A few months back, I blogged here on Writer Unboxed about my ambivalence toward Twitter, and I promised an update as I debated whether or not to stick with it…and so, today, I thought it would be a good time to talk about why I’m a Twitter convert.
Let me back up a little bit and say this: as writers, our job requires that we write. Obviously. But what I think a lot of people forget is that our job also requires that we sell ourselves. (Not, um, in the prostitution sense, but in the marketing sense.) Too many writers forget that. You can write the best book in the world and if no one has heard of it (or you), it’s not going to make one dang difference. This isn’t the sexy side of writing; it’s not the “I’m an artist” side of writing, but guess what? You don’t have a choice. There are too many books published these days, there are too many authors fighting for co-op and review space, and readers’ limited attention spans and budgets. It’s not a question of if you need to market yourself, it’s a question of how.
And thus, that leads me into Twitter. As you know, I was skeptical. It seemed like a narcissistic, self-involved activity – posting updates of my daily routine, of whatever fleeting thoughts were flying through my brain. But, I admit that I was wrong. Twitter, in my opinion, can be a pretty powerful tool to get people interested not just in your books, but in YOU, and again, in this competitive market, that only serves as a benefit. Right now, I have 900+ followers. Here are 900 people who might not have heard of me before I signed up, 900 people who might retweet (Twitter speak for “forward”) something on my behalf, 900 people with whom I can engage in a conversation, finding a mutual interest or common ground or shared love of a TV show that makes me (and vice versa, of course, as I’m always game to find others who share my love of The Bachelorette, etc) a little more interesting to a potential reader, and thus, make them a little more likely to pick up one of my books. There’s a reason, after all, that we love those gossip magazine features, “Stars, they’re just like us!” Which isn’t to say that I’m a star, but is to say that anything you can do to make readers feel a personal connection with you is a plus. (And I don’t mean to imply that my time on Twitter is simply a strategic move to get readers to like me. I enjoy the hell out of it, and I enjoy the hell out of the conversations I have with total strangers. Weird, I know.)
A few random Twitter tips/thoughts that are strictly my opinion: 1) there is such a thing as tweeting too much. I admit to finding it a little annoying when someone tweets 100 times a day about every little thing and takes up my entire column in Tweetdeck. 2) Try to add in a little personal stuff now and then. If you only tweet about your blog over and over again, for example, I think followers might feel like it’s too self-promotional. 3) Don’t be afraid to follow strangers. I’m fairly selective in whom I follow, only because I don’t know how to manage following 900 people and still read the tweets I want to read, but of those whom I follow, I actually don’t know quite a few of them. If they tweet about something I find interesting or if I read their profile and it makes me laugh, I click the “follow” button asap. 4) Don’t forget that Twitter is an awesome way to meet other writers. I love retweeting other authors’ horn toots, and they do the same for me. You can’t underestimate this sort of viral networking (and the great camaraderie).
So the question becomes, why aren’t you on Twitter? For me, a few months ago, it was because I thought it was simply a stupid time-suck. I stand corrected. It’s in fact a genius way to get to know people whom you’d otherwise never get to know. If you want to join, you’ll find me @aswinn.
Allison Winn Scotch
New York Times bestselling author
Time of My Life (Random House)