A Twitter Trial
For the last four days, I have conducted a very scientific trial into the benefits of Twitter to the marketing plan of a would-be novelist. Here are my findings (in 'bad news first' format)...
The Case Against
- I love it! This is not as good as it sounds. It is totally addictive and as impossible to ignore as a ringing phone. Every time I feel it is safe to leave the Blue Bird of Twitterness for a few hours and go back to my editing, I notice a new follower and feel compelled to log back in to see who it is. This is BAD. Don't do this.
- It may not necessarily be the best showcase for your blog. This starts from the basis that your blog is the perfect place to show off your writing talent. It may be. If you write fiction and your blog is dedicated to sharing this fiction then you have a point. If, like me, you devote your blog to writing non-fiction and connecting with your followers then maybe not. Blogging is conversational. It lends itself to fast hang-the-grammar-and-who-cares-whether-it's-passive-voice writing. Not the kind of writing I'd submit to an agent or publisher. That said, a writing blog is a wonderful thing. You connect with your readership. This has a couple of great payoffs. First: you build a readership for your published/soon-to-be-published work. This is handy from a business sense (it helps the writer, agent, publisher and retailers) but also from the reader's perspective. Not only are you more likely to buy and promote books written by someone you actually know and consider to be a friend but you'll also have more fun reading them.
This brings me to the final bad point about Twitter.
'Hang on!' I hear you cry. 'This sounds like good news. Didn't you tell us it would be bad news first? Bad writer. Go to your room and think about what you've done.' Aha! I'm one step ahead of you. The good news was about the blog. I was establishing for you the good-news-ness of blogs. Blogs are great news. This post is about Twitter - the sting's in the tail. Twitter may not help your blog. For one thing, through my time on Twitter I have not gained a single smiling face on my follow board here at From Brain to Bookshelf. Twitter is not an extension of your blog. It's a whole different country.
- It is not a country to which everyone has - or wants to have - a passport. If you want to connect with your readers, you'll need more than Twitter.
The Case For
- I love it! I'm fairly sure I can conquer my addiction. It'll lose its new car smell pretty soon.
- It may not be the best showcase for my writing but in only four days I already have more followers on Twitter than I've pulled to this blog in the last six months!
- There would be more but I've blocked a load. It turns out that marketing in any obvious way on Twitter is a giant bore so I kick off those aggressively offering to make me rich etc. You may think I'm leading up to something that should go into the 'points against' section: you can't sell on Twitter. Not so. It doesn't matter that you can't - or shouldn't - sell on Twitter because you can do so much more.
- What you can do on Twitter is: start a conversation; make a connection; have 'normal' chats via direct messaging with agents, publishers, readers and celebrities. This is something I've managed in only four days!
This is the biggest thrill. He's my fave celebrity - as fans of the blog will know. Many years ago, I had a wonderful evening of pizza and chat with Mr Fry and a couple of his chums. It was a bizarre experience and utterly utterly charming and fun. A few years later, we met again at the BAFTAs and although it was quite obvious that he didn't remember me, he bluffed his way through the experience and was just as charming. Imagine my grin when I scrolled down my followers on Twitter a decade on and found that I am now able to direct message Stephen Fry. Thrilled.
So - Twitter: Writer Friend or Writer Foe?
London Belle passed on a little nugget of disgusting wisdom the other day that I think I will now share with you.
'procrastination is like masturbation, at first it feels good but in the end you’re only screwing yourself.'
In short, the enemy is not Twitter but procrastination. If you feel the need to procrastinate then Twitter is a terrible place to go. If you're a procrastinator and you have a deadline to meet then STAY AWAY!
Twitter is a drinks party. You go in, meet some people, have a chat, scoff some cheesy-nibbly things and have fun. Maybe you stay for a few minutes. Maybe you're drunk in the kitchen after all but a few die-hards have gone home. It's your choice. Much as I'm fond of drama, you know I'm going to hit my self-imposed deadline. I always do. Twitter doesn't scare me. Just one more glass of virtual Pol Roger and I'm off back to my manuscript.