Titter is my new Crackberry. Is there a support group out there for me? And if so, am I supposed to give my confession in 140 characters or less?
You think I'm kidding, right?
Seriously, I blame my agent (the indubitable Holly Root). If she hadn't mentioned she was on it, I would have skipped that plank on the Bridge into the 21st Century. (Isn't that the new slogan for the GGB? If it ain't, should be. Note to Gavin: Use it in your campaign stump speech...)
Writers as social networkers: an oxymoron, if you consider that the majority of us adhere to the "genius in the attic" theory.
Then again, if you wanna write, ya gotta sell, which means promotion on all fronts is A MUST.
It's the way we live now.
Your website: a given. Your blog: a necessary evil--and a daily gaunlet for those of us who measure by how many thought-provoking paragraphs we craft, be it in a novel, article or a blog piece.
For word crafters, Twitter is the poison of choice. After all, you certainly can't go wrong in 140 characters or less. Of course, that creates a cunundrum for some writers; like, say, those who tend to be a bit verbose (I'm looking in a mirror here). But it's also trains you to make your point as succinctly as possible.
As for the other social networking micro communities: personally, I found MySpace abominable; hard to manuver, pain to post, skews too young for my ideal demo anyway. LinkedIn: fuggedaboutit. Reminds me of my corporate networking daze. For a biz-to-biz non-fiction how-to, I'd be all over it. But not to promote my novels.
Facebook is somewhat better, but in my own life, Twitter seems to be the the easiest to use, and to find those of like mind. (Although now that Facebook has added a Twitter widget, it makes life easier to post to both at the same time. Yea!)
So why do I tweet?
Because most of the time I live in some fantasy place. Sure, my characters talk to me, but they seem to say what I want them to. (Go figure; wish that were true with the Hub and the kiddos.)
So yeah, every now and then need to reach out and touch someone real.
The more someones, the better.
Oh yeah, and give them a piece of my mind. And doing so in 140 characters fills that urge for me. Call it random acts of web graffiti.
So, how should you use Twitter? If you're looking to make a few new friends, and corral a few more readers who get your voice, here's what I suggest:
1. Do it daily. But NOT HOURLY. If you pop up too many times, your peeps will burn out.
2. Yes, look for friends. And yes, consider your reader. Then go hunt them down. It's easy. Use the search bar to (1) go through your own email accts (Twitter does this quickly for you); and then search within Twitter. If your genre is, say, MomLit, searching under the words "mom" or "mommy" will net you a lot of names. Invite most of who you see (you can actually go on and read their profiles, to make sure they match up to your ideal reader). Also, look at who is following them, and invite a few of those as well. If you do a few names each day, eventually these peeps will check you out as well, and perhaps love what they read...
3. Which takes me to "message:" You are what you write. Seriously, if what you write about is the cornflake stuck between your teeth (in 140 characters, remember!) I don't know how long anyone will follow you. However, if you can (a) enlighten (b) provoke (c) inform or (d) make them laugh--of for that matter, make them cry in just a few words--
You may actually build a following.
Twitter was made for Ernest Hemingway. Every writer knows the one about his most famous short story: a bet he answered in 6 words:
For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.
See what I mean? Thirty-three characters. Talk about short and bittersweet...
PS: Catch me here, on TWITTER: http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA