Two Worlds

A Friday Flash, this story was highly commended in a National Flash Fiction Day competition on the 1000words site Feb 2013. 

Two Worlds

‘More plates, I need plates. This is a restaurant, not a take out.’

‘Yes, Chef. Right away Chef.’ Yes Chef, no Chef, Kiss my arse Chef.

Greg stared out of the kitchen window above the sink, his hands continuing to work on autopilot. He could see the lights of the Piste Bullies high up on the mountain bashing down the snowfall of the last twenty four hours.

‘For God’s sake, what do you call this? Do it again. Focus on what you’re doing or you’re out of here!’

‘Yes Chef, sorry Chef.’

Greg hit the take off point fast, twisting to his left as soon as his skis hit the air. As the skis came towards the vertical, he pulled his left arm back increasing the speed of rotation. On his first turn, he stared into nothing but sky. On his second, he could see the town nestled in the valley below as the sun sank behind the mountains. He watched for a second as he fell towards the ground then pushed out his skis to absorb the energy as he landed, then set off down for evening service. Down here nobody, up there a King.

Life Without Amazon – a final update

It’s coming up to the end of month five of trying not to buy things from Amazon as a matter of course. I’ve been a good boy. Here’s the latest update with a bit more context and how it’s working out now the novelty has worn off.

Why Do this?

Since the last update, I’ve read up more widely and developed how I rationalise it. There are two reasons to choose from.

Here’s the ‘negative’ argument.

Amazon’s UK subsidiary paid £2.4m in corporation taxes despite making sales of £4.3bn and receiving Government subsidies in Scotland of £2.5m. Many multinational companies continue to operate perfectly legal tax avoidance schemes on a staggering scale. There has been lots of rhetoric and handwringing but there seems little sign of EU Governments doing anything practical to change tax laws.

The other question of course is how much tax should Amazon being paying? Tax is based on profit and there is little doubt that Amazon’s profit is an interesting subject.

In the meantime, Amazon continue to enjoy an unfair advantage over UK businesses, including small independent shops, which provide exactly the same goods and services. This means less tax revenue from them which in turn leads to the closure of libraries, cuts in education, welfare etc which disadvantage the poor and in particular children.

Again I would stress Amazon is not doing anything illegal. However, whilst companies can choose to arrange their tax affairs how they wish (providing it’s legal), consumers also have the right to judge companies on their arrangements and choose, if they so wish, to place their business with companies that make a fairer contribution to society.

It’s down to each of us to decide whether they are happy to fill their boots (Kindles) with cheap books and hope it’ll be alright in the end. I have come round to the view that whilst I may get a ‘cheap’ book quickly, someone else in the UK may not have access to books as a result (my local library is shut today as are so many).

Here’s a more ‘positive’ argument that I’m developing

I want to see books (and writing) continue to be part of a rich arts culture in the UK and not just be a form of retail. To do that, we need a culture that pays creatives properly for their work, provides genuine choice for readers and creates an environment that encourages writing and writers. I want to deal with people who are passionate about books and not the efficiency of their distribution systems. I want to walk into a bookshop, talk to the owner about what (s)he recommends (and not what (s)he is being paid to recommend) I want to find books on a shelf that I’d have never discovered otherwise and not based on an algorithm of previous history. I want to have conversations with writers who write ‘weird’ stuff as well as those who write bestsellers. Therefore I need to support those enterprises that want to do that too. Because if I don’t, they’re not going to be there, irrespective of how much tax anyone pays.

I’ve come to like the second argument more. Amazon can’t provide all that. They don’t really don’t need my money to survive and I can spend it more positively. It’s a much easier argument as I don’t really need to defend it. I can spend my money how I like!

Here’s how it’s working out in practice.

