1. When you start your tweet with the @ symbol, your whole tweet stream doesn’t see what you’re tweeting.

Starting with the @ creates a reply. Not a broadcast to your tweetstream. So only the person you “replied” to and those who follow both of you will see it. In other words: starting a promotional tweet with an @ is ineffective and wrong.

@angelajames taught me something new about Twitter today (only I and people following both of us will see this tweet. Sad. I want people to know how awesome I am!)

If you absolutely want to start with that person’s name, you can get around this by simply adding a period at the beginning of the tweet.

Ie: .@angelajames taught me something new about Twitter today.

Nathan Bransford wrote a great blog post about this more in depth.

2. If you have your tweets protected, and you tweet me, and I’m not following you, I do not see you tweeting me.

Here’s the thing: By locking your twitter account, you’ve told Twitter you don’t want people who aren’t following you to see your tweets. Twitter assumes you don’t want ANYONE who doesn’t follow you to see your tweets. Including people you’re trying to talk directly to. So if you follow me, and you see me tweet something you want to talk about with me, and you tweet me? I have no idea you’re tweeting me. I don’t see it. You don’t exist for me on Twitter.

Essentially, by locking your account, you’re creating a very small circle of people you can have a conversation with. If you’re an author, this makes Twitter a lot less effective as a promotional tool. How are you going to get new people to follow you if they can’t see you conversing with others? Also? A large percentage of people don’t want to follow you before they can see what your account is like. Is stopping a few spammers from entering your tweet stream really worth the promo effectiveness you’re giving up by locking your account?Also? A lot of people assume you must really think you’re someone special if you’re locking your account. It can give a negative impression, which is a bit counter-intuitive to the purposes of social media.

3. You should not, really ever, I mean never, query or pitch an editor or agent on Twitter, unless they’ve specifically said: “Please query me on Twitter.” and you have confirmed with them that it’s actually okay to query them on Twitter.Β 

Do I really need to explain any more about this? Please use each editor or agent’s individual submission guidelines and system to query.

4. Please don’t use Twitter DMs (or Facebook messages) to do business with an editor/agent unless they somehow initiate that with you.

If you want to ask an editor or agent a specific question about a business matter, please tell them that and ask if you could get their email address. People actually do business with me a lot via DMs and messages and, the truth is, I’d much rather have everything like that in my inbox. It allows the editor or agent time to absorb and think about their reply, as well as sort, forward, save the info and otherwise reply with full words and a professionally worded email rather than, “Not sure what U R asking. Can U give me more deets, plz?” because they only have 140 characters in which to reply. It also allows YOU to look more professional! Try not to think of Twitter or Facebook as a substitute for a professional email.

5. Just because the editor/agent is on Twitter at 11pm on a Friday night, it doesn’t mean they want to do work, think about work, or answer questions about work on Twitter at 11pm on a Friday night. Or 8am on a Sunday morning.

Twitter makes remembering there are boundaries more hard. Sometimes we editors and agents also make that hard to remember because we talk about more than just business, and sometimes we talk about business at odd hours of the day and night.

But still, do try not to tweet, message or DM us on the weekend or late at night about work. Of course it’s okay to say “I’m reading a book you edited and I love it!” But that’s a lot different than hearing “Your autoresponder isn’t working, what should I do?” at 5pm on a Saturday.

We actually already work pretty long hours, especially since most work reading and a lot of editing is done outside of normal work hours. And if you ask us a question when we’re obviously on Twitter, we’ll feel obligated to answer it so we don’t look like a douche. But it’s forcing us back into work mode during off-hours and we’d think you were awesome if you tried not to do that.

Remember, we might be “us” as editors and agents on Twitter, but we’re also just as often “us” as everyday people there too, and we use it for fun, so just because you see us there, don’t automatically think we should be available for work questions.

6. When we say you should “engage” on Twitter, we mean you should move outside your own tweetstream.

This one has a few parts. First, this means replying to the people who reply to you. Okay, not every tweet, but a good percentage of them. The more followers you have, the harder this will be. (trust me, I know this). Use your common sense about what you should respond to!

This also means moving outside your own tweets replies, and replying to others. Engaging people is a great way to get more followers. And it also makes you seem more interesting!

(as an aside: if you have a Facebook profile or page, you should be monitoring it. Don’t assume no one is posting there. Monitor and reply to reasonable things!)

7. You should be talking about other people’s books. Or other publishers’ books.

To be honest, I think there are a lot of people who can take this advice, not just authors. Editors and agents are guilty of only talking about their own stuff as well. But talking about other people’s work makes you look like more than just a promotional machine, it makes you look like a reader. You know, the people who make the industry go round? You appear more engaged with and interested in books when you talk about other people’s work, not just the stuff you have a direct connection to.

So don’t be afraid to talk about other people’s books, RT other authors’/publishers’ contests or info. You’ll look engaged with what’s going on with others in the industry and you’ll also spread goodwill!

8. And while we’re on the subject of promotion, you shouldn’t be going into someone’s tweetstream to promote to spam them.

Your promo should be done in your own stream, where people choose to follow you and read it. You shouldn’t be doing this:

@angelajames, My book, Circles of Hell, released to day. I KNOW you’ll love it. Buy it here:

Think of Twitter a bit like an email inbox: if someone didn’t invite you to send them a newsletter or promotional email, you shouldn’t be sending it (there are actually laws against this). Twitter isn’t regulated by law, but it should still be regulated by common courtesy: don’t go into someone else’s stream, where they don’t get to choose to read your tweets, and promote to them. Just. Don’t. Do it. You might find yourself in trouble with Twitter, for one thing, because if a lot of people block you and report you for spam (I do this if you promote to me uninvited) and your tweetstream shows a clear pattern of @’ing people with promotional messages, you can get your account shut down.

9. It’s a good idea to be mindful of what you’re tweeting.

If your bad days are the the norm, rather than the exception, you might want to disengage from talking about your personal life, or what’s going on with you, and keep your tweets related more to hobbies, reading, writing, etc.

If you tend to be sarcastic, or passive-aggressive, or find yourself being coy while complaining about something someone did, without naming names, try to keep in mind that this can create an overall negative impression of you if you do it often.

Have an opinion about politics, religion, the news, something having in the publishing industry but don’t be surprised if someone takes exception to it!

And if you feel really, really, really emotionally charged about something, type the tweet in a separate document, like Word or Notepad, and let it rest for a half hour, hour or half a day. If you still think it’s a good idea to post it after that, then go. Just remember, the internet is forever.

10. Twitter should be fun.

If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it. Find another social media or promotional vehicle. If you feel like you’re being forced to be on Twitter, and it’s sucking the life out of you, you’re likely not going to be effective at it. Go ahead and find a different thing that suits you better.

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