So there I was a few weeks ago, on 5th Avenue, sitting in a Tommy Hilfiger store, innocently reading my tweetstream while I wait for Jane to try on some white linen pants when I come across this tweet:
And then this one:
And laughed so hard, people actually stopped and stared. At me. On 5th Avenue in NYC, and it’s all Pablo’s fault. I made Jane read it immediately when she came out of the dressing room, so she could make a spectacle of herself too. And she did.
Thank you, Pablo. This may be my favorite Twitter moment ever.
This one is for everyone who’s had a difficult work week this week!
I couldn’t attend BEA this year, but I was able to follow along thanks to the #BEA09 Twitter feed. It’s actually kind of interesting to follow along this way because you get a sense of the overall picture from a number of people, rather than just one person’s limited observations. Here’s what I got from Friday’s Twitter Feed (links embedded will be a mix of websites and links to Twitter feeds):
1) Chris Brogan seemed to hit a home run with his morning presentation on Trust Agents. People were still Twittering about it hours later (you can see his slides on his website)
2) Many people were excited to report Julie Andrews sightings.
3) Once those sightings died down, others were excited they got to meet Bob from Sesame Street.
4) Reports were that there wasn’t as much swag at BEA this year. Likely an indication of the effect of the economy on publishers.
5) But despite that, there was a lot of buzz on the #bea09 Twitter tag about Chronicle Books‘ tote bags, which were said to be awesome (and did look cool in the picture). They were designed by @nuzzles(Laura Bagnato) and http://www.jeffcanham.com/
6) Many mentions of two booths that had “booth girls” going around in either bikinis or nude bodysuits. Sourcebooks and the COOL-er Reader. I saw only one person speak positively of it, the other mentions were not impressed. I do think it was an odd choice, especially for Sourcebooks.
This Teleread article has a picture of the Cool-er booth.
7) Speaking of the COOL-er Reader, a lot of buzz about ppl checking this out, especially because of the bright look, lower price than Sony and Mac compatibility (though Sony is fully compatible w/ Mac thanks to Calibre). I saw more mention of this than I did of the BeBoook, though I did see one picture of the BeBook. I would like to see/use both of these so I can compare/contrast with the Sony and the Kindle. I’ve already had one person emailing for my thoughts on the BeBook. I can’t give any right now, sorry!
Pictures of the Cool-er Reader at the show in this Teleread article.
8) The Espresso Book Machine was another oft-mentioned exhibit on the Twitter Feed. Lots of positive mention of this.
9) Someone at the panel, Do Publishers Still Hold the Keys to the Kingdom, Authors Weigh In #pubkeys, apparently made the statement “no one wants ebooks for Christmas”. This is such an uniformed statement, I can’t even fully express my frustration with it. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
10) The BEAtweetUp with its personalized badges and amazing organizers was the not-to-be-missed event of BEA. It appeared to be THE social event of BEA. Kudos to the organizers, headed by Kat Meyer.
11) Most sought after author appeared to be Neil Gaiman @neilhimself I was so taken in with the Twitter buzz surrounding his appearance, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have been squeeing to get a sighting of him even though (I reluctantly admit for fear of lynching from fans) that I’ve never read his books.
12) The blogger signing booth sponsored by Firebrand and NetGalley seemed to be a huge success. Bloggers have fans! (but we already knew that).
Pictures in this article from Teleread.
13) Connectivity was difficult at Javits. Multiple, multiple complaints about being able to access wifi, whether on laptop or phone. This might have contributed to less people Twittering, but the #bea09 tag was still active. Presenters trying to stream video during their panels were unable to with provided wi-fi. Ouch.
14) People reported that attendance numbers might be down, but the floor was still busy and the positive energy was high. I have a suspicion that social media like Twitter has helped build this positive energy and caused people to be even more enthused to attend and network/exchange ideas than ever before.
15) For the win: HarperCollins gave out digital ARCs instead of paper ARCs. I have mad jealousy that I didn’t get to check this out, especially since Diana Peterfreund said her upcoming book, Rampant, was one of those dig-ARCs. Big props to HarperCollins for taking this step.
Anyone notice anything significant that I left out? I’m looking forward to watching the Twitter feed today (as much as is possible on a Saturday).
I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile because, in the last month, my number of Twitter followers has tripled. It’s kind of weird and a little…puzzling because I’m fairly certain I’m 1) not that interesting and 2) more than a little inane. Maybe most of them are Twitter spammers. I did theorize that most of the people who “follow” don’t actually pay attention. That’s okay with me. I’ll still carry on the way I have been.
But that said, I think it’s important, if you follow me (or are thinking about it) that you know a few things.
