How authors are ruining Twitter

I’ve only recently jumped back on Twitter in the last week.

After a period of intensive use in early 2014, I stepped off the social media platform to focus on my writing. This is also why I haven’t blogged in a long time (actually, in the past five years I’ve started three different blogs. Why blog when I can write? I used to think).

And there’s that other thing – it’s a massive distraction. As many writers will attest, social media is a time sink of epic proportions, a 24/7 candy store of mental stimulation, a rabbit warren of information.

On the flipside, it can be a great way to meet like-minded souls, and share ideas and experiences, and so I find I’m friends with a lot of authors on Twitter.

I like to read. I love books. I love to write. I’m fascinated by the writing process – more so other people’s. I like to know what other authors are writing, reading, feeling, doing.

I’m amused by the memes and the cat pictures, enjoy the inspirational quotes (that Abraham Lincoln guy is prolific! 😉 ), and marvel at the connectivity and networking opportunities Twitter offers.

I personally love the curatorial aspect of Twitter – the sharing of interesting articles and industry trends, flagging upcoming events, and passing on the odd inspirational quote.

However, it is apparent to me that a lot of authors just don’t know how to use Twitter properly to engage on a social level with people (social – that word, look it up).

In the short time I’ve been active again, I’ve been constantly bombarded with links and pictures of authors marketing (selling) their books.

And it’s relentless.

I don’t mind knowing you have a new book out, but I don’t need to know every day, several times a day. No matter what those social media gurus are telling you.

Engage me in other ways – blog (and share the links via Twitter) about the writing process of your new book, the inspiration behind it, the research process, the design team you worked with to produce your amazing cover/layout. Talk about the genre you write in. But don’t post endless sales links to Amazon. It’s boring and crass and makes me want to stop following you.

Sure I can skip over the tweets, but when there are several of you it turns my Twitter feed into a giant colourful sales catalogue. Is this really the best way for you to use the platform?

At its worst, Twitter is like a crowd of marketers in garish stripey suits all shouting to be heard. At its best, Twitter is a savvy community of influencers and thought leaders. Most of us fall between those two extremes.

All I’m saying is, keep it classy, authors. Don’t bombard your audience.

Build and nourish your online communities. Engage with people. Get them interested (and invested) in your work.

Be in it for the long game.

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