Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

I Have A Good Friend Who’s a Twitterer And He Says He Hasn’t Written Anything for a Year

From Dave Eggers Interview in The Guardian:

At home, where he writes, he no longer has internet access. A four-month stint with wi-fi proved “deadly” for his productivity and having no access at all ensures that he is not tempted to “look at Kajagoogoo videos and old ads for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum” on YouTube. “Writing is a deep-sea dive. You need hours just to get into it: down, down, down. If you’re called back to the surface every couple of minutes by an email, you can’t ever get back down. I have a great friend who became a Twitterer and he says he hasn’t written anything for a year.

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The Real World

I made 2 New Year’s resolutions for 2010.

1) Try to expand my food repertoire by cooking a recipe from a cookbook once a week. I’ve already broken this resolution after my first few recipes were flops.

2) Get out in the real world more. Everyone’s talking about online marketing and social networking these days…but I want to give a plug for getting together in real life too.

Yesterday I saw two authors in the “real world” and it was worth more than a million emails.

Turns out Ellen Galinsky isn’t just the President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute as well as the author of the forthcoming book Mind in the Making — she also happens to be an amazing photographer. I had the pleasure of seeing her latest exhibit yesterday in Dobbs Ferry.

After being inspired by Ellen, it was off to meet upcoming HarperStudio author Sascha Zuger for dinner with her son and parents. We’ve been Twitter buddies for a while, and I’ve been psyched to read her memoir about her journey from a 9 to 5 office job to working on a commercial shrimp boat on the Great Barrier Reef and sailing across the South Pacific — but nothing compares to hearing her awesome adventure stories over a bowl of pasta. Having a kid hasn’t seemed to slow her down an iota (if I heard her correctly, I believe she said she’s traveled to 20 countries with her 7 year old son?). Crazy. Inspiring. Can’t wait to read her book even more now.

And speaking of the real world, everyone’s always asking me if the book tour is dead — and honestly, I’m not sure. I do believe there’s a bigger opportunity to make it successful using the tools available today on the internet as well as by being extra creative. Here are two book tours that I want to point out as food for thought:

Stephen Elliott wrote about The D.I.Y Book Tour in the New York Times about a month ago. It doesn’t seem perfect, but certainly interesting and seemed worthwhile if you ask me.

Gretchen Rubin has done (and continues to do) a big tour. I’ve been following along on her blog and it seems that there are a lot of “Happiness is a Great Book Event in…” posts — so she did something right. I know she asked the readers of her blog early on where they’d be interested in having her visit, and I believe part of the tour may have been sponsored by a magazine (I don’t know more details than that), but I’m dying for the full wrap up from Gretchen on what worked and why, and what to skip in the future.

And then of course there was Gary’s tour which was a huge success. Check out the Facebook pages he created which really helped spread the word and gauge numbers in advance.

Would love to hear from anyone out there about what you find working in the real world…

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When Fiction Becomes Reality

Over the holidays I caught up on some of my recreational reading and read Ender’s Game, the scifi classic written by Orson Scott Card and published by TOR in 1985. It only took me ten years to get to it–I first heard about the book in high school when my friend Dash gave a book report on it in Freshman English. Light years ago, right?

What surprised me most about the book, though, was how accurately Card predicted future technologies: all the recruits have desks (touchscreen laptops), when they’re not studying or practicing they have time for free play (video games), the school has a system the students can send messages through (email), and back on Earth people communicate across the globe on the nets (the internet).

If anyone still doubts the power of Twitter and the blogosphere, this passage from the book, where Ender’s siblings back on Earth, Patrick and Valentine, take up the personas of Demosthenes and Locke on the nets in order to amass political influence, reads almost as prophecy:

With false names, on the right nets, [Patrick and Valentine] could be anybody. Old men, middle-aged women, anybody, as long as they were careful about the way they wrote. All that anyone would see were their words, their ideas. Every citizen started equal, on the nets.

Of course they were not invited to take part in the great national and international political forums–they could only be audiences there until they were invited or elected to take part. But they signed on and watched, reading some of the essays published by the great names, witnessing the debates that played across their desks.

And in the lesser conferences, where common people commented about the great debates, they began to insert their comments. At first Peter insisted that they be deliberately inflammatory.

The responses that got posted were vinegar; the responses that were sent as mail, for Peter and Valentine to read privately, were poisonous. But they did learn what attributes of their writing were seized upon as childish and immature. And they got better.

Peter took careful note of their most memorable phrases and then did searches from time to time to find those phrases cropping up in other places. Not all of them did, but most of them were repeated here and there, and some of them even showed up in the major debates on the prestige nets. “We’re being read,” Peter said. “The ideas are seeping out.”

In an age when Ashton Kutcher has more followers on Twitter than CNN, this scenario couldn’t ring more true.

