Why I Call Equality Between Genders Feminism


I've never really talked about feminism on this blog before, and it's a contentious issue for whatever reason, so forgive me for being a bit nervous.

Yesterday, I logged on to Twitter to find that the #1 trending UK hashtag was #IAmAFeminist, thanks to this beautiful Tumblr post by Holly Bourne (who is one of my absolute role models, but I've already talked a lot on this blog about her and her books, so I'll get back to the point). To see an issue I'm passionate about be highlighted so publicly was really exciting for me, so I wrote a tweet of my own. This is it:

I didn't really have room for any explanation in 140 tiny characters, but just to clarify I didn't mean that all people who don't identify as feminists are sexists. I meant that everyone who isn't a sexist - and thank goodness that's an awful lot of people - fit my definition of feminist, even if they didn't label themselves as such.

And then, pretty soon after (no more than a couple of minutes after, actually, so somebody must have been paying attention) I got a reply from someone who thought I was a sexist for using the word feminism because it has a "fem" in it.

I kind of get that. I've struggled with whether or not to use it in the past: whenever I have debates with internet peeps or other kids at school or even my parents about the whole issue, whether or not the term feminism is inherently sexist is one of the first things I ever discuss. When I first started calling myself a feminist, I honestly hadn't given it much thought - people online were using that word to describe beliefs I agreed with and wanted to fight for, so I used it too. And then, the people around me started questioning if it was the right word to use.

So I thought. For a long time.

"Think before you speak. Read before you think." ~ Fran Lebowitz

And after looking at other feminists' explanations of why they think it's a valid name for the movement, I came up with my own. This is my opinion, and I'm going to explain it as logically as I possibly can to make it easy to understand, but it's also a topic I have very strong beliefs about, so sometimes irrationality can seep in. Soz.

In my point of view, the "fem" in feminism describes the nature of the sexism it's fighting against. Males and females (and people who don't identify as either, while we're at it) experience sexism for displaying female attributes: for girls and women, it's usually simply their lack of Y chromosome, but for boys and men, it's behaviour that society considers somehow 'girly'.

The "fem" in feminism describes how the movement fights for those attributes, be them physical behavioural or anything else, to be acceptable. To be equal. To have so little differentiation between them and the norm that they're not female attributes, just attributes.

"Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it." ~ George Carlin

The "fem" in feminism does want both sexes to be equal, for both sexes to be listened to. It wants an end to toxic masculinity and the preconceived notion that guys can't be hurt by girls as much as it wants an end to the gender pay gap and catcalling.

And that's why #IAmAFeminist, not just a believer in egalitarianism or gender rights or simple equality. I'm not saying that people who choose those labels for themselves should be any less respected for their beliefs and actions, I'm justifying why that term forms part of my personal identity.

(FYI, if you're looking for a movement that believes women are better than men, you're in the wrong place. That's misandry, not feminism.)

So, I just want to end this blog post explaining why I wrote it. I believe that people have the basic right to choose whatever label they want for them and their personal beliefs. I also believe that this whole debate about whether gender equality should be called feminism is kind of pointless. Shouldn't we be arguing about how to tackle the issues this movement wants to tackle instead of arguing about what it's called?

"We're never, ever, ever going to be able to fly as high unless we're both in support of each other." ~ Emma Watson

If the person who wrote me that tweet is reading this (and I will have sent them a link) I'm not going to kick up a fuss if you still disagree with me. But I hope that you can see it's pointless to keep telling off feminists for a word that isn't meant to hurt anybody, and that maybe you can start having conversations with them about how to make society better for everyone.

If not, never mind. I hope I could help someone else see instead.

***
In the comments: Okay, this section of the post is going to be a bit longer than normal . . .

You're just as welcome to leave a comment if you disagree with me than if you agree with me. I love discussion and I really want to understand, if not agree with, your point of view. But I'd really appreciate it if, no matter which side of the conversation you're on, we keep things as peaceful as we can. (It's an emotional topic, I know, but trying will go a long way) I don't want any personal attacks, on me or anyone else, because they aren't helping us in what I assume - and hope - is our common goal: to make this world equal for everyone.

