If you’re an author, you should be on Twitter. If you don’t know what Twitter is, it’s time to learn.
You’ve probably at least heard of it by now — the service has about 6 million users and is growing every day — but maybe you haven’t taken the plunge. You’re not sure what it’s all about or aren’t convinced of its benefits.
If that’s the case, make it a goal in 2009 to get started. Twitter is a micro-blogging tool. You get 140 characters to answer the question, What are you doing?
People share news about what they’re working on, what they’re learning, conferences they’re attending, people they’re meeting, books they’re reading, food they’re eating. OK, that last one isn’t really all that important, though people do tweet about it. People tweet about anything and everything under the sun.
Why Should You Care?
- Twitter is an amazing way to meet people and participate in conversations on an endless array of topics. You can start to “follow” people in the publishing industry, as well as potential readers, and begin building relationships with them. I’m active in several social networking venues but the people I meet in Twitter are usually people I have not, or could not, meet anywhere else.
- You’ll see an endless stream of as-it-happens news, be led to wonderful websites and blogs, get sneak peeks of products and content in development, and hear what people think about what’s going on in the world.
- You can tweet about new blog posts you’ve written, upcoming book signings, or your latest podcast. You can tweet about the chapter you just wrote, or the free download you just made available.
- You can ask questions and instantly get responses. The Twitterverse is a friendly place and people like to help and share their opinions.
These benefits only scratch the surface of what Twitter can do. You’ll need to try it to get a sense of just how powerful it can be.
Here are some basic pointers to get you oriented:
- Everyone has a Twitter handle. The protocol is to refer to people as @TwitterHandle. For example, my Twitter handle is jennifertribe so I am referred to as @jennifertribe.
- You can talk to other Twitter users by starting your tweet with their Twitter handle. If you tweeted @jennifertribe Wow, Twitter is cool! I would see that message in my Twitter stream. It becomes part of the public conversation so others can view it too.
- You can send private messages to other Twitter users. These are referred to as DMs (Direct Messages). To send a DM, you start your tweet with d TwitterHandle.
- Linking to websites you’d like to share can eat up valuable characters, especially when the URLs are long. So use a URL shortener such as TinyUrl.com or is.gd
- It’s considered good form to pass along interesting news from other tweeple (people on Twitter) instead of just talking about yourself all the time. RT is the Twitter shortform that means “retweet” or “retweeting”. It indicates that you are re-stating someone else’s tweet. Always give credit to the person you are retweeting. For example, here’s a tweet I made a few days ago:
RT @booksin140 Hotel turns forgotten books into library for guests. Surely more hotels do this? http://tinyurl.com/67gmyb
It tells people that @booksin140 made the tweet first and I am passing it along.
@jennifertribe’s Recent Publishing Tweets
Here is a selection of my tweets from the last couple of weeks. In addition to showing you some sample Twitter content, there is lots of good publishing-related information contained in all the links. You can follow me on Twitter to receive information like this as I post it.
Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan (yes, THAT Algonquin) offers guests loan of Kindle device and free e-book with each stay http://is.gd/ckoN about 2 hours ago from web
Facebook group to support Pages bookstore: http://is.gd/c3sa. See letter from city councillor in discussion area. 7:59 PM Dec 16th from web
Why am I just learning about this? Pages bookstore in TO is in trouble. Rent is doubling: http://is.gd/c3qx 7:57 PM Dec 16th from web
RT @booksin140 RT @mdash A look at literary agents in Canada, from the National Post: http://is.gd/bFkx 11:07 AM Dec 16th from web
RT @booksin140 Hotel turns forgotten books into library for guests. Surely more hotels do this? http://tinyurl.com/67gmyb 11:01 AM Dec 16th from web
RT @CanMediaLayoffs Canadian magazine industry is optimistic on weathering tough economic times. http://bit.ly/8188 10:29 AM Dec 16th from web
I’m loving this idea of curated subscription http://is.gd/ba9A 10:02 AM Dec 11th from web
If you haven’t bought your Amazon Kindle yet, you’re out of luck until Feb. (Say what? Not re-stocking for holiday sales?) http://is.gd/aTUL 4:56 PM Dec 9th from web
RT @sarahw Improvement in Canada’s book publishing climate http://is.gd/aQel 9:39 AM Dec 9th from web
RT @booksquare post with great comments about ebook prices. Publishing people, note how real customers think: http://snurl.com/7nwtz 3:44 PM Dec 8th from web
McMaster U in little ol’ Hamilton, ON has a POD Espresso Book Machine — one of only 9 in the world. Who knew? http://is.gd/a5Ur 3:12 PM Dec 3rd from web
9 cool gifts for authors and self-publishers: http://is.gd/a5wi 2:27 PM Dec 3rd from web