Posts Tagged Twitter for writers
I’ve been an advocate of writers using social media since 2004, before social media was really a thang. In the early days of Gather and MySpace it occurred to me that we were seeing a fundamental shift in how humans would 1) be communicating 2) forging relationships and 3) finding/discovering entertainment.
Digital Age Writers? You have…no…idea.
Back in my day *wags cane* we were fighting the Russians and there were NUKES pointed at us for twenty years. We had to get our moms to drive us to a library to research for a paper using the Dewey decimal system. There was no Google.
If you wanted a popular book and didn’t save enough babysitting money to preorder the next David Eddings book in the Pawn of Prophecy series? In hardback? You waited.
Your turn. Like behind fifty other people.
And hoped the book wasn’t overhyped crap and the last thing you’d read before being nuked.
In my day, you wrote stories in ink by hand. Or? On THIS thing…which you could use to brain a Russian….before he nuked you.
And you prayed to GOD that your little brother properly screwed on the cap to the whiteout so it wasn’t dried into one glob of white goo. And if you changed your mind where a scene went? TOUGH FRIGGING LUCK. You should have plotted it out better the first time, Smart Guy!
When I was growing up, we didn’t know the author. Writers were proper and respectable and had the basic decency to keep their weirdness hidden from the public eye.
And books? We had to go to a store. A real store with like walls and freaking shelves. And if they didn’t have the next Dragonlance book? Well then cry you whiny little baby. Cry. You had to WAIT and hope you weren’t nuked before they got in the shipment.
I had a friend who skateboarded alone to a B. Dalton’s. Yes, he was nuked.
Okay, I’m finished 😀 .
Okay, Twitter. You writers today are so spoiled but many are just wrecking one of the most powerful ways to build an author brand. Or, to go with today’s goofery? Nuking it.
What’s been strange to see is how in the older days when we were forced to interact face-to-face, interpersonal communication was just natural. Social media is supposed to simply be an extension of that. It is meant to be social and a reflection of how we would interact in person.
As a social media expert, I run into all kinds of strange behavior and tips that make me scratch my head. It’s as if the second we want to create a brand or mention we have a book for sale, we forget everything we know about being human.
Twitter is a great way to build a brand and connect and cultivate future readers, but it is shockingly misused.
Today’s post (obviously) is tongue-and-cheek, but humor can be the best teacher even if we’ve oopsed. Thus, here are eight ways to nuke your brand. Like glass-factory-glow-in-the-dark-grow-500-pound-strawberries-for-the-next-six-hundred-years.
Yes, I am being a drama queen. Too much Aqua Net killed off my brain cells.
So Eight Ways to NUKE your BRAND.
Tip #1—Only Use Automation
Writing a 140 characters is SUPER time-consuming. We aren’t Jack London. Besides, people love robots. I know when I feel lonely, I call AT&T because I know a human being will NEVER answer…EVER. Humans can be so boring and don’t offer us the option of hitting 6 if we want to hear everything they just said all over again.
Real Life Application: Program cell phones to call friends and family at regular intervals to ask for money. They’d dig that.
Tip #2—Make Sure All Preprogrammed Tweets are “Carefully Crafted”
Because when we take time to artfully craft our spam, people don’t mind. They LOVE believing a real person is there only to be fooled. It’s like when that cute guy/gal in high school pretended to want to go out with us. Now we can relive that experience as adults by being duped into thinking we were chatting with a real person who actually cared.
Real Life Application: At the holidays, volunteer to bring one of those awesome fried turkeys, then show up instead with Tofurkey. They won’t know the difference.
Tip #3—When Programming Tweets Include Popular Hashtags…ALL OF THEM
Who goes to social media to socialize? People LOVE finding a community of real people to talk to and then having it crowded out by the same advertising over and over…and over. Because research shows that it takes at least 20 times to see an annoying face before we want to punch it.
Real Life Application: Some people see a funeral, others see a target audience in need of some cheering up with a NEW BOOK. If potential readers aren’t coming to us, we should go to them. Find where they gather then SELL. So what if it’s against their will?
