Opinion, Social Media, Writing

Tweet, tweet, twud!

I’ve been on Twitter for seven months now, and it’s time to question its value for me. I had hoped to use it as a business tool. Yes, I know Twitter is primarily a “social” tool, but I’m not built that way. It’s not that I’m unfriendly, I’m just socially awkward. The evidence supports that.

As of today, I have 116 followers. Some of you are laughing because you had that many followers before the end of your first week on Twitter. I could have amassed more, but I block anyone who isn’t a writer (published and unpublished), agent, editor, publisher, or associated somehow with the writing business—especially if their icon is a scantily-clad woman or I see the words internet marketing in their “bio.” And, of course, I could have a bigger following if I were famous, witty, or fascinating, but I’m none of those. Unfortunately, it seems a good percentage of my 116 tweeple appear to be mimes. Or should that be twimes?

After I post a new blog post, I tweet a link to it. But I also re-tweet links posted by others. I always respond to direct messages, and I remember to thank someone if they retweet mine or include me in a #FollowFriday post. Almost always, I follow back those that follow me. So, I think my Twitter etiquette is good.

What I’m not good at is small talk, though I’ve tried. I even dared to join the crowd and tweet my breakfast choice once. If there’s such a thing as whispering on Twitter—I do that. I simply lack the self-confidence (or wit) to speak loudly in the Twitter feed. Though I frequently respond to tweets that interest or amuse me, most times, I just observe the party … and partying is where Twitter excels.

But the business thing? Well, yes, I see links to many great writing blog posts, but I’m subscribed to most of those blogs, so the posts are in my reader anyway. And to be honest, reading all these “personal” tweets from agents and editors has begun to make me feel like a stalker. At first, being on Twitter seemed to increase my blog hits, but in the last couple months, few of my visitors have come via Twitter. (WordPress stats show Twitter as the referrer when someone clicks through.) Maybe that’s because of the holidays—though proportionately my other top referrers held their own. I even experimented a few times by not tweeting a link to my new post and still got my usual number of visitors.

In the future, after I’m published, I think Twitter may be a more valuable tool. I’m not pulling the plug on it yet, but I’m weighing the cost of time spent on it against the benefits received. So, if Twitter works for you as a writer, please tell me how.

Agent, Editor, Group, Publish, Writing

How’s Twitter working for you?

twitter birdI resisted Twitter for a long time. I voiced the usual criticism: “Why should I care what you had for lunch?” Then I started reading articles on why it was a great social networking tool for writers. So, I’ve been a Tweeter for about a month (as cassidylewis) and I follow several fellow writers (some big names) and agents, editors, and publishers.

Twitter is fairly user friendly; just join and follow a few people for a day or two and I think you’ll pick it up quickly. I use an app called Tweetdeck so I can follow my Twitter and Facebook accounts at the same time. You can spend all day following the Tweets, or just an hour or two when it’s convenient for you. You’ll catch the latest news, see links to great articles, websites, and blogs you might have otherwise missed, and if you’re like me …unagented … you can get to know a little about the agents you follow to learn which might be the best ones to query for your book. twitter logoOf course, along the way, you’ll see funny photos and humorous quips … and yes, you’ll occasionally find out what so-and-so had for lunch, or how hot, cold, rainy it is in someone’s hometown, but that’s just part of the fun.

I know a lot of you bloggers also Twitter, so my question to you is: Has Twitter use increased traffic to your blog? (And if you found this blog through Twitter, would you please leave a comment to let me know that?)

Author, Fiction, Novel, Publish, Writing

An old-school author

WD0809When I pulled my copy of Writer’s Digest from the mailbox yesterday, I was happy to see Anne Tyler smiling at me. In honor of her 18th novel due out in January, she granted the magazine a rare interview—but only by email. She’s an extremely private person, having not given a face to face interview since 1977. As the article states:

“Anne Tyler belongs to a disappearing generation of writers, those who came into their own in an era when it was more than enough to—well, to simply write.”

For new authors, such reclusiveness is unimaginable in today’s publishing world. Once you’ve written, edited, revised and polished your book, once you’ve signed with an agent, once your agent sells your book to a publisher—then you get to start another career. You have to market your book.

Of course, most authors have always done book signings and interviews, but in this digital age, you’re expected to also have a website, a blog, a Twitter account, do podcasts, blog tours, and anything else you can think of to promote your book. It’s up to you to write it and sell it.

All that activity, of course, does not excuse you from setting to work on your next book … and don’t think you can take three years to finish it. Authors are expected to be personalities … to entertain their fans. And if you’re not a writer, but you are a celebrity … hey, there’s probably a multi-million dollar advance check with your name already on it.

So, all you writers out there, is this self-promotion policy something you enjoy (if you’re published), look forward to (if you’re aspiring), or do you long for the days when writers could “simply write” and publishers publicized?