Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting the Most out of Twitter

Tip of the Day: Make your Twitter account a publishing news feed by following @PublishersLunch, @scbwi, and @GalleyCat.

Do you feel like you don't need any more internet distractions to take you away from your writing? Have you been reluctant to sign up for Twitter because you don't want another time suck?

I'm going to propose that Twitter, when used correctly, can be an internet time saver.

Moving to Twitter is like moving to a new town. At first, you're frustrated: you don't know where to get your haircut, get your car fixed, or get a good chicken salad sandwich. But after you make some friends to show you around and after you take a few chances, your new town begins to grow on you.

The trick is to move to Twitter, not use it in addition to your blogrolls, online news reading, and all your other website stops. Otherwise, you would be adding to your time online. But if Twitter becomes your blogroll and news aggregator, then a quick 15 minutes a day can update you on publishing news and point you to the "best of" your favorite blogs.

What Twitter does very well is provide me with 1) headlines to let me know what content is on a particular blog post and 2) my friends' opinions on whether the blog is worth reading. So let's say I have Nathan Bransford (agent at Curtis Brown) on my blog roll and I try to remember to read his blog, but some days I'm busy. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don't. When I do check in, I've missed the good posts and he's on vacation. With Twitter, I don't have to check in. If he posts something new, he sends a Tweet through @NathanBransford. If the content is great, my friends re-Tweet it; so if I missed his Tweet, no big deal. If I see four or five friends re-Tweeting an article, I know that's a must-read.

Just like the trick to loving a new neighborhood is to connect with the right people, the trick to loving Twitter is to follow the right people. Twitter is for my writing life. Facebook is for my personal life. On Twitter, I have a few time wasters (@alyankovic, anyone?) but the overwhelming majority of the people I follow are writers, editors, agents, publishing houses, industry followers, and local libraries. I also follow local news outlets so I don't have to also visit news sites. And I'm writing a novel set in the future, so I follow @NASA_Astronauts because they're the only people who Tweet from outer space!

I also don't post links to links, but I'm going to make an exception for these incredible "how to use Twitter" links:

Twitter from one author's point of view by our own @lisa_schroeder is full of so many tips (like using those shortened urls), it was re-Tweeted all over the place.

Twitter Guide for Writers by @inkyelbows gives you all the basics of chats, re-Tweeting etiquette, and privacy decisions.

I recommend following them on Twitter, and also @mitaliperkins, @bonnieadamson (runs #kidlitchat) and @Georgia_McBride (runs #yalitchat). Connecting with them will get your feet wet in no time. And if you'd like to follow me, I'm @katefall.

Do you have any other follow recommendations? Also, please let me know if you'd find it useful if I posted more Twitter for writers information next week about hashtags, chats, or whatever's on your mind.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Lisa Schroeder said...

What I realized I needed to do, after reading this, was to make a list with the publishing pros, so to speak, so I can go to that list every day and read the "news." It's hard for me to catch the good stuff because I'm generous with who I follow back, so I think for any one with a lot of followees, making specific lists is going to help tremendously.

Great post, Kate!

Kristina Springer said...

I think Twitter for writers posts would be great!

Kate Fall said...

Lisa will have to let us know about lists. I haven't used them yet.

Emily Marshall said...

Really helpful info Kate. You've almost convinced me to get into Twitter. I tried it awhile ago and couldn't get into it, but I guess if I give up everything else I would have more time. Good point!

DeenaML said...

Kate, maybe we could have a twitter mentoring session so you could show me quickly how to set this stuff up. The way you put it makes a lot of sense! Yes, more posts like this!

Christina Farley said...

Twitter can be such a great tool. But I don't use it like I should. All the kidchats are going on while I'm working. And most people tweet while I'm sleeping. So when I get on there, everyone's going to bed!