Physical Books

With experience, it becomes ever easier not to buy from Amazon and I haven’t! Independent bookshops can order books in for collection. Some offer free postage e.g. Big Green Books and others e.g. Belgravia Books will deliver free within the local area. If you don’t have a local bookshop, just adopt one! Find one you like in a nearby city or think about that lovely shop you discovered by the seaside. It might then be there the next time you go there. Talk to the owner, ring them up, email them, tweet them. The advantage of an independent bookstore is that the owner is not bound by any corporate rules so you can negotiate anything you like if they’re willing! The Hive website offers a hybrid scheme whereby you can have a book delivered or posted while supporting a local bookshop

For those who prefer the major stores, Foyles and Waterstones provide both retail and online channels which work well. I’ve also used the Book Depository online store. Another channel not to be neglected, for older books, is the public library. Here in Herts, I can have any book in the Herts system delivered to my local branch for 60p. If you want to read Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ any time soon, it’ll be a long wait but a Flannery O’Connor book I’d been recommended arrived the next working day.

My own preference is to support bookshops that love books and put effort into supporting authors and readers. I went to an event at Big Green Books in Wood Green last night and bought three books. My hometown bookshop continues to stack shelves with books and hopes people will buy them. Independent bookshops still have to work for my custom.

In practice, I’ll probably use a mixture of all the above going forward but with a strong preference for independents. I am spending approximately the same amount of money on books as I used to but putting more money back overall into the UK economy through making more considered choices.

The really good news is that the demise of the bookshop is not inevitable. Where I live in Hertfordshire, two new shops selling children’s books have opened in recent weeks; one in Hertford (‘Leaf Café’) and one in Brookmans Park (‘Tuffets’, owned by Tim and Simon who run Big Green Bookshop).

E-Books

Since the last update, I haven’t bought any from Amazon. There was only one book not available in physical form I wanted and I’m pleased to say it was available on Kobo.

The main problem with ebooks continues to be digital rights management. If you buy a Kindle, it needs Kindle format books which inevitably lures you into the Amazon eco system. I used to have a Kindle paper e-reader but replaced it (it broke after just 18 months) with a iPad (other tablets are available). This means I can buy books from anywhere. I haven’t done a complete due diligence on Kobo yet, but I’ve heard an interview with the Kobo CEO and read this interview. It seems to have a reasonable business ethos which, at the moment, is probably good enough for me given the very limited number of ebooks I buy. Waterstones and Foyles also offer an extensive ebook range. According to the Waterstones website, ebooks in Kindle format will be available in 2013.

The upshot is that as long as you don’t tie yourself into a Kindle, the ease and convenience of buying ebooks is available from other retailers.

Photography and other non book stuff mainly cheap plastic crap from China

Again nothing bought, but the temptation to buy from Amazon rather than search for an alternative is strong, just for convenience. I’m getting better at using the right search terms now though so it’s getting easier. In reality, it takes about 5-10 mins to find something at a similar price. Amazon is not always the cheapest.

Authors & Publishers

Rather than listing Amazon as an alternative, authors, publishers and reviewers continue to link lazily and exclusively to Amazon on social media rather than giving alternatives. They also reduce their own royalties and profit margins in the process.  There are bound to be people who want to buy from Amazon but simply listing Amazon amongst 3 or 4 options, rather than exclusively, would make an enormous difference without limiting choice. It still staggers me that authors, publishers and bookshops fail to support each other then moan about the dominance of Amazon.

In terms of self published work, Amazon aren’t the only publishing platform so self published authors can and should provide an alternative if they’re thinking about their own long term interests. Otherwise they may find their royalties further reduced and have no alternative outlet.

Conclusions

To be honest, when I started this, I had the worry that this would be the literary equivalent of ‘The Good Life’ [look it up on Wikipedia, kids]. It’s taken a bit of time but now I’ve worked out what to do, there’s really not much to it so this is the last time I intend to blog on the subject unless circumstances change. I may add the odd update to the comments section.

I miss the cardboard packaging from Amazon which composted nicely but other than that, there’s not much else and I’m enjoying buying and reading books more. If you want to do the same, the process is really just figuring out which is best for you and trying them out until you find something that works for you. Hopefully this post and the previous one takes out a lot of time in finding possible alternatives but you’ll need to research your own local bookshops but let’s face, wandering around a bookshop isn’t really a chore, is it?

