Saturday, June 19, 2010

Joining the 21st Century

If you are a writer, I'm curious about what you think about Twitter. I'm being encouraged to start tweeting and it seems overwhelming. About a year ago, Lisa Schroeder spoke at our local SCBWI meeting. She felt her latest book, Chasing Brooklyn, had been given a huge leg up in its launch all due to her Twitter friends and fans. Another writer I know felt she got a plum speaking engagement because of her Twitter connections and visibility.

Mitali Perkins has a great blog post about getting started; the key point I heard from her and from some other savvy social networkers is that it's important to "follow" other folks on Twitter. But I worry -- is it one more time suck away from writing? (Okay, okay. I already know the answer to that question. So I should ask, do the pros of tweeting outweigh the cons?) And I know it is possible to tweet without being a follower - that's what Nancy Pearl does. . . but then she's Nancy Pearl!

I need some help here. What do y'all think about this? If you are tweeting, what do you think it's doing for your writing career? If not, why have you chosen not to?

And can a novelist find true happiness 140 characters at a time?

7 comments:

  1. Kirby - I absolutely love twitter, and here's why. The ability to meet and converse with new people all over the world is huge. Yes, the publishing industry is quite well-represented on twitter, but so are cat lovers, news junkies, horseracing fan, music and hiking people, and any other number of different interests a person might have or develop. Also, unlike facebook, following or unfollowing people is done a little more casually, and that invites curiousity about what a person might have to say. There are many ways to use twitter besides self-promotion, but I think it is a great way to make connections and believe me, trying to put what you have to say in 140 characters is a great excercise in writing tight. Yes, it's addictive and a bit of a time drain, but you just have to get a handle on how much you use it. Twitter does seem overwhelming to learn at first, but jump on there and post, and people will reach out and help you. Hope to see you there! @LinBenson

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  2. I'm doing it a little...a very little. And I find it overwhelming. I tried participating in the Tuesday night #kidlitchat, and it seemed so much noise and not much substance. But maybe I'm missing something? Blogging and Facebook seem better vehicles for communication. Interested to see what others have to say.

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  3. Kirby,

    So...I just sold a book on Twitter today. Just by having a fun conversation with someone who had heard of it & while we were talking went off to buy it. But...

    This is a book for adult writers. I'm not published yet with my kids/teen fiction & I have no idea how/if Twitter reaches that audience. Also, the main reason I'm on Twitter (as opposed to Facebook, which I think has a very different feel)is that a lot of agents/editors are on Twitter discussing the industry, what they're looking for, etc. This is still a biggie for me, but may not matter so much to you, since you're further along the writing-career path.

    I've also "met" a few people on Twitter who I have fun catching up with. But, honestly, if I hadn't stepped in and met them & if it weren't for the publishing professionals being out here, I might just stick with Facebook. I know there are writers who prefer Twitter--to me, it has an "edgier" feel to it--faster back & forth, maybe "hipper" conversations (which are not really my speed), things like that. Facebook feels warmer, friendlier, and easier to me.

    The biggest difference, in terms of use, I think is that on Facebook, when people comment on a status update, you can see all the comments together, hooked into that original post. This is not true with Twitter--you kind of have to jump around a lot to follow who's saying what to whom.

    My two cents!

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  4. Kirby, I was somewhat reluctant to dive into Twitter. Yet another social network? But it's quickly become my favorite. Writing a tight tweet is challenge in a good way. I can ask a question and get multiple answers quickly. The chats are fun. And I'm also more inclined to give a brief shout out about happy news than if I had to craft a whole blog post about it and feel less self-conscious in doing so.

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  5. I don't know, Kirby. So far I've avoided tweeting, too--because of the time suck concern. My Goddess Girls co-author, Joan Holub, tweets, however. I find it difficult enough just to blog once a week. I have to say, though, my editor thinks the blog tour Joan and I did when the first two books of our series released in April helped sales. I guess you just do what you can, what seems reasonable, and what allows you to still have the time you need for "real" writing, and for doing the other things that makes life worth living!

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  6. Wow, thank you everyone for the feedback so far! Not sure what I'll choose to do personally, but I really appreciate all of these different perspectives.

    Selling a book via Twitter seems PW worthy -- hope you submitted that,Becky!

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  7. For me, twitter is a time saver because I can go to one spot and get the day's industry news at a glance. I don't have to hunt for information that others are naturally plugged into. If I want all the latest on ALA, for example, I can find it--and it's not long winded.

    You may not need this, but I do. More than that, I enjoy it. And that's my first rule of thumb for everything. Whatever I do is for the joy of it, not in order to get something in return.

    My guess is you don't want another thing to have to do. If you think that not joining twitter makes you "out of it" let it go. Technology is a treadmill. In a blink, we're all out of it.

    Whatever vehicle you choose--blogging, facebook, twitter, real life interaction--do what gives you energy. Just be you. That's the best career move, and it hasn't failed you yet!

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