It’s hard for some writers to express a thought in 140 characters, but in today’s world of Pinterest, Facebook, and blogging it’s necessary. As The New York Times recently noted, “With the digital age comes new conceptions of authorship.” This is especially true for authors who don’t have the marketing muscle of a publishing house at their disposal.
Not everyone has been quick to jump into the “Twittersphere.” Explains author Lucas Klauss, “I was — like a lot of writers, I imagine — initially pretty suspicious of Twitter and its supposed benefits. I thought it would end up being just a big time-suck. And sometimes it is! But I’ve been happily surprised at how fun it can be.”
He used the social media platform to promote his book trailer (more on these at a later date). “By far most of the views I got were from Twitter — people retweeting it and saying they thought it was funny. And it connected me to other authors I hadn’t yet met.”
Wanting to be on Twitter and actually getting the mojo to join and keep on top of it are very different. It can also be intimidating and, take it from me, just plain weird at first.
Don’t let it be.
Remember how you tackled the blank page and completed a book? Well, trust me, Twitter has nothing on that. However before you start crying from the Twitterverse’s rooftops, remember the following:
Define your online persona: Being on Twitter means others will come to “know” you so think about which part(s) of yourself you want to put out there. What interests and hobbies will you promote? Your writing and reading, sure, but maybe you also love old Nintendo games, tulips, or your Subaru? Whatever it is take note and once you join, seek out similar folks with whom you’ll want to have a dialog.
Contribute to the conversation: Someone you follow is looking for a book recommendation? Answer him or her. Another person posts a link to a blog post you loved? Say so. The point of Twitter is not to tirelessly promote your own work but build your own community of online “tweeps” who will answer your questions and hopefully support you
Stay committed: The most popular people on Twitter tend to update their feeds often so plan on tweeting at least twice a day. If you’re worried about making such a big commitment, strategize. Keep a running log of future tweets as far out as you can handle. This can help reduce the pressure to always be by your phone or computer
Cross-pollinate: I’m not normally a big fan of corporate buzz words, but in this case it makes sense. Basically, you want to make sure that all of your various social media platforms are interconnected, meaning that your Twitter profile points to your blog and vice versa. This helps people become aware of your entire body of work. Thankfully, this linking process isn’t usually very difficult!
Be patient: Building followers takes time. It’s unlikely you’ll acquire 5,000 followers overnight but that’s okay. You want quality — as in people with similar interests who you can have a dialog with — over quantity.
Check out next week’s column for tips on using the hashtag (see below), the difference between replying and retweeting, as well as a whole host of general do’s and don’ts!