By Patricia Stoltey aka @PStoltey
Geesh! I can already hear the groans.
You hate social media.
You can’t stand the thought of adding one more site to your daily list of “must” visits.
And you would prefer to bury your head in the sand and make this whole business of marketing, networking, and engaging go away, especially if it involves blogging, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, PInterest…..and Twitter.
Last month I posted about the benefits of blogging for authors in “To Blog or Not to Blog? Good Question.”
This month I want to urge you to try out Twitter, if you haven’t already done so. This is my Twitter banner. Isn't it pretty?
Lots of authors and readers and agents and editors hang out on Twitter.
If you have a blog, Twitter is a great place to link to your blog posts, especially when you’re promoting your guest authors. It’s also the perfect place for you to spot the blog posts you’ll want to read (especially literary agents' blogs).
There are only 140 characters in a tweet, so long rants require more work.
Facebook and Google+ allow the user way too much space to post long, drawn-out updates you don’t have time to read.
Unfortunately, a few less-than-savvy authors use their 140 characters on Twitter to say “Buy My Book” over and over and over. I promise you, this does not sell books. And....you can ditch them from your lists.
Photos can be attached to a tweet (think book covers and more).
This is where Twitter starts to get interesting. A member of my critique group just had a new horror novel released, and he explained his Twitter philosophy recently on my blog. One of the ways he helped promote his book was to create colorful and creepy flyers that he could post on social media accounts along with a link to a buy page. Because he has built a huge network of Twitter friends, he can post one flyer one time and watch the information get rapidly sent around the world. A lot of those folks in his network are horror writers with a fan following. You can read his full post here: Creating a Twitter Book Promotion Campaign.
Photos are a relatively new feature for Twitter and a successful one. If you establish a pattern of posting certain types of photos (haunted houses, Provence, cute kittens) related to your books, it helps reach an interested audience.
You can build lists that limit what you see to exactly the people you choose.
Although I need to do some fine tuning with my lists, I built one for Colorado authors, another for blogger friends, and one for literary agents.
I can follow someone else’s public list, and others can follow mine.
I can make a list that groups political and/or news accounts together so I can look them when something big is going on in the world, but I don’t need to follow the accounts and see them in my Twitter feed every day…that would be way too annoying.
There’s a way to build a series of tweets on the same topic.
The hashtag-plus-topic-title groups tweets together so a reader can select that particular heading and see all related tweets in one place. Writers often post messages under the hashtag #amwriting. I use #RMFWBlog when I post the links to our blog posts. #Bookgiveaway announces an opportunity to enter a contest.
Our own Susan Spann, author and attorney, uses the hashtag #PubLaw for her Wednesday series on legal issues for authors. Those of you who are on Twitter can type #PubLaw into the search box and you'll be able to see all those tips together in one place.
Finally, Twitter is another wonderful way to make new friends.
Take the time occasionally to engage others by responding to their comments or questions. Throw out the occasional silly tweet or fun question and see who responds.
Even though a lot of people like to make fun of those who post updates or tweet about food or the weather or what their crazy cat did today, you’ll find those are the little things that say, Here’s a real person and he/she wants to connect with other real people.
This tweet got me some attention recently: “I scroll Twitter and Facebook and see books I want to read, then look at the books all over my house, then buy another one anyway. #books”
So come on. Give me your best 140 characters (or less).