dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author
You know what I love? Unexpectedly seeing the Twitter bird in the notification bar on my phone screen in the middle of the day. It’s like, Yay – here I am, stuck at work, and somebody out in the world is thinking of me!

I just wanted to share some tweets that made me smile this week. First, this one:

Not only am I psyched to get my first starred review ever, I was doubly honored to have the School Library Journal tweeting about it! (If you want to read the review, you can find it HERE.)
Then, there was this tweet:

That’s the very first occasion of a reader tweeting about my next book. She’s a marketing director at HarperCollins, which is why she got the early preview. And I’m not sure about that publication date, because I was told “Summer of 2014.” (But April would be awesome if it were true.) Still, first shout-out for The Eighth Day!
And finally, loved this one:

Theresa shared her first page with us in August for FirstImpressions. I am really excited that she’s getting interest on her manuscript, and if Marcy and I helped at all, I’m honored.

Get any good news lately?
Reviews. You need them, and yet … they can be painful. I’ve seen authors discuss (on blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter) whether or not they read reviews of their books. I’ve come to the point where I don’t read all of them anymore.
However, thanks to social media, there are other ways to “eavesdrop” on your readers which are extremely tempting and addictive.
The first time I discovered a link on Goodreads that showed me all the status updates related to my book, it was very exciting. That weekend, I secretly stalked a reader through my book and just glowed with pride as she reacted exactly the way I wanted her to. She was puzzled at the right spots. Touched at the right moments. Surprised and shocked just where I wanted her to be. Following her progress was like crack for authors!
The next time … well, I was sorry I looked. The next reader’s updates were snarky and unkind – every single one of them. This quickly cured me of clicking on that “status update” link!
Unfortunately, that particular reader linked all her status updates to Twitter, so I got to see them there, too. Which brings me to the next way you can eavesdrop on your readers: setting up a Twitter search for your book title. Some people will mention you in their tweets – which means they want the author to see what they’re saying. Those are fine. But if you search for your book title on Twitter, inevitably it becomes like that scene in countless movies where the protagonist is in a public bathroom stall and some girls come in talking about her, never knowing she is there.
The habit of looking on the Twitter feed is harder to break (at least for me) than checking Goodreads status updates. If I hadn’t set up the search, I would have missed the blogger who described my book as “mysterious and beautiful.” Or this incredible review on the Kirkus Blog.
But I also come across things like this:
Tweeter1:@Tweeter2 How are things going?
Tweeter2: @Tweeter1 Slow.
Tweeter1: @Tweeter2 Ha, slow. So is The Caged Graves.
For almost a week, anytime Tweeter1 engaged in a Twitversation, she took the opportunity to bash my book. Later, she wrote a review on Goodreads that listed all the things she disliked about it – and gave it 4 stars!

Which brings me full circle – back to whether or not it’s good to read reviews. I have several 4-star reviews that nitpick the book to death and a couple of 2-star reviews that are very complimentary. Really, it makes no sense.
What I conclude is this: Better your book be read, reviewed, and talked about widely than for only positive things to be said about it. As for eavesdropping on the conversations … be brave, be selective, and consider that maybe you should stop snooping and get back to writing the next book!

I’m not an expert in marketing by a long shot, so this post is just going to be my personal

opinion. I hope I don’t offend anyone, and of course people are free to disagree with me.  But I think if you’re going to use social media to promote yourself, your blog, your book, or your business, you need to keep in mind the purpose of social media — to socialize.

Let’s take Twitter. People join Twitter to interact with others. Nobody signs up for Twitter to see a bunch of ads. If your tweets all look like ads, you’re not doing it right, and I can’t believe it’s effective.  I once saw Elana Johnson suggest on her blog that no more than 1 out of every 6 tweets should be self-promotion, but I have to add that the other 5 should not just be re-tweets or promotions for your friends’ books. If you’re not interacting with other tweeters, there’s no reason to be on Twitter.

