Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What I’ve Learned on Twitter (in way more than 140 characters) by Cindi Madsen

Any writers out there looking to do more social media? Twitter’s a big one now. I remember being a little hesitant to start an account. I mean, what do you do on Twitter? Does everyone really want to know what I’m eating/thinking/feeling? What I ended up finding was a world of people who like to talk books and music, plus a lot of other random things, as much as I do. For this post, I’m going to focus on what I learned about authors and readers.

1.  People are different.

Yes, I knew this before. But people have a lot to say about characters in the books they read, whether they love them or hate them. They fall for different love interests. They connect with different heroes and heroines. Sometimes personal experiences will affect how readers react. Sometimes they pick up a book and hate it, then give it a chance a few weeks later and love it. So what does this all mean? How does this knowledge help me?

Well, I’ve got a couple books coming out at the end of this year. When people don’t love my characters the way I do, or my writing style, or the cover, or the fact I use “the” all the time, I’m going to try not to take it so personally. I’m not pretending it won’t hurt, but I think knowing that some people will love it, some people will hate it, and some people will have mediocre feelings about it, will keep things in perspective. I read an excellent post from Beth Revis, who talked about how some people don’t like chocolate, puppies, bacon, or Harry Potter. Great, bestselling books have thousands of 1-star reviews. Remember that if (or most likely when) you get one. But...

2.  Do NOT respond to negative reviews or bash people who didn’t like your novel.

Trust me, you don’t want to do this. It’s unprofessional, and people won’t want to read your book, so just don’t. You know how on “American Idol” or “So You Think You Can Dance?” or whatever competition show you watch, there’s one person who talks back to the judges and looks like an ass? Do you want to be that ass? (Hint: No, no you don’t.) The publishing industry is a tight-knit community. If you offend publishers or agents or authors or book bloggers, your name will soon be mud and no one will be talking about your actual book. But they will talk about you and how unprofessional you are.

3.  People see your tweets.

Yes, that’s the point. But think about it when you post your 140 characters. Think it doesn’t matter? Tell that to the Greek athlete who posted something racist on Twitter right before the Olympics. Guess what, she’s out of the competition now, something she trained for her whole life, all because of one tweet. Even if you delete it, a simple screen capture will be proof forever.

4.  It’s called social media. Be social.

Find common interests with people. Respond to their comments. Interact—do not just tell people to buy your book. It feels like spam and soon you’ll be down followers. Before I knew what I was doing, I wasn’t interacting with people and Twitter was dull. Once I found people to talk my favorite books with, I finally saw what all the fuss was about. I know different groups, we have different jokes, and I learn about their lives. That means that Twitter now takes up some of my time, but since I’ve met so many cool people, I’m okay with that. I reward myself after writing with some tweeting.

The world’s changed. We now have to be out there, creating our platform, doing blog interviews, and trying to make a name for ourselves. But it’s also a great opportunity to connect with people you’d never otherwise meet. So jump in and have some fun.

And good luck squeezing everything you want to say into 140 characters or less.

About the Writer:  Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes this makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. Look for her YA novels, All the Broken Pieces with Entangled Publishing, and Demons of the Sun with Crescent Moon Press, to be released Fall 2012. More information can be found on her website: cindimadsen.blogspot.com.

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