If, having read all this, you choose to buy from Amazon, it’s up to you. But if you see people losing their jobs or a bookshop replaced by Poundland in the future, don’t say it’s a shame and it was inevitable. The future’s not inevitable. There were good alternatives available and you just couldn’t be arsed.

The future of books rests in our hands (and buying fingers). Choose wisely.

That Voice Again

Another Friday Flash, this story was published on the Flashflood April 2013.

That Voice Again

 This train is for Kings Cross. The next station is Potters Bar.

Anna rested her head upon Dave’s shoulder as the train pulled into the station. The platform looked busy for a Saturday morning, more like rush hour.

The doors opened and the people streamed on board.

‘There’s seats over there.’

Dave winced. No doubt who it was. He hoped she’d sit somewhere else. Some hope.

This train is for Kings Cross calling at Finsbury Park and Kings Cross only

‘Hello Dave. Fancy seeing you here. Hi Anna.’

‘Hello Sadie.’

Dave felt Anna’s grip tighten on his hand and her fingernails sink into the top of his palm. Anna said nothing but now sat bolt upright. The two women glared at each other. Dave expected to see a layer of frost form on the carriage window.

‘Oh, this is Steve, by the way,’ said Sadie.

Dave thought about shaking hands but then thought better of it and nodded at him. Steve nodded back. He knew who Dave was and was determined to keep out of the conversation if at all possible.

‘So how have you been, Dave? Haven’t seen you for ages.’

‘Yeah, I’ve…we’ve moved’ said Dave.

‘We’re engaged.’ Anna unclasped her fingers from his, held her hand out, wiggling her fingers and smiling without baring her teeth.

‘Oh congratulations, how lovely. Steve and I were thinking of moving in together, weren’t we Steve?’

Steve nodded. Poor sod, thought Dave. At first it had been great until he and Sadie moved in together. He’d soon found out that Sadie couldn’t do anything without starting an argument. Dave sometimes wondered if Sadie could argue with her own shadow. Still Steve looked a patient man. He’d need to be.

This train is for Kings Cross. The next station is Finsbury Park.

‘I expect you need to get off here, Dave. I know you have that thing of not wanting to look at the Emirates.’

‘He’s fine, chirped Anna ‘and besides we need to go to Kings Cross anyway, remember?

Dave stared at Anna. What the hell was she playing at? Of course, he wanted to get off here and why did they need to go to Kings Cross? Anna stared back defying him to argue. ‘Yeah, ‘course I remember.’

This train is for Kings Cross. The next station is Kings Cross where this train will terminate.

The group settled into an uncomfortable silence. Dave stared out of the window and glared at the stadium as it approached. He hated Arsenal but he knew Anna hated Sadie more so he kept quiet. He looked back towards Sadie and then back to Anna. He knew this would ruin the day. Anna would be monosyllabic most of the day and there’d be an argument on the way home over something trivial.

This is Kings Cross where this train terminates. Please remember to take all your belongs with you when you leave the train.

No choice, thought Dave. No choice.

The Last Last Ride

It’s been ages since I posted a Friday Flash story. This story was longlisted in The New Writer Poetry and Prose Competition 2011. 

The Last Last Ride

IMG_7090 You’d stay on this small roller coaster ride all summer long if you could and if I were a rich man, I would let you. Is it fun riding around in circles? You’re only nine; of course it’s fun. Most things are fun when you’re nine, except doing your homework, tidying your bedroom and going to bed when you’re told! But going round in circles, that’s real fun.

Another ride? OK.

I’ll take some more photos for your Mum. For me too, but I won’t need to look at them. I’ll remember this moment like it was yesterday. Last year, you were losing your baby teeth; the Tooth Fairy had deep pockets. Now you have a beautiful wide smile. One baby tooth hangs on stubbornly but soon that will be gone and then that smile will be perfect. You’re not a baby any more, except to your Mum. You’ll always be her baby.

