Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Twooth about Twitter - Part 1

This is the handout I provided when I spoke to the local Romance Writers Association two weeks ago. I’ve divided the presentation into three parts to run consecutively on September 28, 29, and 30.

What’s All the Fuss? I Don’t Get Twitter

I’ve heard the above statement dozens of times. It is hard to easily explain the fascination that Twitter holds. Twitter is a social media tool that every writer needs because we all need to market ourselves these days (well, maybe not if you’re one of the Stephen Kings of the world, but the rest of us do). Twitter is one way of getting a following, staying in touch with them, and keeping your name alive. Twitter can be one more gun in your arsenal of ways to promote yourself and your books. If you aren’t Twittering, you are ignoring a valuable source of information about the publishing world and missing a valuable way of finding out what agents/editors are really looking for straight from the agents/editors themselves.

Twitter isn’t easy. You have to work at it. You have to be a consistent presence on Twitter. But once you start, I’m sure you’ll find it an interesting place.

Why Use Twitter?

  1. There are a ton of agents, editors, and publishers on Twitter. Your favorite author is probably on Twitter to say nothing of your favorite athlete (i.e. the Williams sisters are both Tweeting).
  2. Twitter is one way to brand yourself. Coupled with your blog and website, Twitter will help define who you are.
  3. Twitter helps your writing. By being limited to 140 characters (not words, characters), you learn to write succinctly and delete non-essential words (you know those pesky words such as “just”).
  4. Twitter is no longer used as someone’s diary (well, it probably is, but not by the people we’re interested in). When I first joined Twitter a few years back it was all about “I just got up” followed a few minutes later by “I just took a shower.” Those Tweets are boring to everyone but the person sending them.
  5. If you are not yet published, now is a great time to join Twitter. It gets your name out there. You’ll be able to connect with other writers in your genre and sub-genre, with agents handling your genre, and with publishers publishing your genre. When it comes time to submit your query to agents, you’ll know exactly what the agent is looking for. When your book is published, you’ll already have thousands of people you follow or who are following you and therefore, have thousands of potential buyers of your books.

How to Get Started Using Twitter

  1. Go to www.twiter.com and set up an account. I would suggest that you not use the same Twitter account for your communications with family and friends. Reserve one Twitter account for your writing persona.
    1. Be sure to add a photo of yourself or use an avatar (check out http://tinyurl.com/2398odv for an avatar) or a favorite photo of something pretty. This will be something you will consistently use where ever you go online.
    2. Use a short biographical statement, such as, I am a “Published author, reader, late bloomer, and addicted to chocolate.”
  2. Choose some people you want to follow. Once you follow them, you’ll be able to see everything they tweet.
    1. Some agents you might want to follow are Janet Reid , Irene Goodman, Nathan Bransford, Deidre Knight, to name but a very few. Search for your top tier agents to see if they tweet, if they do, follow them.
    2. Publishers you might be interested in are Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin, etc.
    3. Athletes like Billie Jean King, Albert Pujols,
    4. Authors like Jodi Picoult, Judy Blume, Carrie Fisher, Anne Rice
    5. Misc. querytracker.net, slushpilehell, queryshark
  3. After you are following a few people, look at who is following them, you might find someone else you’ll want to follow. Before you know it, you’ll have quite a few people to follow.
  4. Spend a week reading the tweets of the people you’re following. Notice how other people respond to them. Keep adding to your Following list.
  5. Start responding to tweets that you like. Try to avoid saying things like, “Me, too” or “awesome.” If you’re going respond to someone else’s tweet tell them why. And try to write a response like a writer, i.e. grammatically correct, spell checked, etc.
  6. Follow the links provided in tweets on topics that interest you. The agents on Twitter are especially helpful in giving the links to blogs they like or found interesting. If you go to someone’s blog, leave a comment behind. Again, do not say things like “I really like this. You’re awesome” on some agent’s blog. Instead, tell them why you found it interesting or helpful. Go to your favorite author’s blog and leave a comment.
  7. You’ll find your Followers list growing. Be patient. It will take time. The more you Tweet, the more likely you’ll gain followers.

HINT: If you need answers to questions about Twitter, try http://support.twitter.com/ which is the Twitter-based help system. Click on the link to Twitter Basics.

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