Monday, June 29, 2009

Two Days Left and Counting (Totally Counting!)

Photo by SemiCharmed Life, Santa Barbara Mission

Monday:  June 29, 2009
Number of outgoing tweets: 49
Followers: 60
Following: 24
Successful exchanges with Robin: >5
Number of Violets in evidence: 14 known

One of my mother's favorite admonitions to me as a child was "If all your friends lined up and jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?" Depending on how old I was, the answer varied. 

Pre-school:  "Really, Mom? Yay! ! I love to jump!
Early middle grade: "They won't make me jump, will they, Mom?"  
Junior High: "NooooooooOOOOO!! Gah!"  
High school:  "Oh, yeah, I'm totally jumping We'll be 'on pot' when we do it, too!"

With just two days left in the Shrinking Violet Twitter Experiment, I've been thinking about how this month has affected me, what I've learned, and whether or not I will stay on.  

This past weekend, I was tweeting by proxy, sending out late-breaking race results  for my partner's cycling team while they compete at Nationals.  I found this use of the media made tons of sense, was efficient, and quickly accessible by others.  I would absolutely use Twitter to do this again, or some other similar function where I needed to get info out widely and fast.

I had very little success gathering any group momentum by asking people "What are you doing to make the world a cooler place?" Though, clearly, it might take more than a week to launch that particular revolution.  :-) I think I got two responses, but I did appreciate the personal accountability it lent me.  I picked up trash, smiled at fierce-looking people, sang and hummed a lot, and asked a homeless person to do me a favor. And I tipped my hair stylist BIG.  It made for a great week, and I will endeavor to keep that daily intention up.  I'm good doing that on my own. 

I don't know that it would be scientifically valid for me to blame Twitter for the profound existential agitation I am currently feeling, but I am ready to de-Twittify and get off the juice! This is not to say the experience has not been enjoyable.  I am a writer, and insatiably curious about others.  Sarah Silverman had me head-banging with laughter, Rachel Maddow packs a powerfully good punch, I learned a lot about editor Cheryl Klein's favorite NY haunts, and John Green never fails to stir me in some way or the other.  (And I learned that if Suze Orman ever wants to have tea with me, I will need to be sedated.)  I absolutely enjoyed the small sips of life from the non-celebrities I followed as well.  

And after nearly thirty days of Twitter (and in fairness I must confess, 2muchFB), I am feeling like Sally Field's Sybil character with the multiple personalities.  There are just way too many people and lives in my head!   Time to find a soft broom and gently sweep them all out.  It's odd-- I can fill my harddrive with scores of fictional characters from books, movies and television. They make my life feel rich.  Perhaps because I know they aren't real, it is easier for me to dismiss them at the end of the day.

I have found that when I go to my computer lately, there are way too many alluring gateways between me and my writing.  A hundred dalliances and distractions.  I have gotten too far adrift from the work of writing.  For now, for me, less is way, way more.

That said, I love Twitter-- just not for me on any kind of regular basis.  I am so glad to have had this experience!  Thanks, Robin, for being such a good sport and joining me.  Once again, the buddy system is the best.  And I have the best buddy.

As writers we are observers. We are consumers. We are communicators.  Even as introverts, I don't think we ever want to shut ourselves off from the experiences of the world.  Not if we want to write about it, at least.  And, I don't want to write only about introverts.

So in answer to my mother's question-- If all your friends lined up and jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Me at this age: "Is Robin on the bridge?  Will there be snacks?  Define 'jumping', exactly. Is it bridge over water, or like over a freeway? Can I get back to you on this, Mom?"

Twitter and promotion? For this author, the time and energy investment required to manifest that using social media is beyond my interest and capacity.  My juice is going into the work.   

So, dear Violets and Vinnies, you'll find me on Twitter for two more days.  I'll be making my final tweet tomorrow night.  It's certain to be a good one.  Don't miss it. 

