A few years ago, I joined Twitter. A few months after that, I quit. Now, I’ve joined again. Call me fickle.
The first time I joined Twitter, I had no purpose for being there except a few friends were also on Twitter. To tell the truth, I got tired of the 140 character messages telling me what someone was doing, i.e., “I’m out of the shower and going to the kitchen.” This from someone I didn’t know much less cared that they had just showered. I find tweets like that BORING. Soon, however, I had way too many followers filling up my account with just that sort of information. I stopped going to Twitter.
Now I’m back. I’d been reading reports that Twitter was a great place for authors. I was willing to test that premise. I returned to Twitter with high hopes of connecting with other writers, and with agents, editors, and publishers. Twitter did not disappoint this time.
I started out reading the Tweets of agents. They were giving a wealth of information to authors at a remarkable pace. I quickly determined who I wanted to follow. Next I started looking for my favorite authors. I was pleasantly surprised to find several were tweeting away and disappointed that others were not.
I think in the phase of following people, you have to be somewhat obsessive. I would see who the agents and authors I admired were following, I would click on them, see what they had to say, and decide whether to follow them. If the answer was yes, then I’d check to see who they were following. Before you could say, “following,” I found myself following 50 people.
Next I found myself checking out other professionals and the media. I started following professional bloggers for their tips on blogging, I added Publishers Weekly to the list, and the Wall Street Journal.
I was now following 100 people and media sites. I quickly learned that everyone who followed me wasn’t doing so because they found my 140-character Tweets enlightening or even interesting. No, they were following me to add to their follower-count. The courteous thing to do, I learned, when someone follows you, you are supposed to follow them as well. It turns out that those who just want to add you as a statistic are the ones with thousands of followers and are following thousands of people. It was apparent from the 100 people I was following that keeping up with them was time consuming. There isn’t any way, I don’t think, that anyone can follow thousands of tweets never mind millions. You have to know that Ellen DeGeneris is not reading every tweet from the 5 million people following her.
There are many tricks of the Twitter trade to be learned, like using hash tags, i.e., #amwriting, or creating lists to make following certain categories, like agents or authors, easier.
Twitter, as it turns out, is a great place to learn about the art of writing, what agents really want, and what established writers do as well as authors aspiring to be published are doing.
If you are an author and you haven’t joined Twitter, give it a try. You might be surprised at what you find. Be forewarned, however, it is addictive. And it can be time consuming.