I'm also going to say that, in general, I always reply to comments on this blog, and I will do my absolute best to. But if, for whatever reason, your comment hits me in a way that means I can't react with a clear head, I reserve the right not to react at all. I don't want to make things any more heated.
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How to Beat Boredom As A Bookworm

Do you have days when you don't know what to do? When you're just sort of zombieing around in a state of utter, utter boredom and feel like you're wasting your life? When you don't even feel like reading?

(You'd better, or I'm going to feel even worse.)
Never fear, bookworms! Right now, I'm on my summer holidays, which means that I am an absolute expert at fending off boredom in the most bookish of ways. I have ideas you can use at a moment's notice with access to the internet or maybe some books, and also some that might require some planning and - maybe - leaving the house. No, really. You should listen to me anyway.
You wouldn't want to end up like Sherlock now, would you?

Go to a bookshop and recommend reads to anyone who will listen

This, ladies and gentlemen, is excellent fun. And only a little bit creepy.

The first time I ever did it, I did not intend to. I was just looking to spend all my money as sacrifice to the reading gods. But when a woman came in with two young children and started looking for Percy Jackson books under J as if Percy was the author . . .

I had to say SOMETHING.

Then there was the time I was at the library and a (different) woman dragged her son over to me and asked if I thought he was old enough to read the Alex Rider book he had clutched in his hand. (I can only imagine that, since I was rearranging a shelf that was annoying me, she assumed a worked there.) It was surprisingly satisfying to tell her that, seeing as he'd read Harry Potter, he should be ok, but he was holding the fourth book in the series. I handed her the first one and made my exit.

I guess if you don't feel comfortable doing this, you could just go to the library or bookshop to read. Go ahead. Be normal if you dare.

Plan a party based on your favourite book

Pinterest will be full of ideas for you on this one. Just search "Harry Potter party ideas" or "Lord of the Rings party ideas" or pretty much anything else, and you will be swamped with snack recipes, ideas for decorations and party games. It's a wormhole. You will literally be lost in it for hours, to the point where everything is almost too entertaining. Plan costumes, party bags, and pretty much whatever else you want.

You don't have to actually have the party, of course. That's far too much work in my opinion (but then I'm a nerd who prefers planning things to actually doing them) and you actually need friends who won't stand in the corner reading a book the whole time.

Volunteer at your local library

There is literally no bad side to spending days when you would have been bored working at a library. I mean for a start, you're no longer bored, and you get to spend hours a day surrounded by books. Most libraries, especially small ones, are pretty much always in need of help thanks to the ever-present budget cut, so you're even helping keep afloat the library that is probably supporting your book addiction more than anything else. YAY for aiding the local community (but mostly yourself)!

I know, I'm a selfish and terrible human being. You don't need to tell me again.

GO TO YALC!


I can't believe I'm saying this, but YALC, the UK young adult lit convention, is this weekend - and as of right now, they've still got tickets available! If you can get yourself to London, you can see over eighty authors (full list here), including Malorie Blackman, Holly Bourne, and Maggie Steifvater. There's also a full timetable of writing workshops, and an agent arena where you can hear talks about the publishing industry, or even pitch your work to an agent in a 1-2-1 session.

It's just occurred to me that you might be reading this after YALC 2016 has finished. (Poor you.) Never mind! There are all kinds of book festivals and conventions out there that you could go to. Just spend an hour or two researching online, and you'll forget why you were reading this post.

Set yourself a reading challenge

Sure. There are loads of challenges out there online that you could join in with, but where's the creative fun in that? Besides, some study somewhere has probably shown that humans are more likely to achieve goals they've set themselves.

Just to give you an idea, I've always thought it'd be fun to use a book tag, answering the questions with books on my TBR rather than ones I've already read.

You might not be all that surprised by Friday's post.

Make some bookish crafts

There's all kind of art that can show off your love of books.

Paint the first page of your favourite book on a wall! Make stickers to put in your books so everyone knows they're yours! Create as many bookmarks as humanly possible! Again, Pinterest is great at coming up with ideas for this, especially if you're willing to (take a deep breath here) cut up books and use the pieces for your art. No? Okay. *backs away slowly from rabid bookworms*

Or, if like me you have absolutely no artistic talent whatsoever, you could always buy some pretty things on Etsy and pretend you made them.

