As most of you know – because you are dear friends and are nice enough to read my material whether or not you care about the subtle differences among Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses and The Decemberists (hint: there aren’t any) – I published my first novel as an e-book a couple of months ago: Love and Other B-Sides.
I am insanely grateful to everyone – many of you reading this, in fact – who bought, read, reviewed, praised and spread the word about my book. Sadly my sales have plateaued, so the challenge now is to go beyond just convincing those I know to read it. I have to convince total strangers that it’s worth forgoing their Starbucks run to pay for a virtual copy.
Since I don’t know any strangers personally, I had to go where they hang out: Twitter.
Despite being a communications professional I had never been a Twitterer (Tweeter? Tweetster? Twit?). Up until two weeks ago I hadn’t used the site beyond a couple of botched tweets on behalf of my employer (one of which, touting our Red Tie Ball fundraiser, thanked people for their support of the Red Toe Ball). Fresh off of a terrific Twitter course offered by the The Story Cartel, I started to invest time and pithiness into posting regularly. What I learned from the course is: if you devote some time to follow and be followed, starting conversations and sharing observations as if at a world-wide cocktail party, after a while people will care enough about what you think and what you write that they’ll read your blog and buy your book. If you shill too early, though, you’ll be that guy, the one forcing business cards into everyone’s hands before being sent to a corner to nurse a rum and Coke Zero, alone, behind a potted plant.
The course required us to follow at least 25 new people by the end of each lesson. I quickly ran low on people to follow: there are only so many personal friends, fellow writers, and fake news correspondents I could think of. So I started following rock musicians who, like me, crave an audience and seek validation at every turn.
The first was – surprise, surprise – @TomPetty, which seems to be written by whomever’s lowest on the totem pole of his PR firm: it’s uninspired marketing with a few old photos thrown in. But within seconds of following the real Tom Petty I was followed by @ImTomPetty, a parody site. The faker posts on an hourly basis in a way that that the tweets might be from TP himself … if he was trying to get to second base with a girl by telling her exactly what she wants to hear:
I figured that younger, more alternative bands would have better feeds so I signed up for a slew of my favorites – @Airborne_Toxic, @FitzAndTantrums, @SpoonTheBand. I actually hit pay dirt when I learned via @theholdsteady that they have a new album (!) and are coming to the Crowfoot (!!). And lo and behold, I got this in my feed this morning:
Yep, the whistling “Young Folks” guys like what I have to say about music, writing and the Westminster Dog Show enough to add me to their feeds.
I’ve been at the virtual cocktail party long enough for a band to come out from behind the potted plant and tweet me directly:
Of course, I replied:
It’s a brave new world out there.
See you on the flip side … and so, what bands do you follow on Twitter? Tell me in the comments!