Yesterday, Ann Aguirre wrote a post about how her writing habits have changed, for the better, and how she has become so prolific. Her post-apocalyptic YA series that starts in Enclave is fantastic. In her post she says this:
Process is not a permanent, indelible thing.
This statement, while I am applying it to writing, can be applied to any work process. It made me think about how my process has changed over the last ten years and that we should be examining our processes periodically to improve them.
When I had an office job, my writing process involved sitting down in my office, closing the door, cranking music, and hacking away. No one interrupted me (well, sometimes) and I could write until I was done with that thought, post, or article. At the time, I did not understand the blessing of interrupted time.
When I needed to write something longer than 1k, like an article or when I wrote my Library Technology Report, I needed whole chunks of time to think and write. I needed to be able to spread out my research and papers in a large area that would not be touched. I needed music.
I left my library job to become a mom and many things in my life changed, but my writing and working process did not. This caused much anxiety as I was writing Mob Rule Learning, which I did in about 5 months. Because I thought I needed those large chunks of time, which you do not have as a parent of a small child, I was only able to write when someone else could watch the Bairn. Since that was not always an option, I started writing while he was playing on his own, which is only in small chunks of time. Sometimes very, very small chunks.
After finishing Mob Rule Learning, I decided to tackle the writing project I have always wanted to do. I wanted to write a book of fiction. With two small kids, instead of one, I had to reassess my process.
It was hard and at first I was more frustrated than anything else. I would write two sentences and be interrupted. A scene would just start to form and then there was whining and crying, usually mine, as I had to feed, change, or console one of the boys.
With a detailed plot outline in hand, I found I could work in smaller amounts of time. My boys are allowed to watch no more than 1-1.5 hours of TV a day and I usually use that time to write. I used to write with headphones and music blaring. Now, I write to the music of Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, Justice League, and Iron Man. I still wear headphones, but I can only wear one earbud, two if I do not turn it up too loud.
I find those small cracks in the day to write. Some days, I am lucky and will have two hours of mostly uninterrupted time. Those are the days I can churn out 2-3k. Other days, I am lucky to turn my computer on at all. I have learned to accept and take what is offered, but I make time when it is there.
It took me a year, mostly because I was doing some learning about writing fiction verses nonfiction, to write the first book. I have been working on the second one for a month now and the first draft is halfway done.
The difference in my pace is due mostly to the fact that I changed my process. I taught myself to write in smaller segments. There is always something we can improve in our process, whatever your work may be. We just have to brave enough to peer closely at our own habits and pull the weeds holding back our garden.
I still prefer to sit alone for 2-4 hours with music blaring to churn out words. I revel in that, but I do not need that anymore.
–Jane, some weeds are pretty and harder to remove
p.s. I wrote this with Dinosaur Train on the TV and Mumford and Sons crooning quietly in my ear.
When discussing using mob rule or crowdsourcing within organizations for staff training, strategic directions, or problem solving, there is one challenge that arises often. During my session at Internet Librarian, it came up again.
These ideas are great, but people in my organization say they can’t talk freely in front of management. How do we use these ideas in this environment?
The answer is simple: Remove the managers from the room.
Crowdsourcing works best when everyone can be given equal footing. When you have a situation where people can not leave the organizational chart at the door, for whatever reason, you need to do what you can to remove those structures.
In order for a mob top solve a problem well, they have to be able to share, to offer solutions, and criticism free of the things within your organization that have thus far prevented you from finding the solution through traditional means.
Remove the managers from the room, but put a great facilitator in there with the rest of the mob. The facilitator can be internal, but it should be someone who will be able to keep the group focused and be able to report back to management with some kind of reliable authority.
Reliable authority means that the mob trusts that their words and ideas will be conveyed truthfully and someone management trusts to keep the mob from burning down the organization entirely.
If you are using mob rule for something which requires input from management, then have management engage in their own mob discussion. Add the two parts together and see where the junctions lead. At the least, the junctions can serve as great starting points when you do get the mob back in the room with their managers.
–Jane, a reliable authority
Come see me in the flesh Monday at 1:15 in the DeAnza 1&2 in the Portola.
Added: Grab the Handout. View the slides.
The track I am in for Internet Librarian, Track D: Library Issues and Challenges, is a special one where the speakers are encouraged not to talk much and to let the participants do most of the talking. Meaning: It is my kind of presentation. Because I will be speaking for less than 10 minutes and have only 5 slides of a PPT, I wanted to write a post on the content of my talk instead of posting just the slides online which would be meaningless without context. The slides can be found here.