Organise your bookshelf

If you've ever even approached the great sparkly being that is Bookstagram, you'll notice that many people's shelves look like rainbows of impossible beauty. The secret? They're organised by colour.

But that's not the only way to go, you guys! Books can be shelved by author, by genre, by length or subject or even how much you enjoyed them. Go wild finding ways to make them look pretty, or easier to find.

Now.

While you're taking books off the shelf, do you think it might be time to get rid of some? WAIT, DON'T BITE MY HEAD OFF! I'm merely suggesting that you could make room for more? It's up to you, but Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf wrote this really awesome post on how to root out stuff you don't really need and then what to do with it afterwards.

***
In the comments: When do you normally get bored? What do you like to do to beat it? And are there any non-book-related things that help?
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4 Wattpad Stories You Need to Read Right Now

You guys know how incredible WattPad is, right?
It's a site which allows anyone to post their own stories, chapter by chapter, so that they can be read. This means it also allows you to read a whole bunch of stories completely and totally for free - which has to be pretty brilliant. THOUSANDS OF STORIES THAT COST NO MONEY TO READ.

I'm completely sure that I will have hooked you now, so go sign up this instant if you don't already have an account. The rest of us will wait, but hurry, would you?

I guess the genius of WattPad - and the many people who already love it will agree with me here - is that anybody can publish anything, so you get to read things you'd probably never see through traditional publishing. But . . . it also means that 99% of the books you find haven't gone through any kind of formal editing process. So while some are absolute pure genius, they can easily be kind of swamped by the stories that aren't quite there yet.

This is sad, because I'm assuming you don't want to miss out on the ones that are basically concentrated awesome. Here are some of my favourites:

Accidentally on Purpose by Bree Stonefield (@numbereddays)

This was the first book that proved to me just how good WattPad books could be, so I guess it really deserves top spot on this list. There's a baby project (you know, those things people do in Life Skills classes when they have to deal with a screaming robot?), an incident involving soda not coming out of dyed hair, and . . . a dark past. I don't want to say too much.

This book is MASSIVELY cute in and of itself, mostly because this particularly baby project also involves a fake proposal and wedding planning and . . . awwww! But then there's also a beautiful, squee-worthy oneshot out there called Ships and Things by @refractedPenguin. It's about the teacher who organised said baby project. Don't read it before AOP, because exposing yourself to that many spoilers would be MAD, but do read it once you've finished. It's cute as anything.

The End of Summer by @makeandoffer

Okay. This story is many things. It has romance, and hilariousness, and a killer on the loose in a secondary school.

You probably weren't expecting me to say that last bit.

It's the end of summer (the author was probably hoping you'd get that from the title, but I figured I'd tell you anyway) and it's time for a small town's worst kept secret: the Riverbank Riot, a weekend when hundreds of teenagers break into their SCHOOL to get mind-numbingly drunk. And seeing as Summer Jacobs is dealing with some pretty "unforeseen circumstances" at home, she's in dire need of a party.

This plan kind of derails as soon as three teachers storm in, closely followed by a masked gunman. So this weekend really could be the end of Summer. The book is absolutely gripping, but honestly my favourite part is the title pun. 

Dizzy by Jolene Perry and Nyrae Dawn

Ziah and Dylan hate each other, pretty much. They met at a party - on what everyone has to admit was a pretty bed night for her - and it did not go very well. But now his brother has sold out on their no relationships pact and is getting married . . . to her sister. So, meet the world's most unenthusiastic wedding planners ever!

This being WattPad, teen romance central, they don't hate each other for the entire book.

What I really liked about this one was that Ziah and Dylan BOTH NARRATED! So you got to see their feelings for each other and it was incredibly, brilliantly frustrating. Read if you want to spend a lot of time yelling "JUST KISS ALREADY!" at a good book.