I also saw Matt McNish comment somewhere that “scheduled” and “tweets” should not be used in the same sentence. I agree. Scheduled tweets don’t even make an attempt at interaction. Some may link to a blog or an article of interest and be scheduled ahead of time simply because the poster is cut off from Twitter by work firewalls. But most of them are just ads. This was incredibly obvious on the day of the Boston Marathon when the Twitter community reacted and grieved and shared information — in between “my book 0.99 on Kindle” tweets. 

Those authors looked like jerks, even though they were probably unaware of the situation. And while anyone might tweet from their phone first and only afterward check their Twitter feed to see what’s going on, a continuous parade of promotional tweets made it obvious that the person was either incredibly insensitive or not really there at all. An automaton was tweeting for them, and in that case, why would I follow a tweet-bot? 

At the very least, scheduled tweets should be limited and spaced far apart. A long string of them, promoting your book (and all your friends’ books) is really just spam. I stopped following a few people last week because of this.

I saw someone respond to a criticism of scheduled tweeting by saying, “If you’re self-published, you have to do this.” Well, I did self-publish, so I can say that, in my experience, this kind of promotion never worked.  I did a lot of trial and error, and I made mistakes. But I never sold any books through posts that were borderline spam. I sold books by interacting with people. If they were interested in me, they checked out my book.

Yeah, it’s more work that way. But nobody said it was going to be easy.

They say there’s nothing new under the sun.
via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve written before that séances were like a nineteenth century version of Twitter. And a recent article in WIRED Magazine reveals that people did tweet before Twitter. It was called sending a telegram.
Brevity was key, especially for overseas telegrams, which could cost as much as $1 per word. Grammatical structures greatly resembled the tweets and texts of today, and short cuts like UR for your and THX for thankswere invented long before we started using them for our electronic messages. There were even codebooks of short cuts, such as 88 – which meant love and kisses.
One thing I haven’t seen in our modern texts and tweets, however, is the creative use of prefixes and suffixes to shorten the word count – possibly because we often count by characters, not words. Or maybe today’s tweeters and texters just aren’t as eloquent as telegram senders. WIRED shared this example of a telegram dispatching a foreign war correspondent of The Daily Telegraph to Lagos: “Assume you Lagosward soonest procover situation onspotting warwise.”
And my favorite example was Ernest Hemingway’s response to an editor’s request for receipts documenting his expenses: “Suggest you upstick books asswards.”

Last week, I went through my Twitter list and weeded out about 250 accounts. This took FOREVER, and if anybody knows a way to do it without looking at each and every account, please clue me in!
I had already noticed an increasing number of people who follow me to get me to follow back, then promptly unfollow me. File that under skanky self-promotion! I also cleared out a lot of inactive accounts and people who only ever tweet their contest entries. (ie: I just entered to win …)
Almost immediately, I saw an improvement in my Twitter feed. Less BUY MY BOOK bleats and a lot more conversation. On Saturday night, a tweet about Anne of Cleves prompted me to reply to someone I didn’t really know. After a few tweets, I learned that she writes about Mayans for MG readers and is going to Mexico City next month and visiting Teotihuacan. I was just there in August! I sent her the list of recommended restaurants my brother had given me (He works for the FCC and spends a lot of time in Mexico City.), and then we found out she is using the same tour company I used! Awesome coincidence, huh?
Anyway, Twitter is a lot more fun with less advertisement. Yes, we all want to promote our books there sometimes, but I’m going to get more finicky about who I follow. I’m there for the twitversation – not the ads.

The other night, I dreamed I went skiing. That’s not unusual, especially with winter coming on. I love to ski!
Unfortunately, the skiing conditions (in my dream) were poor – soft mushy snow and not a lot of it. That’s not unusual either. Oddly enough, I dream more about bad conditions than good ones. I can only assume skiing in my sleep is beyond my skill level.
Then something new happened. I took out my phone to Tweet about the lack of snow.
Yup, I dreamed about Tweeting. That’s a first.
Have you ever dreamed about Twitter? How about Facebook? Blogger?
I suppose it was only a matter of time.