Twitter’s interface feels unbelievably confusing to me, a veritable mish-mash of conversational threads. Personally, I prefer a nice clean hierarchy, one that clearly delineates the order and sequence of comments and groups them by topic. Trying to weed through all those cross purpose threads makes my head hurt. However, a wise friend of mine has suggested letting it flow over me like a river, so I am going to try that next.
Having said all that, I do have to say that I am charmed by the format, the short 140 character long bits of people’s lives. I have found my favorite tweets to be those of a personal nature. Some of my personal favorites tweets so far:
Jodi Piccoult: Best part of editing: Falling in love with a book all over again. I am so excited for you all to see HOUSE RULES!
I loved knowing that she gets as excited about her writing as I do about mine. (Of course, she has much more reason to). It was comforting, a small shared literary moment.
Alice Hoffman: I love Marin Went to Amy Tan's fairytale house, had crab sandwich on the dock, gazed at beautiful SF. On to Book Passage for reading tonight
Loved, loved, loved hearing these tantalizing little bits of her literary life. She’s also posted some absolutely lovely Twitter strings that basically amounted to a very moving short story about her sister in law.
Powells’ Book Store: David Sedaris is trying to scare the @#$@ out of us. Flight problems, but it is looking like he will be at the store on time at this point
My not so favorite part is being assaulted by urls. For some reason, that feels like cheating to me, as if by trying to apply a one size fits content to a variety of different platforms. But I also understand that that is part of the whole point of Twitter.
So for me, the jury’s till out on this. I’m not sure if I gain as much as I lose in terms of creative, mental, and social energy. I do think it can be a terrific promotional tool. Powerful, in fact. According Time Magazine, last month Twitter was key in organizing an anticommunist uprising in Moldavia! Talk about power!
In fact, in true serendipitous fashion, it seems like everyone is talking about Twitter this week; from Time Magazine to Publisher’s Weekly, to blogs and even some private lists that I’m on. If you’re on the fence about Twitter, I highly recommend reading all of these to get a full sense of what the service offers and can do.
The main problems I’m having are the commands and navigation features. Also, when I searched for Mary Hershey, she didn’t show up in the search box, nor have other people been able to find me in searches, which is kind of a huge stumbling block. (Note: I've put Mary and my Twitter links up in the sidebar in case you're looking for us.)
I’ve heard tell of people getting writing jobs or making critical editorial or agenting contacts via twitter. If any of you have any examples of how twitter has really benefited you, feel free to post it in the comments. Anonymously, if you prefer. ☺
And lastly, since this is a blog about promotion, I’ve been stumped as to how to make twitter work as a promotional tool. I mean I get the part of being able to communicate instantly with all your fans, but to what purpose? Luckily, on a yahoo list I’m on, author Katie MacAlister was talking about this very thing this morning and said I could quote her, so I am taking full advantage of her expertise.
"I was like that for a long time, posting once or maybe twice a day, basically "Going to start writing now" and "Done writing" types of posts.
Then I decided if I was going to Twitter, I needed to do it properly. So I learned how to reply to people who replied to my Twitters, how to do searches for my name, so I could reply to mentions of folks who weren't following me, and changed the way I Twitter to include more spontaneous
Like any online promotion, you really need to have a reason to Twitter. I'm sure people can use Twitter to sell books, but in my case, my goal is to sell myself to readers, not just one book. So I approach it as I do Facebook (and BTW, you can syndicate your Twitters to your FB page, keeping it looking fresh and active)--it offers me a way to reach readers and allow them to have a piece of me, if you will.
The number of people who follow me has increased by leaps and bounds the last month since I started doing this. I know some of it is word of mouth, and some of it is from folks who visit FB, Myspace, and my website, all of which have my Twitter feed. Does it sell books? Who knows. It does keep me in front of readers' eyes, and that's my goal."
I really think she nails it; the value of twitter to authors. Now I just have to gird my loins and follow her advice…