Advice, Inspiration, Marketing

To Tiktok or to Twitter, That is the Question

Over the last few months, I’ve been exploring a variety of social media platforms to cultivate an audience for my upcoming book releases. I must have listened to the same podcasts as all the other writers (Creative Penn, The Bestseller Experiment) because there’s so much chatter out there, it’s hard to hear ourselves speak. We’ve all become slaves to whatever shifting algorithm these platforms use to determine who gets the views. So now, not only do we have to write, we have to master fifteen new apps. And often, to use an app, you have to master another one first. We have to become our own marketing mavens.

There’s a high likelihood we’ve been tricked into becoming human battery cells à la Matrix for the benefit of the social media CEOS and advertisers. Oh well.

Here’s what I’ve learned. My Tiktok following has stagnated at less than 200, and the number of likes and views seem to be inversely related to the time I spend making them. Tiktok likes humor, spectacle, self-branding, and imitation (via “dueting” and “stitching”). I know, right? I should write a glossary. Anyway, I can be humorous, but not wildly so, and being ADHD, I thrive on variety, so I’m not really suited to Tiktok. They say it’s four young people, anyway.

Also, Tiktok doesn’t foster the kind of literary audience I’m looking for with a few exceptions, like Panic_Kyle. Finally, I’m NOT going to do the literal song and dance routine required of Tiktok authors. I’ve got nothing against dancing. I just like to do it for fun, not for selling books.

In contrast, Twitter has a stronger literary community. In a few short weeks I’ve doubled my followers by seeking out like-minded authors. There’s a strong ethos in Twitter that if someone follows you, you follow them back. Replying to posts is as important to posting your own thoughts. I find my best twitter replies are instinctive– the ones I don’t think too hard about. It’s like trying to see the Northern Lights when they are visible in NY. They are so faint that if you look at the sky too hard to you don’t see them. You have to cultivate a fuzzy focus.

My Twitter follower number seems to hover at about 44% of the number of people I follow. I’ve gone from not understanding Twitter to looking forward to engaging with strangers about New Yorker articles. In fact, I almost look forward to checking my Twitter messages more than my text messages. Worrisome. Borg induction? Social dissolution? Hope not.

Nevertheless, I enjoy the video editing app on Tiktok. It provides a set of creative constraints, visual tools, and copyrighted sound clips. It has prompted to me to revise, edit, and shorten previously written works, just for the hell of it – which is a good thing.

So, last night, I took a poem from the previous post “November Bones” and, in the effort to fit it into a 60-second Tiktok with visuals and music, I “stripped it down to the bones,” a process I enjoy as much as earth does in the poem, now an “Ode to Death.” A similar thing occurred with my flash fiction, “Lilith Confesses.” I like how the app forces me to weigh each word individually. So, it might not get me views, and it might not sell any books, but it does something far more important. It stimulates curiosity and creativity. Algorithm be damned. See what you think. But don’t think too hard.

@literarylatte

Ode to Death #halloween poetry. Go to laledavidson.com

♬ Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush

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Advice, Inspiration, Writing Process

ADHD and Pandemic Effect on Writing With Me, Barbara Chepaitis, and Ray Graf on WAMC’s Vox Pop Writer’s Forum

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I was delighted to be invited to be on Vox Pop with Barbara Chepaitis and Ray Graf as we talked about the creative process. Had to tell myself as I watched the clock count down to the second we were on air– it’s just a conversation with a good friend. Only one f-up– when I said the title of Anne Lamott’s essay, “Shitty First Drafts.” Ironic that we can teach that in public college, but can’t say it on public radio. Almost gave them a heart attack because of the fines they would get. Luckily, they have a delay and were able to catch it and bleep it out! Exciting.

Barbara Chepaitis is author of 12 published novels, including her most recent The Aquarius Project, about a young woman who can wish people dead. She’ll be telling ghost stories with Whispering Bones this October, and is currently working with some Lithuanian folks on her screenplay, The Amber. She teaches performance and writing at the College of St. Rose.

My novel, Blue Woman Burning, a road-trip in search of family with lashings of the supernatural, will be published this November by Red Penguin Books. My short story collection Strange Appetites won the Adirondack Center for Writing’s People’s Choice Award and will be re-released soon! Oct 26! As you know, I am a Distinguished Professor of writing at SUNY Adirondack, and recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities.

Listen here, but not before you subscribe to my mailing list for a free digital copy of my collection of short stories, Strange Appetites. For more description, check out the books tab above.

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Meditations, poetry

November Bones

Now is the time 
when earth cracks her skirt like a whip 
and sends her dress up in flames
 
The place where she strips down to her bones 
and dances fiercely with the stars 

Where instead of bundling up against bitterness 
she throws down her ashen cloak 
and covers ground with softness 
as air-akin as moth. 

Where she turns her naked face 
to the outer dark 
seared by stars and eyes 
of owls with sight so keen
no mouse is safe 
in its warmest, most secret, 
most carefully padded nest 

Where all the labor of harvest comes to naught 
and death flies on furred wings across 
winter steal
to grinning, starry heights 

Where she pauses to sing among bare barked trees
that glow brown as dove breasts, 
and mauve as dusk, 
“It has ended! It has ended!” 

Then she rests, mute and hard, seemingly for eternity
before she has to put her shoulder back 
to the sun-warmed, moss covered, 
millstone of life.

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