It’s a quiet day and the operator lets you go round an extra couple of times. I’ve lost count now. You never grow tired of this ride. Your Mum can’t understand the attraction but I understand much better than you think. I never grew tired of the ride when I was nine. My ride was different; a fairground carousel in a Northern seaside town with beautiful carved wooden horses painted in garish colours taking part in an imaginary race. Each horse would pull ahead then fall behind whilst I clung on tightly to my charge, looking out for my mother and father. They stood together patiently as I sped by, going round in circles, smiling and waving at a happy little boy that would soon grow tired of such childish things, who wanted to grow up too fast. It was a lifetime ago but yesterday too. I wonder what they were thinking then? Now I’ll never know.

IMG_7085Another ride? Last one, OK? And then we’ve really got to go.

At the end, you run straight past me towards your mother. She looks tired and distant but, as you approach, her face lights up as she listens to you, all breathless and excited. You grow more like her every day. You look to me for signs of weakness and plead for a ‘last last’ ride. You pull a sad face then flash that smile, not sure which tactic will work best. You know I am the verge of giving in but I smile and shake my head. It’s time to leave.

It’s getting late and your Mum’s tired, but the nine year old in me wants to say yes. I wish we could stay, that the ride could go on forever.

I wish for a ride when the world wasn’t on my shoulders, when I didn’t disappoint, when time didn’t matter and going round in circles was just fun once again and not a punishment. I want that ‘last last’ ride too.

 

 

Photos © PDomican LRPS

‘The Drowning of Arthur Braxton’ – Book Launch

IMG_4769IMG_4802

Last Thursday (April 11) was the launch of Caroline Smailes’ new novel ‘The Drowning of Arthur Braxton’ published by Friday Project at Belgravia Books in Ebury Street near Victoria Station.

I first came across Caroline  as a contributor to the 100RPM project last year and she’s always one of the nicest people on Twitter. However until Thursday, we’d never met in person. She’s really just the same in ‘real life’ (people on Twitter tend to be) and it was a pleasure to catch up with someone who is always  encouraging and full of fun.

This is the second time I’ve taken photos at a book launch, the first being ‘The Night Rainbow’ by Claire King. It’s not that easy. Much as I love books, they provide a distracting background and it’s difficult to get well composed photos in such a confined space especially if, at this shop, there’s no vantage point over the floor space. It really is a case of gaining experience, taking plenty of photos and learning from mistakes.

Having said all that, I’m quite pleased with the full set of images from the night.  The author tends not to see a lot of the event as they’re the centre of attention, which is nice in one way but they don’t get much of a chance to see who’s there and what else is going on so it’s good to get shots that capture the feel of the evening.

Needless to say it was a lovely relaxed evening, helped by wine and cake. It’s always great to meet new people especially those who were just names on Twitter before. The only frustration I have is seeing afterwards that someone you know from Twitter was there and you didn’t recognise them from their avatar!

I haven’t started the book yet. I’ve read Caroline’s other work which has that gritty but also humorous feel to it which reminds me of growing up in the North and it has received critical acclaim so I’m pretty confident that I’ll enjoy it.

Thanks to Caroline, her publishers and Belgravia Books for hosting a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

p.s. If you ever get the chance to visit, this is a wonderful independent bookstore. Not an inch of shelf space is wasted and it’s a great place to browse and buy.

Living without Amazon – How’s that working for me?

I joined Goodreads last weekend. Yesterday it was taken over by Amazon. I can’t say I was chuffed.

I used to be a real fan of Amazon but over time I’ve come to realise I don’t like Amazon’s current business practices. It boils down to this. You get a cheap product very easily and with fast service but everyone else helps pay for the discount whether that’s a reduction in the author’s royalties on a published book, corporation tax forgone which would have helped someone vulnerable in society or a small business paying tax being squeezed by Amazon on their margins.

[Update 17/5/13:Amazon paid just £2.4m tax on £4bn sales in UK last year. They also received £2.5m in Government grants!]

That’s just my view. Amazon will say, well you know what they’ll say. There’s lot of information available in the public domain if you want to read up about it.

You may agree with all that or you may not. I decided to make a change and move my custom away from them. I started in a small way last year. However my New Year’s resolution was not to buy anything from Amazon unless it was a ‘necessity’ or it was only available via them. How’s it going? The answer is surprisingly well but with a few lapses and a couple of grey areas!

