Friday, June 19, 2009

Getting You Past the "I Don't Get Twitter" Stage

The Road to “Getting” Twitter

Time magazine quoted the CEO of Twitter because even he says most people don’t get Twitter when they first start using it.

I certainly didn’t get Twitter at first. I just liked it because it was fast. Well, it isn’t nearly as fast as I thought it was. Not if you’re doing it right. And by “right” I mean using it in a way that advances your writing career and exposes the title of your book.

It occurred to me that the reason most people who aren’t using it (and lots who are) don’t get it is because of that saying in the posting window that says “what are you doing now?” I’m pretty sure no one who follows you ("follows" is ther term Twitter uses rather than the words "fans" or "friends" on Facebook) expects you to tell them you’re having maple syrup on your pancakes unless you wrote a cookbook and can link back to a section that tells people how to make substitute maple syrup in your own kitchen. Or unless you're using Twitter purely to communicate personal stuff to friends you already have.

So, in this blog post I'm giving authors some ideas. If you're here, you're probably an author. So these are idea for what you could tweet about if you signed up with Twitter (that part IS really easy and fast!). Maybe it will help you get an inkling of how you might use it for your book. In general, no matter how you tweet, try to be helpful to others. Even your writing is about how you can entertain or help others, right? Make your Twitter about those same things!

~Yes, you can talk about your book! And about what’s happening to you in terms of marketing your book. That includes your speaking, your reviews, your signings, etc.

~Tell your followers what you think of a product or another book. Preferably your choices should relate to your promotion campaign. Example. I tweet movie reviews. I mention aspects of the movies for authors to look at that might improve their own writing skills--characterization, pacing, etc. That relates to my editing but it also relates to the fact that I once wrote complete reviews for the Glendale News-Press and sort of miss doing it! And most everyone is interested in movies.

~As your get more followers (and the number of your followers will get bigger if you work it), it becomes impossible to read all your followers’ tweets. Use and manage your Tweet account. Follow the ones closely who provide information you need consistently and mostly ignore the rest. Sorry, but that’s the reality, folks. It’s one reason you want to talk about more than the fact that you are tired and going to bed.

~As you get more followers, it’s OK to repeat your tweets. I try to reword and re-slant them, though. You can use a handy little tool called Tweet Later ( to do that.

~Feed your blog to Twitter. This is sort of an advanced process and you need to use RSS feeds to do it. If you don't know how to do that, put this idea on a back burner for later. Be sure the first 140 character of each blog is meaningful so people on Twitter get what you’re tweeting about! Use to do this.

~Post your media releases and other longer stuff on first. It’s so easy you won’t need any tutorial. It’s easy to use a picture with these posts, too.

~Advanced users can share music and videos. Twitter users will appreciate them more if they are short. Don't worry about this for a while. Just enjoy.

~Help writer friends by tweeting about what they are doing, especially when what they are doing will help your followers. This is probably the most important advice in this blog. Please take it to heart.
~Offer advice in your field of expertise. You know how I like tips. I offer lots of tips on Twitter, too.

~When you learn new things about Twitter, tweet about it. There will be followers who will help you advance with your tweeting skills but there will also be newbies who can benefit from your experiences.

~Follow people who follow you. When it becomes too hectic, use to organize your tweets.

~Network. I tweet regularly about the agents, bookstores, and reviewers I find on Twitter so my followers can learn more about them.

~Use for chats of your own design. I’ve presented chats with a new tweeting friend @zimblermiller (that’s her Twitter address) on book proposals and query letters with more to come. (-: BTW, you'll see certain tweets with the number sign in them like #bkpro. Those are the chat entries that also come up on the twitter board. Occasionally they don't make sense because you haven't been following the whole thread, but occasionally they have little jewels in them--stuff you'll really be glad to know. Those hashmarks can mean something else, too. They become a keyword code for people to find tweets on specific subjects.

It is obvious that you can learn a lot from people who tweet like this. So tweeting is not only about... well, tweeting. It’s also about listening. Find me tweeting at If you should be a retailer as well as a writer, find me at

And that brings me to my last point. Keep your tweet accounts relatively focused on the marketing job at hand.

This blog is a reprint from my Sharing with Writers newsletter. To subscribe use the subscribe window in the left column of this blog or e-mail me at HoJoNews @ Please put SUBSCRIBE in the subject window.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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