Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Last F%$&ing Thing I Want to Do

by Marcus Sakey

I know everyone's doing it.

I know it's the new thing.

I know about Ashton Kutcher's contest with CNN.

I know that I can link it to my Facebook profile.

I know that it's the modern form of haiku--which is a horrifying thought, by the way.

I still don't want to fucking Twitter.

There are a couple of reasons. First of all, while I know a lot of people make it funny, clever, and wry, the idea of broadcasting hour-to-hour "status updates" of my life still has a whiff of self-indulgence to me:


Second, and more important, is the amount of time it takes. If you're going to do it, the point is to make it entertaining, or at least clever--and that takes effort. Effort I should probably spend on my novels.

But still. Everybody seems to be doing it. A dozen people in the last week have asked me if I Twitter, and recommended that I start. My publicist has suggested it. And like it or not, self-promotion is part of the novelist gig these days.

I don't have a problem with that. I've toured extensively, usually on my dime; I have a regularly updated website filled with honest, hard-earned tips; I have a Facebook page, I go to conferences, I do drop-in signings, I speak at libraries and universities, I call in to book groups, and I am, of course, a member of The Outfit.

And truth be told, if I were to be convinced that Twittering is a valuable promotional tool, that it will bring me more readers or sell more books or make for more crowded signings, then, shit, I'm game.

Which is why I'm throwing it out to all of you. What do you think? Do you do it? Do you find it valuable? Who do you follow, and why, and does that make you feel more closely connected to them?

And if you Twitter yourself, do you dig it? Do you find it takes a lot of time? Or is it rewarding? I was reluctant to join Facebook too, and yet I do enjoy it...

29 comments:

Dana King said...

I don't Twitter, I don't read tweets. I'm also not in a position to promote myself yet, so it's an easy decision for me. I also think I'd have to be dragged kickigna dnscreaming (and probably drugged) into it if I ever do need to promote my writing. It strikes me as a self-indulgent time sink, which can only take time away from creating writing someone else might want to read, thus rendering moot all my "accessibility".

Yes, I am officially an Old Fart.

Gerald So said...

I've been on Twitter for just over a year. The ability to synch it with my blog's RSS feed convinced me to join. I'm not much of a texter (I don't use a cell phone often enough to buy one), but I find Twitter low-maintenance and not much of an imposition. I don't *have to* tell anyone what I'm doing, but it's fun to hear from others who are doing the same thing. If I had to describe Twitter, it has the brevity of instant-messaging, but people don't have to be online at the same time to converse. I use it mostly for random thoughts that would otherwise buzz around in my head.

Darwyn Jones said...

No, I don't tweet.
No, I don't follow tweets.
No, I don't really ever expect to understand the need for it.

Frankly, I can't imagine wanting to have regular updates on anyone.
I just can't find myself caring that much.

Besides, there's a world out there, right?

Sarah Weinman said...

From my standpoint as a journalist and industry observer, Twitter is pretty damn essential.

For authors....I'm less convinced. And very much of the mindset espoused by others that "if it pisses you off, don't do it."

Doug Riddle said...

I have to agree that it comes off as pretty self centered.....and I think a huge waste of time. And wouldn't someone who twitters, or tweets be a Twit?

I have teenages (2) and 20somethings (2) and they have all have experiences during the past year where they found that posting all your business on Facebook may not be the best thing. As my 18yr daughter recently said, "It's a huge life suck." And isn't Twitter in some ways just really a more amped up, hyperdrive version?

On a more personal and direct note....I buy on average one hard cover book every week to 10 days and though many of the writers I read have fallen victim to Twitter, I have yet to find the need to read any of their Twitter offerings.

(When in doubt....ask yourself what would Elmore do?)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Hey Marcus, I joined Twitter before it was cool to do so, almost a year ago. I've never Tweeted.

I'm with you. I'm a friggin' engineer that has a book published. Give me a break, my life is not TWEET WORTHY.

BTW, hope to see you at Printers Row this weekend.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

I know a lot of people tweet every mundane detail of their life but that's mostly not true of the people I follow. I check it four or five times a day and I tweet once or twice (which probably puts me in the top ten-percent of the most prolific people on Twitter). If you don't want to do it, clearly don't.

But I'll say this in favor of it. The people who follow me on Twitter are much more likely to be interested in my work as a writer than the people who are, say, my "Facebook friends". It's less intimate (and not necessarily reciprocal) and so my gut feeling is that it's a better social networking tool for reaching likely readers than the others. And things can spread super fast. Infinite Summer had over 1,000 followers less than 24 hours after it was announced. And the word on that was almost entirely Twitter based.

I say try it, if only to be one more rung up the ladder when the thing that's going to replace Twitter comes along. If you don't like it, just drop it. If three-quarters of the people I follow stopped tweeting forever right this minute, I wouldn't even notice.

Lee said...

"Twitter is pretty damn essential."


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

jnantz said...

I don't Tweet, nor do I read other peoples'. I did for a while, and I found that the majority of it was self-indulgent crap. I have a facebook page, but even then I only update every three or four days. I started off more often, then found it became a time sucker, so I scaled back. Maybe one day, but not right now.

David Heinzmann said...

Reporters tweet links to news stories they want noticed, and that does seem to reach a few people. The question is whether there's much of a multiplier effect. Either way, the people I've heard say it is useful are usually talking about it as a viral marketing tool, not as a form of meaningful self-expression.

Anonymous said...

Out of morbid curiosity one day, I followed a twitter from two different women's websites to see what all the commotion was about. As I read through these comments, some posted every 90 seconds or so, the question foremost in my mind was, "Why would these women think anyone cares that they are just about to get on a subway, or five minutes later, get off that same subway, or that they are getting ready to prepare goulash or have their nails done or feed their dogs or watch a ball game? There was nothing constructive or witty about their comments, nothing that would help, in this case, one of the women (who is a writer) to sell any of her books. It is as if they simply want to hear themselves speak, or in this case tweet, and are under the delusion that others have lives so devoid of meaning that they are desperate to read those tweets, to know the very second one of these women is about to blow her nose.

I disagree with your agents that this would help your career, Marcus. In my opinion, not only would tweeting not help this one woman sell books, it somewhat diminished my respect for her as a writer. Perhaps she feels it makes her more accessible to her readers, but I believe the whole phenomenon reeks of unprofessionalism.

And I agree that it is self-indulgent not to mention self-absorbed. If I ever get to the point where I think the world is dying to be informed by me, through a tweet or any other form of communication, that I just tripped over my shoelaces, shoot me. Rather, I'll shoot myself. And I swear to God I won't tweet about it before I do.

Libby Hellmann said...

I posted about Twitter a couple of months ago, after I'd joined. (It's in the Outfit archives, Marcus.. check it out) And while the bloom is somewhat off the rose after 5 months, I think it's more useful to me than Facebook for the same reasons Kevin cites.

I tend to bypass individual "I'm on the subway" tweets. Most of what I get from Twitter are links to news stories I wouldnt otherwise know about, interesting blog posts about publishing, writing, etc, and the occasional joke.

It's your choice who you "Follow" on Twitter... I choose to follow news organizations, book people, and Chicago folks. I think it's great!

Marcia S said...

As a reader I enjoy having my authors tweet. I have found out some interesting links from Libby. You need to promote your books and Twitter is an easy way to do it. Let people know where signings are, when the book will be out, etc. We are not expecting 'pithy' comments! Twitter is a good quick info source.

Anonymous said...

Great Conan joke– Youtube, Twitter and Facebook are merging to form one company–YouTwitFace.

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