Saturday, 12 July 2014

Twitter for Fledglings: Getting Started




My publisher
Recently I was asked by some Crooked Cat writers who are just launching themselves onto Twitter for the first time, or have not found it as easy as they thought, to share my tips and advice on how to use Twitter. At their prompting, this is the first in a series of short blog posts. Frankly, I am NOT an expert so I will be referencing other people from time to time. Nor do I have the definitive answer.

There are as many ways to use Twitter as there are people using Twitter. Please read on quickly as I'm not sure that analogy worked. Whatever. I hope that those visiting these blogs who are far more expert than I am will chip in with their comments. On Twitter, I've traveled the world, met fascinating people, made good friends and sold an awful lot of books. I love it, and if I can get you, the fledgling to love it too, then it's mission accomplished. For this first post, we are going to look at setting up your Twitter site.

Getting Set Up
There are 3 areas to consider: Your Avi, your Mini-bio and your Header pic.

1.Your Avi
This is the thumbnail picture of you and it is important as it is the first thing people will see. I strongly advise you, unless you are wanted by the police in every known country, continent or galaxy, to use a picture of your face, NOT an egg, a pet,or your kids. Preferably a high res. pic, and with you looking vaguely pleasant and sentient. I do my best, you can do better. As close up as you can get and with an uncluttered background, as it's quicker to spot you. Twitter allows you to zoom, position and crop the picture, which makes it easier.

Some people use their book covers as their Avi. I wouldn't. The reduction is so small it becomes insignificant. Save that for the Header pic. Obviously, there are exceptions to the ''full face''. My friend @JonGardener has a picture of an eye on a red background. It looks scary, but fits in with the fast-paced high-action sci-fi ebooks he writes.

2.Your Mini-bio
This is the second thing people will turn to, so again, it is worth spending time getting it right. Here are three examples to start you thinking.

Getting nowhere slowly. Artist, writer, poet, barn-owl lover and aspiring Spaniard. Novels - Fraud, Simone Simone etc.pinterest.com/pedroyevad/pin

Romantic Husband, Heroic Dad, Maker of Mischief and Purveyor of Utter Tripe. Interesting past. Now the author of The Michael Prentiss series of thrillers.


Writer & blogger. Victorian novel: Diamonds&Dust publ Crooked Cat Books. Outspoken local activist. Love 2CVs, cats & cake. Amazon page: 

You will see they all have certain traits in common: First, they define what the person does i.e Writer... artist. This is important as you want, among other things, to draw people to your books. Next, they give you an idea of the person behind the pic: barn-owl lover, Heroic Dad, Outspoken local activist. All these will attract like-minded or curious people. Finally, they reference actual books/sites. The professional bit, but, you notice, stowed away amid the rest of the bio.

I suggest before composing your final bio, you go onto Twitter and read as many as you can. You will soon pick out the duff ones. And remember, nothing is set in stone. My bio underwent several drafts before I settled on the current one. And I will change it again when the new book comes out.

3.Your Header pic
This is the chance to draw attention to your books in a colourful and attractive manner. There are some lovely examples of Twitter header pics that do just this. Check out @TerryTyler4  - I don't know how she assembled it, but I'm sure if you ask, she'll tell you. Lovely and bright and eye-catching.

If you don't want to use your covers, try to relate the picture to your books in some way. I have what a friend kindly describes as a 'dodgy Victorian knocking-shop' as I write Victorian crime fiction (@carolJhedges). Again, Twitter will size up the picture to fit the space, so all you need do is decide what you want. It's your shop-window, so make it the best you can. Experiment. And if you don't like it, you can easily change it for something else.

Once you are set up, you are ready for Following people and acquiring Followers. We'll consider those two topics in the next post.

OK, if you have anything helpful to suggest on setting up a site, or if there is anything obvious that I've forgotten, please add it here ....

32 comments:

  1. I think I'd also add - Twitter, like your fish, is hungry. It eats time. It's fun and entertaining and yes, it's a marketing tool. But it's worth thinking, before you even start, how much time you can spend on it.

    Carol, you are superwoman and I don't know how you manage to Twitter so effectively and do all your other stuff. I just think people need to be aware of that before joining the fray.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This will certainly be dealt with in a future post. Thanks.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for this, Carol. I know I should be on Twitter but haven't quite got around to it. Will bookmark for future reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent. I found this was the basic stuff I wish I'd been told BEFORE I got going. I learned on the job, as it were. I'm trying to keep these very basic--- I have read a LOAD of superb posts on Twitter, but some of them are a bit too techie, even for me!

      Delete
  3. My Avitar is also my passport picture....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably why the police are after you.

      Delete
  4. Good points about the header pics and the bio, Carol. I'll have to look at my bio critically now! My problem is working these things out technically, so I hope the brilliant TT will help us there. I'm a bit useless when it comes to the settings and technical side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twitter is fairly clear.... and I like that you can always ''change'' anything. But yes, TT or Jon are always helpful.

      Delete
  5. Twitter is something that needs to be used regularly, or probably not at all. It's so immediate that ten seconds later tweets are gone. Daz soap falake manufactureres coined the phrase "soap flake advertising" because they may have the #1 soap flake product this week, but if they don't keep advertising on an almost daily basis, their product soon becomes #5 or lower. Twitter's the same.
    Good npoints, Carol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Am dealing with this in later post. Thanks for reminder.