The Lapses

I strayed. I was ill for most of January and February and only left the house when necessary.  So, before I got fully into my stride and started exploring alternatives, I bought some ebooks to read, a Stofen omnibounce and a stylus for my iPad partly out of my own lack of understanding of the product and an inability to find a sensibly priced equivalent elsewhere. Amazon was just easy and convenient especially when feeling like death! Having confessed my sins, I’ll move on.

Non Book Stuff

Generally, within 5-10mins, you can find anything that is sold on Amazon at a similar price elsewhere but anything which falls under the category ‘cheap s*** from China’ takes much longer to source.

Both Jacobs and Jessops went bust last year and the pro dealers don’t discount so, for camera equipment, Amazon was the next logical choice in terms of convenience and service. I used a Canon forum to ask for a reliable alternative. They found me one that was cheaper than Amazon!

For office supplies, I’ve gone through old Amazon receipts and noted who supplied what e.g. inkjet cartridges. Using online tools and my business experience, I can make an educated guess about whether I’m happy to trade with them directly . Most companies seem happy to supply direct (although they might have a minimum order) and have a shopping cart or take orders over the phone. The prices are similar to what you’d pay on Amazon but of course the company makes more direct profit which is then subject to taxation. I’ve had no problems with anything so far.

Published Books

Published book purchases are easy. I won’t buy from supermarkets who are just creaming off on the bestsellers but there are loads of ‘real’ book shops more than happy to take your money. The chains e.g. Foyles, Waterstones offer a comparable service to Amazon but you can also order through a smaller shop. It probably won’t be in stock but if you’ve a To Be Read pile, a few days wait isn’t going to be too much of an issue.

Now I’ve built up my TBR pile, I’ve started to use the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green (they’re about to open a new Children’s bookshop in Brookman’s Park). They offer free delivery on orders over £5 and a free out of print booksearch. Tim and Simon are nice guys, love books and put on interesting events in their shop (I’ve written about the Tracey Thorn event previously). I can give them my money or reward the Finance department of Amazon for their ability to minimise tax. It’s an easy choice. Other enthusiastic bookstores are available.

To be clear, there’s plenty of choice still available to book buyers. There’s absolutely no reason to buy a physical book from Amazon if you don’t want to. It’s just laziness or impatience on the part of purchasers (myself included) helped by many authors and publishers on social media who just include a link to Amazon without suggesting any other alternatives.

Published Ebooks

This is a more difficult area but other platforms and devices are available. The problem is availability and promotion. Publishers seem reluctant to make the effort to offer and publicise ebooks on different platforms. Amazon are really good at physical distribution. That’s hard to replicate due to capital costs but they’re also trying to dominate the market for ebooks to deter competition in the future. They’re succeeding but I would have thought a group of programmers with some backing could develop a publishing platform to compete with Amazon fairly easily. It’s an area I’ll confess I need to learn more about.

To be honest, I liked ebooks (especially when I was ill) but moving back to physical books has been enjoyable nor is it much more expensive except for the crazy 99p (or 20p!) promotions which Amazon use to try and stimulate the market for e-readers purchases.

I don’t believe it’s right that Amazon can set prices for Kindle independent of the publisher. However to be fair to Amazon, authors and publishers also have a choice of how much to promote the offer on Amazon when their book is being reduced to a lowball price so it’s a a grey area for me. Money is tight for everyone and if an author/publisher  is inviting you to buy it and they’re the ones who’ll suffer on the royalties, then it’s a bit rich of me to say don’t!

Personally I think it’s more about the big picture so I’m clenching my teeth, trying to ignore the lure of a cheap book and think about the people on benefits being targeted which could have been paid for through corporation tax. As a ‘leftard’ (I was called that this week), it makes me feel better.

In summary, I’m not sure why Amazon should control the ebook market in years to come. Personally I’m happy to read real books in preference to ebooks (for as long as they’re printed) but it’s more of a worry for the industry to let a company that just wants to flog ‘stuff’, whatever stuff it is, have such a dominant position.