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A Moment of Optimism

About a year and a half ago I had the pleasure of meeting Gretchen Rubin in person, though I’d been following her on Twitter for some time before that. I was supposed to give a talk to authors about the power of the tools on the internet, and when the list of authors was sent out and I saw Gretchen’s name on it, I immediately called her and told her SHE should be leading the workshop, not me! At that point, a year and a half ago, she had a great blog (since has become even greater) and about 5000 followers on Twitter. Even more importantly, she was engaged with the community — and this was a few years before the publication of her book. We spoke for a few minutes on the phone and decided that she would come to the meeting despite the fact that she was more experienced with the tools than the other authors who would be attending.

Gretchen turned out to be such a gift to have at the meeting because as I would speak to these authors and tell them what I thought they should be doing, she would chime in as a member of their tribe instead of the outsider (me) and give her own perspective about what was easy or challenging.

Over the course of that next year and half I followed carefully what she was doing and was always impressed. We got together in person a few times, and I would tell her what a great job she was doing, we’d compare notes about this and that, and she’d always say “but will it sell books when the time comes?”

Well, it turns out that it does work (I feel like a broken record :) ). Gretchen’s book, The Happiness Project, went on sale on December 29, 2009. On Wednesday we found out that it will land at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list for the January 17 list. I realize that Gretchen’s subject lends itself to blogging and twittering more easily than other books would, and it’s got a great jacket, title, and traditional publicity — but there is no denying, IMHO, that Gretchen Rubin worked hard, for a long time, establishing a relationship with the community, and it paid off.

Here are 5 things that Gretchen did right:

1) As I’ve said, it’s not a “campaign.” This is a long-term relationship with your readers. Gretchen understood that and started the relationship long before (as in years) it was time to “promote her book.”

2) She talked about her book…but she also talked about other people’s books, and in general, we got to see the world through Gretchen’s eyes and to know her. She posted frequently, linked them up in Facebook (often I found them on Facebook), and had GREAT content. I don’t think there was a post I didn’t love and I felt like I found a little present every time she put one up.

3) Once the book jacket was done she put it up on the site in a place where people could always see it so she didn’t have to always “promote herself.” I hear this a lot from authors: “I’m not comfortable promoting myself.” Gretchen didn’t promote herself; she was fabulously interesting, and when I would click through to read her posts I was always reminded by the book jacket that it was coming out.

4) She didn’t sit around waiting for a publicist to make her famous. Yes, there is traditional media as part of the mix; lots of it in her case. But it’s a healthy mix of traditional and social media and they riff off each other. It’s like having a well balanced stock portfolio…not to mention that she has a tribe with whom she can communicate about all of this media.

5) Here’s my favorite one: The Video. The video the video the video. Every author needs one (kidding); most are not good. The thing I LOVE about Gretchen’s is that it is simple beyond belief, and what it lacks in fancy production and editing it makes up for in spades with heart and soul.

I watched this video a few months ago and was so moved I’ve seen it about another 10 times. I think about it all of the time. Watch here.

UPDATE:  The Happiness Project was published by HarperCollins.

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Come to Vermont With Us This Weekend!

Northshire Bookstore, VTBob and I will be speaking on a panel about the changing face of publishing with the esteemed literary agent David Black and publishing veteran Joann Davis (who also happens to be the wonderful author of The Book of the Shepherd (just on sale now)).

The event will take place at Northshire Books on Saturday at 4 pm, so please spread the word and come say hi. In fact, they asked if I would tweet what is going on during the event, but I’m not so great at tweeting and talking at the same time…so if someone wants to take that on, that would be great!

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My First #FollowReader

#FollowReader on TweetChat

I sat in on a Twitter discussion called #FollowReader yesterday. It’s a weekly discussion on Twitter with some topical guidelines for the bookish community, lightly moderated by @KatMeyer and @CharAbbott, who provide a new topic each week. Yesterday’s topic was “What you (as readers) want publishers to know,” but past topics ranged from libraries to book genres to discussions with Random House sales reps. You can catch up on past discussions with Kat’s recaps over at Follow the Reader.

This being my first #FollowReader, all I could manage to do was sit back and watch as the tweets popped up at lightning speed. Kat advised using TweetChat to participate because it let you retweet or reply directly and automatically included the chat’s hashtag in every post. It also updated in real time and would pause the updates if you needed to scroll down and view older tweets. TweetChat is an excellent tool, and I hope to be able to use more of it during next week’s discussion. This week though, tweets came in too fast for me to respond to someone without missing someone else.

It was a great discussion, lively with a broad range of posts. Issues with e-readers were voiced, from pricing to formats, as well as misleading blurbs and book covers. It wasn’t an hour set aside for simply complaining about publishers though; Kat made sure to ask what publishers were doing right. I would say it was a very encouraging chat, because the feedback from readers and publishers let us know what we should continue to do and what we need to work on. The best part for me though, was that I was immersed in a passionate group of people that could not stop talking about books (in a good way!). Kat is moderating from 4 – 5 pm on Thursdays, but the hashtag is used all week long to bring excellent ideas and discussions to the table.

