Saturday, 22 September 2012

Thoughts about Twitter

I resisted Twitter for a long time, I didn't think anything could usurp Facebook for me, but if you're my friend on Facebook, you'll know I'm not there as much as I used to be. I love Twitter for the fact I can interact with famous people, whether they want me to or not... (That makes me sound like some kind of crazed stalker, but I'm not, I'm completely normal... honest!)

After watching other people raving about it, I joined. And it is great - especially during big events like the Olympics when there was so much information coming from the athletes and commentators.

But... (ah, you knew there was a but didn't you??) whilst I think I'm playing the game well, others are starting to annoy me.

Yes, I am an author.

Yes, I have a book available.

Yes, I would like everyone who reads about my book to buy it (Cat and The Dreamer, links on the left-hand bar...)

BUT... on Twitter I talk about other things. Yes, funnily enough, I have a 'real' life - I have housework to do, a job to go to, I love going to the gym and watching Homes Under the Hammer. All of this you'll have probably read about on Twitter and Facebook. Every so often, when I've garnered enough new followers, I'll mention my novella - a brief link, a did you know this about me kind of tweet.

Those others I mentioned above, some of them talk their book in every tweet... that seems to be the sole purpose for them having a Twitter account. They aren't real people, they are quotes from their book. Or perhaps they are the book. Perhaps these (mostly) self-published books are rising up, locking their authors in a cupboard, and creating their own accounts. This I could forgive. I mean, how many books do you know that enjoy an evening jog or coffee with a friend?

I am on the verge of culling people solely for this reason. I did unfollow someone who during the Olympic opening ceremony who, while everyone else seemed to be talking about what they were watching, tweeted THREE times about his book. Nope, wrong, gone.

What do you think? Does this annoy you as much as it annoys me?
Am I being unreasonable? Have you culled people for the same reason?
Are you going to cull me because of this post??


65 comments:

  1. I agree. I changed mobile twitter app and you can zip tweets and tweeters or hash tags that you want to follow but don't want to read about, you can unzip at anytime should you change your mind! Awesome, right?!
    I like to see your posts & was inspired today when I finally found a shop selling dark chocolate hobnobs mmmmm

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    1. I like the sound of that app - sometimes you don't want to completely unfollow someone, you just wish they'd stop for breath.

      Dark chocolate hobnobs are an amazing invention, but it's very hard to stop once you've started!

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  2. Nope - you aren't wrong. I agree with you, which automatically means you are right (I have been trying to convince my husband on my eternal rightness, with the exception of when I say that I feel fat).

    I, too, follow quite a few authors on Twitter and I have unfollowed people if all they do is try to sell their book. The occasional bit of promotion is fine. I can understand that Twitter can be a useful promotional tool, but I'd rather know a bit about the person and the creative process. And surely you might be more likely to buy their book if you interact with them as a person and decide you like them - otherwise you might just as well be looking at an advert on Facebook?

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    1. Exactly, it should go beyond just being an advert, because if it was an advert you wouldn't keep reading it would you? You wouldn't go back and read it the next day either. You'd either buy or decide you don't want to buy!

      I'm glad I shared in a little part of your eternal rightness :-)

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  3. I'm just waiting for the perfect time to waste time to do the same thing. That and the people who tweet a private message within seconds of following telling me to buy their book. Great post.

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    1. Yes! I'd forgotten about those people. They must be waiting at the end of their Twitter feed to DM new followers. I only DM people I know, and need to talk to in a slightly more private way.

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  4. It's not just the self-published authors. I follow several who are like me, with small publishers, and they constantly send out stuff about their book. But you're right, some self-published authors do it, and a couple told me they swear it sells a lot of books.
    I know I've never purchased a book because of a Tweet.
    I sent out announcements when my books were released and the different stops during my tour, but I have never sent out a buy-my-book Tweet. And I promise I never will.

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    1. I've never bought a book based on tweets either. And I don't think my sales increase on those rare days I do mention my book.