1) I don’t autofollow (and hey, Twitter is getting rid of that feature anyway, but even so, I don’t follow automatically). In fact, if you look, I don’t follow a lot of people. It goes up and down depending on what I feel I can keep up with. I usually end up following someone because either someone else has recommended them or because they’ve replied to me on Twitter and I’ve decided I want to see what they’re saying at other times as well.
2) Not following you doesn’t mean I’m not interested in what you have to say, only that I can’t keep up with very many people. Don’t take it personally, please. Which leads to…
3) I think one of the best ways to manage your Twitter experience is to be willing to unfollow. I go through and unfollow/follow every couple weeks. Again, don’t take it personally (though I will take it personally if you unfollow me. KIDDING!)
4) Twitter is not my work. I don’t get paid to Twitter (or blog). If you read my blog, you know it’s a mish-mash of everything. My Twitter is even worse than that. Please don’t follow me if you expect only convo about publishing, books or editing all the time. You won’t like me. Plus, I Twitter a lot. I like Twitter. I try not to Twitter the really banal stuff, but I have my moments. And did I mention I Twitter a lot? Yeah. You might want to think about that before you follow me. Especially if you don’t like hearing about toddler vomit.
5) If you reply to me, I will try to reply back. I think I do pretty good at that. As long as there’s a response I can make. But there are times when I won’t respond back because I don’t have a response, am busy and away from Twitter, or just plain miss your reply. If you had a question and I didn’t answer, I probably missed it. Just ask me again, please! Also, I love it when people convo me on Twitter. It’s better than “speaking” into a vacuum. And I’ve found my Twitter followers are pretty funny people (who make good book recommendations!)
6) Just because I’m Twittering doesn’t mean I’m 1) not working or 2) at work. I know, seems contrary. But being online doesn’t mean I have to be working. I like to be online just for fun like everyone else. But also, if you see me Twittering, I’m just as likely to be doing so in between working on something. Either way, please don’t draw conclusions or make assumptions or have expectations about me based on whether I’m Twittering or not.
7) If I’m at a conference, I might Twitter workshops, etc from the conference. You might want to unfollow me during that time if it’s not of interest to you (and then follow again if you want). I don’t mind! I know what’s of interest to me is not of interest to everyone.
8) Last, please don’t query me on Twitter (or Facebook) unless we’re engaged in a conversation that would invite you to. I put my email address on my Twitter page so if you have a business-related question, you’re free to email me!
As announced on Twitter this morning, I’m super excited to tell you that Samhain is going to start offering our front and backlist in DRM-free EPUB format starting in May. We’ve got a good jump on this, we just need to give our over-worked formatter time to get it all together. Many of you know that I’m a big fan of standard formats, like EPUB, and also a huge believer in not using DRM. Samhain (and really, most epublishers that I know of) don’t use DRM and never have so for us the big announcement is really the addition of the new format, not the DRM-free.
Did you know that Samhain editors are on Twitter? www.twitter.com/samhainpub You’ll find most of the Samhain editors Twittering there, as well as our submissions coordinator. They Twitter about submissions, edits, editing, and life in general. Plus, we’re going to start doing some Twitter contests coming soon!
In the conversations from Twitter file: this past weekend I asked for recommendations for political thrillers and action adventure novels in the vein of Nelson Demille, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum. I got some great recommendations (and am always happy for more if you have them). I started with two recs. One from agent Deidre Knight for The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano. I bought it and loaded it onto the Sony last night. And devoured it. It’s a totally compelling read. The author has a very readable narrative voice and I had to keep turning the pages to see where the story would go next. The main character is interesting, though not entirely likeable, but that actually works for the book because she’s not a perfect character, but an entirely real one with real flaws. I don’t regret spending the $10 for this book and I highly recommend it!
The other recommendation that I followed up on was James Rollins. I decided to go with Sandstorm, the first in his Sigma Force series. I read the first few chapters after I finished The Girl She Used to Be and enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to this evening when I can pick Sandstorm up and keep reading!
The Twitter pitch (twitch) post is still going strong. I’m going to pull some of the favorites and highlight them in a blog post this week.
Last, unrelated to publishing but relevant, I’m going to be traveling a lot in the month of April. We just decided (today) to road trip to my parents’ in North Dakota for Easter. We’ll leave early next week and won’t come back until the following Wednesday. I’ll have a day to pack and regroup before I head to WRW retreat and from there to RT for a week! I’m a little tired just thinking of it but excited because we’ve never gotten to spend a holiday with them since we’ve been married (or since Brianna was born) because of the distance and work schedules. So yay!
