I set up a Twitter account awhile back because that was on my promotional “to-do” list. However, I did not really understand what it was for, so I did not use it much. I tweeted our blog posts, and that was pretty much it. My experience with Twitter was somewhat like Alice staring down the rabbit hole. The White Rabbit is marketing, and I want to go where it goes, but I hesitated looking down that small, dark hole. I know that Twitter resembles email, except that you have to be extremely careful what you say. You only have 140 characters in which to say it. Interestingly enough, this ties in with another part of my writer’s journey, inspired decades ago by Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, my pledge to “Omit needless words!”
I never really understood writers who needed to write long books. Some people love long books with complex descriptions of places, clothing and every little detail. I like the characters and the stories. Excuse me while I skip the travelogue at the beginning of every chapter of Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff. I am not quite at the point of writing phone-screen-sized chapters or text-messaging novels, but I keep hearing that echo, “omit needless words,” and so I edit, trim, and refine my work. As a matter of fact, I have only recently learned the art of text messaging, another thing that resembles Tweeting. Our daughter is hard of hearing and our communication is almost exclusively by texting. I refuse to use all the abbreviations, symbols and jargon. It makes it difficult, but I have my limits.
Back to Twitter. Recently I timidly took the step of retweeting posts by some authors I have befriended and admire. I don’t just randomly retweet, and I don’t even retweet everything I agree with. I do, however, tend to retweet my author friends. In the meantime, our blog posts go on Twitter automatically, and the other day I was startled to discover that our blog followers had more than tripled in the last month. I was also startled to discover that our books were beginning to sell a little. Our chosen niche market is niched indeed, more like Scout and Jem’s secret space in the hollow tree where they exchanged treasures with Boo Radley. I don’t expect to have bestsellers. In fact, more than one blogger has refused to read our books for review or carry posts we have written because they are “too…” Well, I’ll let you fill in the blank and ponder what an unfair world it is.
I noticed also that strange Tweeters were beginning to say they were following me. I’m not going to tell you how many followers I have because it’s still embarrassing, but people do notice when you retweet a lot. The next step in my Twitterland journey was when I joined a Facebook authors’ group that seemed to fit better with my niche than those I had previously joined. I participated, talked, asked for advice, as I always do when I join a group. Then I noticed they were posting Tweets for their books or interviews or blog posts. I grabbed them and retweeted them, and everybody said “Thank You!”
Then someone said, “Where are your tweets? We will repost them all sorts of ways.” Aaaggh! I had no tweets. So I have been forced to create Tweets. I am still struggling to grasp the hashtag thing, but I think it makes it stand out more, like tagging your book on Amazon. I still hate having to abbreviate, to leave out my beloved exact spelling and punctuation, but I press on. And, though in some respects I am still staring down the rabbithole, I am getting the hang of this Twitter thing. Because of something I am doing, our blog is getting a higher profile and our books are getting some sales. A recent article said that Twitter will cease to exist this year. Perhaps. But in the meantime, it seems to be working for me. Go through your Twitter feed every day, look for the ones you want to retweet, decide if you want to follow people who say they are following you, and don’t forget to Tweet yourself!
How to create a Twitter Post (from an admitted newbie.)
Look at what other similar posts contain in the way of hashtags. For example, I write #Historical and #Fiction and #Adventure, my husband writes #SciFi and #Nonfiction, and there are TONS of other hashtags. Just add the Hash or pound sign in front of a word and you have a hash tag. They are subjects that people search for that can get your post noticed, and retweeted, and possibly get you followed. Punctuation and correct spelling take up extra characters, so grit your teeth and leave them out. Use a URL shortening program like bitly to cut down your links. HootSuite is a free program that can be used to schedule recurring tweets, I am told,. That’s the next step in my journey, I guess.
Some examples of tweets using hashtags
#SciFi #Christian The future of persecution. Lunar colony, gas-collection in the outer planets, forbidden romance http://bit.ly/x5Doq7
#Nonfiction doesn’t have to be dull! 200 illustrations, Nimrod’s worship foundations to founding fathers’ fears http://amzn.to/tUo6Kb
#Mystery Adventure Series, All Things New Doctor tests, Boarding school, secret society, Christmas ball, twin trouble http://amzn.to/vG8jGW
#romance #suspense #historical Occult attacks, child sex slavery, a lost prince, regain a throne, king’s hole peril http://bit.ly/wnxxpt
#Blog, #Issues, #History, #Education #Science It’s tough but you need it. From a fan, “Need me some elk jerky, I do” http://bit.ly/vfdw8v