Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tricks for Tweeting Like You're One of the Flock

Continuing our heart-filled February theme of Loving the Business Side of Writing, I'll be sharing my tricks for tweeting.  Why was I the cabinet member nominated for this blog?  Well, because I may be the newest to twitter, and therefor remember very clearly all my dumb, noob mistakes.  It may also have something to with *cough* my nominating myself. ;)

I tell you that so you're forewarned, and you won't be expecting more in-depth (you know...expert!) advice.  You'll find some of that here and here.  For everyone else, grab a hot chocolate, open that bag of cookies, and let's talk twitter cheats tips!

For those who are used to FB or browsing through blogs, the twitter structure can feel a little out of control.  This is because content isn't something you hop around to read, or click on to see, it flows past you in a constant stream that can sometimes feel more like a waterfall.  You're also more aware of all the many Strangers using twitter, who follow you or favorite a tweet without your having any idea who they are.

For that reason, I've chosen this pic to illustrate how tweeting feels.  As you can see...I'm not exactly in charge of this situation.  The little bird up top is about to make a nest in my hair, the bright one with his head down is wondering if he should crawl down my shirt (for real!) and the jaunty fellow with the black head will be cleaning my teeth in two seconds.  In the flock hirearchy, I think I come in a little after fifth place for Person in Charge!

But, there are ways to organize twitter so it feels both more useful and less like you're standing in the middle of a crowded street while everyone around you waves a newspaper, printed sign, or megaphone and shouts as loud as they can.  These are my tips:
  • Right from the start, follow a few cool peeps.  I'm not talking about celebrities here, or even your cooler friends--though of course your friends are a good idea--I'm suggesting first thing after signing up, you select a few people who are cool, funny, and talking about stuff you're interested in.  @Neilhimself (Neil Gaiman) and @MrSchuReads (John Schu) are good first picks for writers.  Follow your chosen person, then follow a few people who interact with him/her in an interesting way.  This will put a few people in your twitter feed that are actually saying stuff (some friends you find aren’t fully present…if you know what I mean), and moreover, it will mean your ‘discover’ tab starts to fill up with stuff relevant to you.  From there, you’ll interact with other peeps that you find amusing or interesting, and follow at will.
  • Take a page from Santa and make a list.  This doesn’t have to be public (in case you title it ‘interesting people I actually care about hearing from’) but you will thank yourself in a month or two when you’ve got all kinds of nonsense filling up your feed and are missing anything and everything your friends say.  Especially since it's a good idea to follow back anyone who follows you, unless you've got some *good reason not to.
  • Be like a bird...or, okay, more like a bee, and cross pollinate.  When you see cool stuff on FB that hasn’t shown up in your twitter feed, drop a like on the facebook sharer (that’s just common courtesy) then follow the Cool Thing back to its source and click the little share on twitter button.  Do the same for articles or other interesting stuff you see on twitter.  Like a little bee, you’ll buzz further by cross-pollinating.
  • Be clear--even when you're hashing it out.  When you want to share a hashtag that’s more than two words, consider capitalizing the first letter of each new word, like this: #HiMyNameIsDork  This may disappoint followers who came to twitter with the hope of gaining a pair of crossed-eyes and boosting their word search skills, but the rest of them will thank you.
  • Keep an eye on your 'connect' or 'notifications' tab.  One of the few cardinal rules of twitter is that if someone interacts with you, acknowledge them and interact back.  Once you have--idk, 5k followers? Maybe you can ignore the rule.  Until then, even if it takes you a week, favorite their comment or drop a reply.  Cause ignoring your twitter peeps is for the birds!
Personally, I've come to rely on twitter for industry news, and have really enjoyed finding fellow writers, readers, and random folks to connect with.  Without twitter, I would never have discovered my awesome co-hosts of #mglitchat, and been able to join that team in putting on our weekly discussions. My twitter handle is @warrchick, and unless you're *babbling in an alien language or *threatening to abduct me, I generally follow back.  My fellow curiosity specialists here on the cabinet are all over there, too--'cause the cool kids like twittering and tweetering!  You'll find them under @GingerChurchill, @PatEsden, @LauraSAndersen, and @becfitzpatrick, so come join the flock!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Loving the Business Side of Writing

(Or, as I think of it: Learning to Love the Things You Can’t Control)

Pop Quiz: This post is late going up because . . .

aa)   I’ve spent the weekend out of town for the funeral of a friend and am still emotionally drained.
bb)   With the snowstorm on the east coast tomorrow, I had flights cancelled and will be at least one day later getting home than I’d expected so now I have to do laundry and all my plans are out of whack.
cc)    I don’t love Things I Can’t Control.

     You wouldn’t go far wrong guessing any of the three, but yes indeed, the last is by far the most true. Is it possibly false for anyone? If so, I have yet to meet that person. And the business part of being a writer is overflowing with uncontrollable aspects. (Rather like being a mother; someday I plan to write a post comparing the two.)
     Each step along the path to publication brings a new set of out-of-control issues. Querying, finding an agent, finding a publisher, cover art, reviews, sales . . . Do not get me started on that last. My husband has learned to never ask, “How’s the book(s) selling?” The answer is always some variation of, “I don’t know, I don’t want to know, why are you pressuring me?!” (Imagine me talking faster and faster with each word.)
     And beyond all that, the fundamental (at least for me) fear of failure doesn’t vanish with the professional validation of agents and contracts and sales. Here’s an entry from my journal while I was at the querying/rejection stage of the business.
Feb. 20, 2005
And what, after all, if I’m not talented enough? I could write forever if I truly believe that I am learning and getting better, that each time I do this, I do it closer to my vision in my head. But if I don’t have what it takes to someday be able to share this widely, then I don’t see the point. I guess, in the end, I don’t want to make a fool of myself and I don’t want to think that people are laughing at me and my foolishness in continuing when I’m really just not very good.
     I could write that very entry today, word for word, even with two published books, one releasing this year, and three more under contract. So what keeps me—or any writer, at any point on the path—moving forward? Here’s the final line of the above journal entry: Sigh. I don’t know how I’m supposed to find that out, except to keep going on.
      And that is all the wisdom I have to offer you when it comes to the many aspects of this writing business that you cannot control: to keep going on. I can’t control reviews. I can’t control public opinion. I can’t control typesetting and art design. There are ways to participate and help shape the conversation around one’s work once it’s public—and I have some brilliant friends on this site who will share ways to do that—but in the end, there is only one thing that I can absolutely control: the writing.
     I end with some thoughts I put down in 2009, coming off a year in which my writing had been shoved to the very bottom of a long list of things I wasn’t doing.
     The non-logical, unreasonable side [of my mind] insists that I wasted the last year, that I’ve fallen too far behind on the path, that I should have been writing and querying and pouring out words at a faster rate and, greatest fear of all, that the glittering golden moment known as My Chance came and went while I dithered and debated and didn’t write.
     But you know what I’m doing this year?
     Writing. Because here’s the thing—I’ll never know what might have been. But what comes next? That’s entirely up to me.
     In his book ON BECOMING A NOVELIST, John Gardner wrote: “Nothing is harder than being a true novelist, unless that is all one wants to be, in which case, though becoming a true novelist is hard, everything else is harder.”
     Why do I write? Because everything else is harder. 

Final Winner of January

And the winner of our final January giveaway is Cate!  Congratulations!  Send your mailing address to Katie at endlesstobereadpile@gmail.com  Thanks everyone for participating!  We have some great posts coming up in February.