ETA: The first thing to say is that a pitch isn’t necessarily about selling your book to an agent/editor. Time to move out of that mindset! Read on…
Here’s another one to file under conversations from Twitter. This came up this past weekend in a conversation about Blood and Chocolate by Annette Kurtis Clause. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. Someone (@lihsa, follow the link for her article on it) on Twitter asked for a review/description and the challenge was on. 140 character review for a book? It’s the “elevator pitch” at its most refined!
Now, it’s been a few years since I read Blood and Chocolate so even though it’s one of the books I recommend often when someone asks for paranormal YA, I still had to stop and think how to refine it in an interesting way. Years after I’d read it. Hard!
I came up with: teenage female werewolf struggles to find acceptance in a world that doesn’t know about the supernatural. Moody, dark and emotional.
I don’t think it’s the best review/pitch but it does start to refine the ideas. I could make it punchier, ramp up the hook, really get someone interested. Let’s see…
Rebelling against her society. Searching for love. Desperate for a chance. Can this teen wolf reconcile what she is with who she wants to be?
Hmm, I’m not sure. I’m actually over by one character but I figure if I delete a space, I’ll be okay. What do you think? Better? It took me 15 minutes of fiddling to come up with that versus the first one, which I just popped off the top of my head.
But what I’m getting at is that it’s important to be able for authors to refine your book to its purest hook. The conflict, the angst, the info that’s going to make a reader, editor or agent want to pick it up to read, go find an excerpt, request a full or keep reading your query letter.
TV does this with what they call log lines. A one sentence hook meant to engage the viewer and get them to watch the show. Something that will easily fit in the TV guide or, for many of us now, on the guide channel. There’s no second chances when the viewer has only that guide to look at and base their decision off of. So the log line has to be good enough to convince the viewer to turn the channel right then and there, without a bunch of extranneous detail or someone saying “oh wait, that didn’t quite hook you? Well let me tell you just a little more”. The log line is it. The same should be considered true of the elevator pitch or, for purposes of my blog post, the Twitch (Twitter pitch. Ha! I’m funny).
At Samhain, we do something similar with each of our books’ blurbs, but we call it a tagline. If you go over to the website, the tagline is what you see on this page. Something to pique the interest of readers browsing our website, to entice them to click through to the book’s blurb and then excerpt.
I remember being at a conference a few years back and someone at our lunch table asking another author there about the book she wrote. I remember it was a historical but that’s all I remember because she spent the next 15 minutes talking, in depth, about the plot of her book and all the details. Ouch. Those are the times that I have to really struggle to pay attention. It’s harder if it happens during a pitch session because, let’s be honest, it’s hard for any of us to be talked to for 8 to 10 minutes without drifting off and thinking about lunch (unless you’re at lunch, in which case you’re thinking about your post-lunch nap and how much you’d like one). But I can be hooked by a plot refined down to its most interesting conflicts and ideas. Something that either makes me want to ask questions and find out more, or go buy the book and find out more.
In other words, the elevator pitch isn’t just for elevators. It’s for pitch sessions, query letters, the bar, NOT the bathroom, the bookstore, standing in line at the grocery store…well you get the idea. You’re selling your book. To whoever is your audience. Maybe it’s a reader, maybe it’s your dream agent. But the only way to sell it is to get them interested.
All this is to circle back around to what Twitter can do for your pitch. Twitter is currently the largest social media platform behind only Facebook and MySpace. But I believe it’s more open than Facebook or MySpace. Unless you have your Twitter account marked as private, anyone can read your Twitter page. Even those not “following” you. And you may end up with people following your Twitters that you might not have had the opportunity to communicate with/to anywhere else. But Twitter only allows you to type 140 characters (that’s spaces, letters and punctuation). It teaches you to refine your thoughts to the purest level and type only what you need to get the thought out there. And it’s because of those limitations that Twitter can help you refine your pitch. You only have 140 characters and you have a new book releasing, a new writing project in the works, etc (**please read side note at end of this post) and you want to tell people about it. How do you do that in 140 characters or less? You take your elevator pitch (you have one, right?) and you pare it down even further. No, it’s not easy, but once you do it, you can use it everywhere. Book promo, pens, websites, business cards, social media and in person.
Okay, you got it? So let’s hear your Twitch! If you don’t belong to Twitter and want to make sure you’re not going over the 140 character, open Notepad or something similar and let it do the count for you. If enough people leave their Twitter pitches in the comments, I’ll pull a few out and highlight their books/websites/blogs next week in a separate blog post. Ready, get set, Twitch!
**side note: please don’t query editors/agents on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace. It’s really not the appropriate place because most of us use social media as a mix of work, pleasure and goofing off, and we’d prefer to get business related proposals that follow our submissions guidelines at our submissions email address.