No two authory experiences of anything are ever exactly the same, so I'm going to give you my own slightly more eccentric brand of Twitter wisdom anyway. Variety is the spice of life and all that, Lovely Readers.
So here's me answering 8 of your Really Important Random Questions about Twitter
(Yes. I know I'm interviewing myself. It's fun. You should try it sometime. No. I am not delusional. Whatever made you think that?)
- Why did you start tweeting? I'll be honest. It was an idle moment. I was bored. This Twitter thing was starting to be talked about a lot (though far less than it is now--I joined up 18 months ago), so I thought I'd give it a go. I shut my eyes, held my breath and plunged in with both left feet. There was no Grand Authory Plan to Take Over the World via Tweets then. I'd like to make that clear at the start. (There is now, of course. And no. I'm still not delusional. Mwahahaha!)
- How did that work out, then? Confusing at first, but I soon got the hang of it by just doing it. Thing is, loads of writers are not very techy and are quite scared of the big bad internet infecting them with Something Nasty, or crashing their computers and eating the manuscript which has taken them 10 years to write. I'm not very techy either, but I am quite willing to experiment and give things a go. I've talked about the importance of firewalls and backing up in Writing 101 Production Part 4 and I know that if things do go pear-shaped, I have done all I can to cover my (fairly ample) behind. I have to say I found things a lot easier once I'd discovered TweetDeck, and could organise TwitStuff how I wanted it.
- Hunh? TwitStuff? What are you on about? Well, I found it hard to keep up with all the tweets for a start, once I'd started following people, not to mention the @ mentions and my own new followers. Don't be under any illusions. Twitter is a continuous cascade of information. Something every second. So getting organised was pretty important, otherwise I would have drowned. TweetDeck allows you to make nifty little columns which you can name as public (everyone can see) or private (only you know they exist) lists and 'drag' people into (kicking and screaming if necessary). I have, forinstance, a private 'bookies' column where I can skim through all the book tweets, another for 'friends'--and others for 'vampires' and 'mad tweeters'. The latter are a source of much amusement to me, and include a lewd nun and several very eccentric wordsmiths. I can also keep track of hashtags in their own columns too (#SpeakLoudly let me watch all the tweets around this fantastic campaign without having to follow everyone who joined in).
- Talking of #hashtags and all that...explain--and what about those double asterisky things? Now look, I told you. Nicola Morgan explains all this techy Twitstuff in a fine and brisk manner. There's a whole post from her on hashtags and other fascinating Twittery bits, so go and look. All I will add on the hashtag subject is that I like making up silly ones to enhance my tweets. Such as #notwritingbecauseampissingaboutontwitter. As for the asterisky things, well, I might tweet something like "I don't understand this whole Twitter business *confused*" It's a way of indicating mood or state of mind--like an emoticon (please tell me you know what an emoticon is? PLEEEASE?).
- So--what have you got out of it? It's a strange creature, Twitter. I like it more and more. I have fast and frantic conversations on it with actual-friends-I've-met and also with tweeters who I've never met, but who are soon bona-fide Twitter friends. I jump into other people's conversations without a qualm (even quite famous people's conversations)--something I would never do in real life because I would consider it rude (and anyway, it would be hard for me to butt into a conversation that was taking place in America. I'm versatile--but not that versatile!). I learn crucial bookish news via links and tweets from others. I share my own book and blog news (but never as a hard sell--that's fatal, see below) and stuff I find interesting (might be a blog, or a book I've loved, or a fascinating piece of useless information, or a review). I've done some successful #bookgiveaways and competitions. I chat to booksellers, librarians, parents, industry pros, agents, publishers and lots more, including a load of delightfully bloodthirsty vampires and one extremely baaad faery boy, @sethmacgregor if you're interested--but hands off, he's MINE! I find it's a fantastically rich community which gives me more important information, quicker, than any of the other social media.
- Does it sell books, though? Well, do blogging or Facebook fan pages or author websites sell books? It's all a bit unquantifiable. I have indubitably (one of my favourite words btw) sold some of my books via Twitter, because people have told me they've bought them--all the way from Australia in one case. But Twitter is NOT about hard sell--if there's one thing you take away from this piece it should be that. If you are trumpet-blowingly shouty and me me me, wonderful me buy my fabulous book all the time, it will put people off in droves. I'm even doubtful about the value of tweeting your own blogpost links more than a couple of times, to be honest. I think that if you can get people to like you by being interesting/funny/interested in others, then by definition if you mention that you have a new book out, then some are likely to be more prone to buying it. But for me the value of Twitter is more about building up relationships with nice people who like children's books than in hard selling.
- Do you follow everyone who follows you? And if not, then why? I don't follow absolutely everyone who follows me, no. But if someone bothers to have a conversation with me, or RT's one of my posts, or engages with me, then I am much more likely to follow them back. I also thank people for RTing and mentioning me in #FF (Follow Friday) or #WW (Writer Wednesday). I'm all about the good Twitter manners, me. I do delete and block obvious spammers and pornofollowers and 'bots. Except the Custard Cream bot, obviously.
- Finally and most importantly, do you spend too much time on Twitter? That's debatable. If you believe that author platforms are important, as I do, then no (I tweet in short 2-15 minute bursts through the day, if I have time or during a coffee break). According to my family, yes. I leave you therefore with the graffiti Lovely Daughter affixed to my computer yesterday. Chip off the old block, eh? (So proud!) Now back to the 'super keyboard of might' for some more attack tweeting. Bye for now, Lovely Blog Readers--and if you pluck up the courage to join Twitter, do come and say hello to @lucycoats!
You can find all my other eccentric and useful Writing 101 Productions right HERE