Your publisher on Twitter (and other social media)
As part of the TYOH series, we asked some Canadian publishers to tell us how they use social media, what role it plays in promoting books, and their suggestions on how best to use it.
“Usually I tell authors two things about Twitter accounts. The first is that starting a Twitter account will not make you more well-known than you already are unless you're doing something particularly clever or novel with that account. (And that's very difficult.) The second thing I say is what, I hope, your parents or guardians told you many times over your childhood: just be yourself. (At least, television has led me to believe they've told you that.)
Anyone following you on Twitter is (in theory) following you because they like you or think you're interesting. Many experts have devised ratios of how often you should tweet about yourself or your own projects, but it need not be so mathematical. Just remember you're a human being, not a marketing bot. Converse with other authors, express opinions on cultural (and other) issues, wish your mom a happy birthday—and if your book comes up now and then (a good review, a reading on the horizon), great. But remember that you're a person first and an author promoting your book second.
And my friend and coworker Heidi recommends you never tweet as one of your book's characters. Unless you're, like, J.K. Rowling, nobody wants to see that.”
-Evan Munday, Coach House Books, @coachhousebooks
“I'm the person who does most of the tweeting at Véhicule Press. For me Twitter is a newsletter in 140 characters. If you have 'quality' followers who are interested in what you are doing, regular tweets can be valuable in raising your profile. For writers it's an opportunity to dialogue and get immediate feedback; to celebrate the acceptance of a piece in a literary magazine, the winning of a prize, or a great review. In my opinion, tweets should not only be about yourself, but should reflect your other writing or book-related interests. And, importantly, be generous in tweeting your colleagues’ successes.”
-Simon Dardick, co-publisher, Véhicule Press, @Véhicule Press
“Writing has always been about community, but in recent years the community has become smaller and more close-knit. Properly promoting your work online means making contact with like-minded writers and interacting with them. If your work is along similar lines, then you might also end up taping into their audience. If anything, this is the best way to dip your feet into the water of social media and self-publicity, and to make a few friends along the way.”
-Daniel Zomparelli, Talon Books, @Talonbooks
“Twitter is great for grabbing people, less so for keeping them up-to-date. Be engaging; don’t be a one-note shill because that’ll tune people out real quick.
Facebook, on the other hand, is great for being a shill and keeping people up-to-date on your every move. That’s pretty much what it’s for anyways.
One of the most powerful social media tools for writers is Goodreads. Authors can set up a page for themselves, and all their books will be instantly connected to it. The great thing about Goodreads is that it’s already targeted. It’s a community made up entirely of readers, so you’re already where you need to be. Treat Goodreads exactly as you would Facebook.”
-Bryan J Ibeas, Cormorant Books, @cormorantbooks
“At Drawn and Quarterly, at least 3 people have access to the Twitter account. Mostly, we try to BE FUNNY when we tweet. We often do straight links to our blog posts but we just as often make a topical or nonsense joke. We’re also very aware of the ephemeral nature of Twitter so we try to tweet several times a day every day. Our thinking is that if people find our Twitter personality interesting then they may explore our website and the books we publish.”
-Tom Devlin, Creative Director, Drawn & Quarterly, @DandQ.