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I recently did a post about Twitter retweets. It was a fun post and I enjoyed writing it. Even more, I enjoyed reading the responses. One response in particular got me though:
Tonja – I just signed up. Mostly to see how I can make use of it some day, maybe. I was really put off by several agents and editors tweeting about their coffee, the weather, how they are late for whatever. I didn’t see how it could be particularly helpful for authors except to advertise yourself, but I’m not sure how your self-promotion would get through all the other stuff. I’m probably just not getting it.
This is probably the biggest problem for writers new to Twitter. “How is Twitter useful?”
Twitter, just like every social media network out there, is for communicating with other people. This is no different for writers who use Twitter. It isn’t just about mindless self-promotion (though some people still haven’t gotten that memo). It’s about connecting with people and expanding your community.
Start simple. Find people through the blogs you follow. Most people put a Follow Button on their blog to make it easy to find their profile. You now have a few people to follow and watch. Be a lurker for a while if you still can’t will yourself to say hello. This would be a good time to look around and see what Twitter has (hashtags, lists, etc).
From there, why not search for your favorite authors? You’ll find quite a few on Twitter and not only will you get information about their books, you will see their personalities=) After a few days, you will have followers as well, from your own blog and from others who see you following them (commonly referred to as a follow-back or auto-follow).
The next step I would suggest is joining in one of the hashtag memes. That is, those things that have a lot of twitter handles attached. Try #MentionMonday (#MM), #WriterWednesday (#WW), and #FollowFriday (#FF). The names are self-explanatory.
You see, there are a lot of writers out there. Writers who can help you on your journey. You can help them on theirs as well. Friends can be made just from the simple task of putting down 140 characters and interacting with people.
Twitter is useful in helping get word out about your book, but only so far as how well you connect with people. So go ahead and talk about the coffee you had that morning. Talk about the paper cut you got while editing your manuscript. When someone else says purple is their favorite color, tell them “Me too!!” (but only if purple really is your favorite color).
Twitter isn’t about selling books. It’s about connecting and interacting with others who share the same interest as you: Writing (or reading or spelunking). So get out there, start tweeting, and let go of any inhibitions about being yourself.