Thursday, 10 July 2014

To Tweet Or Not - Damian Harvey

As if it isn't enough trying to get as much writing done as I feel I should (and I rarely feel I've done enough by the end of the day) I also feel the need to review books, blog, do my own website (this week I've been creating some simple animated pictures to make it look more interesting - like this one of L.S. Lowry) and of course, I Twitter. I know lots of other writers do all these things too and I'm sure that they have no problems in doing so, and doing it well. 

The problem is that all of these things take time out of the writing day, and again I rarely feel as though I'm even doing these extra things as well as I should... It's a guilt thing.

Of all of these additional little things, surely Twitter is the easiest and least time consuming - after all, it only takes a moment to send a little Tweet doesn't it. Or so you'd think.

Love it or loathe it, online social networking of one kind or another is here to stay and I feel it's important to keep my hand in as a way of promoting myself and what I'm doing. I've restricted myself to only using Twitter as I find it does just about everything that I want. I have a Twitter feed on the home page of my website which allows me to say a quick hello to schools I'm visiting. This always goes down well when it's projected onto a screen in the school hall or in the classroom for everyone to see (making it that bit more personal) though sadly some schools automatically block social networking sites so all that appears is an empty space on the home page - so I've wondered if it's worthwhile after all.

I also tweet about what I'm doing - though as we all know, Tweeting that you're sitting at home writing everyday can become a little boring - as can the earth shattering news that you're making another cup of coffee. To make it a little more interesting I do try and tweet about other things - what I'm doing and where I'm going etc... including pictures from time to time where relevant and when there's a signal on my phone. I know I could make better use of Twitter though - again if only I had the time. Just as I start to think it's not worth the effort, something happens to change my mind. Recently I've been invited into schools as a result of interest generated by Tweets from and to other schools, I've also had contact from publishers. So I've decided, yes... it is worth the effort (for now) and of  course it only takes a moment to do.

As a result of this, I've recently decided that I should be a little more proactive on Twitter. I've made an effort to follow relevant people - seeking out schools, teachers, libraries, librarians, publishers, authors illustrators, bookshops and other book related people and organisations. If any of these follow me then I follow back - after all, what's the point of it all if you are only tweeting to a handful of people. Although I'm keen to build my followers I have no intention of playing the game of following hundreds of random people, then unfollowing as soon as they follow back (as I've noticed some do). I want to try and keep it relevant. I've also taken the time to unfollow those people that, after a period of time, don't follow me (again, what's the point unless you are genuinely interested in them or they are relevant to what you are doing). is a great help in this.

I've been slowly going through the list of people I follow and creating little lists to make it easier for me to find them - this task is still ongoing. I know need to actively retweet relevant tweets from people, favouriting  here and there and commenting etc. The problem is, it all takes time doesn't it... and what started out as a quick and simple tweet easily becomes time consuming. It's easy to start obsessing over numbers and why so and so has suddenly stopped following you.

Today has been a good day - I've written quite a lot, I've done a new web page showing new book covers (History Heroes), I've written this (waffling) post, I've Tweeted a bit and I don't feel guilty...
Tomorrow I'll be visiting a school (so no writing) and I'll tweet about it too if there's a phone signal.

Damian Harvey
Twitter @damianjharvey


Sue Purkiss said...

Great timing - have just this week decided to get to grips with Twitter. It helped when I discovered the Notifications tab - after about a year!!!!) - and saw that all sorts of things had been going on that I hadn't known about. But the next big challenge is the hash tag. Any tips on using that?

Nick Green said...

I found that Twitter sucked me in like quicksand, and as with quicksand, I decided that the only thing to do was to get the hell out of there.

While I used it, it did seem to be proving very useful in raising my profile... but the operative word here is 'seem'.

I think the danger of Twitter is that it really makes you feel as if you are doing something useful, with a constantly low-level positive feedback. But (speaking for myself only) I found that it was ultimately just a vampire of precious time.

Stroppy Author said...

I agree with Nick. I use it very little these days - little return for large investment of time and easily sucked into conversations that take up time but don't really do anything else.

Sue Purkiss said...

Thought I was following you, Nick, but now suspect it's another Nick... oh well. Ten days after the battle as usual.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I joined Twitter because I found I'd missed important information that was out there. I don't spend a lot of time on it, but I mostly use it as a tool. I follow other writers, teachers, librarians, publishers, agents. There are plenty of those on Twiter. I've unfollowed anyone, though, who uses Twitter ONLY to promote their books.

I have resisted Facebook, having a blog and thinking that's enough. But plenty of writers have that too and manage to get their books done; it all depends on the individual. You know what you can handle and what you can't - and it's good, especially for children's writers, to be available to their readers through a blog or social media.