Journalists and writers are similar, right? After all, journalism is a specialised form of writing. Well, if you go by Twitter, I’d say they’re different, quite different. Though there are exceptions, generally speaking journalists on Twitter get it, book writers do not.
Journalists get that it’s a great way to talk to their readers, to talk to each other, to talk about the stories they’re covering, to opine, to show up the ridiculous, and to let people know when columns/articles/blogs are up.
Writers, book or freelance, seem to be divided into two groups – traditionally published who sort of get it and indies who think it’s solely a platform to sell books or help fellow writers learn how to write and market.
Either way, journalists are way more interesting to follow than book writers. There are exceptions in both camps, as you can see illustrated in the writers’ tweets above, and my experience is limited by the relatively small number of hundreds of people I follow (I have no idea how people can follow thousands – I’d be permanently glued to my Twitter feed if I did that just to keep up, but then perhaps they don’t want to keep up, they just collect us like others collect coins, oh look, more shiny people to collect and follow but hardly ever read). Still, as a book writer and non-journalist, I stand by my opinion.
So what does that mean for my own book tweets? I tweet on a lot of stuff – from politics to news to brain injury to the TTC to writing – but my book tweets are boring. They’re the usual run-of-the-mill kind: here’s my book, please check it out, here’s what someone said about it, please look at it, here’s where you can buy it, please review it, please, please, pretty please with a sugar plum on top buy it so I can get a measly royalty cheque cause I’m not Margaret Atwood and need to beg, and I really, really, really hope you will buy it. I was never very happy with that, but after the difference between journos and writers became apparent to me, I became quite dissatisfied and started thinking about how to copy journos with regards to my book tweets.
I could tweet about my stories as if they were news stories… The only problem with that when it comes to my novel is that tweeting about a fictional story as if it was real may be a tad confusing, and so I’d have to indicate this is fiction and do all that within 140 characters minus the number of characters the link to the book consume. Yikes! I could opine on my characters, but once I publish my work I do not like to comment on the plot or the characters because I like to see what readers come up with, and the variety to me is fascinating. If I opine, then I will skew that. Still, that would be alright with my non-fiction works. I tweet about my writing when I actually sit down and write; those I don’t think are too bad. I just need to be more disciplined about getting them out of my head and onto the internet.
As you can see, tweeting (and writing Facebook statuses) about fictional works is challenging. I think what I might try is to use a journalist’s tweet that captures my attention as a template for one of my tweets on She until I get the hang of it.
“I let America borrow my rake and pruning shears and they defaulted.” (Paul Wells, one of my favourite columnists, from second illustration above)
I let evil take over my imagination, borrow my concentration, and it got me to write SHE. Hmmm… Or I let evil take over my imagination, borrow my concentration, but good got me to write SHE. Well, it’s a start. May use that one anyway.
“In theory, I *guess* he could grant permission to use it in parody, but — no, I don’t see that happening. The Commons would go crackers.” (kady, a fantastic live tweeter of all things House of Commons)
In theory, Akaesman could enter our space-time from a distant galaxy, but that wld send conspiracy theorists crackers. Lordy. Too long! Or In theory, Akaesman could appear on earth, but that wld send conspiracy theorists crackers. S’OK. But this is fiction, so I suppose I should tweet: In theory, my fictional Akaesman cld appear on earth but that wld send conspiracy theorists crackers.
The other challenge in coming up with more creative “buy my books, please, please, oh god, please buy my books” tweets is being able to do that every, single, friggin’ day. Unlike Amazon, Smashwords allows me to see when and how many people view my book page, as well as download samples and the ebooks. The days I don’t tweet on my books, no one comes on over. Not one single, solitary person. But tweeting every day about the same thing gets tedious for both me and my followers. I must change it up, and I suppose I can look at it as another way to practice the art of expressing imagination, but not so wordily.
I published this on my other blog too and received some insightful comments. Please feel free to join the conversation. I’d love to know what you think!