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  5. A friend of mine compared this kind of tweeting to going into a book shop and shouting at everyone about your new book. I have also unfollowed for such obnoxious behaviour. I've noticed that the people who do it seem to have huge follower/following numbers so I guess they think everyone, like them, has a busy tweet stream and won't notice they've tweeted the same thing 3 times a day. Dear me.

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    1. I think it's worse than going into a bookshop and shouting, because people are there to buy books. Twitter is full of many different interests, so it's more akin to walking into a pub or restaurant. DMs are like someone knocking on your door and shouting at you!

      I'm new to Twitter, and only follow 400 people, so your point is valid - perhaps I wouldn't notice if I followed 20,000 (as I've seen today, and which makes my head spin!)

      Thanks for the follow :-)

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  6. Social media is a challenge because there are no hard-and-fast rules. Usually people don't know they've made a misstep until after the fact (we learn from our mistakes far more than from our successes) and some, even then, don't really care. Which only emphasizes a natural proclivity to behave only according to some nebulous dictates within (and alienate them further.)

    Life is short. Life outside the Internet, I mean. It's demanding of not only out time but our emotions and to invest too much of it in the virtual world which can never fully unseat the real is probably not the best use of limited resources. If you've the impulse to cull, God, by all means cull!

    I had another friend this week or last write me about a blogger she started following on Twitter and all he does is tweet his posts incessantly. She said it annoyed the crap out of her but she didn't want to 'unfollow' him because she didn't want to make enemies on Twitter.

    Honestly, I think people just have to decide what it is that *they* want out of social media and once that is firmly in mind, allow all other decisions to flow from that alone.

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    1. When I created my account I read Nicola Morgan's Tweet Right, which explains what not to do, but even if I hadn't I think I would have figured out repeating the same thing over and over again is not the right thing to do.

      Your last point is the key, I think!

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  7. It annoys me, too. When I get new followers I look at their top few tweets. If they're mostly about their book I won't follow back.

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    1. Yes, I've started doing that too. And those new followers don't last long either, I find.

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  8. I've bought 2 books via Twitter. The authors tweeted promotions, and I thought "Oh yes, I *have* wanted to read that book so I will nab it while it is on sale." But yes, mostly I unfollow people who tweet nonstop about their books. That's not what I'm on Twitter to see. I mean, just look at the big-name authors who have a twitter following. Are they tweeting about their books? Mostly, NO. They might tweet promotions or a new book or whatever, but mostly they talk about what they're up to, stuff about writing, links, and stuff about their passions. Did you know Neil Gaiman is a beekeeper? WELL APPARENTLY HE IS. Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) collects items for her haunted dollhouse. Meg Cabot sometimes tweets about her cat and her husband.

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    1. That's a good point about the big-name authors. I like to see the real person behind the words - for that, we've never lived in a better time.

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  9. I also follow some authors, and I unfollow them if all they do is tweeting about their book. I had one, who wasn't self-publishing, who was tweeting about her book in english, french and spanish, about five times a day. I felt bad at first to unfollow her, she was also following me (me! a nobody!) but all I could see in my feed were tweets about her book. I didn't want to buy it the first time, certainly not the 50th time.

    The first time I unfollow someone because of that, it took a lot of courage. Yes, I lost her followship. So what?

    Of course an author can tweet about his or her book when it comes out once in a while. I expect it, I want to know about it if I follow an author. But I also want a glimpse of who that person is, their hobbys, their work, their moment of doubt, etc. I want tweets from a human, not from a book! (Now I'm scared my books will lock me up in a cupboard, thanks to you!!!)

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    1. Three languages - that's ridiculous!

      I'm sure your books won't lock you up, Catherine, but having said that, I'm not sure I follow you - off to find a link on your blog!

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  10. Your post is interesting and all of the followup comments shall make me think. Right now it's all I can do to manage the social media that I do. Time just flies by and I haven't really written anything or been "constructive". I am self published and there's so much info about your platform and your own publicity,etc. I'm horrible at it and reading about authors tweeting, too pushy, etc only reinforces the fine line in the business. If I join a "trend", that's the end of it. Not on Twitter yet - I'll let you know when I do, cuz that's the day it's over. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Lol... I'm sure you won't single-handedly bring down Twitter! Having said that, I had the same effect on the first 5 (FIVE) small press journals I was published in - all gone within the next two issues... So, yes, let us know when you join Twitter and we'll all make alternative arrangements :-)

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  11. This is why I love lists and tools that segregate them into columns. Twitter, for me, is a source of information and a means of connecting with others. I like humor, links and good conversation.

