|Image: alexbruda at sxc.hu|
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!