Twitter for Freelance Dummies


twitterpowerI’ve never been any good at Twitter. I find it so constrictive, so futile and so time consuming, yet I understand that it’s not going anywhere any time soon. The following is my attempt at regurgitating what I’ve learned so far about Twitter in order to help my fellow writers, and better this aspect of my freelance life.

Follow @jonreiss for more freelance tweets and check out my blog for a less constrictive rundown of my freelance life.

Having come across some free audible credits I’ve been listening to the book Twitter Power by Joel Comm. I recommend the audiobook version of this for two reasons. Blowing your reading time solely on a book about how to tweet better can cause you to have an existential breakdown, but when you’re walking from place to place listening to it, you don’t feel like such a slave to technology. Also, one version of the audiobook is expertly read by John Hodgman, whose dulcet monotone will lull you into self improvement before you even know it.

The Best Tips I’ve Learned From Twitter Power

How Not To Spam: When I first began to tweet I simply posted links to my writing along with the titles of those links. I learned from Twitter Power that this is considered spamming in the twitter world, and will likely annoy followers.  Don’t just post links to your own work, post links to the work that interests you and describe that work in the most interesting way possible with your remaining characters.

Other Functions: The re-tweet button is a good tool.  People will like you for re-tweeting them, but your followers will leave if you RT too much.  Re-tweet with caution, but do it regularly.

Better than the re-tweet button, is the “reply”  button, which, before reading this book I almost never used.  Twitter is intended to be one large conversation.  When someone on your feed is saying something that you have a thought about, you should reply, even if you don’t see the slightest possibility them responding. Replies result in all the followers of the original tweeter, seeing you on twitter, and possibly following you, especially if they like your reply.

Other Thoughts: Twitter is a social network of engagement, that’s the main point this book tries to get across. Engage other twitterers and your on your way to a successful Twitter presence.

When it comes to getting more followers, the book has two very specific hints that I’ve found to be effective.  First, put your twitter handle in your email signature. I employed this recently and I’m already seeing results. When it comes to siphoning followers from visitors to your blog, Twitter Power recommend the following trick: put a link at the top of your blog that says, “Follow me on twitter here.” The important components being the lowercase “t” in the word “twitter” and the word “here” linked.  Apparently, all the different variations of “Follow me on twitter” links were tested for their effectiveness and the above drew the most followers.

For further reading on how to better your Twitter (and general social networking) presence, I recommend the book, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, which takes a slightly more philosophical look at Twitter, and why it’s a powerful medium.

Three Twitter Tools
Twit Feed: recommended in Twitter Power, this program is an effective, automated way to tweet the entries on your website or blog. Aside from being a link shortener, helps your track the number of clicks you receive on any link that you post on twitter.

Tweet Deck: When it comes to monitoring what is happening on your twitter feed, Tweet Deck is the perfect app. Tweet Deck gives you the best possible interface for seeing everything that’s going on, on every corner of the twittersphere, by organizing your followers and followees by columns. It’s highly customizable and fairly lightweight.

Six Literary Folks to Follow

Bret Easton Ellis After a recent New York Magazine article called Twitter Bret Easton Ellis’s “real art form” his his number of follwers has spiked. Personally, I will take any BEE novel any day, over reading his feed. Personally, I find his feed a little hard to take at times but NYM has turned his account into a must watch, and thanks to Ellis enfant terrible persona, there’s never a shortage of controversy.

Colson Whitehead  No less an authority than Richard Nash himself told me that Whitehead is one of the best lit-twitterers.  Clearly he is one of those writers that has taken to Twitter with ease. He’s also good at posting articles and describing them in the little space available.

Joshua Mohr The Freelance Life’s favorite lit-fic-it-kid. His new novel Fight Song has received near universal praise. He’s also a solid re-tweeter. If Mohr re-tweets someone, they’re worth following.

Royal Young With his new book Fame Shark about to hit stores, Young is no doubt a young writer to watch. He’s Franzen for a new generation of readers. Catch him just before the rest of the universe does.

Rachel Shukert Along with her regular articles on Tablet, Shukert’s new novel Starstruck is on the tip of every in the New York lit world’s tongue.

Jami Attenberg One of the busiest, most consistent young writers on the scene right now, Attenberg’s feed will inspire you to put pen to paper.

Agency Folk to Follow on Twitter

First, and etiquette warning:

I’ve written quite a bit about submitting to agents here at TFL and I understand the time during which you are waiting for a response to your submission is extremely difficult. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to follow the agent who has your manuscript on Twitter in order to remind him that you exist, but I do not recommend this!  Just don’t do it. Follow them afterward or before but not during.

Should you add them on Facebook?  Absolutely not.  You’re better off sending them a wink on OK Cupid.

Janet Reid She’s an agent, a blogger, and an all around advice giver for aspiring writers.

Jason Ashlock President at Movable Type, Ashlock is known as one of the great risk takers in the agency world. He’s also considered one of the best when it comes to navigating the digital literary climate.

Trident Media Trident has become known as one of the go-to spots for edgy, dark writers.

Richard Florest An agent at Rob Wiesbach with a solid eye for interesting fiction.

Foundry Literary Media Probably the strongest independent literary agency in New York City. From Patrick DeWitt to the smash hit ALS memoir Until I Say Goodbye, Foundry has become the place to be for driven authors.


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