On just about any and every writing related site, one topic constantly comes up for discussion. Platform. What a platform is, why you need it etc. But the how to build it is definitely the most difficult question to answer. Numerous other blog posts address this question and offer some wonderful suggestions like this one but if you’re not the vivacious type who can make agents laugh with your witticisms or organise workshops in your community, then what can you do?
I like technology. I like social media and social networking and do spend a good part of my day ‘connecting’ with people online. There are so many different ways of doing this now that I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed as a new author trying to build this so-called platform. My latest commitment to the cyber-nether of communication has been the creation of a Twitter account. I vowed I’d never tweet and now I’m doing it almost every hour. But I had some serious misconceptions about Twitter. I thought it was the easy way for narcissists and self-absorbeds to comment incessantly about their favourite brand of toothpaste. I was sorely misinformed. The Twitter-verse (I’m still learning the lingo) is anything but narcissistic and self-absorbed. If anything, Twitter is all about everyone but you – it’s about making connections with others, reading about what others are doing and finding common ground, it’s about building awareness of the larger world around you and not carving out a tiny portion of the universe for yourself, sticking it in a box and labeling it ‘All about Me.’
In the 36 hours since I joined Twitter I have already discovered so many new agents, how they operate, what they’re looking for, attitudes towards publishers and writers, what’s going on in the world of publishing at large, competitions, new releases, author tours, book giveaways… well, I’ve spent more time reading and discovering than sharing about myself.
Of course as a budding author in the interest of self-promotion, Twitter can be an excellent tool for this as well. The trick is knowing how to use it. Do NOT just spam your handful of followers every hour with your book title. That’s meaningless. Learn the power of the retweet. Address specific individuals but don’t go overboard here either. Do not abuse the power of Twitter and become overly chummy with an agent you’re after – although it’s in the Twitterverse, remain professional. All your tweets regardless of who you tag, end up on your feed. So what you say to one close friend about her ex-boyfriend and your panties WILL be read by everyone following you and her and everyone else who searches the gazillion hashtags you festoon your tweets with. Keep hashtags to a minimum too. Remember the quality of the tweet will prove more valuable to you than cramming in searchable tags.
I’m still stumbling my way through Twitter, learning from the pros how to do things and hoping to have 100 followers by the end of February. Twitter is a tool for making connections, for alerting people to your existence and your work, it’s not a place to air dirty laundry and vent your frustrations about the rejection you got last week. By entering the Twitterverse you are making yourself accessible to the public, great for garnering fans and sales, but not so great for privacy. Keep your Twitter account clean and professional and you’ll find the Twitterverse a far happier place.
And now because this post needed a picture and is all about making connections, here’s a pic of my almost-6-month-old shiba boy getting cozy with his daschund girlfriend.