The title of the session is Engaging and Inspiring Staff. I am speaking with Lisa Hardy, who is going to give some real world examples after I talk about the big picture. My segment is called Human vs. Zombies: Organized Survivors vs. Mindless Horde.
When you are only speaking for a handful of minutes, you really only have time for one main idea. My main concept is crowdsourcing only works when you give people a purpose.
Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing zombies on the human race. Things will get done, but it is going to be very, very messy.
Using crowdsourcing methodology is a fabulous way to engage and inspire staff because it forces them to participate in the process from start to finish. Once people start investing time and resources into something, their heart will eventually follow.
You should want your people to have heart in what they do for the organization. People who have heart give more, believe stronger, and work harder. They give because their heart compels them to do so. Not only that, but people who have a heart in your organization will then tell other people why your organization is so great.
Crowdsourcing can be done many ways. I have a handy hand out that I am giving to the participants and that you can download here (link is to a Google Doc). It is similar, very similar to the one I used at Computers in Libraries last spring. The handout includes some quick and dirty facilitation style and pointers. I do not discuss the handout in the presentation. It is just a resource.
But how do you organize your mob? How do you take a bedraggled group of humans and outfit them to face the future, even if the future is a teeming mass of zombies?
To give your mob, your humans, the means to organize, to create, and to find their heart in your organization, you need to do three things.
Give them a goal. Without a goal, your people are the zombie horde. The have one things on their mind and that is a selfish thirst for brains (or whatever it is that suits their fancy). Crowdsourcing only works if you give the crowd a goal so they can then work together towards the same goal as a team. It is possible to let the crowd define the goal, but they still need an overarching purpose.
For instance, do not just throw people in a room and say, “Get to it!” Put them in a room and ask them to come up with a product: a new slogan, a new service with a plan to execute the service, a strategic direction, a marketing plan to increase business, a charitable campaign, or an organizational restructuring. They can do anything, accomplish anything. Just point them in the right direction and let them go. You will be amazed at where they take you.
Let the crowd choose their weapons. This seems obvious, but it is one of the worst abused within organizations with robust bureaucracies. Often, more often than not, crowds contained within an organizational structure are asked to perform a task, but are then also told what tools to use and how to complete the task. This cripples your mob of survivors before they have even ventured forth.
Give your crowd the direction and then let them choose the method. They may want to work asynchronously or synchronously on Google Docs. They may want to create a facebook group. They might prefer video chat. They might * shudder * want to use a word doc that they save and forward around on email. Let them work their way. Give them resources so that they are able to choose the tools they want and then step away. Let them know you have faith in their choices and then follow through on that statement by leaving them alone to work.
Celebrate their successes and failures alike. We are wonderful at pointing out successes, but we have to celebrate our mistakes, even the crash and burn ones. Why? Because we learn from our mistakes and we get better. Give high fives for every zombie kill, but learn from the near misses and improve your swing. Do not be afraid to get dirty. Killing zombies is hard work.
After a very condensed version of the above motivational speech, Lisa is going to take over with some examples of things they have done at her library. Then, we will get to the really fun part. The attendees will form groups and talk about things they can do in their own organization to motivate staff. They will come to a consensus about the best ideas from their group and then share them with the room.
At the end we are going to give away some copies of my book, Mob Rule Learning, for people who can answer some of my nerd trivia.
–Jane, do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?
Original link to the Zombie pic can be found here.
I wrote, I edited, edited some more, and more, and more. I polished. I agonized. Finally, I had something I thought was good enough to send away. I wrote a nice letter to an editor at my first choice publisher and I sent my manuscript on its way.
It was frightening and exhilarating.
From all my reading and learning over the past couple of years, I know publishing is a hard business, so while I want to be naively hopeful, I am realistically hopeful instead. Naively hopeful is sitting in a field of daisies waiting for a phone call. Realistically hopeful is continuing to work your arse off, praying for the best, but making contingency plans.
I have submissions packets ready to be pasted into and attached to emails, in the proper requested formats, for my next two choices. I know if I get a rejection letter from my first choice, I will want to mope for a few days. With letters and files ready to be sent out, even if I am sad, I will have no excuse not to keep the ball rolling.
I am also finishing up the plot outline and character sheets for my next manuscript. I should start writing next week. While I will be in the same world, it will be refreshing to start with a new set of problems for new characters to conquer.