When Left Alone by @zemrabbit

There's another thing WattPad is really good at besides romance and slightly creepy fanfiction, and that's poetry. Some of it is so ridiculously, brilliantly deep that you can get lost in it for days. And this . . . this book right here is my personal favourite.

Admittedly, it was written by one of my bestest bestest friends, so maybe I'm the tiniest bit biased, but it really is beautiful. She has this insane ability to rip your heart up and make you glad about it, which I guess all the best poets (and authors *cough* John Green *cough*) have: I'm not going to even talk about it for much longer because I can feel myself starting to get teary. Just give it a try, okay?

***
In the comments: Do you have a favourite WattPad story? If you've read any of these, what did you think? And which one do you want to read first?
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Beautiful People #19 (Operation Convoluted Backstory)

Sorry guys! I accidentally published this yesterday, before it was ready, so I guess you might have got alerts. Oops . . .

Now, it may have escaped YOUR notice, but Cait and Skye were inconsiderate enough to post this month's Beautiful People questions while I was on a blogging break, and I'm not sure they can be forgiven.

I kid, of course. These questions are awesome and therefore I have to forgive. I'll forgive you guys too, for not noticing, if you want. ;-)
 
If you haven't heard of Beautiful People for whatever reason, then poor you. It's amazing. Basically, Cait and Skye post ten questions at the beginning of every month for you to answer and get to know more about your characters. This idea is amazingly brilliant. I've only been doing it for three months, and already my MC has such a deep backstory that I might have to write a prequel.

Read on, my friends. You''ll see.

(FYI, the character I'm answering questions about is called Grace Hawke, and she's the MC of a story which has the definitely working title of Harrow. I'll think of something better eventually. It follows her, as a housemaster's daughter, and her gossip-hungry best friend, Lorna, as they navigate the complicated world of posh boys, New Year's Eve parties, and poker.)

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

Deep, personal question there guys! Like most confused fourteen-year-olds, Grace has absolutely no idea.

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

Poker chips. Grace fully believes that you can hoodwink an awful lot of people with a poker chip and a bit of ingenuity. Maybe the odd eyebrow raise. Between you and me, she does an awful lot of studying poker theory, so I guess that helps, but she likes to say it's the chips.

Don't tell me they're not physical weapons, okay? If you threw one with a bit of backspin, I'm pretty sure you could kill a man.

What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

Well . . . it's kind of a spoiler to be honest. I just wrote the scene. But the nicest thing Grace had ever done for someone before the book started was probably the day they realised her Mum had left for good. Her Dad cried for hours - she did too, but only where he couldn't see. She held back tears until she could get to a bathroom for two weeks, and then after that she only cried at night, because she knew it would break him. To quote Matilda the Musical (no, seriously), she didn't want to add to her father's pain.

It's one of the nicest things she's ever done, and the person she did it for never even knew.

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

Once. Only once.

Grace met Lorna when her Dad got the job at Harrow and she moved to a new school. I'm just going to remind you that she was eleven at this point, and no-one wanted to talk to her because they'd heard she lived at Harrow and thought she was a toff. (This is part of the reason she hates being associated with the boys, by the way.)

And then, on the second week, one of the boys who'd been picking on her called Lorna a sp*z. He tipped her out of her wheelchair.

And Grace punched him in the nose. That was the beginning of their friendship.

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

I guess it depends who you ask. Her Dad would tell you that she's never followed a rule properly in her life, but Lorna would call her best friend a goody-two-shoes. Felix and Anthony would be far too afraid of any repercussions to pass judgement. So I guess she's enough of a rebel to scare them.

Although - scaring posh boys like those two? Not that difficult.

Are they organised or messy?

Because Lorna’s the messy one, Grace has no choice but to be organised. She doesn't really have a problem with other people's untidiness - except Lorna's room, which just takes it too far - but she kind of finds herself organising her stuff out of habit. That said, don't ask her to tidy anything of yours, okay? She will point-blank refuse and probably mistrust you for a day or two (possibly more, she likes to hold grudges) because she doesn't like doing things for other people unless they really need it. Harrow boys have treated her like a skivvy far too often for that.

