Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Market, to Market, Twitter-dee-dee

The New York Times declared 2010 to be the year of the hashtag. I have to admit I was late boarding that train, so 2011 was my hashtag year. But yes, I am Hope, and I'm a Twitter addict.

Twitter is my social media of choice. It's quick. It's more on the targets I follow than Facebook. Because it's brief, there's little fluff, and what fluff there is can be easily skipped. It's like a stream of bullets instead of skimming through blogs hunting for the one-liners that make sense.

Twitter saves and uses my time, and I like to think that it does more of the first than the second.

Yet many people are afraid of it or feel it isn't informative enough. If they've ever wanted to keep up with a ballgame, follow a particular author, get to know agents or locate markets/contests, they are missing a phenomenal opportunity. Especially since you can control who you follow. Especially since you can create a trend in the matter of a day.

How I use Twitter

1. To follow agents.
They are the gatekeepers these days. They talk about changes in the industry. They laugh about what they don't like and praise what they do. They talk about each other. Every once in a while, one will talk about exactly what she/he wants to see in a pitch. They tell you how a conference is going and whether it's any good. They give me a better comfort level for traditional publishing. (@greyhausagency @JanetKGrant @RachelleGardner @literaticat @BostonBookGirl @DanielLiterary @jennybent)

2. To find calls for submissions.
Magazines, contests, even editors (@WorkmanPub @otherpress @graywolfpress @GrandCentralPub @gothamwriters @thewritermag ) will post their needs of the moment, especially if a deadline is coming up. Have a particular magazine you'd love to snare? Follow it. Reply to its tweets. Some have been so daring as to pitch and land a gig with tweets, but you have to be savvy at pitching in 140 characters or less. Some agents and magazines provide Twitter-only contests.

3. To keep up with publishing advances, changes, screw-ups.
Writer's Digest (@WritersDigest) has some great tweets. They announce new agents seeking clients, contests, webinars, conferences and deals. Publishers Weekly (@PublishersWkly) gives you quick snippets of the industry's shifts and shutters. (@GalleyCat @ShelfAwareness @PoetsWritersInc @eBookNewser @elizabethscraig)

4. To follow authors.
The famous provide insight into their world, travels, even hopes and goals. Twitter gives you an additional layer to these folk. (@joe_hill  @jamesscottbell  @maryalicemunroe @vickihinze @MJRose @Jenna_Blum @MargaretAtwood @neilhimself) The up-and-coming authors educate you by demonstrating their marketing prowess. (@JodyHedlund @SarahMMcCoy @thebirdsisters ) I've learned so much from these people. I also connected with other authors publishing via Belle Books, my publishing house, and we've discussed meeting and even co-promoting since so many of us are in the Southern US.(@kimberlydbrock @JMcCannWriter)

5. To follow book reviewers and bookstores.
Not only do I want to see what they like, but I want to see if I can add them to my list to review my book in the future. (@jennsbookshelf @bookladysblog @BethFishreads @justonemorepage )

6. To follow events.
If I cannot make a conference or even online class, I can usually find a hashtag that does it for me. In using a hashtag I can follow comments from those who are in attendance. They often quote speakers and reply on whether they enjoy or dislike the event or orator. Helps me decide whether to attend in the future. (#MLA12  #bookexpo #BKBF11 #ala11 )

7. To find jobs.
Yes, employers are posting on Twitter.(@jobsforwriters @write_jobs @Ed2010news @freelanceWJ )

8. To follow conversations.
Sometimes people will start conversations that become regular like #FridayReads #journchat #litchat.

9. To follow charity/nonprofit interests.
Girls Write Now mentors girls primarily through writing. (@girlswritenow )

Some like Ian Greenleigh (@be3d) suggest that every book have an official hashtag to help spread the word. I'm all over that! When we have the title ironed out on my suspense novel (due out from Bell Bridge Books in February 2012), you'll be the first to know that hashtag, and we'll send it all over the world!

Don't let it overwhelm you. Start slow. Go to www.twitter.com and sign up. Click on a few names to follow, using the search mechanism, and there you go. Before long you are tweeting, and learning, and staying ahead of the game.


Kelly said...

Thank you for this post! It was perfectly timed. I just dusted off my twitter account yesterday to try to make sense of it again. I love your tips!

Sylvia Ney said...

Thank you so much for the suggestions. I started tweeting a few months ago, but it can take a while to become comfortable with the media. I appreciate your tips!

Rebekah Benson-Flannery said...

The post offers tremendous help to Twitter newbies as well as those who are Twitter savvy: the strategies are smart and you provide some great people to follow.

I think offering a map to guide people through the seeming chaos of Twitter will make tweeting less intimidating...

I wish I had seen this when I began tweeting back in November of 2010...

Thank you!

Kristi's Book Nook said...

I am happy to see this post. I will be smarter with my tweets moving forward. Thanks.

Cynthia Briggs said...

Well said, Hope! I finally got on Twitter because a friend kept hounding me (in a nice way) by sending me posted article. All the while she kept telling me how much she learned from Twitter and how she thought I'd like it too. I ignored her months. Finally the light bulb came on and I waded into the Twitter waters.

I love Twitter. I've never been a Facebook person (in fact, cancelled my account). Twitter is, like you say, quick and less time is wasted. You can follow whom you want and skip the rest.

I think some people don't want to get involved with Twitter because they think it's going to be one more thing to gobble up their time like FB or e-mail. It is totally different than I thought it would be, and I'm glad my friend encouraged me to take the plunge.

Thanks for the post. I'm going to forward the article to some non-believers.

Cynthia Briggs

Karen Lange said...

Thanks, Hope. Perfect timing here too, was just thinking about this earlier today. Was on Twitter a while back and got off, for a number of reasons. Didn't see the potential at the time, but I can see possibilities now.

Diva Jefferson said...

Twitter is awesome. Everyday I get adds from fellow writers and sometimes comments from those whom I've never met before. Wonderful way to social network. I just need to learn all those hashtags. There are too many!

-Diva J.

Ian Greenleigh said...

Thanks for the mention, Hope. My Twitter handle is actually @be3d. Nonetheless, great to hear that you're hip to the idea of book-specific Twitter hashtags!

Hope Clark said...

My bad. I corrected the Twitter handle. Oh, I adore the book-specific hashtag. My book comes out in February 2012, and I fully intend to create one for it. Such a simple yet profound idea. Thanks.

Ann-Louise said...

Great how-to with practical examples. Best explanation of the advantages of using Twitter I've seen. Thanks

Sheryl Browne said...

Thanks so much, Hope. Simple informative stuff! :)

Jan Morrison said...

Thank you, Hope. I tweet but in a lame way - I haven't quite figured it out as I should but this will help. You're the first writer that I've read who has told me WHY to tweet rather than how to.
Jan Morrison

Hope Clark said...

That's what I try to be - practical. It's what I like in a post. Glad to help, Jan.

Janet Hartman said...

Great post, Hope. Could you do one like this for LinkedIn?