I promised another look at an aspect of social networking. People love it, hate it, and everything in between. To tweet or not to tweet? How useful is Twitter for writers? Today’s guest, cozy mystery author Elizabeth Spann Craig, weighs in. I'm anticipating some lively conversation in the comment thread.
It used to be that I could say “sign up for Twitter only if you want to.” I wasn’t really getting a whole lot out of it, but was dutifully tweeting several times a day.
I think now I’ve got to give Twitter a big thumbs-up. Used correctly, Twitter can be an incredible tool for networking, driving traffic to your blog, and connecting with the greater writing community.
The key is finding the writing community on Twitter. I’m including book bloggers, avid readers, as well as industry professionals in the term ‘writing community.’ Think of Twitter as a huge university and your writing buddies as your fraternity or sorority that gives you a smaller group to communicate with—instead of trying to tweet to a random group of people.
Don’t be surprised by the learning curve on Twitter. It took me a week before I felt comfortable using it. There are many easy tutorials on YouTube to help you learn the basics. This one is good: http://tinyurl.com/b4b78p.
Get started by going to your favorite writing blogs and finding the blogger’s Twitter address. Start off by following these bloggers. Then you’ll see who they are following. Click through the community of people who they follow. Follow some of those people.
Twitter lists is just starting out. Basically, if there’s a writer you like, and they’re using Twitter lists, you can follow their entire list. In their sidebar will be labeled lists. My list is called “Great Follows for Writers.” You click on the list and Twitter asks if you’d like to follow the list.
You can use 3rd party applications like TweetDeck to organize the people you follow. You could have your favorite tweeters in one column, family or friends in another column, and local businesses in yet another one. I mainly follow book industry people, but I do also follow local weathermen, news organizations, and local businesses that tweet coupons.
What do I get from Twitter?
•Excellent links to writing articles
•An opportunity to learn more about writers I follow
•A chance to share my article discoveries with other writers.
•An opportunity to promote my own blog and blogs I’m interested in.
•Industry-related news in real-time.
•As with all social media, it’s easy to spend too much time using it.
•It’s time-consuming to set up a list of good people to follow.
•It’s one more distraction from writing.
Some recommendations for usage:
•Set a timer.
•Use Twitter three times a day, sparingly, after getting it set up.
With a little time and effort, Twitter can be a great tool for writers to network, obtain industry information, and promote their work.
Elizabeth Spann Craig writes cozy mysteries for Midnight Ink (The Myrtle Clover series) and Berkley Prime Crime (The Memphis Barbeque Mysteries). Her latest release, Pretty is as Pretty Dies is available in bookstores now. You can enjoy Elizabeth's enlightening posts at her blog, Mystery Writing is Murder.