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

Do you want a list? Man, I'm gonna give you a list:
  • A hug that is unapologetically and unashamedly long. The last person that did that for Grace was Lorna.
  • Someone wanting to see her, no matter what the excuse. That's definitely Felix.
  • Being told that she's believed in, that she can do whatever she wants and it doesn't matter how much money she has or who she knows. All that matters is her determination and her brains. Her Mum used to say that to her every night before she went to sleep, but no-one's uttered words to that effect since she left. It's been six years.

What do they eat for breakfast?

On weekdays, Grace’s breakfast is actively designed to avoid the boys as easily and effectively as possible. She actually pretends that her school starts earlier than it does because it’s the only way to stop her Dad dragging her to eat on the staff table (the horror), and that means eating a cereal bar on the way to Lorna’s house, where she will hide out for the fifteen minutes until they actually have to leave. Said bar usually contains hazelnuts, cranberries (never raisins) and honey, if you’re interested.

But on the weekends, the boys are either at lessons or church: she gets to eat what she likes, and it’s always the same: two Wheatabix, not microwaved but with hot milk, topped with sliced banana. Part of the reason she actively refuses to eat at the school dining hall in the mornings – other than the whole avoiding-association-with-toffs thing – is that they only ever have mini Wheatabix and will never listen to her about the hot milk.

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

Mum walked out on an eight-year-old Grace and her Dad, and she might as well be dead for all the contact they've had with her since. No note. No nothing. Grace just doesn't know where she went or why.

Maybe I need to turn this into a mystery novel.

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

I think I wrote about all my characters' favourite ice-cream flavours a couple of Beautiful People's ago, so you can click the link and read the essay on that if you want, but celebrations always call for a visit to the scoop shop where Lorna's sister works.

When Grace wins a big enough hand of poker online (which you are not allowed to tell her Dad about under any circumstances) she'll buy a new set of chips. The drawer in her bedroom must contain over fifty sets.

***
In the comments: Did you guys do Beautiful People this month? (Link me! Link me!) Do you like the sound of Grace, or is her backstory far too complicated? And do you think she's similar to any other characters you've written or read?
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A Cauldron of Suspense (The Potion Diaries)

Am I the only one who thinks this premise is one of the most intriguing things ever?
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.
Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?
And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 
No big deal, then.
I mean, for a start, the setting is a stroke of genius. In a world ruled by potion-making, magical Talent and creatures who we would consider mythical, you'd expect the characters to travel by cart and give messages by carrier pigeon. But the first rule of fiction is that you never write the expected . . . so why can't this world have social media and magical teleportation and synthetic potion-labs that are out to make millions? Why shouldn't the idolised royal family be political figureheads for a modern democracy?

BECAUSE THAT BLEW MY HEAD UP WITH ITS AWESOMENESS SO MUCH THAT WE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T DO IT AGAIN, THAT'S WHY.

This book was very plot-driven, but I found that absolutely okay because that plot was pretty darn good. Alward was really good at building up the Hunt to a teasing mini-climax, then cutting away to a short scene with Princess Evelyn, which was just as suspenseful. Then she did it again. And again. And again.
And then we get to the characters.

Sam, the main character, was . . . I guess the right word is admirable. I mean, her potion-mixing talents absolutely fascinated me - more on that later - and I liked her. It wasn't hard to hope she won or anything. But, besides the 'Kemi family gift', she wasn't really very interesting. Has she heard of hobbies? Maybe a sport, or a musical instrument?

I had a similar problem with most of the others, to be honest. Sam and her finder, Kirsty, had some funny conversations; her sister Molly was cute and sympathetic. But while there was nothing explicitly wrong about any of them, I just found that all the characters could have been explored or planned out with much deeper personalities. Maybe they were, and the amazing plot took up too much space to add in much character development . . . hopefully the sequel might give me MORE.

I’M A GREEDY READER AND I WANT MORE. *ahem*
This is Augustus Gloop. He's greedy too.
I might as well air all my grievances at once, right? The only other problem I had was a tiny little hint of the dreaded instalove.

*tries to think of a way to describe said instalove without any spoilers* So … basically … there was a relationship … it was sometimes cute … but sometimes instalove-y.

