Time to get Twittering…

Yesterday, back in the office routine after the Book Fair mayhem, I was hit by a notable contrast. At the fair you have three days where the hordes who work in publishing collide under one roof – and there’s a real physical and audible connection there. You see people having face-to-face meetings, physically bumping into someone they know down the crowded aisles, launching into conversation with someone browsing the same catalogue, shouting and waving to someone amongst the sea of people. Now in the office the resounding sound is the tapping away at keyboards as we return to our main form of contact – soundless and faceless conversations via computer.

It seems so quiet and unconnected in comparison, but the fact of the matter is, like it or not, this is how we are now communicating with eachother most of the time. (It is statistically proven now that more people are using Facebook to talk to eachother instead of email. And if you think social media sites like Facebook or Twitter are only used by young people, you may be surprised to know the biggest age bracket of users is 45 to 60 year olds.)

I am fairly new at the social media game and especially Twitter – the new online phenomenon. In fact, I attended a seminar at the fair revolving around the importance of social media, and whilst I have to admit it wasn’t particularly enlightnening, one thing was drummed into us incessantly:

YOU CAN NOT, SHOULD NOT AND MUST NOT IGNORE TWITTER. It is very, very powerful.

For those who have never heard of Twitter, it is the site which allows people to share what they are doing by means of little tweets (one line of no more than 140 characters – although it can include a link eg. currently each tweet on our Allison & Busby Twitter page is a link to our blog). It is a means by which people connect to others around the world, share news and information or merely a chat, but unlike Facebook (where you have to be accepted as someone’s friend before you have access to their information and conversations) these conversations are open to anyone.

And suddenly this morning it started to make sense. Twitter is like the London Book Fair, on a grander…worldwide…scale.  It’s like having the chance to converse or just eavesdrop on conversations with each and every person at the fair without the need for an appointment. It’s an incredible source of information as you can merely seach for a topic and see who is chatting about it. It would be like standing in Earl’s Court, with the power to pick out every person who is talking about say, new hot writers, and then choosing which conversations you want to follow eg. you could pick Lara Crisp (our Managing Editor – who you know has a good eye for picking up great debuts, like One Foot Wrong) ; the fiction editor at Random House, an Italian rights manager who you can hear positively gushing about a new Sicilian author, and three literary agents (one from the UK, another from France and one from Germany) who are comparing notes on a Scandanavian writer they’ve heard about. Essentially, Twitter gives you superhuman hearing…with access to a million conversations around the world and the power to zoom in and listen and/or chat to anyone you want. Equally, by having a Twitter page it’s like having your own personal stand at a worldwide fair, where people can drop by and see what you’re up to. They can move along if nothing’s of interest, engage in conversation right then and there, or just decide to “follow” you and your future conversations (kind of like leaving a business card and letting you know they’re interested in you…and maybe you’ll be interested in them too.)

Point of the matter is, Twitter gives you unlimited access to people and who knows what it could lead to…

And on that note, here was the second point in the seminar worth repeating:

IF YOU ARE AN AUTHOR, GET ON TWITTER NOW. YOU’D BE STUPID NOT TO (Their words, not mine.)

People want to connect with people and people are interested in authors and the process of writing. Start twittering and you can build up a following through which you can promote your work, raise your profile and spread the word about your new book to hundreds/thousands with one click. Moreover, you can share marketing ideas with other authors, or use it for research on your next book – let’s say it’s a legal crime novel set in South America. What other medium might, in just a few minutes, allow you to connect to a defense attorney in Argentina who you’ve come across Twittering about his last case?

If this still isn’t making any sense (and it probably won’t until you start exploring Twitter yourself…and believe-you-me, I’m well aware I’ve only peeled one layer off the onion and only just figuring out how it all works myself) here’s a helpful titbit on how authors are using Twitter to their benefit:

http://editorunleashed.com/2009/04/21/authors-on-twitter-whos-getting-it-right/

How did I come across this information? The link was flagged up  to me by Richard Jay Parker (author of our upcoming book STOP ME) ….and who is currently on Twitter. How did he come across it? Yep, you guessed it – through Twitter. Our Favourite Books Blogger Liz shared the link with the Twitter world and hence with any of her followers (Richard being one of them).

So, there you have it. Do you really need to know that Joe Shmoe has spilled coffee on his laptop? The answer is no. But once in a while, all the Joe Shmoe’s out there can come up with – or just flag up – some really useful stuff.

Chiara Priorelli, Publicity Manager

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