Friday, May 27, 2011
Sarah Weinman on Twitter
ROBERTA: Today JRW welcomes Sarah Weinman, currently News Editor for Publishers Marketplace, but well known in the business of crime fiction for her blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind. She also writes fiction, with stories EQMM, AHMM, and anthologies such as Baltimore Noir, A Hell of a Woman and Damn Near Dead and is a devotee of Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, last time I checked you had over 90,000 followers. 90 thousand. Good god, woman, how did this happen and what do you do with them?
SARAH: How did it happen? Beats me. I swear most of them are spambots I'm too lazy to kill, but if I lose the flippancy, I think it's that I treat my Twitter feed much the same way I blogged when I first started Confessions in 2003: find interesting stories and links and share them. And on Twitter I don't limit myself to crime fiction, and only crime fiction, the way I did most of the time with the blog. Publishing and bookish stories still dominate, but I'll talk about world events, crime, media, science and other things that strike my fancy. And break news every now and then.
ROBERTA: Better late than never, I stumbled across your article in Poets and Writers about writers using Twitter. You said: "Just as setting up a page on other major networking sites does not guarantee success, joining Twitter doesn't mean automatic recognition. It helps to have a game plan in advance: a specific reason to follow specific users' updates and an incentive for them to follow yours."
What constitutes a good game plan, in your opinion?
SARAH: Well first and foremost every author should ask: will I enjoy this, or will it be a timesuck? Because believe me, it shows when an author's heart is not into social media. And if all he or she does is promote the book, well, we're going to turn off, fast. A little BSP every now and then is prudent, but being wall-to-wall is frankly, annoying. Instead, be human. If being 100% yourself makes you nervous, then be a considered version of yourself. And listen. Follow people you think you'll find interesting and see what they say and how they say it. Engage people in conversation (but do not, under any circumstances, at-reply to promote your book. Or direct message. Those are strictly verboten and will cause me to block you.) Be on Twitter as much or as little as you like, but if you're stressing out, the writing still must come first. Twitter isn't for everyone, and if it isn't for you, that's okay. I love it, but I'm not on Facebook. Some people work that way or they are the opposite. Mostly I advocate doing one thing very well instead of a bunch of things in a tepid fashion.
ROBERTA: Do you have examples of writers you think have used Twitter to seriously support their work and their careers?
SARAH: Off the top of my head: in crime fiction, Ian Rankin is on because he enjoys it and it shows. Gregg Hurwitz, Joe Finder, Harlan Coben, Christopher Rice and Alafair Burke all mix work and personal tweets pretty well to my mind. For general fiction, authors I think navigate Twitter outstandingly well include Jennifer Weiner, Neil Gaiman, Emma Straub, Robin Black, Julie Klam and Joe Wallace, whose personalities and real-ness shine through. And there are lots of authors whom I haven't mentioned. But more and more, it seems to suit authors so long as they find a way to make Twitter fit.
ROBERTA: In 2009, you weren't sure that Twitter was a necessary promotional tool. Has your opinion changed on that?
SARAH: It's only more necessary as more of the world joins Twitter: at last count there were 200 million accounts, of which 70% were outside the US. My feeling is that Twitter still works better for industry types and those who are in the media and news business -- the death of Osama bin Laden and all the major world events of 2011 proves that over and over again - but so long as it's done well with one's heart in it, Twitter is a valuable tool that does work. But it's not everything, and it's not the only thing.
ROBERTA: Thanks so much Sarah! Sarah is tweeting this week from BEA, but has promised to try to stop over to answer your comments and questions. You can find her at www.sarahweinman.com or on Twitter: @sarahw