platform building for fiction authors

Five Benefits You’re Missing If You’re Not On Twitter

Twitter for WritersIf you’re not on Twitter already (or have an account you barely use), you probably have good reasons. You’re afraid it’s a black hole time suck. You don’t see the value it adds over Facebook. You’re worried about privacy. You’re not sure how to make the best use of it, it moves too fast, or it’s confusing.

While I agree those are valid concerns, they can all be fixed with a little time and training. And if you’re not on Twitter, there are five amazing benefits you’re missing out on.

(1) Twitter Has Over 100 Million Active Accounts

Whether you’re seeking traditional publication or plan to self-publish, whether you’re a non-fiction author, a novelist, a poet, or a short story writer, you need a platform to sell your work. Your audience is on Twitter. You just need to know how to tap in to them. This is true even if you write children’s books or YA. Your readers might not be on Twitter, but their parents and aunts and uncles and even grandparents are, and your books might just be the perfect gift they’re looking for. 

Because of the ability to participate in conversations through hashtags, Twitter also allows you to build a following faster than any other social networking site. People who find you on Facebook usually already know you. People who find you on Twitter are more likely to be complete strangers, and that’s a good thing because you’re expanding your friendships and your reach. I met some of my favorite writer friends on Twitter.

(2) Twitter Makes You a Better Writer

Twitter gives you 140 characters to work with. Not 140 letters or 140 words, but 140 characters. Spaces count, and so does punctuation. Links count as well.

Working within those constraints forces you to write tighter. No purple prose allowed. You need to figure out exactly what you’re trying to say. Twitter’s character limit also helps you value strong verbs and specific nouns over adverbs and adjectives. Both of those skills translate directly into better writing elsewhere.

(3) Twitter Brings You the News Faster than Any News Site Can

Twitter is real time, which means that while reporters are putting together their stories and getting approval from their editors, normal people on site are tweeting. Last August, Twitter lit up like a firefly on crack about the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia before the news stations could catch their balance. In the plague of tornadoes that rolled through Texas this spring, Twitter might have even saved lives.

(4) Twitter Allows You to Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Publishing Industry

Twitter is like a writer’s mecca because you can quickly find out about interesting and informative new blog posts (already vetted by others), get tips on writing and publishing from agents, editors, and bestselling authors, and keep up on industry trends and new releases. No searching involved. It comes to you in a bite-sized 140 character nugget. If you decide you want more, you click the link.

(5) Twitter Helps You Research

In her bestselling book We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media, Kristen Lamb tells the story of how she needed information on bounty hunters for her novel. Rather than wasting hours trying to sort through results on Google and still not coming up with what she needed, she tweeted about it and received replies from actual bounty hunters willing to answer her questions.

But it’s not only facts you can research on Twitter. If you’re not sure your main character’s name is a good fit for his personality and job, ask. If you want to know what writing software other writers actually trust, ask. In my co-written novel with Lisa Hall-Wilson, I mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah, and we debated whether enough people would know what we meant. So I asked, and we ended up leaving it in the book.

In August, I’ll be teaching a course to help people who aren’t on Twitter get started or people who are on Twitter but are struggling to improve. For eight months, I let Twitter intimidate me. I barely used it and only had five followers (two of which were my brother and sister-in-law). Then, in less than a year, I learned to love Twitter and went from five followers to over 3,600. This course will save you the wasted time, headaches, embarrassment, and learning curve I had starting out on Twitter, and show you how fun and helpful it can really be.

Learn more or sign up for this 4-week Twitter course here.

Twitter is where I hang out most days, so if you’re already on Twitter, I’d love to hear from you. My username is @MarcyKennedy (straightforward right – it’s very important on Twitter to use your name). And please help me spread this post not only on Twitter, but also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ (where the folks who aren’t yet on Twitter are likely to be).

If you’re already on Twitter, what do you love best about it? If you’re not, what’s the biggest thing holding you back?

Sidenote: Since I know this is the busiest time of year for everyone, I’m going down to two posts a week for the rest of the summer. Starting in July, I’ll be doing my science fiction/fantasy themed posts on Mondays and the regular post for writers will move to Thursdays. I’ll be back to the three-day schedule come fall 🙂

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Do You Worry You Won’t Succeed As A Writer?

Do you worry you won’t ever succeed as a writer?

I do. Despite how far I’ve come, despite the goals I’ve reached, some days I wonder if those people who want me to quit are right. Some days all I can see is how far I still have to go. And lately, I’ve been struggling with a lot of fear.

This week, I had the privilege of reviewing an advance copy of Jeff Goins’ You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) for a 100-page metaphorical kick in the rear. (We all need those once in a while.)

If you follow Jeff’s blog, you know that he melds practical tips with inspiration. Even though I normally prefer practical tactics I can immediately put to use when it comes to writing advice, in this case, I think the real value of this book lies in his insights into what it takes to succeed as a writer.

I can’t sum up the whole book for you (you’ll have to get your own copy), but here are the top four tips I walked away with for what it will take for writers like you and me to reach our dreams.

(1) “The only person you need to worry about writing for is you” (pg. 27).

This isn’t new advice. We’ve heard numerous times not to write for a trend and to write what we enjoy reading. But it goes deeper than that, and I think the take-away in what Jeff has to say comes from his reasons for writing for ourselves first.

Writing for ourselves first is the only way to be authentic. We all want people to like us, but if we focus on trying to do whatever it takes to make them like us rather than just being ourselves, it’s going to show. We’ll come across as fake, and that will drive people away.

Thousands of other people are struggling with what you’re struggling with. This means that if you write about what appeals to you, it will appeal to other people as well. Always ask yourself, “If I hadn’t written this, would I want to read it.”

You’ll find your voice quicker. If you’re only worried about writing for you, the pressure of impressing everyone else goes away and all pretenses drop. Your voice has a lot to do with being comfortable in public and allowing your personality to come through.

(2) “A brand is who you are. But it’s more than that. It’s your truest self. The part people remember” (pg. 46).

We don’t brand ourselves the same way that businesses or products do because our brand includes our name, our personality, our unique quirks, and our voice, as well as our genre. Your brand is you. No lies. No games. No tricks.

Through your brand you make a promise to people about what they’ll get when they interact with you in person or in writing. I want people to know exactly what they’ll get when they come to my blog and website. In fact, I worry that I’ve split my brand too far by including both writing posts and fantasy/science fiction posts. (I’d love to have you weigh in on that in the comments.)

Brand goes beyond that though to my personality. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I’m a bit quirky and that I love to pick things apart to see how they work and what truth is hiding behind them. I’m all about hope. And I like to help. That’s me in a nutshell. That’s also my brand.

(3) “Content is not king. Relationship is” (pg. 78).

I have a feeling some bubbles just popped. What do you mean content isn’t king?

You have to have good content. It’s foundational. But you can have good content, and work yourself to exhaustion, and if you don’t have relationships with people who will spread the word about your great content, no one will come to read it.

(4) “You never fully arrive” (pg. 93).

There’s always room for improvement even for writers who are on the New York Times bestseller list. Rather than getting cocky once you’ve achieved your definition of success, keep striving to get better.

Be sure you check out Jeff’s website and pick up a copy of his new book You Are A Writer.

You are a writer if you write. But do you wonder if you’ll ever feel like a success?

I hope you’ll check out the newly released mini-books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series–Strong Female Characters and How to Write Faster–both currently available for 99 cents.

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