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5 Reasons Every Book Editor Should Be on Twitter

Kate Lee1) You can scout for talent. Twitter grants you incredible access to high profile writers. Interested in acquiring food books? Have a look at who @ruthreichl is following. The same goes for politics (@maddow) business (@tferriss) – any category you can think of.

2) Keep up with your competition. I didn’t know Hank Paulson’s memoir is being published this January by Grand Central, but now I do (thanks @katelaurielee).

3) Early buzz machine. Why leave it up to your publicist to promote the book the month before it goes on sale when you can start publicizing it the day it is acquired? You’d be surprised how eager people are to have a window into the creative process: And when the book does go on sale, you have one more channel for publicity.

4) Be there first. By getting up to the moment information, you can immediately respond to breaking news or approach a writer you stumble across.

5) Watch and learn from innovative people outside of book publishing. @tedtalks @hotdogsladies @doctorow @jkottke inspire me.

*Bonus! Community. A lot of editors still associate Twitter (and blogs in general) with snark culture. Twitter can actually provide a great sense of community and positive energy. People are passionate about books. Just look at @booknerdnyc @randomeditor @debbiestier @spiegelandgrau

PS: This video of old school journalists talking about twitter was the impetus for this blog post.

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Q & A with Jessica Stockton Bagnulo of Greenlight Bookstore in BKLYN

1) Why open an independent bookstore now, when people like Len Riggio are quoted as saying “never in all my years as a bookseller have I seen a retail climate as poor as the one we are in. Nothing even close.”?

I feel like Rebecca and I are operating in a very different environment than Len Riggio is, and his comments, while probably true for Barnes and Noble, aren’t that relevant to us. That said, there’s no denying that the economy makes things difficult, not only for booksellers but for all businesses.  We realize that it might seem a little bit crazy to start a business in this environment.  But counterintuitively, an economic downturn can be the best time to get something started. In a way, everyone is hungry, and the stakes are a bit lower, so there are fewer obstacles to getting started.

And at the same time, we have this incredible community in Fort Greene that is champing at the bit for us to be open!   We’re hoping to create a neighborhood institution that will make enough of a profit to last for a long time, evolve and grow with the times, and give us a decent quality of life.

2) How will Greenlight differ from McNally Jackson?

Being in SoHo, McNally Jackson has a very sophisticated, Manhattan vibe, which has served it very well and makes it a tourist destination as well as a destination for New Yorkers.  Greenlight will be much more of a neighborhood bookstore, a Brooklyn bookstore — smaller, slower, more casual, funkier.

I hope to be able to do a lot more one-on-one handselling with customers, which I sometimes didn’t have time for at McNally Jackson.  We’ve designed Greenlight so that almost all of the business of the bookstore will happen on the bookstore floor, so we’re always where the customers are. We’re also hoping to plan some interactive events — readings, discussions, even open mic nights — that wouldn’t make sense in Manhattan . Other than that, we’ll see as we go along!

3)  You already have a devoted following on Twitter. What would you say to a bookseller who says “but I don’t have time for social media, and I don’t believe it translates into sales”?

Not everything has to have a direct, observable sales correlation to be healthy for your bookstore in the long run.   It’s all part of getting more bodies into our store (or on our website), so we can show them how good we are or what we do.  (And if you shudder at the thought of Twittering yourself, chances are there’s a bookseller on staff who would be willing to tweet on the store’s behalf — maybe they already do!)

4) Will you sell books on your website?

YES!  We think it’s very important as a 21st century bookstore to offer our customers the option of shopping online, even if they use it primarily to see what we have in stock — for now, it’s less about hoping to make big bucks on the online sales and more about the marketing opportunities of e-commerce.  Exciting stuff!

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Corporate Origins: Does The Most Valuable Innovation Still Happen Behind Closed Doors?

The Google Garage rented by Larry Page and Sergey BrinThis week’s episode of This American Life, “Origin Story,” reveals surprising tidbits about how various institutions began. It also profiles one of the original Mad Men, Julian Koenig, who came up with Volkswagen’s iconic ‘think small’ campaign. We’ve all heard of the famous Hewlett-Packard garage, but I didn’t realize that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin moved into a garage two years after they started what would become Google. Of course it’s now a corporate landmark and tourist attraction. Clearly, the garage is the sine qua non of any tech company (the image of two geeks tinkering in a dimly lit space is a million times more alluring than… two well connected guys hatching a business plan at cocktail party) but the show got me thinking: Is Twitter the new garage? The space where copywriters and techies test out ideas and prototypes. Or, does the most valuable innovation still happen behind a closed garage door?

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Twitter: It’s Not a Popularity Contest

Booksquare UniversityI was preparing for a talk about the tools of the internet with Harper authors on Friday — and I came across this new site.

Kassia Krozser and Kirk Biglione are top notch in my book, and I’d sincerely recommend anyone who wants to know more check out this site and what they are offering.

I love what Kirk says on this video about Twitter.

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