Don’t you appreciate what a clear and understandable reviewer I am?

I’m done moaning now, I promise, because this book was really really good. For about the last hundred pages, I just couldn’t put it down, and some of the side characters were actually really interesting. I’m desperately hoping that we get to see more of Sam’s grandfather in the sequel, for instance; he was such a noble character, and [highlight for reasonably tiny spoiler] I really respected Sam for standing up to him to join the hunt. That must have taken a lot of grit. [end of spoiler]

The second reason that The Potion Diaries must be a brilliant read is simply that it includes this quote:

 "Chocolate - so many uses it's stupid to list them all, even in my head."

Do you need any more proof? Sam’s ability to recite the properties of an ingredient just by glancing at it was cool enough, but then I read this and I was just the world’s biggest fan of Alward and the whole potion making-system that she’d created. Some of the scenes that involve mixing or brewing them were just jumping off the page: I felt they were so real I could have apprenticed as a potion-maker tomorrow if I wanted.

And I love it when books manage to suck me in that well.
In conclusion, you’ll probably love this book if you can look past the fact that it’s more plot-driven that character-driven. You’ll probably have to read it anyway, just to see if you can.

***
In the comments: If you've read The Potion Diaries, what are your opinions about it - do we disagree wildly? If not, have I convinced you to give it a try? And who's willing to run away with me and become a potion-maker's apprentice?
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Ten Twitter Tricks to Get Your Blog Out There


Do you feel all lonely in terms of the blogosphere? Are you screaming out into the void on your blog instead of having a conversation? Do you just feel like no-one's reading your posts?

Chances are, there are people out there who would, if they could just find you. The internet is a pretty massive place, and it can be tricky to make blogger friends if you have absolutely no idea where to start. But don't worry! That's where I (and my good friend twitter) come in.

Twitter is kind of like the mall of the internet. It's where people hang out if they don't have much to do, or just fancy getting out somewhere and making some friends, like you. But, maybe unlike real life malls, you need to learn how to use it effectively if you're going to get everything you want from it. And that's what this post is trying to do.
Wait, wait! DISCLAIMER!

Before I start this post all good and proper like, I just want to say that it isn't intended to make you feel any pressure that your blog has to be a certain size or that you have to use all of these tricks to be a 'proper blogger'. (Goodness knows if there is such thing as a proper blogger, I'm not one. Why would you want to be?) I just want to give you some options for any publicity you might want to eventually do - because talking to yourself on the internet gets boring after a while, right?

Work Out What You're Doing

I'm assuming that, if you're reading this post, you at least have a twitter account set up. If not, get that sorted! It's pretty easy, you know.

Now.

If you've been tweeting for a while, you're probably within centimetres of skipping over this part of the post. BUT DON'T! Are you sure you know exactly what the right etiquette is for @mentions or DMs, or even precisely who can see tweets beginning with a handle? It's better to be save than sorry, dude.

Even if you're an absolute pro and need exactly none of my help, the comprehensive guide I'm about to recommend is relatively short and absolutely downright hilarious. You should visit it anyway. It's called Mom, This Is How Twitter Works, and I'd like to thank the kickass-awesome letterer Jessica Hische for creating it. You've no idea how many times I've tabbed over to it 'just to check'.

Non-twitterers, please don't panic. It's easy to understand, too.

Tune Your Profile

When people stumble over you on twitter, the first thing they see (other than the thing that tripped them up in the first place) is usually your profile. It's a representation of what you are, so unless you happen to look like a slightly lopsided egg, you might want to make that profile picture a little more like you.

That's not to say you have to plaster your face all over the internet! There are lots of bloggers out there - me included - who kind of prefer to keep the mystery going, but that doesn't mean you have to use the default picture. Make yourself a cool logo. Alter an image of your face so much that you become an unrecognisable (but undeniably cool) alien. You could even use a picture of your feet like the fabulous Cait from Paper Fury (if she's doing it, it must be brilliant).
But don't stop there! Don't forget a cover photo (that large rectangular pic at the top of your profile) which can be pretty much whatever you fancy - but something to do with your topic might help you connect with peeps who might be interested in your blog. Make sure you attach your URL to the "Website" space too: how else are the lovely twitter humans going to find your blog?