Self Published Books and Ebooks

I have more sympathy with self published authors who don’t have the resources of a publisher or might not have the knowhow to publish on multiple channels. They do however have a choice of whether to go with Amazon or not and how they set their own prices. My general principle is to ask the author if an alternative exists and if not, I’ll make a decision and order via Amazon if I’m really moved. I tend not to buy fiction unless it’s by someone I know but mainly work related ebooks which often are free (as they promote the author’s professional career). I think I’ve downloaded five or six and paid £1 for a couple of them. It’s another grey area, I’ll admit.

Is it possible to live life without Amazon?

The short answer is yes provided you put in a modicum of effort and learn a little patience. I’m comfortable overall with my personal choice and would encourage others to give it a go

I’ve diverted about £450 so far from Amazon directly to UK retailers. This includes books, camera equipment and office stationery. I’m not sure how much Amazon would take out of that and I’m sure the FD of Amazon hasn’t noticed me yet, but if more people do that, it’ll make a difference.

I can’t fill my boots with cheap books anymore. However this has forced me to think more carefully about the books I want to buy and to seek out quality via fellow writers e.g. Tania Hershman has given me some recommendations on flash and short stories. The process of selecting, buying and reading books has become less mechanical and more enjoyable so overall I think I’m on top.

The one thing that has surprised me most in this journey is not the laziness of the consumer which is understandable (as I demonstrated) but the willingness of the traditional publishing industry to go along with Amazon having seen the (now smaller) music industry follow an equivalent digital path. The motives of publishers will be financially driven and I don’t know enough about publishing business models to understand whether there are genuine reasons to go along with Amazon to the extent they do or whether they’re just sleepwalking? Perhaps others could comment?

This item was amended 17/5/13 to include Amazon’s latest sales and tax payments.

A Twitter Manifesto

Here’s my Twitter Manifesto. This is how I run my Twitter account to meet my needs. It’s a work in progress so I’m going to amend it as time goes on, I learn new things or people tell me off. Some of it you’ll agree with and some of it you won’t. Some of this may seem plain wrong. I appreciate that.