Tip #4—Make People Prove Who They Are Before Talking to Them
Twitter validation services are awesome. We love meeting someone, only to have to jump through hoops to prove our love. We even get the added advantage of being redirected off Twitter to an outside site where we’re easily hacked. How else will all our friends receive direct messages from porn sites posing as us? Nothing seals an on-line relationship like giving others a social media disease. Who will they think of when they have to spend hours removing viruses and trojans from their computers.
Can we say “Top of Mind”?
Come on! It takes three whole seconds to unfollow a bot. We need those precious three seconds to carefully craft witty preprogrammed tweets. Let the other person do the fifty hoops of leg-work to earn our trust. They have plenty of time.
Real Life Application: Whenever we meet someone and start chatting, if we like them, suddenly stop talking and find a way to casually get samples of their hair for your portable drug testing kit. Hey, gotta be safe these days. Don’t want to just chat with any weirdo.
Throw in a urinalysis to be extra sure ;).
Tip#5—Tweet LOTS of Articles—Ok, ALL Articles
Most of us, when we wake up in the morning, think, “Gee, I wish I had a super long reading list. I sure miss my college syllabus.” Those of us with a corporate job LOVE people who hit Reply ALL so we can read more. Wikipedia is a hot place to hang out. Why not bring that encyclopedic magic to Twitter?
Real Life Application: Make sure to print off a box of articles for that wedding you were invited to. Who wants to dance or flirt when they could be reading about intestinal parasites? Handing people a stack of reading material is way better than getting trapped in a “conversation.”
Tip #6—Ask for Stuff Immediately
The second someone befriends us, it’s our job to send an automated link to their Direct Messages so they can do stuff FOR US. Buy our book, like our FB page, follow our blog, or even answer a really inane question (as if we care about their answer) *rolls eyes*. Hey, great to meet you. Do you like vampires or werewolves?
Real Life Application: If someone is nice to us in the grocery store, make sure to have books to sell and the ability to take credit cards on the spot. Sure, that person is trying to buy a chicken to make for dinner and now she can buy OUR BOOKS, too. Win-win. If we don’t have books for sale, we can ask for life, love or career advice from total strangers, because that isn’t creepy at ALL.
Tip #7—Tweet from Several Accounts/Identities
People on Twitter might miss out on all those “carefully crafted” preprogrammed tweets. Make sure to have anywhere from 2-7 identities sending the same messages. What’s better than spam? MORE SPAM, duh.
Real Life Application: This tactic rocks for singles on the dating scene. Meet a date then several times throughout the conversation, change names and accents. Multiple-personalities are just more people to love.
Tip #8—Never Tweet ANYTHING Original Just Retweet
Again, 140 characters cuts into word count. Save time and retweet what everyone else has to say. Two clicks? DONE.
Real Life Application: Repeat what everyone else says. Don’t you remember how your siblings loved it when you did that to them?
I am not kidding.
I am not kidding.
Why are you repeating everything I say?
Why are you repeating everything I say?
Okay, I am going to tell Mom.
Okay, I am going to tell Mom.
Man, those were good times…until the arm-bar and atomic wedgie.
Okay, Serious Now
Twitter can be very valuable and a great place to make wonderful friends. Be real and enjoy. People are on social media to be social. We crave connection, fun and escape. If we wanted more ads we’d read the door in the bathroom stall or not bother fast-forwarding through commercials. We don’t need to be profound, deep or immensely witty to do well on Twitter, we just need to be vested, present and authentic ;).
Don’t Get NUKED! A PSA from Kevin Bacon and yes I totally ripped off his idea. Good writers borrow great writers steal 😛
Before we go…
THIS SATURDAY! We can’t sell a book if we cannot articulate in one sentence what that book is ABOUT.
Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line. Our stories should be simple enough to tell someone what the book is about in ONE sentence. If we can’t do this, often there is a plot problem. Okay, about 99% of the time there is a plot problem. I can tell by a log-line what is right or wrong with a book (HINT: So can agents). Save a ton of money with editors and a lot of time trying to fix the wrong stuff and spring $35 for TWO HOURS of fun with me. Recording of class is included with admission.
This class is great for teaching you how to be master plotters and the first FIFTEEN SIGNUPS get their log-line shredded for free, so you will be agent ready.
I LOVE hearing from you!
If you are old enough, how did YOU suffer? Writers today have NO CLUE! We used to get paper cuts!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.
