble’ began. I’d also love to know whether the means by which Twitter reports engagement has subtly altered too, because this whole decrease for me now seems off, especially as I know I’m getting bigger engagements overall using threaded content (that is, if I go off on a rant I makes sure each tweet is posted as a reply to the ‘parent’ message.) Needless to say, I can see organic impressions doing nothing but raise as the Summer goes on, because I will be doing my absolute damnedest not only to sell the Intenet of Words, but to use Social media as effectively and ruthlessly as I possibly can.
However, in the interests of balance, I have to make a few observations with relation to the amount of crap I now see in my feed… and, to be fair, it has dropped dramatically. By ‘crap’ I mean random followers who’ll pick up a high performance tweet and effectively flag it with a bot account. As was mentioned last week, hashtagging content used to result in a flurry of robot follows (presumably by websites who charge you to link up with like minded content to extend your reach.) With the demise of CoPromote at about the same time as all these changes came about? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Twitter might not just be taking steps to remove automated followers from its software. It could well be clamping down on those who use Twitter to make money for themselves.
With the potential value of the company long term, I really can’t say I blame them.
I look forward to seeing if a) anyone even bothers to respond now I’ve cc-d in Twitter’s Support account and b) on the amazingly slim chances they do, whether there’s any comment other than ‘we are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it for users as soon as possible.’ I understand how this works with gaming UI after many years of banging a head against the same wall.
I mentioned back on May 5th that I was going to have to go in for what turned out to be quite important surgery. My recovery, although fairly swift, is not as rapid as I had either hoped or planned for. As a result, my intention to go live with Patreon next week is, on reflection, somewhat optimistic. That means there will be some minor changes to project timings, to allow me a chance to get completely back to normal and present the level and depth of content that I think this entire project deserves.
With this in mind, amended timings are as follows:
Early Adoption Patreon will now go live on June 12th, with general access available on June 15th. This also allows me to finally complete the Top Tier rewards to be photographed, and have the enamel badge rewards in hand. I’m also considering some additional rewards that I’ll let readers of the IoW Twitter feed know about starting next week. If you want to be a part of my Early Access Team, please follow @InternetofWords on Twitter where there’s already a daily dose of Micropoetry and Haiku to keep you entertained.
I’ve decided to do a massive update of all of the various online presences ahead of the Patreon launch too, as an excuse to standardise everything across the board and organise better going forward. The physical changes for this are already in place, it will now simply be graphics and content that changes long term. Here’s a reminder of where you can find me, and that all of these places will be getting a freshen up starting tomorrow:
I’d love to tell you more, but honestly I’d like to keep some surprises under my belt… needless to say, it’ll be worth your time.
I look forward to seeing you bright and early tomorrow morning 😀
It is my intention, before the Internet of Words Patreon launches on June 15th, to give potential backers an opportunity to understand exactly what it is they will be throwing their money at. As a result, it is time to start explaining how this whole shebang is going to work.
Each month, the Internet of Words will be using a work of published fiction or non fiction as the basis of a month’s worth of created and completely original content. This will include essays, humorous asides and at least one original piece of short-form fiction. On the official Twitter feed, all haiku and micro-poetry will be based on the subject matter of the book being ‘studied’, which means for the month of July our theme will be Pictures and Perception. I’ve chosen a seminal tome to kick off our endeavour, a piece of non-fiction that asks a lot of the reader. We’ve already mentioned the BBC TV show from the 1970’s which was based on this (and which will be referenced at certain points during the month.) Our opening inspiration is Ways of Seeing by John Berger.
I’ll be announcing the next month’s book in advance to allow Patreons and others to get a copy and read it (if they choose) so they can take a more active part in discussions. This also gives me a chance to plan the meat of the month’s output. Then, when we hit the first of the month, you can expect to see content presented, based around a number of the following umbrella topic headings:
War of the Words
The Internet began life as a text-based medium. Words are what matters more than anything else: for intent, to communicate and as education. Using our novel as a springboard, we’ll attempt to understand not simply the text in context to the subject matter, but its wider significance in the communication-rich world we now inhabit.
Books will be chosen which, in my opinion, straddle the worlds of traditional and modern, that embrace the concepts the Internet excels at and conversely fails to achieve.
