The View. Yes, I live under a rock the majority of the time. To give myself a smidge of credit it was three years ago. Sherri Shepherd had set up her twitter account earlier in the week. Bubbly and excited, she couldn’t stop gushing over the social media tool and I was just as confused as Barbara Walters about what in the heck was a tweet.
When Twitter first launched in 2006 very few people understood its value. How in the devil did you use it? And who in the world would care about what you were doing unless you were a celebrity? Fast forward several years later, the Twitter craze is sweeping the world, sort of the way Facebook did.
Track celebrities, stay connected with family, make new friends, or promote your products any minute of the day. Many of your favorite authors tweet, giving you glimpses into their books, writing process, or even into their lives. However, I can’t help wonder if Twitter really makes a difference in sales.
I’m sure most of you have heard of Amanda Hocking, a self-publishing phenomenon. If you haven’t and you’re an aspiring author, then clearly I’m not the only one living under a rock. A young woman self-published a series of books and maximized her use of Facebook and Twitter to promote them. In less than two years, she was able to earn enough from her sales, under $2 per e-book, to quit her day job, signed with an agent and has a movie deal. A self-proclaimed obsessive tweeter, Hocking has admitted that it took a great deal of effort and time, and the promotion was exhausting.
Success stories such as Hocking’s are inspiring. They show us what is possible and uplift us with hope. Will the vast majority of fledgling authors, self-published or traditionally published, achieve this level of success even if they tweet? The sad reality is no. Whether or not it’s due to the fact they are misusing their tweets or the book simply wasn’t strong enough is up for debate.
What I do know is that there are many authors who have achieved success without Twitter. I had the chance to ask Carrie Vaughn, a bestselling author, if she thought Twitter was crucial to sell books. Guess what? Vaughn doesn’t tweet and she thinks she’s doing quite well without it. Even JR Ward has stated tweeting is not essential. Although Ward set up a Twitter account last year, she only had one tweet the last time I checked. She’s probably too busy writing.
If there’s a chance tweeting might make a difference in future sales, and if after we’ve written the best book possible it all comes down to sales, then why am I hesitant to jump in the midst of the Twitter frenzy?
Writing takes time. Writing a great book takes a great deal of time and revising takes even more. Throw in the edits required from your publisher, promotion that has been proven to increase sales, research, writing your next book, not to mention life beyond writing, and Twitter starts to look like a huge waste of time spent, well, socializing.
How many writers spend hours on Twitter every day and write things like, “I should be working right now instead of tweeting”? It makes me wonder if Twitter is really increasing their sales, building future readership, or just an addictive distraction sidetracking them from their primary objective—writing.
There will be the Amanda Hockings who show us what incredible things are possible with Twitter. There are also the Stephenie Meyers and JK Rowlings who have shown us it’s possible without Twitter. On the journey to publication, and even after you are published, there will always be something to compete for your time. If you plan on being a successful author, publishing multiple books, and selling, then you have to decide what’s the best use of your time every waking hour.
I’m not on Twitter and admit I’m a little intimidated by the tweeting whirlwind. Yet, if it does have a significant impact on the sales of many authors, specifically debut and midlist, then I’m more than willing to give it a shot. So, I’m asking for all those out there who do tweet to help me make an educated decision I hope I won’t regret.
How much time do you really spend tweeting every day?
Do you think it will help you increase readership and sales?
How long do you think it will take before you reap the benefits from Twitter?
As a reader, has an author’s tweets persuaded you to buy their book?
For a pre-pubbed author like me, is Twitter a savvy business tool or is it a social tool draining time?