The important thing is that I am not idle. I am serious about wanting to write so I keep learning, reading, and, above all, I keep writing.
–Jane, traversing life with words
Readers, you know I love engineers. I married one, so I know how they love equations, following directions, taking things apart, and the process of things. It makes me completely batty, but I get it. I have now spent almost half my life working around the idiosyncratic ways of Mr. Rochester.
I received an email from a lovely gentleman engineer who will be chairing an engineering conference next year. He wants to shake things up a bit and add some unconference elements to his gathering. He told me they used to do what they called rap sessions, it sounded like birds of a feather to me, but the sessions have evolved into a panel of experts, which he wants to move away from. He also said there was a lot of time where people were just sitting around.
My first thought was, “Bless their hearts. They mean well.” (I am a southern girl, in case any of you have forgotten.) I wrote him a long email, with some decent advice I thought others might find helpful.
If you are facing an especially rigid group that you would like to shake up, here are some ideas from the email I sent:
For groups that have an especially hard time with change or unscheduled elements, planning an unconference type event works best at the beginning of the conference. You can use the session, whatever it is, as a type of ice breaker to get people interacting and engaging before the more structured sessions. If you give people an opportunity to start talking early, chances are high they will keep doing so.
A Birds of a Feather discussion to kick off the conference might be good for your situation. If you want the rap sessions to go back to their roots, small table discussions not led by experts, either be very clear that the format is going retro or rename the session. The problem is getting people to break out of their mold. Clear directions up front will help.
You can also use lightening talks, if the experts still want to have their say. Each talking head gets 5-10 minutes MAX to talk, say 6 speakers in a row. Then the participants break up into small discussion groups of no more than 8 (a round table) and discuss some of the ideas. People can be free to leave groups and join new discussions as they please. This might be a little chaotic, so you might need to add in some structure.
You could also do an AMA (Ask me Anything) like on Reddit. The experts would be there, not to give a talk, but to just answer questions from the audience. There are a lot of techie and nontechie ways to td that, but again, it would give the experts their time while allowing the audience to run the show.
In terms of people sitting around at the tables doing nothing: Is there a way to spark conversation while they are there? Consider labeling the tables with topics and allow people to sit at table that interest them allowing the conversation occur organically.
Don’t be afraid to step out of the accepted way of doing things and do something adventurous!
–Jane, an adventurer
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post for the ITI Books blog and received a comment that sent me on a search for more information. I know, I know, many a librarian adventure starts the same way. This comment led me to learn about a fabulous project in my own hometown.
The comment was from two Houston librarians who are running an indiegogo program for a bookmobile. I have been around, as a patron and an employee of, public libraries for my entire life and I have watched bookmobile use decline. I was curious what in the world these two librarians thought they could do to change the trend.
Go read the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library web page. There you will find a history of bookmobiles in Texas and why Kelly and Chris are so passionate about starting one in Houston. Caveat Lector: Their passion is contagious.
Before reading the BPTL story, I would have told you that bookmobiles were a dinosaur of the library world, but now, my view is different. I believe Kelly and Chris have found a way, not only to reguvenate a flaundering service, but to impact all public libraries in the Houston area and change the way we view book lending.
I wanted to know more about the BPTL so I emailed Kelly and Chris, who were kind enough to answer some questions. Read their answers and then go donate to their indiegogo campaign.
(1) I read the history of bookmobiles on your site, but why do you want to start a bookmobile? What makes this version of a library appealing to you?
I think ultimately it comes down to independence and mobility. We’ve both worked in different library systems and information organizations, and we’ve both had situations where policies and budgets have caused issues or restrictions. In creating our own library, we have the freedom to make judgment calls as to how, when, and where we serve individuals. If we recognize an opportunity for service or a new system we want to try out, we can make the decision to go for it without too great a fear of consequences.
Being mobile is another source of independence. It allows us to go beyond traditional library services and bring new resources to new people in new places. This is especially exciting because it allows for instances of serendipity and discovery – our bookmobile is a way for people to break out of their normal routines and allows for new avenues of personal and cultural connections in our community. People who may not make the conscious decision to visit a library may make that spur of the moment decision to visit the bookmobile next to their neighborhood coffee shop.
It’s this mixture of creativity, independence, mobility, and community that really appeals to us.
(2) Bookmobiles were originally for people who were underserved by other resource areas, often in rural communities. What role does a book mobile have in a metropolitan area like Houston?