And yes, I am a complete and total slacker. December’s winner will be announced later because I seriously had three posts go viral. Great problem to have…but tabulating a winner? Gonna take a little time. Love you *air kiss*
Remember to check out the new classes listed at W.A.N.A International.
Branding for Authors (NEXT SATURDAY). This is your best way to get PAID in the digital age. We have to cultivate that 1000 die hard fans who won’t settle for FREE.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
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While I’m taking a much-needed break, our WANA Maven of Twitter is here to help you understand Twitter!
Twitter often gets a bad rap by people who don’t understand it, misunderstand it as full of spam and celebrity stalkers, or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, though, Twitter can be one of the best tools for meeting new readers and increasing traffic to your blog. Not to mention it’s fun!
Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you then. I have seven reasons why I think every writer should be using Twitter.
Reason #1 – Twitter has over 100 million active accounts and growing.
Whether you’re seeking traditional publication or plan to self-publish, whether you’re a non-fiction author, a novelist, a poet, or a short story writer, you need a platform to sell your work. Your readers are on Twitter. You just need to know how to meet them.
This is true even if you write children’s books or YA. If you write for kids, your readers might not be on Twitter, but their parents and aunts and uncles and even grandparents are, and your books might just be the perfect gift they’re looking for.
Reason #2 – Twitter allows you to build a following faster than any other social networking site.
People who find you on Facebook usually already know you. People who find you on Twitter are more likely to be complete strangers (at first) because of the ability to participate in conversations through hashtags.
Reason #3 – Twitter makes you a better writer.
Twitter gives you 140 characters to work with. Not 140 letters or 140 words, but 140 characters. Spaces count, and so does punctuation. Links count as well.
Working within those constraints forces you to write tighter. No purple prose allowed. No weak verbs modified by adjectives. You need to figure out exactly what you’re trying to say. Those skills translate directly into better writing elsewhere.
Reason #4 – Twitter brings you the news faster than any news site can.
Twitter is real time, which means that while reporters are putting together their stories and getting approval from their editors, normal people on site are tweeting. In August 2011, Twitter lit up like a firefly on crack about the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia before the news stations could catch their balance. My husband and I were able to call my mother-in-law right away to make sure she and the rest of the family there were safe.
In the plague of tornadoes that rolled through Texas in April 2012, Twitter might have even saved lives. So many tornadoes hit the Dallas area at once that meteorologists couldn’t keep up, even if people still had electricity and the ability to check their television, use their computer, or tune in on the radio. But what everyone could still do was tweet using their phones. People banded together to warn others and report sightings, keeping all involved safer than they could have been alone.
Reason #5 – Twitter allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of the publishing industry.
Twitter is like a writer’s mecca because you can quickly find out about interesting and informative new blog posts (already vetted by others), get tips on writing and publishing from agents, editors, and bestselling authors, and keep up on industry trends and new releases. No searching involved. It comes to you in a bite-sized 140 character nugget. If you decide you want more, you click the link.
Reason #6 – Twitter helps you research.
In her bestselling book We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media, Kristen tells the story of how she needed information on bounty hunters for her novel. Rather than wasting hours trying to sort through results on Google and still not coming up with what she needed, she tweeted about it and received replies from actual bounty hunters willing to answer her questions.
But it’s not only facts you can research on Twitter. If you’re not sure your main character’s name is a good fit for his personality and job, ask. If you want to know what writing software other writers actually trust, ask. (I did and fell in love with Scrivener.)
In my co-written novel with Facebook expert Lisa Hall-Wilson, we mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah, and we debated whether enough people would know what we meant. So I asked, and we ended up leaving it in the book.
Reason #7 – Twitter gives you a support network of friends.
I’ve left this to last because, to me, it’s the most important. Writing is solitary. We sit at our computers and play with our imaginary friends. Which is great, but also leaves us without the support network we need if we want to make writing a long-term career.
On Twitter, you’ll find someone to talk you down off the ledge when one too many rejections or poor reviews leave you wanting to quit writing altogether. On Twitter, you can make writers friends who’ll run word sprints with you to help you keep on track. On Twitter, you can make reader friends who’ll be excited to go out and buy your book and tell everyone about it.
Twitter is like the workplace water cooler. Come, chat, and get back to work. It doesn’t take all day to make Twitter a valuable place to be!
