Friday, July 13, 2018

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, Newsletters…what social media do you use and how do you use it? What don’t you use, and why not? Any advice for those in a quandary?

by Paul D. Marks

I use a variety of social media, but not just to market my books. It’s also to keep in touch with people. And it’s my “watercooler,” since I work at home and don’t have a real watercooler to gather round with fellow employees or writers to shoot the breeze.

Facebook is the social media outlet I use the most. Initially, I didn’t want to go on it. I thought all it was was people showing what they had for lunch and there was some of that and still is – and sometimes those lunches look so good while I’m having my protein drink. And when I first landed there I didn’t know what to do, how to use it. Eventually, I found my place, found my niche, posting pictures of Los Angeles and film noir alerts, as well as other things. And I started making friends. People would friend me or I would friend them. So now I look forward to hitting FB every day, seeing what’s up with people, their good news and sometimes their not-so-good news. And I do promote my books there, but that’s probably less than 10% of what I post or more like about 3%. But I do think it’s helped get my name out there – and that’s a good thing.

I actually have two Facebook pages, a personal page and an author page. I use the personal page much more frequently but usually put announcements about blogs posts or books on the author page. But cute pix of my dogs, noir pix and posts, my La La Land posts, and other things mostly end up only on my personal page.

My personal Facebook page

Twitter’s another ballgame altogether. A ballgame where it’s impossible to see the ball and more impossible to know the rules. Like: Don’t use more than three hashtags. Fine. Uh, now what the hell is a hashtag? And where do I find the hashtags that apply to what I’m posting? Can I make up my own hashtags? Would you like some ketchup with your hashtags?

Twitter, to me, was a mess that I just couldn’t follow or understand when I first signed up. Tweets would fly by faster than a speeding bullet. I couldn’t figure out how to use it. How do I make – uh, get – friends? I mean followers. Who do I follow and how? How do I participate in a conversation? And HOW THE HELL do I say anything in 140 characters? And DOUBLE HOW THE HELL do I say anything at all when I’m retweeting and only have 3 characters left to add my own comment to? It’s enough to make you batty, though they have doubled the number of characters now and that’s a good thing.

And then I heard the bugle. The cavalry was on the way led by Captain Tweetdeck and Colonel Hootsuite. Oh no, more things to worry about. But no, these were good things. And the light shined down.

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are “social media management systems” – say that five times with a mouth full of cereal. They help you organize Twitter, the tweets, the followers, everything. So I signed up for both and magically Twitter became manageable. And I began to use it.

In both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can create lists and put different people or groups (like magazines, writers, friends, publishers, etc.) on different lists and then put them in different columns. These columns allow you to see things more clearly and at a more manageable pace. And it makes all the difference in the world (at least to me) in terms of being able to use Twitter (though you can manage other programs on these systems as well).

Hootsuite dashboard

I find that Tweetdeck is good for some things and Hootsuite for others. So I use both. But it’s too much of a “lesson” to go into here and explain the intricacies of each. Suffice to say, they both make Twitter much more user-friendly and once you get the hang of them you’ll be able to use Twitter to much better advantage. But like with FB or any social media, you shouldn’t use it only to promote your books. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some promotion. Just have fun with it.

Other social media: There’s about 33 million different social media. I’m also on Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest, and use them to varying degrees. For a while I had been doing a fair amount on Tumblr, but nothing there lately. It’s not that I don’t like it, it just comes down to the time spent and it adds up. I really want to make more use of Instagram and I’m working on trying to figure out how to do that. Some other social media that I signed up for I really never did much with. There’s just so many to choose from. But you have to pick two or three, maybe a couple more. Because you just can’t focus on all these things. It’s too hard to follow people and too hard to keep up with your own accounts and you’ll never have time to write.

My Pinterest page

My Instagram Page

Blogs and Newsletters: Well, yes, I blog. See 7 Criminal Minds every other Friday – I’m blogging here now 😊 . I also blog at It’s a lot of work to do 2-5 blog posts a month, but I enjoy it. I also do a newsletter that comes out a handful of times a year. I’d like to build up my mailing list of a few hundred to a few thousand, but you gotta start somewhere. So check it out at the link below, please.


Have FB and Twitter, etc., made me a NY Times Bestseller? No. But they have definitely helped get me more readers and connect with people with similar interests, which is more than I could have done by going on a cross country book signing tour…and it costs a lot less. I also figure there’s not a state in the country that I couldn’t have lunch with someone if I happened to be passing through – and if I do I’ll be sure to post the photo of the meal. Hell, there’s several countries on different continents that I could have lunch with someone I know from social media.

So yes, in answer to the question today – yes yes yes. Social media is great. I’m a total convert. So, uh, here’s what I had for breakfast.

Website: I also have a website ( ) that I try to keep up to date, but that’s not easy sometimes. Still, it’s the best place for people to go to find news, bios, updates, past interviews (though most of those haven’t made the page yet…), and other info on my books and me, such as my encounter with Cary Grant or the time I pulled the gun on the LAPD – you know, fun stuff like that.

Broken Windows, the sequel to my Shamus Award-winning novel White Heat, is coming September 10, 2018:

Please join me on Facebook: and check out my website


Jacqueline Seewald said...