      Delete
  6. Alas, someone did my background for me, I haven't got a clue how to do things like that, but thanks for the mention! I agree totally about having your face as your profile pic (I hate 'avi'!). I change my bio alot, actually, depending on what I'm currently interested in, or what mood I'm in. Some people say it's best to keep the same profile pic FOREVER, but I think it's nice to change it every six months or so; it shows people another side of you, and they soon get used to the new pic, as long as it is very clearly YOU - ie, a good, bright, clear shot.

    You asked for other suggestions - I've just reviewed a book called 'How to be Twittertastic' by Jo Lindsell which has a very good section on setting up your account. Also, I can't recommend 'Twitter for Writers' by Rayne Hall highly enough, it's excellent.

    The other thing I'd add is how essential it is to have a bio - I don't follow back anyone without one, unless they look really nice! And don't fill it up with hashtags - I don't follow back #inspirational #motivational #mediapreneur #SEO #leadership ones, either!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent..shame about the Header ..it is one of the best. I used to use hashtags, but have now abandoned them. Amazing how some people just put: Writer, or human.... and think this will attract followers.You do need to have at least 4 lines of interesting stuff. Preferably relevant.

      Delete
    2. I can't see the point of hashtags in a bio, it just uses up valuable characters! Since I reached 10K followers, I now get about 70 new ones a day without following anyone at all. I got to 5K by just having occasional big following sessions, looking up key words in the search for people who I wanted to follow ME. The more followers you get, the more you get, it seems. I think the most important thing in the bio is to look as though you are not just a robot trying to sell stuff!!!

      Delete
    3. This is true ..I'm getting more..but then I am currently targetting American followers as I sell mainly in the American market (weird).We'll discuss followers etc next week. Warnings about checking timelines to avoid unsuitable ones may be issued.

      Delete
  7. Hello Carol, this will certainly be a useful series. I've recently joined twitter after resisting it for years and I really like it though I feel I don't know what I'm doing. It is lovely to have conversations with people whose work I admire, something that would rarely be possible otherwise but when it comes to hash tags and the like I am bewildered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry, we'll look at them later.

      Delete
    2. Natasha, just wanted to say, do get Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall - it's terrific. I've written a post about hashtags here:
      http://ukartsdirectory.com/terry-tylers-blogspot-6/

      Delete
  8. Thanks so much - now changed all three and looks better. Much obliged, Carol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gawd...The weight of responsibility is beginning to sit on my shoulders!

      Delete
  9. Lovely intro to the twittersphere for newbies, Carol. Straightforward info like this post, is invaluable to those still hesitant about dipping their toes into the ocean of social media.
    I really enjoy Twitter - probably 'cos 140 characters suits my attention span, but I'm afraid I've ignored all the good advice about a face pic - I love the freedom of anonymity!
    I think Twitter is like all social media, it takes perseverance, and the best advice I was given, was have fun with it!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly...and you are in the best place..in that by the time your book is out, you'll have got to grips with it and won't feel desperate to sell sell..

      Delete
  10. Hello, Newbie as of 2 mos. to Twitterland, after scoffing at it and being quite judgmental for years. Really enjoying it. I view it as a river of ideas and expression. My Q is voice. I'm a journalist w/ many interests, but my book, working on getting out there, is historical fiction that is not comedy, and my regular voice often involves humor. So often inclined to joke on Twitter, but is that really what I should be doing?/would that make people think my book would be funny?I'm gathering quite an interesting group of followers (even the phrase kind of makes me smile). Thank you so much for this great post and generating this dialogue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I post a lot of funny stuff..as you have prob found out... And people enjoy it - they soon tell me if they don't. We'll look at content etc later. Thanks for this.

      Delete
  11. I'm always suspicious of people who's Avi is that default egg and I agree that animals are not helpful as Avis. One thing I have noticed is that I get so used to seeing and recognising my Twitter friends that if they change their Avi I become confused. I now try to resist updating my face (especially as it keeps getting older and my Avi doesn't).

    My big point about Twitter is that it can really help you make money; your book sales, me finding an illustrator etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed about the avi! As writers, we haave to stay consistent, if wwe can..tho if you have a face like mine, a search for peerfection is always on.

      Delete
  12. Great advice, Carol. I'm not too keen to have my visage displayed in places, but Twitter is one of the necessary ones.
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was growing up, hundreds of years ago, nobody cared what writers looked like. Now, sadly, they do. YOU at least, are presentable!!!

      Delete
  13. Thanks ever so much for this, Carol. I'm still very much a Twitter newbie and I still don't find it easy to use, let alone find the time to use it regularly and to best advantage. I will keep an eye open for the follow-up posts! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. As an animal...I have an animal avi...and 6,400 odd followers....go figure ;o) - Twitter is what YOU make it, whether for fun or promotion...never forget to interact...now where's my Bonio...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Can I drop a little mention for the 80:20 rule on Twitter (it's not a rule, as such, more a sort of...guideline (for anyone who is also a fan of Pirates of the Carribean...)) ; which is that, of your Twitter chat, only 20% should be promotional stuff of the 'BUY MY BOOK!' nature, and the remaining 80% should be general chat, cat pictures, interaction with other Tweeters and cat pictures. Did I say that twice? Well, cats are important.

    And my Twitter avi is the T Rex from Toy Story, but, coincidentally, I look almost exactly like him, so...

    ReplyDelete

So here's your chance! Talk to me. Comments will be visible after moderation.