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.