Thanks for coming along with us on this journey!
Mary Hershey

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Okay. I've pretty much said everything I have to say about Twitter (well, except for the public admission that it very much feeds my voyeur habit) so I thought instead I'd make this post a sort of Public Service Announcement for all you violets who Tweet or are considering Twitter. I kept hearing about how others were making all these great contacts or learning all this great info that helped them career-wise, but boy, can you spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to find those sorts of contacts. So I thought I'd put together a Twitter Directory of possible industry people you might want to follow. I'd LOVE it if other Violets who Twitter would also throw in any contacts they know. And you're welcome to do it anonymously if you'd prefer. I'll add entries to this list as others add to it, then maybe we'll post a permalink to it in the sidebar.

Who I have so far:

Book Publishers:

@AALBooks (Arthur A. Levine)
@ amuletbooks
@ FriendsatFeiwel
@graywolfpress publisher
@ randomhousekids


@angelajames (Angela James, Samhain Publishing)
@BantamEditor (Philip Rappaport, Bantam Dell)
@chavelaque (Cheryl Klein, Arthur A. Levine Books)
@danielehrenhaft (YA Editor, Sourcebooks)
@debwerksman (Editorial Manager for romance fiction, Sourcebooks)
@draccah (Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks)
@EgmontGal (Elizabeth Law, Egmont USA)
@jcheiffetz (Julia Cheiffetz, Harper Studio)
@jtribble (Jessica Tribble, Poisoned Pen Press)
@Molly_Oneill (HarperCollins)
@ReneeAtShens (Shen Publishers)
@ Sarahshum (Sarah Shumway)
@tinaburns (Tina Burns, Liquid Silver Books)
@toddstocke (VP, Editorial Director, Sourcebooks.)


@BarryGoldblatt (Barry Goldblatt Literary)
@BookEndsKim (BookEnds, LLC)
@BookEndsJessica (BookEnds, LLC)
@ChrisRichman (Chris Richman)
@cjlitagency (Johnson Literary)
@ColleenLindsay (FinePrint Literary Management)
@dsvetcov (Levine Greenberg Literary Agency)
@elainespencer ( The Knight Agency)
@elanaroth (Elana Roth, Caren Johnson Literary Agency)
@FolioLiterary (Folio Literary)
@Ginger_Clark (Curtis Brown)
@hroot (Holly Root)
@Janet_Reid (FinePrint Literary Management)
@jennyrae (The Rappaport Agency)
@JillCorcoran (Herman Agency)
@kate_mckean (Morhaim Literary)
@literaticat ( Andrea Brown Literary Agency)
@LucienneDiver (Lucienne Diver, Knight Agency)
@MichaelBourret (Michael Bourret, agent)
@ mikalroy (Michael Stearns Firebrand Literary Agency)
@NadiaCornier (Firebrand Literary Agency)
@NathanBransford (Curtis Brown Ltd.)
@NepheleTempest (Knight Agency)
@pwheeler_agent (Paige Wheeler at Folio)
@rachellegardner (WordServe Literary)
@tomwillkens (The Jeff Herman Agency)
@TracyMarchini (Curtis Brown Ltd.)

Other Great Contacts:
@asuen1 (Anastasia Suen publishing news & articles)
@commongoodbooks (Garrison Keillor's St. Paul shop)
@JaneFriedmanEditor (Social-Networking Wiz, Writers Digest)
@SterlingKids (Sterling Children's Books Publicists)

And a definitive, all inclusive, more than you could ever use list can be found here.

I know some of you have a ton more contacts to add here! Bring 'em on!

(The entries in purple were added by our brilliant, in-the-know Violets.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Twitter Week Two: Time for a Twinnovation

Photo by treehugger

Sunday, June 22nd, 2009
Number of days on Twitter: 14
Number of outgoing Tweets: 33
Number of people following:21
Number of followers:44
Highlights:  Sarah Silverman discusses bladder control issues
Lowlights: Sarah Silverman discusses bladder control issues
Impressive: The coverage, watchfulness and green support for the demonstrators in Iran

One of the coolest things about Twitter truly is the end-user innovations which have been taken place.  We've touched on them briefly a bit already. It's the way that the consumer has taken this tool and adapted it to work harder and more productively than it was meant to in its inception. Twitter has now been seized and squeezed by just about every business, organization, entrepeneur and governmental agency. And why not?  One's potential audience is enormous. Ellen DeGenerous hit a million followers recently and is working fast and furious on her second mil.  Suze Orman is racing to catch up.

