I was one of those people that bestselling Scottish writer Sara Sheridan blogged about. I wasn't just a non-tweeter. I was an anti-tweeter. I was one of those folks who said that Twitter was a waste of time. I already had too much to do and besides, who'd want to read about my life? I'm at work. I'm at home - writing, doing bills, etc. None of it was anything anyone would ever want to read about. So why would I tweet? Only desperate folks who lack enough to do are on Twitter. Right?
Well, it'd be right if Twitter was an online social schedule. But you know what? It's whatever you allow it to be. At the very least, as Sara points out, it's an interesting way to meet people and share information. But Twitter can be much, much more. Like Sara says if you're a writer you need to be on the service. It doesn't make sense for "professional communicators" to shy away from "a medium that is crying out for their skills and demonstrably is the best way to communicate with a wide readership."
I've been trying to do that, to communicate with readers about giving my work a shot. One indie author whose recent success has made her a media star is Amanda Hocking. I follow her blog, "My Blood Approves" and I highly recommend it. Amanda's blog bio calls her "an obsessive tweeter." It hasn't hurt her sales. By frequenting her blog, I saw that she maintains a close, almost personal relationship with her readers. She puts herself out there and that takes guts. Did I have that kind of courage?
I took the plunge a little over a week ago. I signed up for Twitter as quackingalone. One of my new Twitter connections, a service called Novel Publicity, calls the site "a massive party" but also aptly describes it as wonderful, powerful and confusing.
Entering Twitter reminded me of the commercials for Microsoft's search service - Bing. You've seen the ads. If you haven't, take a look here (also embedded below).
Twitter is a lot like that - only more intense, more passionate. And if you've done your homework and are following the right folks, you'll be intense and passionate about jumping into the discussions. Because most of 'em will be about subjects you are very involved with and really care about. How do you know the tweets you're following will be about your interests?
You start by doing a search of the people who are interested in the same things you are. In my case, I wanted to follow writers - mostly romance but a few other as well - as well as reviewers, bloggers, literary agents, book editors, publishing services and especially and importantly - readers. So I took the plunge and started following people. Even in a group mostly filled with folks who share a lot of your interests, there will still be comments about things you don't care about. But you don't have to read those tweets. Just skip 'em. There may also be people you agree with about a whole bunch of stuff who express some opinions with which you disagree. My advice would be to skip over those tweets too. I tell my kids all the time, pick the hill you want to die on. And whatever opinions or events they're tweeting about, it's probably not the hill I want to die on. I'd jump into a group dissing indie writers in a skinny minute, or into one being sarcastic about romance authors. But I'm not likely to find too many of those folks - because I don't follow 'em. Any stray comments of that nature will be tweets at someone else I'm following.
That's another way to find new peeps. You'll see tweets at people you're following and you might reply to some of them with an @ reply. It'll go back to the original tweeter. I've gotten followers that way. Others have just wandered over to check out the strange duck lady who thinks the view is always better from over the top. Like I said, I'm very new, so I haven't built up a lot of followers yet. The number varies, but as I'm writing this, I'm being followed by 35 tweeters. I don't think that's too bad for just over a week, but I could be wrong. I so often am.
Some amazing tweets have been from Shonda Rhimes and Debbie Allen about Grey's Anatomy and the upcoming musical episode. Shonda wished her peeps a happy weekend this past Saturday morning. I was able to send back a pithy @ reply that surely got lost in the flood of all the others. And a lot of bestselling romance authors are hardcore tweeters. A couple of them were holding a writing contest this past weekend to see who could write the most words over a set period. I've read these ladies' books for years and I got to be inside their writing circle. Way, way cool. One of the writers I adore, Christina Dodd, tweeted about some writing tips she put out. I hope she won't mind if I share the link. Imagine - getting writing tips from a lady whose books I've hunted down for years. That's pretty awesome. I've also met some great folks including one who tweets as bridgemama and she was nice enough to take her own time and create some custom avatars for me - all ducks of course. One of 'em is up as my current avi and I've got a bunch more
Give Twitter a try. Whether you're a writer or a reader - or interested in anything on earth - you'll find a group of kindred spirits. Here's a link from Novel Publicity giving pointers to Twitter beginners. I understand they'll be doing other pieces about more advanced features. If you're already on Twitter, check out the link because these are publicity pros who'll help give you a "Twitter makeover."
SO NOW IT'S YOUR TURN. Do you Tweet? Give me the skinny on the favorite folks you follow and be sure to list your Twitter account so we can all check you out and sign up to follow you as well. Let's trade some war stories and get together on a site where we can follow each other!
MARY ANNE GRAHAM
ADD MY TWITTER LINK: Quacking Alone on Twitter
AND THE BLOG: Quacking Alone