It is easy, without understanding extensive context, to make wild assumptions about everything and anything. In the modern world, therefore, understanding is probably more significant that initial knowledge. The IoW will attempt to give context to the novel, its historical significance and the circumstances in which it came to be written.
This will also include, where appropriate, documentary materials appertaining to a specific period of interest to the particular book being ‘studied.’
Anyone who has fallen down an Internet rabbit hole will know just how a subject matter can inspire people into amazing and often mind-boggling feats of self-discovery. In this strand, we’ll attempt to show what an understanding of the book’s wider themes can do to illuminate individuals’ own interpretation of the subject matter.
This strand might get a bit weird, I’m warning you now. Be prepared to be shocked, amazed and quite possibly challenged.
The Word is Not Enough
Any novel can be interpreted individually in potentially an infinite number of ways. An author will undoubtedly be amazed at what others see in their words, and often these are not enough when attempting to combine an individual experience with the written words presented to them.
We’ll consider how words are misinterpreted, how changes in societal attitudes can alter the words themselves, and that definition sometimes isn’t everything.
I’ll be using the book as a springboard each month for both micro poetry and haiku via the @InternetofWords Twitter feed, but at the same time it will become the subject of short fiction, including 500 words micro-stories, and a 2000 word short story that covers one of the major themes of our monthly text.
There may be more or less, depending on how my real life goes. This is very much a ‘work in progress’ that will be reconsidered on a monthly basis.
So, there you have it. This is the initial concept going forward, and will be constantly reassessed, month by month, to ensure that all Patreons are getting value for money. By becoming a supporter, you’ll also be asked to help decide future novels for consideration, potential subjects for fiction and to take part in discussions that will happen exclusively for Patreon subscribers.
To say I’m excited is an understatement. I can’t wait to share with you what is in store for July, and I hope I’ll see you bright and early on July 1st as part of the Internet of Words ‘collective’ to begin discussing Berger’s work.
I should apologise for being a couple of days late with the Guide, but as history can show this as being Monday when it is in fact Wednesday, I doubt there’s too much of a fuss to be caused anyway. Health issues have inevitably derailed my progress, but they’re also a powerful means of driving social media. If you didn’t know already, drama generates interest.
Let’s be honest here: I’d rather not have all this fuss and bother right before one of the most important periods of my life, but the Universe does like to mess with your head at the most inopportune of moments. Therefore, my views last week were exclusively driven by the fact I’ve become my own news story, like it or not. I could choose to read these figures in an number of ways, but at this point I’d just like to think that more people than normal care about my welfare, and that’s where we’ll stop. The better news, if we look at the graph on the right, is that I’m keeping close to exceeding a 2% engagement rate.
How am doing that is part of a structured change to my Tweeting habits.
This Tweet has a picture, from my phone, of me waiting in the Hospital to see my surgeon on Monday night. If I’d have posted it *without* the picture it would have received less interest, because what the image does is make this less about having a conversation. The image, like it or not, draws you into my story. That’s why SnapChat and Instagram are as immensely useful and compulsive as they undoubtedly are as tools for generating traffic: the brain, in most cases, reacts more favourably to visual stimulus. This means that if I post something with a GIF attached, more people will read it, as is the case with a screenshot or a photograph. Once upon a time mobile download limits might restrict this as useful, but as WiFi becomes de rigeur and mobile devices become portable newspapers and magazines as well as gaming rigs… use more pictures.
On the flip side, one well worded, concise and honest tweet is worth an entire blog post.
Picture + personal affirmation, in this case, results in a 9.3% engagement rate, if you didn’t believe me when I said that pictures sell. On the flip side however, being overly personal can turn people off. There’s the individual on my feed for instance who’s almost permanently ragging on their ex-partner for being horrible, and although there is a continued measure of sympathy for the situation, that person does go on Mute when it all gets too much. As is the case with life, balance is everything.
Finally, you don’t need pictures, a personal dilemma or the end of the World to engage an audience. With the right words, a bit of thought and some planning, you can use Twitter to write blog posts, by ‘threading’ a series of tweets together with an appropriate picture at the top. This method of communication is proving increasingly useful for me, and I’ll be making the most of the format going forward. This week, there’s not much else to report really, and with an operation scheduled for the 16th, it will be a little quiet around these parts on Monday anyway.
Time to go practice what we’ve learnt and be ready to start again once all this drama is over.