If you’re not on Twitter yet, what’s holding you back? If you are on Twitter, what do you struggle with?
[Jay here: if you comment, add your Twitter handle so we can meet each other there. I’m @jaytechdad]
On Saturday, August 24, I’m teaching a 90-minute webinar called “Twitter: 10 Essentials Every Writer Needs to Know” where we’ll talk about how to create a profile that lets others know you’re a writer and a real person, how to stay safe, why automation can be a fast track to hating Twitter, how to decide which tools work the best for you, how to use hashtags, how to use lists, what to tweet about, and more.
Even if you can’t attend the live event, the webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants. The webinar normally costs $45, but you can get 15% off by entering the discount code MarcyTwitter10. Click here to register. (If webinars aren’t your thing, I also run a self-paced Beginner’s Guide to Twitter and Advanced Guide to Twitter.)
P.S. I’ve put together something special for everyone reading this post today. I’m offering a free PDF called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hiring a Freelance Editor.” Click here to sign up for your copy.
Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy) is a speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at www.marcykennedy.com.
I LOVE hearing from you and ma sure Marcy does too!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.
Last summer I wrote a rather controversial post The WANA Theory of Economics. I explained why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it will sell some books, but it lacks the ability to mobilize the fat part of the bell curve–that HUGE population of folks who would normally not define themselves as readers (but they LOVED Hunger Games and bought the whole trilogy, went to the movie and bought all the action figures and a Mocking Jay lapel pin off Etsy).
Sorry. Traditional marketing cannot give the Hunger Games Effect. I didn’t make the rules. Anyone in publishing more than a minute will tell you that the only way to created the Harry Potter Effect or the DaVinci Code Effect—which is a mass mobilization of the fat part of the bell cure—is 1) good book and 2) word of mouth. Ads, commercials, trailers, mailers, bookmarks have minimal effect on the overall sales numbers and we will talk about why in a moment.
Sometimes it seems that life would be easier if traditional marketing could sell books because then we could pay for a nice book trailer and program an automated platform to blitz out “commercial” on every social site. Yet, the fact remains that books are not tacos or car washes.
So What’s a Writer to Do?
Too many writers are in search of what I call “the White Stag”—the voracious reader who devours books like candy. WHY? How many books can you write? Who cares if someone only reads two books a year if one or both are OUR books?
Writers spend far too much time marketing to a very small segment of the population that defines themselves as “readers.” Too much book marketing is happening in places where we are least likely to find most people—book stores, author blogs, book review sites, reader forums. And, you know who makes up the most of these “reader” groups?
The Family Tree Needs Branches
Thus, not only are we marketing to one of the smallest sections of society—the self-professed avid reader—but we are also spending far too much time marketing to each other. Writers get on Facebook and Twitter and hang out with each other, befriend each other and talk to each other. They blog about writing and talk about writing…at the expense of talking to potential readers.
Make no mistake, writers are awesome. I spend most of my time talking to writers. Yet, in fairness, you guys are my demographic. Ah, but hold on. Calm down. Writers are incredible, kind and talented. We should befriend writers. They are our professional core and our support network.
The Core Mistake
Yet, where the mistake happens is that fellow writers are our comfort zone. We cannot mistake our professional network for our reader demographic. Will writers make up part of our readership? Yes…but they are not ALL of our readership.
We MUST reach out to fresh blood and bring new readers into the family. If we don’t our platform becomes almost inbred, then starts playing the banjo and firing a shotgun in the air and it’s all downhill from there.
Too many writers spend too much time talking to a small group at the expense of the big picture.
The Only People Who Read Are Avid Readers…um, No
Now, another HUGE misconception many writers have is that, unless someone professes to love reading that they, therefore, do not read at all. Major misconception. Avid readers simply need far less convincing because they already love to read.
Think of it this way.
Why traditional marketing works for other products is the consumer already wants what the market has to offer. Traditional marketing is merely there to help us choose from the options. So, if I make mascara that has the power to look like false eyelashes, then advertising in a woman’s magazine is a pretty safe bet.
Women already wear mascara. Most modern Western women, do NOT need to be convinced to wear makeup. They already do. So the fancy ad that uses Mila Jovovich and a crap load of Photoshop will offer an edge in sales and will sell mascara.
