Pssst! I Want To Share My New Discovery: It’s Called Twitter!

How many times do you have to hear the same advice before you listen? For me, the answer is 17. That’s how many times somebody told me, You’re a writer? You need to be on Twitter or people won’t know about you.

Okay, I made that up. The 17, that is. It could be 12, could be 30. Anyway, I’ve heard it a lot of times. I resisted the advice for years, because I don’t really get Twitter, except it is amazing to watch the flow of tweets during big-deal world events. And it’s a brilliant medium for certain comedians. The 140-character limit is also an intriguing fictional milieu, and I once dabbled in creating multiple accounts for imaginary people so that I could engage them in a story. It was fun, but writing novels remains funner.

Funner is a word my son used, back when he was small. For example, he dictated this message with the shower gift to an unborn child, “At first it’s not fun but then it gets funner and funner.” (It = life.)

But I digress. Just like on Twitter, except with more characters.

As with my children, I want the best for my novels. Especially, I want people to read them. Towards that end, the first – and in the current publishing world, the most difficult – step is to make people aware that my novels exist! So, a week-plus ago, I took the plunge and joined the Twitter universe.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 5.46.40 PMThe Twitterverse is a peculiar place that I don’t much understand. I have come to learn that if you like what someone tweets, you can reward them with various coins of the realm. You can favorite the tweet, or re-tweet it, or follow that tweeter. Following someone is a particular honor, apparently, and important. Some people pay for services that reveal who followed – and who un-followed – them every day. What does one do with un-follow information? Beg them to come back? Make a Nixonian enemies list?

My number of followers fluctuates. This happens whether or not I tweet anything. The long-term trend is up so maybe it’s like the stock market. Or perhaps I have offended some, by failing to retweet them, and so they cut me off. More likely, they were false followers, who followed me just to get me to check them out and say hmm, interesting and follow them back… Mission accomplished, they hook another follower and then unfollow her. Me. Apparently this kind of thing is worth the effort because your ratio of followers to following could indicate how cool you are. In even more arcane ways, your number of tweets matter, but I’m not the one to explain how that works.

The unfollowing methodology perplexes me. Should I figure out who unfollowed me and – eye for an eye! – unfollow them? Should I unfollow the #Dalai Lama? What about my musical faves like #Chris Thile or #Noam Pikelny or #X (here Xtheband)? They’ve had more than a week to follow me back, how long am I supposed to wait for respect?

I can’t imagine how much energy it takes to keep track of such things. Twitter is overwhelmingly productive. I don’t follow many people yet, so I don’t get all that many tweets on my timeline. While I typed this, I only got 183 new tweets. Wait, make that 203. The tweets flow by and if I’m not watching the screen when your latest tweet posts, I will never see it. And so tweeters post and post and post, so that I might occasionally see one of their tweets. (Make that 247 new tweets.) Many writers claim that incessant tweeting noticeably boosts sales and downloads of their books. (272 new tweets.) Oy. I hope that is not the only way to grow readership. (292 new tweets)

Conversation seems difficult on Twitter. When you reply to a tweet, you do actually engage with another tweeter, but your timelines shows non-sequitur reply lines that make no sense to anyone else and it takes several clicks to backtrack to understand the conversation. I’m sure no one bothers.

For all of that, Twitter is amazing. Think about it. All over the world, millions upon millions typing and sending these cryptic messages in internet bottles, all day, every day. No need to reply, it’s all one-way. (337 tweets) Sometimes I go bittersweet and pretend that Twitter relays the transmissions from a distant galaxy, messages only just now captured after traveling light years from a civilization lost to a supernova, eons ago.

Do you tweet? My twitter handle is in the snapshot – stop on by! (363 tweets)

P.S. To those of you who have read Nica of Los Angeles – I sound like Nica now, don’t I? It’s kind of awesome and kind of creepy to be inhabited by a character in this way. After I finished book 1, I wasn’t able to shake her style of narration, and now that I’m immersed in book 2 in the series, I’ve stopped trying to shake it because I need it again. Maybe I will become more like Nica, and not just talk like her. Now that would be awesome!

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