And now it's time to write your bio, the summary of you. Don't panic. Just be unique, be succint, and don't be afraid to change it as much as you want over time to get it perfect.

Follow Smart

The people you follow (kind of like friending on Facebook but they don't have to give permission) dictate what tweets you see. You'll notice ones they've written themselves, ones they've retweeted and ones they've liked. Other than the odd promoted tweet (that a business has paid to show on lots of people's feeds), that's it. And that's why it's so important to follow the right people: the tweets of influential people in your niche will help you keep up to date with blogging news, and show you opportunities that you wouldn't have seen anywhere else. (I'm only doing my first Book Tour in a couple of weeks because I stumbled upon one tweet and managed to muscle my way onto a mailing list.)

That's not to say that everyone you follow has to be from your blogging niche. OH NO NO. Follow your friends. Follow celebrities. It's completely up to you . . . and the fact is there's no limit on how many people you can follow. Go wild. And if you're having a fun conversation with another blogger and want to keep in touch, FOLLOW THEM!

Use it Organically . . .

When you were choosing who to follow, did you pick feeds that were 90% "Read my new blog post!"? Chances are, no, because you chose the people who were funny and stood out from the crowd.

This doesn't mean you can't mention your new blog posts: Twitter is one of the best publicity tools out there and you'd kind of be stupid not to use it. Just try to be entertaining about your shameless plugging. Instead of just tweeting the name of your post and a link, ask an intriguing question or be hilariously sarcastic. Here's a couple of examples from the fabulous me, and a couple of other bloggers (who probably did it better, to be honest):
Example 1 by @otherteenreader (me) - I WROTE A #readalongdiaries THING & IT CAN'T BE HALF AS GOOD AS THE EVENT ITSELF. I TRIED.

Example 2 by @PaperFury - To all wishing to get started on #bookstagram (or just wanting general awesome tips from awesome me) ... HERE YOU GO:
Example 3 by @otherteenreader (me) - Insert stellar review of @junodawson's Mind Your Head here.
Example 4 by @MileLongBookS - Need to get rid of some books but can't bring yourself to do it? You might wanna read this:
The second important thing is to make sure your tweets aren't all publicity. Write about funny things that happened to you today, or the news, or compose a series of slightly odd haikus. The fun is trying to get the point across in an entertaining way with 140 characters.

Top tip: If you really have nothing original to say, but feel your timeline is getting clogged with publicity, just retweet. Hitting the button that looks like two arrows at the bottom of someone else's tweet will place it on your timeline with credit to them, and you can also write a caption to what they've said which will be shown above.

. . . But Not Too Organically

If you're going to make twitter a truly effective tool to promote your blog, it's fine to basically talk about whatever you want - but bear in mind that your blog's target audience should find it interesting. Go ahead with the pictures of your dinner, but how are you going to relate them to your personal brand? (Should be easy if you're a food blogger ...)
I also can't believe I have to say this, but the internet is not interested in your bowel movements. I'm hoping you don't blog about them, either.

Tag Authors and Bloggers (Where Relevant)

You don't need me to tell you that the blogging community is an incredibly supportive and genuinely friendly place. Chances are, it's supportive and friendly enough to have told you already, all by itself.

But what I do need to tell you is that said friendliness can be a real advantage for promotion. If you mention an author or another blogger's work in your post, mention it to them on Twitter: one of three things will probably happen.
  1. Nothing.
  2. They retweet your link, and some of their followers click on it. (So you get more views and meet more people to talk to. Yay!)
  3. They reply and you have a conversation. (This is what you wanted, right? To talk to people? Yay!)
None of these things are bad, are they? You might actually get a REPLY from someone who's WRITTEN A BOOK or done something equally exciting in your blogging niche. Oh, the excitement.

However, it's important to be kind about when you tag someone in a post link. If you were an author, would you want to click on a lovely tweet you'd been sent only to find that their review give your book one star and called it one of the shallowest things they'd ever read? Obviously, sometimes (in the case of so-so reviews or things you really loved but had one or two drawbacks) this line is harder to draw, but you'll get used to it, I promise. In the meantime, better safe than sorry is a pretty good motto.