Having put a half month into this field work, the jury is still out for me on the benefits of this tool.  Thus far, I'm not quite getting how this might be of use to my writing career.  Fascinating and overwhelming, yes-- but useful?  Not so much.  Like some of you have mentioned, Facebook is a more comfortable environment. I agree!  

Being on Facebook is like being at the high school dance-- I get a little nervous, but I like the snacks, people-watching, and it's fun to catch up with everyone.  Twitter is like being at the dance AND having to dance by yourself through the gauntlet. (Or whatever they call that nightmare where you have to boogie down the middle of two lines of people.  I'd rather be strung up by my uvula outside Costco on a Saturday afternoon.)

I say it's time for a new innovation-- one that will make bring some personal and tangible value to the table. And it comes right from the Shrinking Violet Bible.  (Now available in a purple leather-bound edition.)  

Get the spotlight off of yourself.  Twitter asks you to answer the question "What are you doing?"  Turn the mike around on your followers and followees, Violets and Vinnies.  But don't simply ask them what they're doing.  That has been asked and answered ad nauseum.  Ask them something else.  Something meaningful.  Something maybe even a bit radical.

Starting tomorrow, I am going to ask everyone "What are you doing today to make the world a cooler place?"  (Or better/safer/kinder/gentler) At the very least, I will give them pause.  Hopefully it may inspire some a-c-t-i-o-n. I know it will for  me.  Come ask me!  I am going to add a number of new people each day to follow so I'll have an even larger base to challenge.

Wanna join me?  

And, if you do-- please come back and report in. We'd love to hear how it goes.  Maybe you'll think of a different question entirely!

Mary Hershey
Photo by aussiegal

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twitter Fail

Okay, so maybe the failure is actually mine, but the truth of the matter is, I loathe Twitter. Trust me, I know that many people—Violets included!—find it a useful tool but I have to say, I am simply overwhelmed and unimpressed. Perhaps it’s because I suck at small talk. Or maybe it’s because between SVP, Facebook, and my own blog, I simply don’t have time for one more social platform without sucking too much time and energy away from my writing.

I’ve been feeling pretty wormish about this, as if the letter with the Twitter Loser stamped across it will show up on my doorstep any moment. And then two things happened.

One, I remembered to practice what we preach here at Shrinking Violets. As introverts, we have to conserve our energy. Especially our outbound energy. We also have to pick our strengths and play to those. The truth is, I really do suck at small talk. Hell’s bells, I haven’t even managed the art of short and punchy blog entries, neither here nor on my author blog. I can wax on for 1500 words on plotting or voice or the needs of an introvert, but chit chat? Not so much. Not even cyber chit chat.

The second thing that’s helped me is this post from marketing guru Seth Godin; two of his blog posts in particular.

The first one, Scalejacking, perfectly explains how I feel about Twitter. My favorite quote from the piece:

"The internet is about who, not how many. The internet lets you take really good care of 100 people instead of harassing 2,000."

And that pretty much sums it up for me. I'd rather write at length for people on craft and being an introvert, than pepper them with short, small tweetful attempts at pithy. Mary does pithy well. I do not.

Seth's second post that really resonated with me is called, How Big Is Your Farm? Take away quote?

"If you own a lot of acres but just have a few bags of seed, you might be tempted to spread out what you've got and cover as much territory as you can. Farmers tell me that this is wasteful and time consuming. You end up with less yield and more work.

Marketers face the same dilemma."

I'm an introvert, which means I have even fewer seeds than other people. So I want to think of each seed as a magic bean that I can grow into a great, big beanstalk. (How's that for mixing metaphors!). I can choose to focus on what I do best, writing books, and in depth blog entries, workshops etc. or I can spread myself too thin.

