Is Twitter good for writers, or just another time waster?

Are you on Twitter, and do you find it's beneficial to your marketing efforts? It was strongly recommended - in fact a required assignment - in the online Blog Book Tours course I recently completed, and some writers are finding it really helpful. I'm now on it; in fact you're welcome to become one of my followers if you like. But I'm not very active, because I'm not yet sold on the benefits. Opinions, anyone?

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

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I guess for me it's a case of trying to use the tools available while they are available. I agree with Benjamin, it likely is a passing fad, but while i't s open and free to use, I am trying to use it. I'll certainly follow you, Julie, once my limit restriction is lifted. Hope you'll "follow me back".

Also, to answer Clay, it took me awhile, being a true marketing moron of unparalled proportions, to figure out how it is done. As it turns out, you are supposed to try to follow as many people as possible to whom you think your work might have an interest. Of those you follow, a percentage will follow you back, either as a courtesy, or out of sincere interest, or because they also hope to market to you. Of those who follow you, a small percentage will actually buy your book/read your blog/increase your on-line face exposure.

So it seems, like everything in the marketing world, to be a numbers game. It's something I really really hate, but a reality of being an artist in the modern world, so I'm in, for better or worse!
Sounds like a quid pro quo for writers to me. I'll buy your book, if you'll buy mine. The following is immaterial. It's the book sales that count. How do you measure those? Most people will say anything on the internet. In that sense, this is probably less successful than book signings, though it may be more convenient.
Unless you can plug into a whole group organization that has an interest in your kind of writing, this isn't going to work.
Exactly, I.J., the intent is to find groups that you can hope to market to. The idea is to find those groups and follow them. It may not work anyway, but I figure little else is working, so what the heck? I'll try it.
Social networking isn't a destination, it's a path lined with the luxury of time. I could have 100,000 followers on Twitter. So what? How many will buy books? Four? Five? Fifty-thousand? There isn't a quantifiable way to value each follower. Which is why all this focus on social networking is so misplaced.

Show me how to get to the book sale, and that it's a worthy investment of resources, and I'm on board. Until then, fad Web sites are the low-carb diet craze of the 2.0 generation of thought. Don't hinge on them. Develop a plan that is still sustainable in 20 years, not 20 days, from now. Getting e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers, that consumers will carry for years, is a good place to start.
I've heard this "I'll follow you if you follow me" business as well, but it seems as if it would be inordinately time consuming. And judging by various comments on online groups as well as my own experience trying to tweet, Twitter seems to be having a lot of technical problems lately - maybe from growing too fast.
x holding
If you want to see it done the normal way, go here:
href="http://twitter.com/parishilton" target="_blank">
Unless you are this person, only Mom and Dad will be interested.

If you want to see it done badly:
href="http://twitter.com/myboringjob" target="_blank">
Someone is paying this person a salary and shouldn't.

If you want to see how stupid and wasteful it can get, and people still follow, go here:
href="http://twitter.com/clean_shorts" target="_blank">
Nothing grotesque. Fifteen tweets and, when active, nine followers. Nine! And such an important topic.

If you want to see it done right:
href="http://twitter.com/Wyclef" target="_blank">
Everything on target for his audience.


Points:

1 - Important. Once you have a wallpaper and a cute bio, don't waste a lot of time working on Twitter. It is only time consuming if you let it be that way.

2 - More important. Keep your tweets on point. You only get 140 spaces. And don't piss and moan about writer's block, or google books, or your sinuses. No one cares except for
href="http://twitter.com/writers_block" target="_blank"> and
href="http://twitter.com/sinuspainpete" target="_blank">.
Others will follow if you have something that is interesting to them. If you have something interesting only to writers, well then...

3 - Most important of all. Find topics and people to follow. This is where you will pick up followers. They look around at the other people who are following the folks they follow.

I would challenge you to just sign up and try it before they start charging for subscriptions.
Agree with Chip and Christine (below). There's a right and wrong way to use Twitter. If you do it right, it can be excellent way to connect with others. I couldn't tell you if that translates directly into sales, but it's no different than any other sort of networking. The more people know you, the better off you are.

Plus Twitter can be an awesome information resource.

I was skeptical about Twitter, too. But I decided (grudgingly) to try it out and I'm glad I did.

FWIW, I just wrote a blog post of tips for the Twitter newbie: http://linkbee.com/CK0JU.

My Twitter handle is @debbimack -- feel free to follow me.
As far as I can tell, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are pretty useless as far as book promotion is concerned. Besides, here I am, an old married man who suddenly finds hot chicks following to offer all sorts of naughty acticity. This was highly recommended to me by an editor as well, but I seldom visit these sites anymore. And I certainly don't think these publicity sites for a fee offer much better. I mean, who goes looking for a publicity site? If you look hard enough, you can find my books on Amazon, B&N, etc. but you have to either know my name and/or the title of the book. Once people have that, they can buy books like crazy.
I'm on Twitter because 1) through Twitterfeed my blog automatically posts a line there with a link(I went to twitterfeed exactly once and it's been doing this for every post for months since) and 2) through the magic of other apps like Ping.fm, I can get my tweets to update my facebook and myspace pages and 3) through Twaitter, I can schedule posts to Twitter (and thus facebook and myspace) for times when I need to promote blog guests or whatever but don't care to be on the computer. In other words, I use it to save me time.
And I've had fun with it. Once I was going to go to an old Navy sale I saw advertised on TV when I saw a tweet telling me the line was around the blding at old navy. I didn't go. I got news about Iran that I could get no where else and oh yeah, I promote there. It's fun. It can be a timewaster if you let it. You don't have to let it.
my jury is still out on this, but have a sneaky feeling it may all be a senseless waste of time..
Please tell us your Twitter name.

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