    I don't want to read about politics or religion or this month's social cause without a break. Those things are important and have a place, but if twelve of the last fifteen tweets are bashing others, I'm not likely to follow back.

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    1. I'm relatively new to Twitter, so lists and columns are beyond me at the moment - I'm still learning. But perhaps that's the way for me to go. I am much more discerning about who I follow back than I used to be.

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  12. I've never really gotten the hang of Twitter, although one of my goals is to start using it more because everyone seems to enjoy it so much and the few times I've used it regularly I did enjoy it. The worst to me are the people who send out DMs to promote themselves, I really can't stand that and it makes me want to unfollow them immediately. Plus I've tried to follow people only to receive a message that I have to prove I'm a human in order to follow them. That's just ridiculous to me.

    But you've made me realize again that I need to start using Twitter more, I always feel like I'm missing out!

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    1. Yes, those DMs are very annoying. I just ignore them. I think a lot of people do, which means they can't be that effective. I'll look out for you on Twitter!

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  13. Like most of the people I follow, I haven't quote mastered the art of Twitter. There are too many random links and people who post twenty times a day about nothing (I'm guilty of both). I do, however, like @50ShedsofGrey which is the best example of entertaining tweeting that I have seen so far - the fact that there's also a book doesn't matter if the tweets themselves are fun!

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    1. The random links are fun, they make the tweeter seem accessible. It should be like the water cooler area, where everyone just makes random statements and then walks off back to their offices!

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  14. Hi Annalisa - I'm with you .. I don't like having my time wasted - and when I get to use Twitter - I'll be interested how it and I work together ..

    I hate being bombarded with join this, buy that, do this ... etc so am with you totally on self-promotion ..

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Once you realise that unfollowing people is acceptable, you can tailor your Twitter feed to suit you. That's where my cull comes in to it. I expect to lose a lot of followers too, but I'm okay with that because the people who are following me for the right reasons will hang around. Let us know when you join - you've got a loyal following all ready and waiting!

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  15. I use Twitter as a source of information. I Like scanning through the tweets once in a while and 90% of time my own tweets will be about other authors. It takes a lot for me to tweet about my personal life (and I sometimes do) but that's a topic for tomorrow's blog:)
    Hope my tweet aren't annoying you too much Annalisa ;)

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    1. Of course your tweets don't annoy me. I'd like to state that none of my blogger mates is guility of this crime - you're all wonderful and fun tweeters. I look forward to tomorrow's post Marta!

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  16. Buy my book tweets are so annoying. Links to information and blog posts are fine, but a link to buy a book I'll just ignore.

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    1. Some people just don't seem to understand the boundaries. Perhaps I under tweet about my book, but I prefer that to being unfollowed because I tweet about it too much.

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  17. I just don't understand how authors think constant self promotion can be effective. It turns off followers who have seen the same 'buy my book' tweet dozens of times. If anything they may make a point of not buying your book because they're so annoyed.

    I feel over tweeting in general turns off more people that it attracts. It used to be considered that 10-20 posts a day was an effective amount. I now see an average of about 40 daily per active poster with at least one going over 100. It's becoming an escalating contest to be seen.

    Like Jeff Hargett, I use lists. Even my first pass list, which is just a small subset of those I follow is showing me almost 1000 posts a day. I'm going to have to trim it more. I just don't have the time to read that many and I'm retired.

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    1. 40 tweets is a lot, 100 is ridiculous. Who has time for that many, and do they have time for anything else? I'm definitely one of those people that would actively NOT buy a book if the author annoyed me too much. Thanks for commenting!

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  18. It's interesting to read other people's thoughts on Twitter. I tend to use it as a source of information and I like to share links to stories I've read and enjoyed. I'm not too good at tweeting about my personal life! I also get turned off by too much self promotion (although I'll tweet a link if I've updated or added a new story to my website - but I usually feel bad after I've sent the tweet!).

