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September 28, 2010

Tweet Week: Twitter—A Writer’s New BFF

Kristen Lamb

If you’ve seen some of my previous posts (Are Writers Conferences Worth It and Finding Life’s Balance), then you know I’m a big fan of Twitter.

I’m not alone.

Today, I invited Kristen Lamb, social media expert, to guest blog about how Twitter can help writers.  Take it away, Kristen…

Twitter—A Writer’s New BFF

Jami asked that I blog today about Twitter and how writers, whether published or unpublished, can use it to build a platform.  First a gut check.  Getting published is not a writer’s end goal.  Our real end goal must be selling books.  Kristen!  Must you be so crass?  Yes.

According to BEA statistics, 93% of first-time novels fail to sell out their print run.  Only 1 out of 10 writers who publish a first novel will actually publish a second.

Becoming a career author is tough.  The odds are not in our favor to begin with, but there is some good news.  For the first time in history, we have more control over our destiny than ever before.  Social media is a way we can tip the scales in our favor.

The plain truth is that if we hope to survive and thrive in the new publishing paradigm, then we no longer have a choice.  We must roll up our sleeves and get on-line.  Many agencies now will not even look at a writer unless she has an existing platform that can translate into sales.  That’s a pretty terrifying thought, but I am here to help you guys.  I’m not here to change your personality, just your perspective and hopefully your approach.  Writers don’t have all day to market.  We still need time left over to write great books.

First if you aren’t on Twitter, then you need to sign up.  Twitter is probably the single most useful tool for a writer when it comes to networking, growing/improving in the craft, building a platform, and connecting with readers.  I know that maybe some of you are not on social media or even on Twitter, but today I am going to present the top three reasons Twitter is a premium tool for all writers.

  • Twitter makes it easy for even the greenest pea to network with people who, in any other place or time, would be virtually inaccessible. Learn the ins and outs and dos and don’ts of publishing from those who have a solid reputation in the industry.  On social media, a writer can make mentors of their favorite best-selling authors, the top agents and editors in NY, and even gain insight posted by actual publishing houses. What a great resource of information.  Instead of spending a lot of time and money sifting through books, blogs, and articles on our own, we can now zero in on resources the 5%ers of our industry recommend.  Talk about a time saver!
  • Twitter makes it easy to connect with readers or potential readers. In my book, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, I teach tactics for honing in on readers.  Millions of Americans are on Twitter.  Twitter makes it easy to connect with people interested in topics.  Profile who would likely be interested in your subject matter, then use Twitter to chat with them, get to know them and have them know you.  I teach a method for searching for these groups in my book if you want to know more.  Who cares if Americans only buy one book this year…so long as it is your book?
  • Twitter makes it easy to brand. A brand is created by associating a name enough times with quality content.  As a writer, our goal is the same.  Our big goal should be to link our name interminably with our content for the purposes of selling books.

Produce enough good content and eventually readers won’t need to read every review about our latest book before they buy.  They will trust us for good product and will pre-order our books because they have confidence we provide content that is entertaining, interesting, or informative.  They will default to buying books brandishing our NAME because they trust our books are a wise purchase.  No more hand-selling–whoo-hoo!

This is where YOUR NAME becomes vital in social media.  If you are active on Twitter, that means that countless people all over the world are seeing your name linked with your content every time you tweet.  Check out my post on the single best way for writers to become a brand to see why you must use your real name for Twitter.

Cutesy monikers and avatars are for hobbyists.  Twitter provides an opportunity for people to emotionally connect with us and become part of our fan base/platform.  Twitter provides us a priceless opportunity to interact with people from all over the world based on common interests.  People default to who and what they know.  Let them get to know you.  No reason to be shy.

Social media should be, above all else….social.  While socializing is great, ours must have a defined purpose.  There are tools and tactics that will help you make the most of the time you spend on the web.  I hope you guys pick up a copy of my book.  To my knowledge, We Are Not Alone is the only social media book recommended by literary agents.  I teach all about branding and blogging and how to have an active presence on all the top sites without going crazy.  Also, I will be teaching an on-line workshop on best-selling author Candace Havens’s web site beginning October 4th.  It is free to attend.  This workshop will help you guys figure out your own unique brands, and then teach you ways to build and grow that brand but also have time to create the product…awesome books!

Jami, thanks for the opportunity to post on your blog.