So my hat’s off to you, all you Tweeters out there. Especially you introverted ones. I am in awe of how you make twitter work for you and congratulate you on your tweeting success. However, it is not for me. Not now anyway. It may be in two years, when the technology is old and gray, it will sound interesting to me. But for now, it’s a time suck. Even worse than that, it depletes my energy and resources. And the truth is, as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, those are finite.

And so I share this with you all, not because I enjoy being negative: I don’t. (Trust me, I’m squirming even as I write this. (And notice how I brought in the Big Guns to make myself feel better about my decision.) But sometimes certain approaches or avenues just aren’t our cup of tea. And I need to remind myself that that’s okay. And I thought I’d say it out loud in case any of you needed to hear it too.


I also want to take a moment to give a shout out to all the great new Shrinking Violet books featured in our sidebar this month! You guys are aMaZingLy talented!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Twitter Field Report: Week One

Screaming Woman by Gateway
Crowd by Bao Nguyen

Sunday Night:  June 14th, 2009
Days on Twitter: 7
Number of outgoing tweets: 20
Followers: 27
Following: 26
Robin sightings: 4
Successful exchanges with Robin: 1
Number of Violets in evidence: 9 known

Disclaimer: All data above is subject
to further analysis as I am completely 
and categorically not sure about  any of it.

To assess and analyze the potential for introverts to successfully navigate and inhabit Twitter for the purpose of networking, promotion, personal connections and staying abreast of innovations in social media.

Categories to emerge thus far:

I. Purists:  These subjects use the interface for exactly what was intended at its inception, e.g., posting the most mundane details of one's lives... who-they-saw-and-where, choice of music, daily triumphs, worries, frustrations, assorted reasons why they didn't go to the gym.

II. Serial Posters (aka Cheater-Cheater-Pumpkin-Eaters):  Unable to contain themselves to the requisite 140 characters or less, these subjects will send a long series of individual messages on the same topic requiring the Twitee to try to follow the maze of posts.

III. Hijackers:  Subjects use Twitter for the purpose of posting a URL to a article, website or blog that has ten squillion characters, not 140, thereby taking the innocent Twit hostage. Posting URLs is an innovation of the media that has great potential for marketing, but if done excessively, particularly by a single subject, as noted by Robin, can be as welcome as spam.

IV. Voyeurs:  Though I have yet to directly observe these subjects, I suspect there are leagues of these taking in the scene,  gathering NetFlix recommendations and assorted intel. They may be marketers, anthropologists, journalists, researchers, or politicos watching for trends, product spikes, viral mob formation, etc. (I can hear them breathing, even if they're not tweeting.)

V. Mentors & Guides: Most excited about these curious subjects that appear for all practical purposes to be sharing information for altruistic purposes.  These require more in-depth study. 

VI. Scary People: These show up as followers with provocative/disturbing profile pictures and names. One can "block" them, but they are extremely resilient.  [Note to Self: Look for downloadable rubber mallet  Perhaps carries one.]

VII. Newscasters:  Subjects provide swift access to local, national and international news, managing to foil those attempting to limit information. This is a most unexpected adaptation of the media with significant value.

This month's mission is more daunting than expected.  After only one week, I have developed a 140-character-counting-compulsion.  Found myself enrapt over a bowl of blueberries, stunned by their very stillness and disinterest in proselytizing.  Will need to switch to a quieter cereal, however. Removed bird feeder from outside office.   Too much tweeting.  Need a map! Desperately.  Will try to master the #hashbrowns (hashtag?) this week,  and successfully round up the Violets on one message.  We'll March for Mute.


Thursday, June 11, 2009


So I have to admit, so far I’m not really getting Twitter. I know that millions love it, but I am not yet one of those millions. However, I also know that I tend to dislike transitions, and learning an entire new interface is always the Mother of Transitions.

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…

Monday, June 8, 2009

All A-Jitter & A-Twitter!

