I have over 30,000 Twitter followers. When I began this post I had tweeted exactly 10,400 times. No more, no less. Tweet #10,401 will be the first notice that I have written this post.
I am an author on Twitter and, honestly, I don’t think Twitter has led to many book sales really from the traffic. It does generate blog views, but never more than a third of what I get on a daily basis. The rest comes from subscribers and those who just seem to check me out from time to time. So what is this hold Twitter has on me that I keep returning and why do so many follow me?
For me, personally, Twitter is an ego trip. I admit that. Beyond the amount of followers, I get a huge kick out of sharing, retweets, and likes around my articles and books. And I especially love it when someone writes to me about my books usually to say they are reading one of them or enjoy it.
The fact is though I can’t imagine having a real friendship or relationship over Twitter. There almost needs to be a new word for the relationships built on this social network; somewhere below “acquaintance” but above “name recognition.” Yeah, it’s not like Facebook where a majority of my “friends” I have actually spoken to at one point. This is more like epic literary crowdsurfing for a writer. Like I am thrown to the sea of Twitter, riding my book like a boat. And there are thousands and thousands of other writers and readers like me on the rough sea in similar boats… and now and then we will see a Fail Whale. Making us at that moment the internet equivalent of Ahab.
Well, not this day. For on this day, for the first time in two years, I have decided to take a break and document my withdraw…
6:45 AM: I never had big goals for myself during this day, which makes it all a little more difficult. I am just at home watching the kids as my wife is away all day. So what is on my itinerary? Feed my kids, play with my kids, do the laundry (which only means pressing a few buttons), and maybe (just maybe) vacuuming… Oh, and I want to get past the halfway mark on the book Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (I thought Game Change a great read). I should’ve chosen a day of errands or visits if I wanted to make this easier on me. But that’s not me. I like a challenge… which accounts for why I am staring at my iPhone wondering if I made the right decision.
I can do this (maybe). I can certainly do this (maybe).
8:05 AM: I feel the urge to tweet. Usually I like to tweet about my books on Sunday morning. Remembering those quiet moments I used to have before kids when I could just sit for hours with a book on my couch. Maybe a reader with a Kindle would be looking for something new, hoping for that literary escape as well? Something that goes well with a cup of tea. I have that literary biscuit for you!
Deep breath… Now it’s almost weird to think that quiet reading time was ever real. Kids shift reality. My wife and I will laugh when we try to remember what we would do or talk about before our kids took over our lives. I know it was something. We were married for five years before the first one arrived… but what we talked about, I can’t say.
I just noticed that I have 15 pending e-mails regarding my Twitter account. I have decided not to scan the e-mails, adding them to my break. I assume that most are from people deciding to follow me or sending me messages or continuing me on some tweet of people to follow.
No shakes, but I did notice that I am a little nervous because of it. It’s like that feeling you would get as a teenager or college student that there is a party someplace that you are not invited to. There has to be a party out there! And I am missing it!
Are sales disappearing? Are my blog numbers dropping? Do I dare check? I do not… turning my attention to my kids and their LEGOs… and my new favorite game app- Star Wars: Tiny Death Star.
Tiny Death Star is awesome.
10:12 AM: My kids are having popsicles. Popsicles are a gift. They are ten minutes of assured sanity since children will sit and focus on them the entire time. As they eat the popsicles this time they are watching a black squirrel in our backyard. My daughter is convinced that it is a bad squirrel because it is walking on the fence between the neighbor’s and our lawn; as if a mommy squirrel had told him not to do that and he did it anyway.
I didn’t check my e-mails this time.
Finished with her popsicle first, my daughter has now gotten her hands on my son’s Superman LEGOs and just had Superman propose to Lois Lane. It was not as romantic as one might imagine (A. They are LEGOs and B. Superman only said, “You will marry me.” and Lois replied with a simple, “Okay.”) but as a comic book fan I accept the inevitability of it… even though I always imagined Wonder Woman to be a better match.
10:23 AM: Both of my kids have boxes over their heads declaring they are ghost robots.
10:36 AM: My daughter wants to put on her Cinderella dress so she can marry her brother (there is a theme building here). Her brother doesn’t want to get married… even if he can dress up like Iron Man. ”What about if you are The Flash?” she asks hopefully.
11:25 AM: After a lunch of Scooby-Doo soup, I had to chase my son around the house. He had taken my reading glasses, and was laughing loudly that he was Clark Kent.
11:45 AM: My daughter is wearing a tutu and playing the bongo drums. My son is dancing with a lightsaber to the beat. I have no idea how nap time is going to go. (I have over twenty new e-mails now bringing the total to forty.)
1:30 PM: My daughter is down for her nap (I didn’t bring my cellphone with me when I went up to help her fall asleep, the app for Twitter was too tempting). So far, I have finished three loads of laundry and am about to clean the kitchen. My son has decided to get in a hot debate with me about how all of the holidays are for kids. I responded quickly that Valentine’s Day is for adults.