Pictures Are Your Friends

No, not that kind of Friends.
Studies from the Twitter Blog have shown that adding a picture to your tweet will up its retweets on average by 35%.

Like, that's a lot of percent! And it’s not even the hardest thing to do … chances are, you’ll have put some photos in pretty much every blog post you’ve ever written (if you haven’t, then I’d start, pronto. Pictures break up your text and make it a whole lot easier to read) so it’s just a matter of taking the photo that represents said post the best and slipping it in your publicity tweet. Even a GIF will get you more attention.


And it’s all about attention-seeking, folks.

#HashtagSkillz

I know this isn't entirely relevant, but ... Jennifer Lawrence, you guys!
I spent about five minutes making attempts to define what a hashtag is and utterly failing, so I'm just going to point you towards its entry in the Urban Dictionary.

The great thing about hashtags is that people search them all the time, so using one or two might point people towards following you, and then checking out your blog. Just go wild! You're not a bookworm, you're a #bookworm. You're a #foodie, not a foodie. A good rule of thumb, however, is only to hashtag a couple of key words per tweet, otherwise everything just becomes unreadable and confusing, no matter how good the actual content is. 

You can also use hashtags to link together any topics you mention on a regular basis, so that if someone likes one of your tweets on it, they can easily have a look at the others. I've been doing this with #choirconversations lately, and it seems to have worked okay. However, I'm really wishing that I'd searched up the hashtag before deciding to use it, because, well. Weird things happen at choirs and some people have been tweeting them. If I'd used #choralconversations, I'd have had the whole hastag to myself.

Reply, Reply, Reply

If you want to start chatting with other people on twitter and get your blog out there, you're going to have to talk to them at some point. So if someone replies to one of your tweets, reply back! Thank them, answer any questions, and (especially if they're someone you've been following for a while) ask any you might have. This can be very scary if they're a really Big Blogger or someone even more famous, but 99% of the time they will have got where they are by being one of the nicest people around.

If someone follows you, you might want to consider following them back (after you've hugged your cat at the prospect of a new follower of course) to show your appeciation and keep the conversation going. Not that you have to follow everybody! Some twitter accounts are just robots that follow you for unknown reasons, or spammers trying to get something out of you. I guess if it looks like the kind of account you'd follow anyway, then the decision is easier.

Of course, there is one exception to this rule. THE TROLLS. If someone is saying nasty stuff about you or your work, or indeed anyone you know, just ignore it. Chances are you'll be angry, and replying will make things ten times worse. If you're really upset, if someone is being particularly nasty or the same person has trolled you over and over, report it to twitter or the police. But striking up a conversation is like feeding them. NEVER FEED THE TROLLS.

Join A Twitter Chat

Twitter chats can be organised by anyone who tweets, but they're often set up by bloggers about bloggery things. Basically, they'll be a set time in which a specific chat happens (usually for an hour or so weekly) and during that time the host poses questions (labelled Q1, Q2, etc.) that everyone else answers (labelled A1, A2, etc.). A specific hashtag is used on ALL TWEETS relating to the chat so that they can be found.

They're are brilliant because a) they are great fun and you get to introduce yourself to tons of lovely, likeminded people and b) the amount of people seeing your tweets during that time is mindblowing. Twitter Analytics tells me that on average, about one hundred people see one of my tweets per day. On days when I join a chat, it's usually about one and a half thousand.
The one thing I will say about twitter chats is that they are FAST. You need to start preparing for the chat a few minutes before it starts: find an area with absolutely infallible WiFi, make sure you have the fastest computer in the house, and open tabs to the Twitter homepage (for composing tweets), the account of the blog host, your account, your notifications and a search of all tweets containing the chat hashtag. Having your phone handy for other miscellaneous searching is also useful.

Twitter chats are wonderful, you humans, but not for the faint-hearted.

***
In the comments: Are there any other tricks you use on twitter to start chatting with people? Which of these has been most useful to you? And what other social media sites have been useful to you in getting your blog out there?

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