*****

You’re welcome!  I’m so glad you could join us.  And everyone—I do recommend that you pick up a copy of her book (no, I’m not getting any kickbacks!) because it’s a great introduction to not only how writers can use Twitter, but also how to incorporate a blog, website, Facebook, etc. into your marketing strategy.  And come back on Thursday to catch the next Tweet Week post with another special guest.

Do you use Twitter?  How has it worked for you?  If you don’t use it, why not?

Kristen Lamb is the author of the best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.   Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker.  She takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing.  Kristen has guided writers of all levels, from unpublished green peas to NY Times best-selling big fish, how to use social media to create a solid platform and brand.  Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fan base.

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Murphy

Hi Kristen and Jami!

Great post. I seem to have a multiple personality disorder when it comes to branding – so maybe I should look into signing on for your class. 🙂

As Jami can tell you, I’m not a big fan of twitter. Maybe because I don’t understand how it actually works. Oh, I use it – but I’m never sure who sees what I type or who I can talk to.

And? Time management is my first priority – so, getting on to twitter and doing the actual tweets? Is kind of an – at the end of the day afterthought. But I’m working on it!

Murphy

Mercedes

Great guest post! Jami, you know how I feel about Twitter. *swoon* But I hated it at first, at least until I got used to it. Now I’m extremely grateful for it and the friends that I keep up with. I use Twitter as a reward. When I really need to concentrate, I turn it off. But when it’s on, why, it’s a Twitter party! 😀

Kristen Lamb

TweetDeck makes all the difference. It will be impossible to manage all the followers you will need to to make Twitter truly useful unless you use this application, or one similar. The single column standard format is for the casual user, not for the writer building a platform.

I hope to see all you guys in the workshop! 😀

Katrina

Fantastic post, and really helpful for a Twitter newby.

When I signed up, I used an avatar and profile name (my real name is also displayed but isn’t my Twitter name) because I hope to eventually publish under a psudonym and, having a web-based job, didn’t want current/potential employers to find out much about my writing. I’ve gone back and forth on whether that was the right decision, because of the things you mention. But as I final in more contests, my real name is getting out there more widely anyway, so I’ll probably change soon.

Oh, and TweetDeck is fantastic! Twitter was so confusing and frustrating until a colleague showed me how to use TweetDeck. It’s not all that self-explanatory, but it’s really easy to use once you know how.

Thanks for the advice!

Roni Loren

Terrific post! (Even though those debut author stats have me shaking in my boots.) I heart Twitter , but it took me a while to fully understand it. Tweetdeck helped streamline things big time. Now I just have to keep myself from getting distracted from writing because I’m on Twitter too much! lol

And as a side note, I highly recommend signing up for Candace Havens’ yahoo group. She always has terrific people doing online workshops for free. 🙂

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[…] time, Kristen Lamb guest blogged for me about how Twitter can be a writer’s BFF.  And maybe some of you weren’t convinced.  (Really, Jami, we know you’re just trying […]

Leona Bushman
Leona Bushman

And what if your name is taken. and any version thereof that made any sense? Interestingly enough, if you google my name you do find a writer, but it’s not me. When making a change from a specific moniker that I’ve been using since a friend who doesn’t understand about writer’s life, I tried lots of things. They were taken. I finally came up with writemyart cuz it branded me as writer and artist, which I am.

How do I use that? Or do you have a better suggestion?

Leona

Kristen Lamb

Leona,

You can always get some version of your name, you just have to be creative, :D. “Kristen Lamb” is a very popular name, which is why my Twitter handle is @KristenLambTX. You can put numbers after your name, @KristenLamb007 (license to kill ha ha ha), or use underscores, @Kristen_Lamb or even titles like @AuthorKristenLamb. I recommend a number or initials after the name. People will ignore the trailing part after the name. Like my @KristenLambTX. People are most likely going to just pay attention to my name.

So @Leona_Bushman or @L_Bushman. The LAST name is critical in that it is how people will search for your book.

Monikers are BAD, BAD, BAD. I am really picky on this. I know you can have it in the bio section, but then you sacrifice all the top of mind “advertising” linking your name with your content. I follow thousands of people. Make it easy for us to get to know you. Some of us will go the extra step to look at a name on a profile, but it makes it really tough to LEARN your name.

I hope this answers your question. Thanks!

Kristen

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[…] Kristen Lamb mentioned in her guest post, Twitter is a great way to learn from best-selling authors, agents, editors, and publishing […]

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