Introduction
There are millions of people on Twitter and hundreds of them interested me. I couldn’t keep up with them all. Lots of other people just wanted to sell me something. It became stressful and I started not to enjoy Twitter. So I had a major rethink and cut it back to something manageable. Now I love Twitter again. Here’s my ‘strategy’ warts ’n’ all.
Topics
On this account @petedomican, I tweet mainly about the following (in no particular order):
1. Writing and books including my own work
2. Photography including my own work
3. Politics – Always a tricky one. I try to be fair and recognise that there are different sides to any argument but I feel there are some bad things going on in the world these days.  I’m not a member of any political party but I’d say I’m probably unlikely to be voting for the Tories or UKIP anytime soon. Others have described me as a ‘leftard’. I’d describe myself more as an ‘equalist’, interested in a ‘fair’ society and a committed European. I have a slight obsession with Denmark.
4. Football – I support Spurs and Benfica. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
5. Marketing, business and social media including my own work (although I’m setting up a separate account to tweet about this more).
6. Random stuff -TV, music, podcasts, creativity, F1, humour (slightly warped)
It’s likely you’re interested in some things and not in others – it’s a weird mix. I try to be aware when I’m overdoing a topic to death but if it’s the Budget or Benfica are playing Porto, it’s probably best just to ignore me for a few hours.
Agreeing / Disagreeing
Some people seem to go into a huff if someone disagrees with them and block/unfollow them. I tend to be fairly open minded about most things (or at least just rage silently). I’m happy to be corrected on a factual error or for you to disagree as long as you’re reasonably polite. I’ll stand my ground and argue my corner. If you cease being polite, I’ll just stop. Some people though can just never give up on an argument. At some point I’ll say we’ll just need to agree to disagree.
Dislikes on Twitter
People who ‘tell it like it is’ (it frequently isn’t), people who don’t get how fortunate they are in life e.g. thinking you’ve hard up just because you have a large mortgage and two kids at private school or generally nasty people e.g. racists, people who hate disabled people, foreigners etc. Oh and my particular Twitter pet hate – hashtag pun masturbation e.g. ‘Smack my witch up #medievalsongs’. It’s rarely funny and I instantly mute the hashtag. I’ll admit that last one is a bit random but I thought you ought to know.
Following Me
I’m always surprised and delighted when someone follows me. I tweet about particular topics (see above), some of which don’t tend to sit well together for some people. If you unfollow, I’ll notice and maybe I’ll be sad for a while but I’ll survive and I won’t be offended. ‘Live your life, be free’ as pop goddess Belinda Carlisle used to sing (and probably still does, somewhere).
I don’t automatically follow back so if you’re just looking for lots of followers then probably not best to bother. I live in Welwyn Garden City, UK so if you’re a tree specialist in Austin, Texas, you’re probably not to get much work out of it (that one’s true by the way).
I keep Facebook for friends I know from ‘real life’ or those I know very well from Twitter and wish I knew them in ‘real life’. Please don’t make it awkward. Let’s stick to Twitter and see how we get on first.
Following You
I follow people who I find interesting, funny, thoughtful, insightful or generally good eggs. I like to interact with them at some level and I like to read their tweets. I’m now following between 350-400 people and that feels roughly the right number I can cope with for the moment. The consequences of this are:
1. I don’t automatically follow back so if you think it’s being impolite or insulting, then sorry but now you know the reason.
2. I need to periodically review who I’m following to keep to a sensible number. Sometimes people who were great a while ago lose interest in Twitter (and it shows) or just start using Twitter to promote their wares. I wrote a whole blogpost about people who just use twitter to promote themselves. It’s worth reading because it seemed to strike a chord.
3. If I follow you and you send me a DM promoting your wares as your first interaction, I’ll automatically unfollow you. It’s a no no!
If I unfollow you, please don’t get too upset about it. Yes it’s personal in a way but it’s just Twitter for God’s sake! Chances are we’ll never meet and you’ll forget about me. People in real life grow apart too. Remember all those ex colleagues who never keep in touch
Favouriting
People tweet to say thanks for ‘favouriting’ my tweet. Please don’t, there’s no need. I favour a tweet to read it later or where it has some information I need. I’ll then ‘unfavourite’ it.
Lists
I add people to private lists. I don’t tend to use them a lot of the time but sometimes I want to look at Twitter and avoid seeing the results of a sports event or avoid politics so I’ll only look at a subset of people. I should use them more.
Reading your Tweets
I scan my timeline whenever I can but I don’t spend my life on Twitter. I pick a lot of things up but often I miss things. If you need to get my attention, mention me. If it’s really important DM me. Note that promoting your wares may or may not count as the most important part of my day especially if we’ve only just met.
Retweets
I retweet things that interest me, promote people and things I’m interested in or things that amuse me. However I’m aware I overdo retweets so sometimes I try not to RT things. Please don’t take it personally if I fail to retweet something you think is noteworthy. But just because I RT something doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with it. I tweet things that I violently disagree with just because it’s awful and needs to be shared. I usually preface these with a ‘coming up’ tweet.
Scheduling Tweets
99.5% of my tweets are live. I use scheduling for the following:
1. Scheduling tweets publicising my blog posts or an announcement so that there’s a reasonable chance people will see one mention over a few days
2. Where there are multiple tweets which need to be read together. Sometimes I need more than 140 characters and 20secs to make my point. Must try harder.

#ff (Follow Friday)

This is in theory a good idea as you come across new people but it has become a nightmare. I don’t normally do #ff but occasionally I’ll tweet one #ff and a reason why I think you should follow them. If you don’t that’s fine. If you do #ff as a regular thing, please don’t tweet lists of people. It’s pointless. I’m not going to wade through your lists and it’s more likely I’ll mute or even unfollow you. That’s really horrible I know, but scrolling through 230 names then seeing other people RTing their mentions and thanking a whole list of other people isn’t my idea of a Friday night.

Being Wrong

I try to be nice all of the time but sometimes I’m not. I get things wrong, quite a lot. I’m human and I’m sorry.

 

This article was updated 24/3/13 to include #ff and several edits.

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