06 August, 2012

Do I Need to Become a Twit?

Image: alexbruda at sxc.hu
I've been thinking about Twitter. I've never seen the need for it in my personal life - I don't wish to know what celebrities had for breakfast, I find out what's going on in the world through the BBC and what's going on with my friends and family through the real world and Facebook. However, I am beginning to wonder whether I need to engage with Twitter professionally.

It seems to me as if Twitter is the place to be for the latest news in the world of books, writing and publishing. Editors and agents that seem remote and scary people when your only contact with them is the submission-rejection cycle, must (I imagine) seem more approachable via their Twitter account. I am sure that it's becoming a place where connections are made and, as with all industries, who you know can make all the difference.

My only brushes with Twitter so far are the excited e-mails from the editor of an online magazine telling me that I'd been "re-tweeted" several times in the first hour after my first article was published (sounded lethal to me, but I felt fine), and through my friend Joe. Joe was the first person I knew with a Twitter account, so I looked at it a few times to see what the fuss was about. Due to the idiosyncracies of Firefox auto-complete, that meant I could reach his twitter account by typing 'Twit' into the address bar and hitting return. It amused me. Not sure about Joe.

I know Twitter can't be purely professional. By which I mean, I couldn't use it just to promote my own work, I'd need to actually talk to people and build relationships - although those relationships can of course be professional! But, do you think Twitter is a valuable tool for new writers - ones who haven't got a writing career already sorted and an address book full of contacts? Or is it just another distraction? I'm a firm believer that the two most important things for a writer to spend their time on are writing and reading! The rest needs to be prioritised accordingly.

I'm not desperate to get on Twitter, but I am aware that the way the writing world worked 50, 20, or even five years ago was very different in some ways to how it works now. And I don't want to be left behind. People tell me that they got on just fine without Twitter in their youth, but that's pretty much irrelevant now. It's not a matter of what I'd like the world to be like (stuck somewhere in the 1930s, if you're interested), but what it actually is like. The thought of joining Twitter with it's long-establisehd etiquette and completely new vocabulary scares me, but do I need to get over that? If I'm going to do it, I need to do it properly - therefore, any advice you have to offer (whether you are a Twit... OK... Tweeter, or not) would be gratefully received!

13 comments:

  1. Morning Chloe, here's my two penn'orth:
    Pros
    1. Limited characters, so people get to the point / are witty.
    2. Even famous peeps (tweeps) seem approachable.
    3. Lively and rapid interaction.
    Cons
    1. Relentless competition to sell goods. Like a farmer's market with megaphones.
    2. Today's new follower can be tomorrow's relentless marketeer. Someone asked me to review their book although they didn't need me to read it!
    3. Espresso conversations.

    All that said, I recommend it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do sort of wonder whether I'd just be coming in on the tail-end of a fad and find that Twitter has become some over-blown system of advertising.

      I think you could have had a lot of fun reviewing a book you'd never read...

      Please tell me tweeps is not a word.

      Delete
    2. It is - http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tweeps - but it's not mandatory. I think twitter is like any other form of Social Media. Try it, assess it and either stay or jog on!

      Delete
  2. I'm not a Twit (haha) myself, but I have heard so many writers saying that it is a valuable tool, not only for marketing, but for networking as well. I think if you have the time for it (and the self control to not get too immersed in all that tweeting), then it sounds like it could be valuable. As you say, there are many publishers and agents who use it, and it could well be a more friendly approach than just the submission-rejection cycle.
    Nari X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anything more than the submission-rejection cycle would be a bonus!

      Delete
  3. I finally gave in and joined this winter. I was a doubter too. Now I love it.

    Bad:

    Yes, you have to watch your time, because it's addicting. Especially at first.

    Yes, as you get more people on your list, you see more crap. And some people you want to shut off, but you can't because you have some kind of connection to them, but they're filling up your Twitter feed with junk so you're stuck.

    Good for:

    I find out about contests and giveaways, that I probably wouldn't had seen because I didn't follow that blog. But some writer friend retweeted it and I got there.

    Agents. Good tips from them on what they're looking for and what they hate. I notice a lot of people who talk to agents. Doesn't mean they're gonna represent you because you correspond with them, but they might bump your query up in the to-read list if they recognize the name and remember you. Who knows.

    A lot of laughs.

    Eventually someone will follow you and you go check them out and find they have a blog you're interested in. If not, don't follow back.

    Things like #askagent, where agents will get on Twitter and answer questions. #query and so many others offering query tips, sometimes agents, sometimes just others. And many more.

    And you DON'T have to tweet. You can just follow until you're ready.

    That's my take. So I'd say, go for it. It's been beneficial for me so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzi. That's really helpful. I might sign up and lurk for a bit to see what I think!

      Delete
  4. I only took the plunge at the beginning of this year and almost immediately realised I greatly preferred it to Facebook. I think the main difference is that I use it exclusively in relation to writing. I might mention the day job in passing, but I’m not there as an engineer who writes, I’m there as a writer who tweets. I follow other writers rather than celebrities, and writers (and hopefully readers) follow me. I have sold a few copies of my book to people who found me through Twitter (I try to minimise the amount of “hard” marketing I do, and shifting copies is not my real focus), and probably got a few extra reads for published stories and blog posts. It works well as a signpost – I’ve heard about plenty of writing competitions and markets that I probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I bought a book yesterday, in fact, that was recommended to me by a Twitter-friend, based on her perception of my tastes and sense of humour. It’ll be interesting to see whether it’s any good.

    I’d say it definitely isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, essential for a up-and-coming writer to be on there. It can hog your time if you let it, but you are in control – if you don’t follow many people your tweet feed won’t have much in it. You might develop a sort of anxiety about whether you’re missing something spectacular, but the key thing is to just accept it as transient and dip in and out without worrying too much about what happened while you were away.

    One thing I would say though is that if I couldn’t access it on my phone, I don’t think I’d be on there half as often as I am. I’m really not keen on the basic internet version and can’t be bothered to look into Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or any of the others. The Android app works fine, and – to my mind at least – really suits the quick-fire nature of Twitter exchanges.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's useful, thanks. I don't have a phone so I wonder if I'd use it less. But then, I don't travel much as I work from home. If it's not essential, I'll mull it over for a bit longer and maybe have a dabble to see whether I'm likely to get addicted!

      Delete
  5. I'm on Twitter, but I'm not on there every hour every day. I browse and stuff. But it is one of the fastest ways to get breaking news out. The speed is really incredible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jay, thanks for stopping by! It's good to hear how different people use Twitter differently. I don't feel like I'm the only one not in on some great secret any more!

      Delete
  6. I'm on Twitter but am only active when I want to be. I prefer it to Facebook (which I am no longer on!) as it is more of a conversation than a promotion of people's daily life. I also don't feel the need to catch up and read everything in the stream. My sister calls it the busy cocktail party where you can step in and out of the room as you please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that analogy - though as someone who's clausterphobic and a little sociopathic, a cocktail party would scare me. But a cocktail party I can leave at any point, sounds great!

      Delete