    I think it's a great shame that many independent publishers/e-publishers and even some agents seem to require authors to do much of their own promotion using social media - but that's another matter...

    Like Jeff Hargett and Curt Rowe, I use lists and those who over-tweet tend to get taken off any of my lists but I don't unfollow unless they've unfollowed me.

    I saw a recent link to a free story, which was the background story to a couple of characters in an author's novel, and I thought that worked well as a teaser and was a far better way to self-promote.
    Shirley Golden

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    1. Hi Shirley, I'm glad you worked out how to comment!

      I don't think there's anything wrong with tweeting a website update - it's not something you'd keep tweeting every 20 minutes for the rest of the day either - so I don't think you have to feel bad.

      From the sound of it, it's not just the independent publishers who want their authors to self-promote... it seems much more standard if you're a mid-list author with a large publisher too. And as social media is cheap and the one thing that most people know how to use, that's their first port of call. After all, we're not going to be taking out our own ads in newspapers, are we?

      The link to a story using characters is a great idea... as long as not everyone starts doing it!

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  19. me no tweet. not enough good to outweigh the bad. too much work to sift thru selfish tweets & silly tweets & know who to follow. not to mention the time suck! maybe if i'm famous some day, ha ha =)

    good luck & to those who have gotten into a tweet groove, i hear it's great! so dont give up!

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    1. I have found that Twitter is a great way to procrastinate, and unfortunately I in no way need help with that! But it's also a good way of keeping up to date with current trends etc. It took me a long time to decide I wanted to give it a go though - it's different for everyone.

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  20. Hi Annalisa, yes, worked it out, thanks :) Not very experienced with blogging.

    As for the website update, I know I'm being silly but I just hate doing self promotion. The whole idea of publishers wanting authors to do their own makes me think I'm probably not cut out to be an author (although I don't think I could stop writing). I'm sure I can't be the only writer who feels like this!

    Shirley

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    1. Not at all, Shirley, I'm the same. I'm more concerned about getting out and meeting people. At the moment I only have a ebook out, so things like signings aren't relevant, but I think authors are expected to be proactive in organising events like that for themselves - that always sounds a bit daunting, but practise makes perfect!

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  21. I absolutely love Twitter and I loved it when I saw you sign up. I do hate the people who have no idea how to use it and just see it as a marketing tool. If I'm followed by someone new, I check out their profile, then I check their feed. if it's full of buy my book, look at my book, and here's my book reviews, I don't follow. I don't blame you for culling. Enjoy Twitter how you want to. :)

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    1. :-) I hope you're still happy I'm on Twitter after reading my ramblings!!

      To me, it was an instinctive thing to not just talk about my book. It's a bit like walking into someone's living room and shouting about yourself while they're trying to play Monopoly with their friends - you don't do it. I'm much more likely to check out people's feed before I follow back, these days - when I first started out I was just grateful anyone wanted to read my thoughts. Now, I realise a lot of them probably just wanted to boost their numbers!

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  22. Wow! There must be something in the air. This is the second post I've read today about people pushing their book on Twitter. I think we really do need The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of TWEET Etiquette

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    1. I think - and also read somewhere, but can't remember where - that there are many more people self-publishing, and Shirley above mentioned that more publishers are expecting their authors to promote themselves. Therefore, as Twitter is an easy way to worm yourself into people's lives, it's used a lot. Not good. So I agree with you Jenn, we all need to read books on Twitter etiquette, and make sure everyone else does too!

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  23. I love Twitter, too. It doesn't bother me. I'll still follow, but I believe in trying to have some social interaction on there. I rarely tweet about my book. I do tweet blog post though.

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    1. Tweets about blogs are perfectly acceptable - as long as you don't tweet it 5 times within an hour! It's not so much the content I object to, it's the frequency. A couple of days ago, someone posted about their book twice within 10 seconds, and then did the same 15 minutes later. THAT'S too much!

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  24. I won't cull you because of this post!

