twitter

Okay, so when I first found out I had a contract I jumped onto MySpace. I made a beautiful page and uploaded book covers and found a whole bunch of friends. Or should I say, they found me. I loved MySpace. I went there nearly every day and left comments and updated and even posted blogs. But then it started doing weird things to my computer and some people’s pages were too big and wouldn’t load and MySpace slowly faded into the background.

Then I found Twitter. I loved Twitter. It was like having a massive chat with 300 of my best friends. I’d post, they’d post, we’d laugh. A good time. But then somehow I ended up following 600 people. Now granted, they’re not all active, but still, that’s a lot of 140 character info streaming into my computer. Not quite so intimate.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I found Facebook. Mostly because my family was all hanging out and chatting and I was feeling very left out of everything. And I love facebook. But some people now have their tweets streaming to their facebook status. Which is all very cool, but it makes for an incredible overload of information on some days.

And now facebook has fan pages and I’m being asked if I want to “fan” some of my friends. Really, I’m not sure what to do about this. Every day I have people making friend requests … and this is great really it is, but I wonder if there’s such a thing as friend overload. Being both a middle child and a mother I have this need to make sure everyone gets their attention. With all this information flying at me I’m seriously wondering if I’ve taken on too much. On the other hand I don’t want to offend someone who loves my books. For goodness sake, that’s the person I most want to chat with.

And as if all that isn’t confusing enough, now I’ve discovered that some agents and editors are using twitter to send out mass rejections. As in “if you queried me prior to April 1 and you haven’t heard from me, I’m not interested in your manuscript”. There are mixed reviews on this, from “it’s great to have an answer” to “what if I’m not on twitter?”. I guess my worry if I queried one of these people would be what if I missed the post. I’d be a maniac frantically checking and rechecking their twitter stream (as well as my inbox).

It’s definitely a whole new world out there. Social media has made it possible for authors and readers to connect in a way they never have before. Which is awesome. On the other hand it’s also created a situation that sometimes feels like a feeding frenzy to the harried author trying to balance marketing with writing. Twitter and Facebook and Yahoo Loops and MySpace and blogging are all part of the publishing landscape these days. I guess it’s just a matter of planting seeds where you’re most comfortable and nourishing the buggers in hopes it helps grow your career.

Twitter.

One word that has totally sucked me in. I will admit–I’m in love. Addicted. Totally enamored of this social meda tool that is creeping up on Facebook and MySpace, putting the estimated number of unique monthly visitors at between 6 and 8 million. (Wikipedia)

Twitter is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey who posted his first tweet on March 21, 2006.

I didn’t make the leap until a month or so a go. Now, I open it before my email, before my blog, before my writing. Which is baaaad very bad and I know this. I’m like a kid with a new toy, unable to put it down.

So what exactly is twitter? It’s an opportunity to follow and share with people snippets of thoughts or activities in 140 characters or less. Like any social media, when you open a profile at twitter.com you are given options to customize your page with a unique picture and background.

But you are totally alone in the twitterverse. You must venture out and search for people to follow. Follow? Why would you want to follow people? Twitter is about connections with people. The updates of those that you choose to follow will display on your home page.

I would suggest using the “search” function at the bottom of your home page to find people who interest you. When the search screen appears you can type in keywords like “author” “editor” or in my case “multiple sclerosis”. A list of tweeters pops up and if you click on their picture it will take you to their home page where you can read their profile and check out their recent tweets. If you want to include them, simply click the “follow” button below their picture. Easy-peasy.

Soon, others will begin following you. Once you have followers you should try to post an update a couple of times a week. To increase your readership, I would suggest popping on twitter at least once a day and spending a few minutes updating and replying.

Why reply to other’s tweets? Because this isn’t all about you. Move your mouse to the right of their post and a star and arrow appear. When you click on the arrow, the @NAME appears in your update box. Simply type your response to their post and hit update. You’ve started a give and take conversation very similiar to instant messaging.

Scroll down the right side of your page. There’s an @YourNAME tab. Click on that tab and it will display all messages from people who replied to your posts.

So why do I do this? First and foremost … I LOVE IT! Ask my homegirls at my local writing chapter. I sing the praises of Twitter all the time. I’m following a little over 600 people and 450 are following me. It’s advantageous to keep your follow and followERs pretty close so you don’t look like a spammer. Yes, they’re there.

And you’ll know them. You’ll get a notice that someone with 1,679 follows and 18 followers and 2 posts has chosen to follow you. They’re spammers. Why? I have no idea. (But I don’t understand why someone named v$CKy emails me every other day to offer me products to increase the size of a penis I obviously don’t have. Anyway …)

Celebrities are jumping on the twitter wagon. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and Larry King of CNN (@CNN) had a race to 1 million followers. Ashton topped the mark yesterday. Morning show celebrities Ellen Degeneres (@TheEllenShow), Al Roker (@AlRoker) and Elizabeth Hasselbeck (@EHasselbeck) are tweeting. And yesterday Oprah (@Oprah) did her first tweet with tens of thousands of people following her before she even posted her first update.

Purists believe this kind of exposure will crumble the original purpose of the twittersphere. Since I too jumped in without having any expectations, I’m not sure if they will change the flavor of twitter. I guess that remains to be seen.

All I know is that it’s a very powerful tool. I have met other writers and editors and enjoy the information people have shared. I try to be entertaining and hope it will be enough to pique people’s curiousity and perhaps they’ll check out my books. Not sure if it will happen but in the meantime, I’m having fun hanging out over there. Come join me on TWITTER!

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