Sunday, March 8, 2015
Review: Rayne Hall's Twitter for Writers
Submitted for your consideration: Twitter for Writers, by Rayne Hall.
I remember back when I first heard about Twitter...my response was something along the lines of 'Psh, nobody wants to hear about my life. Oh look, I just had a tuna-fish sandwich!'. I just couldn't imagine what I'd have to say in 140 characters that anyone would care to hear, and that cave-era perspective stayed with me for far too long.
Then, everywhere I turned, people were telling me that as I writer, I really should be active on Twitter. I still didn't really understand why, but started to tweet more. One afternoon I tweeted about a flash fiction piece I published, and put the hashtag #flashfiction on the tweet--and within a few hours, several flash fiction publications had followed me. That was an epiphany moment for me--hashtags aren't just fun things you add to a tweet, they have a useful purpose. And when used intelligently, twitter can help you connect with people who share your interests, people you probably would't know exist otherwise.
All well and good, but I still didn't really know what I was doing. Thankfully, I found two things that have helped me almost overnight--a writer friend who gave me a ton of tips (sorry, she's not for sale), and a book I found: Twitter for Writers, by Rayne Hall.
Where did I find it? Why, on Twitter, of course. I was playing around with hashtags, just seeing what I could find, and I saw a tweet about it. At that time it was on sale for 99 cents, so I figured I couldn't go wrong.
The book has 36 short chapters that take you through creating your account to more advanced topics like lists, managing your account, apps, multiple accounts, and staying safe. Within each of these chapters, she gives information for beginners, a 'what not to do' section, advanced strategies, and a section on mistakes she's made and how you can learn from them. If you're a beginner, you can stick to the easy strategies, and come back to the rest when you're ready.
You may be thinking "Really? Come on, how complicated can this be?". I hear you, because that's what I thought, too. But you see, I didn't know how much I didn't know. For example, it never occurred to me that people scan feeds looking for certain avatars, so if you're the sort of person (like me) who likes to change your avatar picture often, you're just confusing your followers. Change your cover picture as often as you like, but keep that avatar picture consistent.
I also never liked Twitter because my feed was a huge mess--I could never figure out how people managed to sort through all those tweets! That's because nobody who knows better actually uses their feed as-is; they always use some method of filtering to get at what they want. Either via lists, hashtags, apps, or other methods, they pull out what they need at any given moment and ignore the rest. Huge epiphany--and now I'm able to interact with the people I want to interact with.
Admittedly, I was completely twitter challenged--I didn't even know you could create lists, or turn off people's retweets. I didn't realize there were whole events that used hashtags, and that you could use filters to make them easy to participate in. I didn't know you could attach pictures. And I certainly had no clue how to get followers that would actually be interested in what I had to say, and that I could build professional relationships with.
Twitter for Writers walked me through all of this, and tons more. Hall's writing is clear, accessible, easy to follow. I love that she's willing to admit the mistakes she made so you don't make the same ones. And for me, this book was worth the price just for the useful hashtags she shares.
Most of all, I appreciated Hall's emphasis on building genuine relationships. This doesn't mean having long, in-depth conversations with every one of your followers everyday--but it means you share genuine interests and will find one another's tweets potentially interesting. Reaching out to other authors, to readers, to other professionals in the industry not just to say 'look at me!', but to engage, share information, learn from one another. This is the approach that will build you a successful and useful network, and she stresses that throughout.
I was lucky enough to stumble on this when it was on sale for $0.99. The non-sale price is $9.99; I think it's worth every penny of that, and would have been delighted with it at full price. [PS: I just checked, and it's on sale again for $0.99! Strike while the iron's hot!!]
If you're a writer and you're baffled by Twitter or are looking to use it more efficiently, this book is for you. It has something to offer all but the most savvy users, and probably even a tip or two for them! In a time when social media is growing in importance everyday, Twitter for Writers is a wonderful addition to your writer's tool-kit.