Thanks for the helpful info. I too would like more readers for my books. Having smaller publishers with weak distribution makes that difficult to achieve. I don't know that social media is the answer, but like the old chicken soup joke, it likely won't hurt.

Margaret Morse said...

I enjoyed your article, particularly your tips on how to use Twitter. Thanks!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Jacqueline. And you’re right, there’s no guarantee that anything will work, but it’s worth a shot, especially when it costs pretty much nothing.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thank you, Margaret. Glad it was helpful. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are the only things that helped me make sense of Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I found you on Facebook so being visible on there does work. Like you, I mostly use my personal Facebook page as my author page doesn’t draw many viewers. I enjoy the visual aspects of Instagram. I’m hit or miss with Twitter---it’s too much of a moving target. What I like about Twitter and IG is that I can be me, meaning that I can air my political views without someone cyber-assaulting me like they’re prone to do on FB. Plus I have many FB friends from the “other side” who like my books. So it’s safer to zip my cyber lip and be nice.

With the exception of Tumblr I’m use all of the social media you mention. And I’m thinking about Tumblr. I use LinkedIn and Google+ to post about my blogs and I find it helpful that most blogs let me share virtually everywhere (just like this one!).

At the moment I’m finding social media exhausting and am spending most of my time writing! Speaking of writing, I didn’t mean to make this such an essay. Good post, Paul!

Jacqueline Vick said...

Thanks, Paul. I'm going to look into Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. Maybe I'll become a proficient Tweeter. :)

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Maggie. And glad you found me on FB. I agree with you about Twitter being a moving Target, but Tweetdeck and Hootsuite help “slow” it down to a useable pace. I’m on LinkedIn and Google+ but should probably use them more. I find LinkedIn a little hard to use.

And social media can be exhausting, I’m with you on that. But it’s also fun, and like I said in the post it’s my watercooler so I enjoy that aspect of it too.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Jackie. Yeah, definitely check into those programs. They really do help. Good luck!

GBPool said...

You are an adventurous, if not a brave soul, Paul. I'll try joining some other groups in order to branch out, but I'm not ready for Twittter. But then again, who knows. Thanks for shining a light on some of these entities.

Susan Oleksiw said...

This is a very useful article. I tweet once in a while, but I honestly have no idea what I'm doing, where the tweets go, or if anyone reads them. But each explanation from someone like you helps me move forward at least a little. Hootsuite? The names alone are something.

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Great post. I too was a FB holdout but find it the best use of my SM time. Interestingly, I have gained readers because they like pix of my dog! It just can’t be about Buy My Book.
I have about 2,000 followers on Twitter but personally find it just noise. I’ve never once checked a blog, or book a book, or anything else, because of Twitter. However, I do make an effort to tweet stuff every day or two. Maybe someone out there finds it useful.
I just started Instagram.
Pinterest is fun but I don’t see it as a great way to sell books or get readers.
My 2 cents. Oh, will sign up for your newsletter...maybe you’ll sign up for mine (which is, at best, intermittent but decent when it goes out) and my blog —- always looking for New Release Mondays guest authors.

Paul D. Marks said...

Gayle, it’s a brave new world of social media. Not sure how adventurous I am, more like curious about it all. the main problem is time, though Twitter can be daunting without Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Good luck!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. There’s a little bit of a learning curve with Tweetdeck and Hootsuite but, believe me, they make a huge difference. Before I discovered them Twitter was like wandering in the wilderness with blinders on.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Judy. And yeah, I think people enjoy dog pix. I think the key is just to be ourselves and hope someone else “out there” shares our interests. I haven’t done much with Instagram, but that is one that I hope to do more with. And thanks for signing up for my newsletter. I’ll sign up for yours too!

M.M. Gornell said...

I was wondering what you had for breakfast!(smile) Excellent post, Paul, on a topic I'm still out-to-sea on. Mainly because of my disorganized approach to social media. Your post really helped on how and where to focus. The Twitter info was especially valuable.

(FB confession, what I like most are "good" dog stories. Sigh.)

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Madeline. And if you really want to know what I had for breakfast, I'm happy to send multiple pix ;-) . Glad the post could help you and Twitter really does get better if you use Hootsuite and/or Tweetdeck. Good luck!

Lisa Ciarfella said...

"Captain Tweetdeck and Colonel Hootsuite. Oh no, more things to worry about....And the light shined down."

Rollin' here! Watch out world, Ii's King Paul, raining down the tweets!

No, after I finish laughing down my lunch, I have to say, I am baffled by the "tweety-bird" like you were at first.
I'm on it, caz. I figure us writers have to be. But I hardly every use it and mostly, I just don't get it!
All those crazy hashtags make my eyes loco!

But I will take your suggestions here for 'captain this and 'colonel that' and see how it goes!

Grazie-tanto, Paul!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Lisa. And when did I get promoted to King? Emperor maybe. But yeah, try to Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, they will make Twitter tolerable.

Lisa Ciarfella said...

Well, I figured since we're suing everybody anyway, including the big Msoft, we could add Twitter to the list. So why not go for King!

But Emperor will do just as nice - Hahahahahahaha

Gonna look into Hootsuite and Tweetdeck soon. And thanks for posting about them. I didn't even know they existed!

Paul D. Marks said...

Lisa, Good luck with Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. If I can help let me know. I'm no expert but I'd be happy to try.