True, bookmobiles were originally used to provide library services in underserved, and often rural, areas. And although being in a metropolitan area does not necessarily imply that a community is well-served, our purposes are not so cut and dry as to provide resources for folks that don’t have resources readily available to them.
Our bookmobile intends to serve two purposes: one, as a traveling library that works on a rent-barter-donate system and provides a variety of traditional and emerging library services; and two, as a bookmobile-for-hire which lends its space out to all mutually interested parties for mutually agreeable means. These two components will fill different roles in metropolitan Houston.
As a traveling library, we will undertake the role of a standalone cultural institution – one which intends to bridge the gap between consumer culture and culture by promoting a more frugal consumption of culture. One can consume a good book, or a good movie, or a good album without buying or otherwise owning it.
The traveling library will also serve a complementary role to libraries in a couple of key ways. Like many libraries, our collection will depend heavily upon in-kind donations. Those items which are not selected to be added to our collection will either be (1) re-donated to local libraries and charity organizations such as Salvation Army and Goodwill or (2) placed in our free bin, free for the taking.
We will also have applications on hand for membership at surrounding local libraries. City- and county-run libraries obviously have larger collections and generally better access to resources than we could independently offer, so in cases where our services cannot meet a patron’s need, we can direct them to a larger system that will be able to meet that need (including interlibrary loan).
You may be wondering, why don’t these patrons just go to their local library in the first place? It’s a fair question, and one that we find ourselves asking as well.
First, our business model is a little bit different than that of city- and county-run libraries, and one that might have more of an appeal to certain people. We’re less restrictive. For example, there are no due dates or late charges. There is only a (very reasonable) item-based annual membership which ensures that we don’t lose money if a patron never comes back with the item or items they borrowed. We also believe that you should be able to read a book the way you want to read a book. If you like reading a book with a highlighter or a pen in your hand, we encourage you to do so. We like a book with character. So long as the next person can read it as perfectly as you were able to read it, you can write and draw all over it.
We also want to appeal to the individuals who are not using their local libraries. As you mentioned in the question, traditional bookmobiles were used to serve the underserved – most commonly, children, the elderly and homebound, and rural communities. There’s a preconceived notion of who a bookmobile should serve based on mobility and location limitations. But now it seems many people who do not fall into these traditionally served populations are not seeing the appeal of libraries. We want to be an ambassador for all libraries and help revitalize how they are seen by the general public. People who are using libraries already love libraries and know what libraries can do for them. We want to raise awareness about what libraries have to offer for everyone and make sure people know that libraries are more relevant now than ever before.
One particular avenue to serving this role is through the food truck community – offering literary and music and movie and library culture to complement food and foodie culture.
The bookmobile-for-hire could very possibly be hired by libraries that serve rural communities and utilized to perform a similar function that bookmobiles have traditionally performed. But more likely, a library would rent the bookmobile to undertake this same role: of raising awareness, particularly among Houston’s mobile community (and who in Houston isn’t a part of that?), of the importance of libraries, and more particularly of the importance of their library.
(3) Besides borrowing, you mention organizations being able to rent out the book mobile. What do you mean by that? Can you give me an example?
With the bookmobile-for-hire component of our endeavor, we will empty our shelves and make our space, our time, and our professionalism available to all mutually interested parties for whatever (mutually agreeable) purposes they see fit. One organization that could naturally benefit from a bookmobile-for-hire is the public library.
As mentioned in our blog, the entirety of Texas had only 12 bookmobiles in 2005 (as reported by the State Department of Education) and the number of reported bookmobiles dropped to 8 in the 2009 Public Libraries in the United States Survey. Considering that Texas is third among the states in number of public libraries (with 559) and is second in land area, there is a very real gap in library resources and library services.
We both have substantial experience working in public libraries and understand that there is a need, particularly among smaller library systems, to widen their patron base and to let folks know about the range of services they provide. By bringing the library to the community instead of waiting for the community to come to the library, our bookmobile will help them accomplish just that.
I imagine our collaboration with public libraries would most commonly take the form of a library card drive, where we would work side-by-side with representatives from a given public library to sign folks up for library cards, and then direct their new members inside the bookmobile, where they can choose from a selection of materials the library hand-picked to represent itself. In these scenarios, I imagine that the library’s ILS is on a laptop they’ve brought along, so registration is basically the same process, just mobilized. But it’s pretty easy just to keep a spreadsheet of what’s been checked out and by who and to manually enter it into an ILS afterwards.
