Two important things happened last Friday.
The first was that I met a man who has walked on the surface of the moon. The second was that I referred to as an “Irish novelist” on the Bookseller’s Futurebook Blog:
Irish novelist Catherine Ryan Howard has used Twitter to source [writer services] for her first, self-published non-fiction book, Mousetrapped. “It’s put me in contact with people I need (like copyeditors and reviewers) and is also great for marketing/promotion ideas as you can see what everyone else is doing.” Self-publishing has come a long way in the last few years, and Catherine blogged advice about her journey as she went, which she also tweeted. When the time came to sell her book, she had a built-in audience, even though she uses Twitter “mainly for fun.” Catherine managed to sell over 500 copies of Mousetrapped – the majority of which came through Amazon. Damn impressive, for a self-published author.
And I didn’t even pay Ben Johncock to write that.
You may have read the piece in question, Twitter and the Book Trade: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, since it was re-tweeted approximately ten gazillion times Friday. In fact if you have a Twitter account and you haven’t read it, you surely deserve some kind of medal. And you need to read it. NOW!
Or in a minute, when you’ve finished reading this.
I can’t say enough about what Twitter does for writers. Not only is it an endless source of information, inspiration and consolation, but it is stacked to the rafters with people who are doing exactly the same thing you’re trying to do: write those five hundred words, edit that last page, or even get an agent or your book published. And when you’re working in a room by yourself with only cold coffee for company, that is exactly what you need – colleagues, all be they virtual colleagues. Not only that, but the graduates are there too: the published writers, the best-selling writers, the award-winning writers – as well as the top agents, the editors who grant our wishes and the readers who might one day make them come true. We can follow them, we can learn from them and we can talk (or tweet) to them. Twitter is to the book world as the “red button” is to digital TV: something a little bit special that adds to the experience, enhances it, enriches it.
Then yesterday, I noticed that my blog hits have formed a suspicious spike. It was Sunday; I hadn’t posted anything. I checked my incoming links and found that Jane Friedman had included my How To Format Your E-Book, the Non-Migraine Way post in her Best Tweets for Writers list this week. This is a big deal for me. I follow Jane on Twitter and read that list every week hoping the secret to writing a novel while not gaining weight or missing any reality TV (and then getting a six figure, three-book deal for it) will be on it. So I was chuffed, to say the least.
If you’re not on Twitter yet or you don’t know what it is, read this post by Bubblecow. (And also, how did you get here? I’m intrigued!) If you on there and you’d just like to learn how to do it better, I recommend Inkygirl’s comprehensive Twitter Guide for Writers. If you’re looking for a bit more guidance than that, Ben Johncock, author of the Futurebook article above, has set up The Twitter Consultancy whose services are tailored specifically to the tweeps in the book trade.