FollowBack Mountain?

networks“Build a platform”, they all said, to become famous and influential before you publish your first novel. Market something that does not exist? We used to call it “vapourware”, now it’s “work-in-progress”. But I followed conventional wisdom…

I joined a dozen or more platforms, forums and exchanges. I participated in campaigns to encourage Followers and at time of writing…

I am currently working on building my Goodreads presence.

Additionally, I have a few accounts which I have neglected so far:  Google+,Quora , Yahoo, Pinterest, Vizify and a couple of others, I think…

A word about Twoo : I keep receiving invitations from total strangers all using my private (and confidential) email address. I am extremely dubious and suspicious about this and remain unreassured by Twoo’s standard, responsibility-evading response to my concerns. But do not let me influence you, read some independent reviews.

Following Back

(I use Twitter terminology here, but it applies to all platforms.)

The social platform netiquette convention is to Follow back those who Follow you. I support exhibitions of good manners as they have become such a rare commodity. However, I am faced daily with the problem of reciprocation; should I or shouldn’t I? At first, I Followed-back everyone, happy to be building a Following. But things have changed.

I seek Followers who might read, understand and enjoy my words, so I withhold the Followback reward from those:-

  • offering ways of adding thousands of Followers overnight (instantly “Blocked”)
  • whose profile summaries and tweets are in a language I do not understand
  • using MiXEd cAse tEXt (I expect a certain degree of literacy from my readers)
  • whose sole purpose is to broadcast their love for Justin Bieber or anyone in their school class
  • promoting campaigns which I do not support – for example, anti-abortion groups
  • with no profile description, or no personalised profile picture, as I doubt their seriousness

I remain unsure about people with strong religious sentiments, as I expect that some of my writing will offend them.

Finally, I use one of the many tools to monitor those who UnFollow after gaining a FollowBack. I always return the favour of Unfollowing.

Twitter Lists

As an aside, I have begun to create “Lists” (see my Profile for example), breaking down my Followers into categories useful to me in identifying exactly who is Following.  This is proving to be a truly valuable tool. (I recommend doing this BEFORE you reach 3000 Followers and maintaining them with every new Follower.)

Ideal Followers

A writer’s platform is a channel to potential readers and a “platform-builder” should know the profile of the wonderful people they wish to attract.

My Ideal Follower, then, has the following characteristics:-

  • open-minded or at least tolerant to new ideas
  • interested in Humanity (used to be called “Mankind”) and where it is headed
  • preferably already a reader of Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
  • reasonably literate in English

If that’s you, I encourage you to Follow my Blog and/or Tweets using the buttons provided in the side panels.

Am I missing something in this analysis and strategy?

What criteria do you use in building a platform?

(Logos used in the compilation image above belong to their respective owners)

11 thoughts on “FollowBack Mountain?

    1. I used to be a marketeer, and thought I had given that up when I started scribbling. But I faced a rude awakening. Oh, well. If it’s necessary, then it has to be done; although I hope people will buy/read my stuff because of its quality, not its marketing.


  1. I’m a Christian who happens to be pro-life. I will continue to follow you, whether we agree or not. I am tolerant of other people’s beliefs. I expect you to respect mine as well. I don’t shy away from controversies. I speak my mind. I like your blog, and will continue to read them, no matter what the content. Keep writing my friend. I’ll keep reading. Blessings.


  2. Many thanks for understanding that my comments were not intended as an attack. I am not anti-Christian or even anti-religion. Even as an atheist, I see that the modern world at all levels needs an injection of morality that mass-religion used to provide. Although, to balance that, we have seen enough of how some powerful religious teaching can lead people into savage acts of violence.

    I strongly believe in free speech, too, but choose not to attend meetings in support of something I disagree with. My comments were based on a period when I received a series of Twitter Followers whose SOLE agenda was dedicated promotion of their their campaign. I respect that, but chose not to FollowBack, as that would simply be a cynical numbers game. Worse, many of the intensely-dedicated would eventually take exception to aspects of my works-in-progress. To invite someone to “sit at my table” to make me look good, and then to insult their basic principles, seems immoral.

    However, perhaps it would have started a lively debate 😉

    I confess that when I started to recruit Followers, I welcomed everyone, to build my numbers, but perhaps I have begun to put away childish things. I hope we will continue to follow each other’s blogs as you do qualify for my list of Follower qualities listed above.

    And thank you for raising this issue, to provide me with an opportunity to clarify a poorly-expressed comment.


  3. I also have to think about time in general. How many people CAN I follow, read, and comment on regularly. Well written posts take time. I am not afraid to add more, but I have started to become picky. Lord help me if everyone started blogging every day!


    1. Welcome to my Blog, Tony

      I agree, time is a real issue. It takes time to create and write a Blog and I AM supposed to be writing my stories, as my wife keeps reminding me. But a Blog is a form of writing and it allows me to express fairly off-the-cuff, quirky or flippant views that cannot fit inside my novels and short stories. I tried to Blog weekly, but 3 times a month seems to be my absolute limit, depending on “real life” intrusions.

      As regards reading, Twitter Lists (Publishers, Scifi writers, etc) allow me to isolate the more directly-relevant tweets for scanning over a coffee. I do not believe that ANYONE reads every tweet from everyone they Follow. But even mild addiction is a dangerous erosion of time. I don’t know how you can clock up so many bike miles and still manage to Blog!


      1. Andy, I had a buddy of mine ask how I can read so many books in a year when he can only read a few. Well he watches TV, I don’t, so that frees up time.

        Now I am not an author working on a book while balancing other things. (No idea how any of Yall accomplish that!) So the time you write is my cycling, and many a blog post has been written while pedalling home.

        I use the blog as my creative outlet, it relaxes me, so I designate the last hour of the day and blogging time! I will say it has seriously cut down on my pleasure reading time!


  4. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    I’ve been slowly and steadily building my platform, so hopefully I will feel like I have an inkling what I’m going by the time I’m ready to really dive in an promote my novel (whenever it gets done, and whether or not I go with indie or traditional publishing). Like all else in life, feeling like an expert comes with time. I need more time!


    1. Welcome, Jeri!

      Time, time, time… all that time spent social networking instead of actually writing! It’s a widespread problem from what I read in the forums. It took me a while to get some kind of balance. In fact, I have just waded through my forums and groups wielding a huge scythe (metaphorically) on those I never actually read or respond to. As Mountainstroh (Tony) said above, “Lord help me if everyone started blogging every day!”

      Good luck with the launch!


  5. Pingback: Twitterback | Andy McKell

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