Twitter cupcakes by Bakerella

REA-A-A-DY?  (No!)  SET?  (I'm shRIEKing here! )  GO!!  (God save the Shrinking Violets)

Twitter virgin coming aboard! (Twirgin?) Semi-freaked. Hi!

And I'm IN!  Only omigod, where's Robin!  Robin! Tweet! Tweet! Where are you??  Calling RL LaFevers!  SOS!

It's kinda scary in here and I'm being trampled by extraverts. They are incredibly chatty!  Thank god they only get 140 characters a shot. I'm noticing some get around that by posting like eight consecutive messages. Okay, now that's cheating.  If you can't say your piece in 140 characters, just go sit down at your desk and fold your holds.  

Where is my Shrinking Violet Twibe?  Please come find me! 

Okay, now this is actually helpful. I just learned that my Santa Barbara neighbor, Ellen DeGenerous, has a spoon stuck in her garbage disposal.  Man, if I were a plumber, that would be an important tip.  As it is, I'm tempted to swing by and fake it.  LOVE her and her little dogs, too.  Hey, I've pulled a few spoons out in my day.  And I really want to talk to her about an "Ellen's Pick" book list for kids and YA that she needs to start.  Maybe I should just get the stickers made for the covers and drop them by her place.  Could there be a better match?  Ellen and books for kids?  I swear, some days the ideas just won't quit coming.
Twitter Class Picture by Mallix

Wow, Rachel Maddow is very ON, and dawg, the girl is well-connected.  
Tweet you later!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

And The Winner of the 2009 Independent Bookseller of The Year Is . . .

Hannah Schwartz


in Haverford, PA!

Hannah was nominated by long time Shrinking Violet liquidambar (aka writerjenn) and seconded by a couple of Very In-The-Know Industry Professionals, so we couldn't be more happy to welcome Hannah into the illustrious halls of SVP Fame!

We actually profiled CHILDREN'S BOOK WORLD during last year's Indie Parade, and Jenn herself has raved about them on her own blog.

From their gorgeous website:

"Children's Book World has long been a place for a meeting of the minds. In our eighteen years of business, we've brought together parents and children, teachers and classmates, authors and illustrators, and above all, stories and imaginations. Bringing people together to share in the joy of reading is our passion, and we strive to make our store the meeting place for just that. Whether you're a child, a parent, an educator, or a book lover, you'll see the difference that quality makes in our selection, our staff, and our service."

CONGRATULATIONS, Hannah! Like most booksellers, Hannah works quietly behind the scenes, so we don't know too many details about her other than she is a dynamite bookseller, but we'll get a profile of her up soon, so you can learn all about this year's incoming Bookselling Queen!

We had a lot of very amazing nominees this year, and we felt a Special Mention should go to Dr. Zizic of Crocodile Pie as a special Indie Hero! Her love of books and timely action saved a twenty year old bookstore from certain death!

Our deepest thanks to all of you who nominated booksellers this year, and everyone who participated in our National Independent Bookstore Month!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A couple of other things. Mary and I will be taking the Twitter Plunge here shortly and would love if some other Twitter-less Violets would be willing to take the plunge with us! Remember there's safety in numbers! Email us at Shrinking Violets, if you're interested...

And secondly, Mary and I have been doing a lot of talking about what kind of presence we want Shrinking Violets to be in your lives. When we first started this blog three years ago, there were no where near the number and wealth of writing and marketing sites that there are now. The truth is, it's pretty easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer avalanche of information out there. Or at least, we do. And more than anything else, we want this blog to be about creating one less demand in your lives. With that thought in mind, we're feeling a need to reduce the cyber-clutter in our lives and thought maybe you all might be feeling the same thing, so we are going to be adjusting our blog schedule so that we only post once a week instead of twice, that way you have just one less thing to worry about or catch up on each week. We'll still have our standard combination of inspiration and practical information, generously seasoned with a profile or interview, or two. But we'll only pop up on your To-Do List once a week, beginning in July.