You’re So Vain

Below is a repost from the inactive blog of my other author account, updated and edited with permission of me.

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll know the rest of the lyric is, “you probably think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you?”. That’s from Carly Simon’s immortal musical burn of Warren Beatty. In that vein, this blog post will have you wondering if I’m writing about you. Rest assured, this is pointed at the 5,000 other writers I don’t follow, but please feel free to wonder if this blog post about you.

When I started the writing thing, the choice of primary social network was easy because everyone has a Twitter account (sometimes four or five). Twitter for writers has established networks, organized and otherwise, and specialized hashtags we can use to promote our work. Heck, there’s people out there whose livelihood is gathering and selling Twitter followers.

The blessing is also a curse: everyone has Twitter, a great tool, but some people have no clue how to use it. I didn’t realize this at first, thinking if someone spent the time to write a book, they hopefully spent a tenth of the same energy on their Twitter message. Wrong.

I’ve gotten wiser and pickier about whom I follow for various reasons. Since I’m all about sharing my pain, this is a list of my pet Twitter peeves. They are my buttons and mine alone, and they may go against the collective wisdom. Take them for the price you paid.

Pin a Tweet. Twitter gives you the option to pin a Tweet to your user profile, and it’s the first thing I look for when I might follow someone. Ideally, a pinned tweet contains a link to your favorite and/or your most recent work product (book or blog or something). Think of a pinned tweet as looking in someone’s eyes when you give a firm handshake: your best chance to make a good first impression.

Your Twitter should be Your Words. If your account is one long retweet, or if your pinned tweet is a literary passage or (dear God, no) a Shakespearean quote, then I assume you’re lying about that being-an-author thing. The point of writing to be original candle in the darkness, and social media is the place to display your literary talent. If you’re tweeting someone else’s words, then why are you bothering to write in the first place?

Grammar Matters. If your twitter has adverbs or misspellings, we’re done. You wasted three seconds of my life and I’m not coming back.

Lose the LSD Acid Trip. What is with all of the “Miami Vice” pastel colors, kaleidoscope patterns, and other crap? Who told you brighter is better? Folks, I used to lived in Vegas and neon is for the tourists. Turn down the volume. You’re a writer, not a fireworks show. Along the same lines, spend some money on your covers, would you? We can tell when you let cousin Pat try Photoshop for the first time.

Cover Your Tits, Men. I will see more twelve-packs and male nipples on Twitter in three months than I did in ten years in the Air Force. I understand some authors are promoting a brand of erotic or near-erotic writing. But when you do the same thing as 10,000 other “romance” authors, you’re adding noise to the internet, not substance.

Cover Your Tits, Women. No, I’m not letting the ladies off the hook. If your header or avatar is your heaving chest with thrown-back shoulders to better display what your Momma gave you, you’re wasting my time. I got better in my own house.

(Did the word “tits” offend you more in the Men or Women paragraph? Your reaction can be food for introspection.)

Auto-replies. There must be a dozen blog posts on the Information Superhighway that’s convinced you that auto-replies are the next big thing. Wrong. They’re another form of doorbell ditch: the illusion of being present without expending the human touch. If I reach out to you, I’m typing the keyboard. You send me a “thanks for following me” auto-reply, public or DM, my hand twitches towards the unfollow button. Free twitter services are not necessarily a good thing, folks. and too much a good thing turns it into a bad thing. ‘Nuff said.

Summing it up, your Twitter is your public face. It’s most likely where we first heard of you (not your book or your blog). If Twitter is a mess, then we can only assume the same about everything else you touch, including your books. Consider taking a step back and keeping things simple. Some social media creativity might take you further than you expect.

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