Yes, I am one of thousands (probably a lot more) and we are all part of the same collective consciousness, wired into the same hopes of finding writing success. And while we all know in our hearts that there are not enough readers on this planet for all of us to succeed, we all keep dreaming together, sharing the same hopes, avoiding expressing the same fears.
It is all a beautifully sad thought, like a fleeting, quiet, and hopeful melody lost in a romantic symphony.
-At the time of this writing I have 2370 followers on Twitter-
I need to begin by blaming my brother (@AESPiano).
I had just reached over a 100 followers on my blog and he thought it was ridiculous that I had more blog followers than Twitter followers. He first reached out to his followers to find me and follow me, and then he tried to convince me to do some outreach myself on the great social media site, claiming that it would help my writing career.
Frankly, I didn’t see it, but I decided to do some investigating into it just out of curiosity. I found a fellow writer who was following me and started to scroll through her followers, looking for other writers, and clicking follow on the ones that I felt might be interesting.
My obsession began, like a new sport being discovered, and by the end of the first week I had a 1000.
I have to be honest here: My first reaction to experiencing the writing world around Twitter was despair. Not a surprising emotion as you scroll through writers’ tweets after writers’ tweets, each trying to convince you to check out their book, read a sample, and buy, buy, buy.
Some are outright pitches (comparing their book to other works, sales, a random positive review), some contain maybe one or two sentences to try and catch your eye (but out of context rarely work or are trying to be too profound, again because the context is lost), there are bargain hunters (“My book is only 99 cents today!”), and others may be nothing more than a title and a link; reminding me of the last gasp of a swimmer lost at sea about to go down for the third time.
My immediate vision was of a street of fishmongers back in Victorian times. Each of us shouting that I have the best fish, but no customers being in sight; so all we are doing is shouting at each other until we are hoarse. Not a fair comparison I know now, but it was honestly the first image I had. What can I say? I am shouting “Fresh Fish! I got the best fresh fish! Who wants a halibut?” just like everyone else.
( I have two by the way that are particularly tasty, just caught recently. They are called A Jane Austen Daydream and Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare… I’m sorry, force of habit).
During my first week, I did an experiment. You will see around the writing tweets people offering services to promote books. One I found offered to promote my book with 50,000 people over Twitter and Facebook for only 35 or so dollars.
I thought, what the heck, and did it; considering the investment as part of my education into the possibilities of Twitter.
On their Facebook page, the company used the wrong cover for my book. I kid you not! Instead of my very slick 1950’s sci-fi cover (this is for My Problem With Doors), they used the cover for… wait for it… The Christmas Cookie Club.
I mean… wow…
I pointed it out to the organization, which they corrected in other examples, but what I soon realized over the experience is that they were just adding my book to the “noise” of the market, it wasn’t cutting through. And since then I had not seen anything in my numbers to justify the financial transaction in the future.
So what is the lesson I learned? Basically, it is not easy to cut through the congestion of Twitter. You need a unique hook that is all your own. But what that is or how it is done, everyone has to find for themselves. Personally, I am still looking.
I see Twitter different now.
Twitter, in my opinion, is the great melting pot for writers.
We are all equal here. Every single one of us is no better than the other. You want to call yourself a writer or an author, feel free. Everyone is welcome.
This is all a very new thing for the world of writing, an environment that has spent over a hundred years finding the right spot, right genre, and right amount of success for everyone entering it (and if you didn’t fit the mold, you didn’t play the game). On Twitter the literary snobbery gets left at the door.
Yes, those old rules are gone on Twitter. Established writers are no different from the indie and the self-published writers. We all market ourselves and our books here, and what our numbers come down to is how aggressive we want to be to get that word out.
As a lover of literature, I can’t wait to see what the writing world looks like a decade from now because of this. Honestly, I have no idea how it will turn out and what will remain at the end of it.
One of the things I love about finding writers on Twitter is a game I have made up. Here, I will share it with you. I call it “Guess the Genre.”
Rules: I give myself two points if I guess the genre of the writer correctly before I look at their bio, I take away one point if I guess incorrectly.
To be honest, I am usually always correct now. For example:
- Horror/Paranormal writers are always in the shadows, trying to look scary.
- Romance writers usually have covers of their books, and each looks like something from a harlequin shelf. There is a fascination with abs, it seems. How the heroes have time to woo with all of the work needed to keep those abs up to snuff is beyond me.
- Crime/Thriller writers are always against a wall, looking like they were trapped into having their picture taken.
- Children authors look like the nicest people on the planet. They are smiling and usually outdoors someplace with a lot of sun.
Someone told me during my first week I looked like a cowboy in my picture. Personally, I don’t know many cowboys that wear a tie and a vest, but that is pretty bad ass in my opinion so I will take that compliment. But if you played the “Guess the Genre” with me, and you thought Western you would be wrong.
Sorry. (Post-Modern literature with hints of fantastical elements, that’s me.)
Another thing I have noticed about Twitter writers is that so many are writing a series.
My initial snob response to that is to blame TV, but that is not fair. P.G. Wodehouse, one of my favorite humorists of the last century, wrote a series of comedy novels (Jeeves and Wooster, check them out), and of course, there is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. The big difference to me is that it seems that with the success of Harry Potter, the idea of a series has moved from the world of pulp fiction to the mainstream.
(Oh, did I mention I am writing a series? No, this is not a joke. I wrote the first draft of the first book, last year, but it needs work. It will be part of a dark teenage fantasy. So there you go…).
One of the things I have grown to love over Twitter is the interaction with fellow writers. It is a great feeling when another writer tells you that they like your recent blog post, retweet something you wrote, or compliment your writing. Twitter, when done right, is wonderful for the ego and writers need egos. (If you don’t feel like you are doing something important, you won’t finish a sentence.)
And while there are a lot out there that are only interested in pushing their books (which is fine, and good luck and cheers to them), there are others that are actually interested in you, in your thoughts; which has led to some nice interactions for me.
It is that feeling that we are all in this together. And, yes, while we all know that the literary marketplace is congested, and few of us will find the success we all dream about in our collective consciousness, we are still in it together.
What can I say?
If you follow me, I will follow you back.
Of course, I can be found on Twitter at @SDSouthard. If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my published books? I’ve had four books published in the last few years, the new A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or Doors and Megan as an eBook on Google eBooks here. Thanks for reading!
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