    I'm not on Twitter, but the I've seen the same promotion problem on Facebook. I belong to a group for writers where a spouse of a writer has joined and promotes his spouse's book. And I've noticed the promoters. I try to ignore them as much as possible. it doesn't get me to buy their books.

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    1. Lol thanks for not culling me!!

      The spouse thing is even worse - they have even less scruples than the authors. So many people have commented on this post that it doesn't make them any more likely to buy the book, it really makes me wonder why it's such a common thing. I'm off to hire a plane with a banner, no one's done that for a while :-)

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  25. I don't think you're the only one bothered by that. When I get a new follower, I scroll through their tweets. If EVERY SINGLE TWEET is about their book, I don't follow back. I want to know it's an actual person. ;)

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    1. That seems to be what many people - at least the discerning writer people who've commented on this post - do. Maybe if everyone does it, the worst offenders will stop banging on about their book, because no one will be reading their tweets anyway.

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  26. For awhile I was able to use twitter on my phone with no problems, now my phone hates it and most days I have trouble. :/

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    1. I find it quite awkward to use my phone for Twitter, mostly because my predictive text means I usually have to send secondary tweets to clarify what I meant the first time!

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  27. I don't usually use twitter because I have a Facebook. I never "got" Twitter anyway.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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    1. I have both, but I use them in different ways. It's hard to explain how I use them, but it makes sense in my head... as with most things, actually :-)

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  28. Yeah... I actually snapped today, so I'm going through all the tweeps I follow and searching out the real humans, adding them into lists.

    Good tip: Start doing this early. :-)

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    1. I'll be sure to start early Misha! Although I only follow about 400 people so it won't take long. When I see people following 20,000 or more, I get palpitations!!

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  29. Some folks just beat each other over the head with their own books. They may feel it helps, but really it hurts them. It's spam, and nobody likes spam. I think it's a hard role to play, because you want as many people to buy and read your book, but if all you do is tell people to buy your book and supply them with a link to do so, they're gonna get tired of you. Especially, if they bought it the first time! BWAH!

    Robots... they're everywhere, I say.

    Some indie publishers are bad about this as well.

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    1. You've given me such a great image of authors actually all meeting up and hitting each other with their latest releases - that's going to stick with me all day!! :-)

      That's a good point about people who actually bought the book still being spammed. Now that would get me even more annoyed than I am already.

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  30. It makes me feel dirty and used no matter what format they use. Email, facebook, whatever...don't just recognize my existence when you want something from me. It's like a book seller booty call.
    That said. I am horrible at Twitter and may be an offender. My only tweets may be blog posts bc it's set up to be automatic. I never know what to tweet!!! Maybe it's just that I'm not there enough and that I fear making people mad by voicing an opinion. I don't know, but Twitter scares me!

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    1. Tweeting about blog posts is different, because you're engaging the reader, having an opinion, asking for a conversation. So I think you're safe! Also, your opinion is as valid as anyone else's :-)

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  31. I don't auto follow back anymore. I'm now following about 500 and I can't keep up sometimes, especially with those that are just on there constantly telling me about their book.

    So, if someone follows me, I go and look at their tweets. If I notice lots of links and mentions about books etc I actually don't follow them back. Because they have purely followed me, hoping I'll auto follow back, so they can spam me!

    I think you get a better response if you socialise on Twitter, not spam! ;-) So no, you're not alone. :D

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    1. I'm much better at not automatically following these days. I've been on Twitter for about 6 months, and it confused me to start with, so that's my excuse :-)

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  32. I'm there with you... I've culled people for those reasons too, plus anyone who talks crap constantly... I want to read things of interest in my feeds, so if it's not for me, no hard feelings I say..:)

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    1. That's a good point - you shouldn't need to waste your time on people who don't interest you. Perhaps people are culling me for those same reasons... :-)

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  33. Having problems commenting on your blog. The Comments don't always load. Hope this goes through. There are other blogs I can only comment via email. Blogger hates me :-\

    Anyway, I've never done NaNo, but I'm doing my own version of OctNo, at least I'm trying to. No matter what you write, you can always fix it and make it pretty. So, try not to worry so much. Best of luck to you on your goal, Annalisa.

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Please comment - I love a good chat!