I joined Twitter in June, 2009. Naturally, husband was the first person I followed.
When I began blogging in 2011, I automatically tweeted my blog posts (thank you, WordPress) because that’s what authors do, the way girls used to get married whether or not they really understood why.
Between the time I joined and about a month ago, I visited Twitter only a handful of times. I never tweeted and I had about ten followers. Twitter overwhelmed me with its seeming chaos. #WhatIsaHashtagAnyway? Looking at random tweets made my head hurt. So much noise—how could I find anything relevant among the cacophony?
Then, this past March, I read a post by the ever-helpful Joel Friedlander called “A Google Toolbox for Authors,” which led me to (re)discover Twitter’s power.
Regarding Google alerts, Friedlander said, “If you play around with this tool I guarantee you’ll find some neat and useful ways to use it.” I decided to experiment. I had already set up alerts for my name and book title. Now I created an alert for “literary fiction.” This turned out to be particularly helpful. In the years since publishing “Dance of Souls,” I have often felt that readers and writers of literary fiction must be lurking somewhere on the Web, but I never seemed to be able to find them.
Now Google began sending me six to ten links every day to new material about literary fiction. Some of the links were dubious, but many were interesting and relevant, for example:
- “Women’s Fiction, Men’s Fiction, What Does it Mean?” (Huffington Post)
- Cat Lumb’s genre experiment on Twitter
- i09’s call for a new literary movement
At last, I had a way to discover things in a manageable, bite-sized way. Instead of a search yielding thousands of results, I had an e-mail with a few links I could quickly review, once a day.
Then came my next brainstorm. What if I were to share the items I found most interesting with my Twitter followers? And what if I were to start following, on Twitter, some of the organizations that are creating these interesting items? Suddenly, I had a path through the chaos, a method to curate, and a reason to pass on information.
I tweeted. I followed. Twitter suggested more people for me to follow based on the people I had just followed. Sometimes the people I was following tweeted interesting things, which I retweeted. Suddenly, I began receiving several notifications a day in my in-box informing me that “So-and-so is now following you on Twitter!”
I have nearly reached the milestone of 100 followers. I realize this is quite underwhelming, but to someone who, mere months ago, avoided Twitter because it gave her a headache, this seems like an accomplishment. In fact, I’ve grown to enjoy the process so much that I’ve now had to do what so many other authors have advised: dedicate a particular time of day to social media, lest it swallow up all the time I could otherwise have used for writing and editing. (J.D. Moyer has some reflections on this.) Evening works well for me because by then my brain is too addled to focus on long prose anyway. Reading articles and tweeting is about what I can handle.
Brick by brick
So, I’m actually building my “author platform.” It will be a long haul to get from where I am now to where I need to be to successfully market my writing. But now that I’ve started, it seems a less daunting task. Best of all, I’m no longer anxious about Twitter. I’m excited to “meet” new authors and potential readers. Besides, I’d better have multiple social media platforms, because Facebook is getting more challenging every day.
What’s your relationship with Twitter? A virgin? Just-married? Divorced? Longtime partner? Do you use Twitter to discover new authors and books or to share ones you’ve discovered? I’d love to hear! Respond below or send a Tweet to @audreykalman!
Thank you. This is very helpful. I have a number of followers, and have no idea why, since I rarely even look at twitter. Until reading did not have much of an idea about what to do next. Literary fiction! Of course. Now to check out your links and how to set up an alert. Cheers!
Great! Since I wrote this post, I’ve continued my learning curve with Twitter. Because of the people I follow, I’m often alerted to interesting articles that I wouldn’t otherwise have found. I will retweet or “favorite” those, which leads other people to follow me… there’s no evidence yet that any of this will do me a lick of good in publicizing my next book, but I’m enjoying it and it seems to be helpful in my day-to-day research, so I’ll keep it up for now!
Twitter and I are on a bit of a break. I just can’t keep up on all the social media when I have an editorial deadline. So Twitter went off the radar for a bit. It’s probably my least favorite form of social media. I try to use it when I have time but I’m more likely to be on my blog or Facebook. 🙂
Good for you for being disciplined! Of course, the hardest thing is when the deadlines are self-imposed, not external. Then it’s so much easier to procrastinate because, really, who will be the wiser?
I’ve really had no idea how to make Twitter useful. Thanks for the info!
Well, the jury is still out on ACTUAL usefulness, but at least I am doing something that FEELS useful!
I like Twitter much better than Facebook. To me, Facebook is a bunch of noise, and now with the ads, it’s even more so. But I couldn’t survive Twitter without making lists. I keep my lists private and separate them according to interests. I have a main one with interactive tweeps I check in on daily (you’re on that one!) and all the others I try to check in on at least once a week. Once you follow too many people, it’s endless noise without lists. You’ve probably already done this, but if not, here’s a link on how to make lists: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-using-twitter-lists
Thanks for the tip. I am such a novice! I had no idea about lists… I will check your link out immediately, because I can see the chaos re-emerging!
I know exactly what you mean – I was on Twitter before I started writing and really had no use for it, now I’m seriously writing and following lots of literary magazines and tweeting all over the place! I certainly use it to promote writers or online stories that I like.
It’s nice to know I wasn’t alone in my befuddlement and that Twitter seems to have value for authors!