Monday, August 15, 2011

Are You A Tweeter Or A Twit?

Some people live on Twitter. They think it’s the greatest thing since YouTube or Facebook. Others won’t even open a Twitter account or actively use it if they create a Twitter handle. One thing is clear, Twitter is the leader for micro-blogging and it’s used by the book publishing industry as a tool to promote, market, and brand books, authors, experts, and companies. One still does not have to be involved in the Twitter conversation to live a full and productive life, but increasingly to remain relevant as a writer and to be aware of what is going on in the book publishing industry and news media world, Twitter is becoming a key player.

Twitter, on the surface, seems challenging. For writers used to writing thousands of words a day, composing 140-character thoughts boggles the mind. So what should someone do to crank out good tweets? Consider these guidelines:

1.      Please don’t share the mundane: no one cares that you’re eating lunch (even if you’re a celebrity) or that you like to watch Jersey Shore (who doesn’t?).

2.      Don’t just retweet (forward someone else’s tweet) without adding your own spin or perspective to it. Otherwise you’re just a photocopy machine. Follow up the retweet with a relevant comment.

3.      Enjoy the strength of Twitter—you can do it 24/7, from anywhere. You can be a witness to history when you tweet and you can do it while things unfold before you. Don’t squander or abuse this opportunity.

4.      Twitter may make us bad spellers with all of the abbreviating and shortened words, but it also forces us to get to the point and nail down a concise thought. Shape your tweet like a piece of artwork.

5.      The more messages we send, the less value each one has, so tweet things of value and interest. Before you send the tweet, ask yourself: “Who cares?”

6.      It seems the greatest value of a tweet is to use it to highlight your blog post, a piece of personal news, or something that you believe your followers want to know. If you tweet about anything and everything and don’t stay relevant you’ll lose fans.

7.      Twitter helps you get an idea of one’s popularity. It also gives you a history of all the tweets one has sent, so you can quickly check a person out by reading past tweets and seeing their profile. You get a current snapshot of what this person is doing and feel like you are a degree closer to them than through standard e-mail.

8.      Use Twitter to find out what the hot topics of the day are. If you want to know, based on a city or country, what users are tweeting about, you can look it up quite easily.

9.      If you want to know what certain experts, competitors, friends, or colleagues are saying or doing, read their tweets. Feel free to reply and comment on what interests them.

10.  If you want to know who is tweeting on a topic of interest to you—Mets, pugs, sushi, Obama—just look it up—you can then connect with like-minded people.

11.  If you want to create a certain image, be aware your tweets will show up in other places, such as when someone Googles your name.

12.  If you want to know who’s talking about you, look it up on Twitter. When someone mentions your Twitter handle it will show up.

13.  Try to keep your tweets positive, timely, polite and non-commercial. Tweets are living publicly for a long time—don’t create a bad résumé of yourself. Be a good online neighbor.

14.  If someone disagrees with you online, don’t use Twitter to bully them or come off as confrontational. In some cases you should ignore them, but never sink to their level of negativity or immaturity.

15.  Don’t reply to someone more than once or twice until they respond back to your tweet – don’t harass anyone.

16.  Use #hashtags wisely and relevantly, but do use them as they get attention from people who follow tweets on the #hashtagged term or word.

17.  Consider using TweetDeck, what is described as “your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and more.”

18.  Tweet with a purpose and stick to a consistent voice. Don’t come off as one type of person one moment, and then another the next. Your online persona or avatar should reflect who you are and be one voice.

19.  Raise questions and challenge the status quo in your tweets. Don’t just be like everyone else. Playing it safe is boring.

20.  Consider tweeting photos – but only ones you can envision being on your resume or being read by your mom.

I recently looked back at some of my tweets and realized I didn’t follow all of my rules. We are all guilty of breaking some of these some of the time. Just try to be mindful of what you say in your tweets. Act as if you had cameras on you—everyone may not be reading your tweet when you send it but it can turn up at the most inopportune time when someone conducts a search online. So don’t fear tweeting, don’t abuse it, and don’t overdo it.

Now go tweet about this blog post!

Interview With Harper Collins Speakers Bureau Director Jamie Brickhouse

Jamie Brickhouse, VP, is the director of HarperCollins Speakers Bureau, where he has been for five years. With 21 years in publishing, he previously served as VP, Executive Director of Publicity, Basic Books, Basic Civitas, Counterpoint (members of the Perseus Books Group). What he does for authors today is what is needed the most: for someone to proactively seek out non-bookstore opportunities to grow sales. Here is what he told Book Marketing Buzz Blog:

  1. Jaime, how does the speakers bureau work for HarperCollins and Hyperion authors? HCSB (HarperCollins Speakers Bureau) is the in-house lecture agency for our authors in charge of arranging paid speaking engagements. Our authors work with us exclusively and non-exclusively. We set up events at colleges, schools, corporations, religious organizations, trade associations, libraries, art and lecture groups, gala fund raisers, etc.

  1. Do you see more publishers going this route, promoting their authors as speakers? HarperCollins was the first publisher to launch a speakers bureau. Since Harper did it six years ago, many other publishers have followed suit. For authors who are marketable as speakers, it’s a marvelous way to keep the life of a book going well after publication date, broaden the author’s audience, raise the author’s profile, and of course increase revenue for both author and publisher. Speaking engagements are a way to augment an author’s publishing life and to augment a book’s marketing campaign, but never meant to replace a traditional marketing campaign for the launch of a book.

  1. When you were the executive director of publicity for Perseus Books Group did you ever expect the media landscape to look the way it does today? No. The biggest news is e-books. very few, if anyone, were savvy enough five years ago to predict the enormity, ubiquity, rapidity and game-changing status of e-books.

  1. Why do you love working in the book publishing industry? First, I love books, fiction, non-fiction, coffee table, print and electronic. Second, I love authors. Finally, I love learning something new every day. While my day-to-day duties may not vary for long periods, the books and authors I work with are constantly changing and change me.

  1. Where do you believe the industry is heading? I see publishers becoming full-service media companies for the authors and offering more services like the speakers bureau.

  1. What advice would you give an author looking to promote and sell his or her book? Figure out who your audience is and how to reach them. Understand that your publisher wants your book to do as well as you do, and become a partner in the publishing process. Listen to the publisher’s seasoned advice about what does and doesn’t work in book marketing.

  1. How do you keep up with industry going-ons and new strategies – which publications or blogs do you read? Publishers Lunch, PW Daily, PW, Wall Street Journal, NYT, Lambda Literary, and Speaker magazine.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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