Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reducing Twitnoise: A modest proposal. | Creative Commons
I hope I don't get myself drummed out of the indie author corps for this post.

I dislike Twitter. There, I said it. And yet, it ought to be a natural for me, because broadcast news requires short sentences of 10 or 20 words, in subject-verb-object order. I'm used to conveying ideas in quick bites that are easily understood by a distracted listener.

Moreover, a reasonably-sized slice of my broadcasting career was devoted to writing "bumpers" -- one-line promos about the next story or stories that are designed to pique your interest so that you stick around through the commercials.

So I should be gravitating to Twitter. But I hate it. Why? Because I feel like every time I'm there, somewhere around 87% of my tweet stream consists of people trying to sell me something. Oh, it's not all blatant "buy my book" tweets; often it's people retweeting other people's "buy my book" tweets.  To make matters worse (for me), there are a number of apps that will not only filter out the dreck from your own feed, but will allow you to schedule your "buy my book" tweets, as well as "buy this other guy's book" tweets, as often as you want, all day long, for weeks into the future.

If you, too, are an indie author, you probably already know this. And you've probably been petitioned, cajoled, and/or coerced into either sending your own advertising tweets or retweeting somebody else's. Right?

Here's what bothers me. See, I'm not a public relations professional: I'm not paid specifically to sell other people's stuff for them. Mind you, P.R. is an honorable profession -- it's just not what I get paid to do. I'm an author. And as an author, I believe (maybe wrongly!) that I have a reputation to uphold. I want readers and other indies to associate my name with a certain level of quality. And so if I'm recommending that someone click on a link I've posted on Facebook or tweeted on Twitter, I want them to know that I've vetted the material at the link, and I think it will be worth my followers' time to check out.

So when somebody hands me a list of tweets from people I met five minutes ago and says, "Here, tweet these, and then we'll all tweet one for you," I resist. I haven't read any books by any of these people; I don't know whether I can recommend them or not.

I had someone tell me this week, "It's just a retweet. People will know you haven't read the book."  Really? I'm sending out a tweet under my name, with my picture on it, and people won't think it's a personal recommendation?

Do we have any figures on whether "buy my/his/her book" tweets actually sell books? Any proof that this tactic does anything other than annoy people with Twitnoise (a word I just coined -- do you like it?)? If so, please let me know and I will reconsider my prejudice against the practice.

But if it annoys people *and* it doesn't sell any books, why do we keep doing it?

Speaking of self-promotion (and yes, I get the irony): Coming out this week will be the second of the "Land, Sea, Sky" prologue stories. In "Where Were You When?" last month, I introduced you to Tess Showalter, who's on the verge of becoming a journalist ("Gee, Murgatroyd, I wonder where Lynne got that idea from?"); this month, in "Change of Plans," our main character is Darrell Warren, a nice guy whose life is about to do a 180-degree turn courtesy of a certain rabbit-eared god. I hope you'll check out both of them on Amazon.

Also, I'm making good progress on Crosswind, the first LSS novel. The first draft passed 40,000 words early this morning -- whoo hoo! I'm hoping to finish it by this time next weekend, but that's probably too optimistic. We'll see, though.

This moment of cranky Twitter blogginess is brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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