The tricky part about selling books is this is also how traditional marketing works for books. Traditional marketing only speaks to those people who love
wearing makeup reading books.
All the ad does is help a self-professed reader choose between all the choices. Yet, convincing this demographic to read is not where the magic happens. Selling books to only self-professed readers will not create the Twilight Effect.
Thus, we as writers have the daunting task of convincing a demographic that our book is worth forgoing 12 hours of undivided attention they could be using on something else they already know they love, like watching Glee or hitting aliens with plasma grenades.
We have to convince consumers to part with money for an activity they do not believe they enjoy. THIS is why traditional marketing fails to sell books. We must tap into that outside group of people to get momentum. Ah, but when we do, watch out! It will hit critical mass and then BOOM!
The Fat Part of the Bell Curve is Essential to Hitting the Tipping Point
If I am from Thailand and I grew up eating spicy stuff all my life, then likely I will seek out Thai food restaurants. What if, however, I happen to open a Thai food restaurant in Arlington, TX? In Arlington, there happens to be a lot of people from Thailand.
Ah, but the problem is that with a large population of Thais comes a larger presence of Thai food restaurants. If all of them are catering to other Thai people and offering all kinds of authentic cuisine, then that is very steep competition. How can my little Thai restaurant survive?
I have to think differently.
I can go after the same patrons as all of my competition (fellow Thais), OR I can seek to introduce an exotic food to outsiders who don’t already believe they love Thai food. If I can convince Joe American to just try something different once…then my food can make the fan.
Joe will see that MY Thai restaurant has awesome food, and he will not only be loyal (since he is still afraid that other Thai restaurants will give him heartburn), but he will also tell all of his Joe American pals who don’t believe they like spicy stuff either.
Joe’s opinion will carry more weight with this new population of potential patrons. Why? Well, it’s nothing shocking for a Thai person to love Thai food. BUT, for Joe American who normally lives off hamburgers? His opinion is gold. Joe and his pals likely will still believe they hate Thai food….but THIS restaurant–MY restaurant–is different. My restaurant is that perfect choice for a date night or when you just want something different.
It just takes some creativity when defining our demographic. Put another way.
What Julia Child Can Teach Us About Social Media
Why was Julia Child so successful? She made fine French cuisine accessible to average people. See, the other French chefs of her time defined their demographic far too narrowly. They all targeted an elite group of foodies. Julia, however, saw her demographic as anyone who could masticate food and who wanted to enjoy the experience.
If you liked good food and maybe liked to cook, YOU were her demographic. Guess what? That was a demographic of hundreds of millions. The result? Julia Child became a legend. She didn’t patronize regular people. She believed that just because they hadn’t grown up in high society, didn’t mean they wouldn’t embrace fancy French cuisine and love it if given access.
Too many writers narrowly define their demographic as those people who say they love to read books and they patronize non-readers.
Yet, what is our REAL demographic? Anyone in need of informing or entertaining. THAT demographic is MASSIVE and when we writers mobilize THAT sector of society—the fat part of the bell curve—this is when literary history is made.
The DaVinci Code, the Harry Potter Series, Twilight, Tuesdays with Morrie, Water for Elephants, The Help all ignited a passion for stories in people who normally would not have defined themselves as avid readers.
Nothing Great Happens in the Comfort Zone
My advice to you guys? Break out of the comfort zone and start tapping into larger networks that can become readers. Go after new blood. This is one of the reason my blogging classes are very different. They are designed to teach writers to blog in ways that will connect outside that circle of comfort. I also have some tips in WANA for those of you who need some suggestions.
So what are your thoughts? What ways have you used to branch out from talking only to other writers? What suggestions or tips might you offer? Do you think you need help getting out of your comfort zone?
I LOVE hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
- Three Ways to HOOK a Reader & Never Let GO
- Description—Writer Crack & Finding the Write Balance
- Failure, Betrayal & Setbacks—Sometimes the Only Way Out is THROUGH
- YOU’RE TOO SMART TO GO DOWN STUPID
- Good Things Happen to Those Who Hustle—Getting PAID to Write
- Wisdom from a Hollywood Producer—IT’S ALL B.S. UNTIL THE CHECK CLEARS