Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An author's thoughts on the value of Twitter

I know there are still a lot of people who don't get it. And many who don't want to go there because it seems like it could be a giant time suck.

I've been tweeting for a few months now, and thought I'd share my thoughts, as well as a very smart editor's thoughts, about how this social network is good for an author.

First of all, I should say that because I work a day job, I can't be on twitter and probably am not on twitter as much as most authors.

But the the great thing about twitter is you can pop on for a few minutes, reply to a few tweets, post something, and pop off. Later, I can go back and check if I had any replies to my tweet, and respond if I want to.

So why twitter?

I really think this is social networking at its best, if you use it correctly.

You can reach a whole bunch of people in a matter of seconds - to share good news, to point people to a blog post, to ask a question... The list is endless. And, if people see that you have something great going on, they will retweet your tweet (with a RT at the beginning, followed by what you tweeted), which means you have reached even MORE people.

Do some people use it like a giant chat room? Yes. Do you have to use it that way? No, not if you don't want to. Sometimes I get into a conversation with someone, and that's fun though. And there are scheduled chats that go on, like the weekly #kidlitchat that happens every Tuesday evening, I believe.

Author and Twitter Guru Mitali Perkins does this great thing called #bookbday. It's a tweet on a book's release that gives the title, the genre, the publisher, the author, and a link to somewhere that gives you info about the book and shows the cover.

People retweet these book birthday party posts like crazy, and you just never know who might click on the link and hear about your book for the first time.

I want to sum up this post with some words from the very wise editor Molly O'Neill, who answered some marketing questions over at Shelli's fabulous blog - Market My Words. If you haven't read the interview yet, it's AWESOME, and you should read it in its entirety.

I'm going to paraphrase here, because you should go and read the interview, but basically she said, by participating in social networking sites, WE ARE REMINDING PEOPLE WE EXIST. We are reinforcing the connection we established at some point, and this is how we build relationships.

Yes, writing a good book is the most important thing for an author. But it is so competitive out there, and I think whatever we can do to build relationships with librarians, booksellers, readers, other authors, etc. is very important. Twitter gives us an opportunity to connect with people, even if only for a few minutes a day.

I'm sure I've missed some other valuable reasons. Anything you'd add, twitter users???


  1. I think it's smart for authors to use the resources out there especially because our readers both expect it and enjoy it!

  2. "Reminding people we're out there" is hugely important. Twitter. Facebook. MySpace. Goodreads. There are others, of course, but I use those four regularly by posting simple updates, reminding them I'm here. All target different audiences, so it's good to know which does what.

  3. Well, you've about convinced me to tweet. I hear the birdies.
    While scrolling down your page, looking for your Twitter link, I noticed that this post seems to be No. 100 for 2009. So a milestone on 9/9/09, huh?

  4. Daisy - I agree!

    Ellen - Excellent point - knowing how to use each site to get the most benefits!

    Shelli - I'm SO glad!

    Tricia - Oops, should add my twitter address, huh? And 100 posts on this blog - cool! I've been over on Livejournal for a few years, but then I started cross posting here since not everyone likes LJ.

  5. I think it's a wonderful idea. I've found authors and books just by recommendations from other authors and bloggers who Tweet. I believe any medium that can be used to get word out isn't a bad thing at all!

  6. Hi :)
    I've discovered some great new authors and been introduced to more wonderful books and blogs via Twitter than anywhere at any time.
    As a reader, it is fantastic.
    The authors are my "celebs" and, best of all, they actually respond to their fans.
    Thanks for sharing.
    PS - Have you read Debbie Ohi's blog posts on Twitter? She's @inkyelbows and the tweet was this: Twitter Guide For Writers: Part 1 | Part 2

  7. Twitter is an amazing way for fans to hear more from their favorite authors, and I'm SO disappointed when I can't follow an author I love. I used to have such a hard time remembering to check for my favorite author's new books because there's always SO much time between releases. But with twitter I get to learn about their progress on their projects, links to their blog updates, and it keeps them fresh in my mind--without making me feel like it's all some big marketing ploy. Plus I get a little 'fly on the wall' glimpse of the publishing world as they tweet back and forth to each other, their agents, their friends. So thank you for your tweets, they feed my twitter addiction.

  8. I really like how you've laid all this out, and I totally agree. In fact, I found this post via Twitter! :)