While our space is likely most amenable to public libraries, we would be crazy not to make it available to other interested parties (school & academic libraries, museums, artists & art galleries, bookstores, etc.) for pop-up shops & galleries, exhibits, and the like. Part of the appeal of this bookmobile-for-hire model is the potential for the bookmobile to be a sort of incubator space, where individuals and organizations can try out new ideas and new services.
(4) What is your goal for the project? Short-term? Long-term?
The sort of loftier, more theoretical goal is to see if this sort of model works and how this could be applied to the larger library world – can we pool library services and be more involved in resource sharing? With the current challenges libraries are facing, it would be great to find another way to pool resources for the larger good of a community or area. Short-term, we are really just focused on getting this operation on the ground and moving. We’re trying to spread the world both locally and globally (online) to get people excited about this venture so when we get up and running, we’ll have the social foundation to really engage with our communities.
Ultimately, the goal is to establish the BPTL as a legitimate long-term business. But we’re not kidding ourselves. We both currently have full-time, decent-to-well-paying jobs inside of libraries with great benefits, and we’re not prepared to let that all go on the chance that our project really takes off. So for now, we are cautiously approaching it as a hobby, but a long-term hobby, and we’ll see where we go from here.
(5) Can you tell me your names and something fun about each of you? I know you both went to UT for your library degrees and that is about it.
We are Kelly Allen and Chris Grawl.
Something telling about us is the fact that we met in UT’s iSchool while librarians-in-training. We were in the same Social Media for Information Specialists class, both needed a group partner for an upcoming presentation, and the rest is history. We also had our first date on Hourly Comic Day, so the beginning of our relationship (and every anniversary since then) is well documented with poorly drawn comics. I don’t think anyone is especially surprised that we’ve come up with this idea, especially given our combined personal libraries… when we moved into our current apartment back in February, I think we made multiple trips for books alone.
Random fun facts about Kelly: My first “professional” position was as a cruise ship librarian for four months. I love zombies and I developed a descriptive schema of zombie films for one of my class assignments. I took Latin classes in middle school and high school, upgraded to “easy Latin” or Italian in college when I studied abroad in Pisa and Rome, and am now sadly out of practice with both. I’ve accidentally had dinner at a diner with Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five fame). While I like cooking and trying new recipes, I like eating at food trucks even more. My background is in the social sciences so I have a huge interest in language, learning, and brain development. My first job at 16 was at the public library in my hometown (Tulsa, OK). I’m three days older than Chris.
Random fun facts about Chris: I was born and raised in the Greater Houston Area. I wasn’t really raised inside of libraries. Instead, my fondness for libraries started at the age of 20, when I got a job at my school’s (Southwestern University) library the Summer after my sophomore year. I haven’t really stopped working in libraries since. I received a capital-L Liberal Arts degree from Southwestern with a double major in American Studies and Mathematics. I like making lists and mixtapes. I enjoy basketball, table tennis, foosball, and bowling. I’m a diehard Rockets and Texans fan. I actively seek out the best in music, books, and movies. My favorite album is In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I’m not certain what my favorite book is but my favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite movie is The Graduate. I’m three days younger than Kelly. We live in Montrose with our two cats, Clancy and Nora, and my bowling ball, Bertha.
–Jane, BPTL, sharing a love of the written word with Houston and the world
I was going to post this yesterday, but the internet went crazy after President Obama got on Reddit for an AMA and I decided to wait.
I have another post, the last in this series, over at the ITI Books Blog. I am talking about how to take the idea of mob rule into a classroom where little or no technology is available.
My Twitter feed was awash the past few days with school supply shopping, teachers gearing up, librarians preparing, and parents rejoicing. It is a time of educational renewal, when all things are still possible and we still have hope that this year will be The Year of Something Wonderful.
Unfortunately, many of our students will come the first day, admittedly tired, but hopeful to a classroom that neither reflects learning or the real world outside of the classroom.
Stop by and tell us your stories from the trenches.
–Jane, good luck to all teachers and students this year!
I am over at the ITI Books Blog today talking about crowdfunding and libraries.
Budgets continue to be a major issue for most libraries. Lack of funding for programs, books, and staff has caused many libraries to make major cuts. As librarians, we know that the worse the economic times, the more people need the resources we offer. How do we bridge the funding gap?