“Because you kids have a lot to learn about love.” I replied, starting to wonder if I made a mistake about going down this road.
“Like what?” he asked defiantly. He then smirked (he has a good smirk), taking the expression on my face and my awkward silence as a victory.
3:20 PM: I’m keeping an extra eye on my daughter today. She is two and very independent and yesterday she got in trouble. While I was helping my son put on a bow tie for a Birthday party (Yup, that is how us Southard men roll), she had gone into the cupboard, taken out a packet for making brown gravy, went to her favorite chair, sat down, opened it, and began to eat. She smiled when I came downstairs and said it was yummy.
So today I am watching her like a hawk and I thought I could trust her brother to help… Fat chance. When I was upstairs a minute ago, the kids decided to collect all of the dog’s bones in one pile and present them like some kind of doggy fashion show to our pooch one at a time. Or maybe a better comparison would be the old TV show “This Is Your Life.” I could just imagine the announcer “And do you remember this bone?”
Whatever the case, the dog is not amused and I have a new mess to clean up… Well, it is better than gravy.
3:37 PM: The experience with the dog has evolved. Now my kids are taking turns pretending to be a dog and making each other fetch toys. It seems safe… so far.
I am thinking a lot about my account. See, it’s a dreary wet day outside. The leaves are all down and the afternoon just screams for reading. Are others who are visiting Twitter thinking the same thing? Looking for a new book? Something different?
My fingers are getting a little itchy. Is this experiment worth it? A sale is a sale; this avoidance is more about my ego, right? I’m just trying to prove something. Or am I like my kids and Twitter is telling me to fetch?
4:40 PM: There is a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch.
Now we have been hit by a tornado in the area before and this time has all of the same markings. The weird sideways blowing of the heavy rain, the severe swaying of the giant trees around the house. I immediately moved my kids into the basement, trying my best to keep them relaxed. The scared dog shortly follows, needing to crawl on the lap of kids smaller than her. I put a calming Disney film on the old TV down there and then turned on the TV in the living room upstairs (which is only a few feet from the stairs) watching the storm clouds pass above over my house, ready to run into the basement if I needed to. I feel each minute pass, each bloody minute.
Two minutes. I called down to the kids, reassuring them everything is okay.
At three minutes, I fielded a call from my parents, went down and checked on the kids quickly. Told them I am keeping an eye on the weather.
Each roar of thunder shakes my feet like an unsteady sailor at sea. Each lightning bolt makes my heart skip… and then the rain suddenly goes silent and too, too passive…. And at that moment, I couldn’t have cared less about Twitter.
If you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, 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. Thanks for reading!
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I love this! I’m going to give it a try 🙂
It did make me nervous sometimes, but it was also nice to just not have to think about it. Take a break. I want my books to find success, but now and then I need to walk away.
I have no problem going longer than 24 hours–or even for days or weeks–without Twitter, and I guess that’s one reason why you have a hundred times more followers than i do. Just want to point out that I found you and your blog via Twitter, bought your book, and am trying to finish writing my review of it. Still, I know what you mean about putting a lot of energy out there and never knowing what may lead to someone buying our books. I have found some readers via Twitter, but it’s more of an unexpected and pleasant surprise than something I expect. Hope you weathered the storm and the break from Twitter without too much additional anxiety.
LOL. That’s awesome!
And I think you are right, it is a surprise. So much of Twitter is just noise. Of course, now and then you do get lucky. I hope you enjoyed my book!
I have been overwhelmed and not feeling great. I haven’t been on twitter for a few days now. I found you through a RT on twitter by a friend. All that led me to A Jane Austen Daydream and a purchase.
People in the comments are getting me to eat my words on Twitter and readers. LOL.
I hope you feel better!
I am glad to hear that Twitter isn’t one of the important ways you advertise yourself. I’ve thought about getting one solely for the reason of getting more people interested in my writing. However, Twitter has always seemed so derivative of the already cheapened forum that is mass social media. And it is interesting that you call it an ego trip, because that (to an extent) is what it is for everyone. I am highly skeptical that anyone can say anything of real value in less than 140 characters. People use Twitter for their own gains, whether it is views on a blog or just knowing that someone is paying attention to you. It isn’t about social connectedness, but rather millions of socially isolated individuals in a desperate cry for acknowledgement. Once you get the past the point of acknowledgement, people are greedy for more.
You definitely feel the limitations of Twitter when you are sending Direct Messages back and forth with someone. I think that aspect of Twitter should be changed.
However, I must note that after writing this post, I had a handful of people tell me they discovered my book via Twitter. So like most things, it’s all luck. Hit or miss. I usually just focus on pushing my blog posts via twitter, with the occasional tweet about my books. You don’t want to do too much and scare away the people who actually follow your writing. Hashtags are also very important.
I do have to say in defense of 140 characters, you can get some good haiku in there. I’ve done a few. But beyond that… I don’t know.
Glad to know some from Aquinas are still checking out the site! Good luck with the blog. Cheers.
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Number one on your list made me laugh out loud.