Twitter. Well, maybe not exactly my fear. More of my "oh, my gosh, what am I supposed to do" reaction to the social site when I first joined.
I was reminded of that at a writers' workshop I attended this past weekend in Pittsburg, Texas. Yes, Pennsylvania, there is another Pittsburgh and we do spell it differently. Pittsburg is the home of the Northeast Texas Writer's Organization (NETWO) and they do a terrific conference every spring, as well as these periodic day-long workshops. There are a lot of writers in the area, and many others make the 100-mile trek from the Dallas Metroplex to attend the workshops, so there can be up to 50 attendees. Which is pretty good for a rural area with towns of less than 4,000 people in a 50-mile radius.
At this last workshop, of those nearly 50 folks, there were only three of us who used Twitter. One of the presenters, Rusty Shelton @rustyshelton, said he was accustomed to speaking to writers who are not Twitter savvy. That was quite tactful of him to avoid saying that writers of a certain age are probably not drawn to this little blue bird. And that is true. Of the attendees there, most were over 50, and one woman flat-out declared that she would not be on Twitter no matter what Rusty said.
Rusty Shelton from Shelton Interactive, a digital marketing agency, said that next to a blog, Twitter is the most important tool for a writer to gain exposure on the web. He likened Twitter to a cocktail party, where people mingle and talk about current events and other things of interest. It is not a place where you would go up to a group of folks and say, "Hi, I'm Maryann Miller, and I just wrote this terrific book."
Well, maybe you would, but people would run from you. However, if you just go up and join in the conversation, someone may find you interesting enough to ask what you do.
Another fear of Twitter, and other social sites, is that they can be a great time-suck, but we can manage that if we stay focused and only spend as much time on them that fits for our schedules. Mystery author, Elizabeth Spann Craig, has a lot of good tips on how to balance the writing with social media, and I suggest you check out her blog, Mystery Writing is Murder.
After listening to Rusty, I am feeling more comfortable with Twitter and have decided that it can actually be fun. And Rusty did say that what we are doing in terms of online promoting should be fun, not drudgery, and what we find more drudgery than fun should be dropped.
Another tip Rusty shared was to be careful of what you post on Twitter. Later that day I saw this Non Sequitur cartoon in the newspaper. People are gathered at a new grave site and the headstone reads: "I think it's her butt that makes the pants look fat! LOL" The widow says, "Well, not his very last words. His last words on Twitter."
Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. One Small Victory, is a top seller in the mystery bestseller list at the Amazon Kindle store. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. She will stop playing with her horse and work, honest.