Do you have a success story to share involving crowdfunding? Is there a project you would love to put into motion in your library but you just need some cash? Consider crowdfunding as an option.
–Jane, Happy Monday!
This first year of motherhood is overwhelming, joyful, and stretches you beyond your limits. Eventually, the children learn to amuse themselves, though they still need you for many, many things. Once Bairn4 turned one, I started writing again. I wrote a book, Mob Rule Learning.
It was an interesting process, writing non-fiction. I found through the process that I preferred writing non-fiction in the length of articles and blog posts, not books. The process did give me the confidence to try something new and different.
Then Bairn1 came along and I was again in the throes of high maintenance motherhood. The youngest Rochesterling has achieved the ability to amuse himself and thus I have again been writing. All the free time I could squeeze out has been spent working on a new project.
I wrote a novel, a fantasy romance, that has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time. Unlike the non-fiction experience, it was exhilarating. I am now polishing up the manuscript for submission. That part of the process makes me freeze with anxiety and fear. I have determined that one step at a time is the best way to tackle the anxiety of the submission process.
I have begun, in the past year, to drop my ALA committments and disengage from libraryland. Oh, I still follow mostly librarians on Twitter, though they are starting to be outnumbered by editors, publishers, and writers. I will still be presenting at Internet Librarian in October. I loved being a librarian and I may be one again, some day, but my heart’s desire is to write more. Now that Bairn4 and Bairn1 are older, I can write more here, there, and everywhere.
Being at home means I can juggle writing in between quiet time, preschool, and PBS Kids. I am going to use this opportunity to see what I can do.
That is where I am at this moment. A once librarian (and maybe again some day) stay at home mom who wants to write stories with kissing in them.
–Jane, happy with her place
I have been on Twitter since it was just a few geeks, nerds, and librarians talking about technology… and what we ate for breakfast. These days, I follow as many writers, editors, and publishers as I do librarians. I love the way Twitter works and I am invested in it because I have been on it for so long.
This morning I read a post by Jeffe Kennedy, writer and editor, on the way Twitter connects people. It pushed me to write a post that has been percolating for some time. Jeffe recently got back from RWA (Romance Writers Association) and had an offer from an agent she originally met on Twitter.
Authors should be on Twitter. Authors should not just be on Twitter to sell their books. They should do what the rest of us schmoes do on Twitter, talk about stuff we love and crazy things in the world. This is not news to many authors. I see the ones doing it well talking about how to use Twitter all the time.
I am, above all, a reader, and here is why I like authors who do social media well.
I would estimate that 99% of the books I read now come through recommendations from from authors, publishers, and just people I know (many of whom are librarians or professional book people) on Twitter. I especially pay attention to recs for other authors from authors and editors that I already adore. I place a high value on their ability to spot and identify the dross. I am busy. There are a ton of books out there and I can not read them all. Luckily, I have a few hundred “friends” online who read the same stuff I do and can tell me STA and what I need to stay up late reading.
I can tell an author I follow that I just finished their book and squee all over them, from a safe distance. You know what? All of them reply back to me and thank me for the read. I have never been ignored. They are gracious and lovely to me, a nobody. How awesome is that? I love being able to say something nice to the person that just made the last few days fly by because all I could think about was the characters they created and put to paper. On Twitter I can say, “Thanks for your hard work and your characters. They made me laugh, cry, cringe in terror, and give a big fist pump in the air.” I have never written a fan letter, but I have tweeted thanks to authors multiple times.
I start following authors for three reasons: I read a book they wrote and loved it, they write a genre I like and are on my TBR list, or they are somehow connected with a publishing group, agent, or other author I like. I keep following an author for the same reason I follow anyone else: they are authentic online. They talk about their books sometimes, but mostly they talk about their life and I like seeing windows into their days. I feel more connected to them and to the characters they write. In the long run, it makes me a loyal reader and that is what every author wants, readers who will keep reading them and tell their friends to read it too (or beat them over the head with the book/ereader until they give in already and read the book).
I like having authors in my Twitter stream because it has made the writing industry less daunting. They have taught me about the process of writing fiction, the process of editing, the process of submitting to agents and publishers, and the process of handling life with an author’s brain. They have given me the flashlight I needed to start to consider what my own options are in the dark room that is Getting A Novel Published.
The moral: Authors, you should be on Twitter. You should be on Twitter and be authentic. Have fun. Be serious. Be whimsical. Be yourself. Your readers will adore you for it and come back for more every day, hour, minute. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.