Yesterday a number of people I respect on twitter noted that they’d been “cold tweeted” to hawk someone’s book/movie/novel/serial/comic/interpretive dance montage/whatever. To quote a popular internet meme, this is clearly a case of “doing it wrong.”
I’m new to this particular networking game and the idea of meeting and connecting to experienced people has been on my brain. It’s hard to know when you’re pushing the limits when asking for advice or help from someone.
I respond to Wil Wheaton’s tweets often. I enjoy reading them. I don’t know if he sees my replies. I suspect he’s rather busy. But to message him and say “hey man help me sell my book” isn’t just rude, it’s lazy.
Most of the people I’ve met have been very interested in helping enthusiastic new creatives along. The process of building a platform, of spreading the word, of increasing daily page views is a long slow one that requires care, attention, and a big heaping pile of “don’t send that email yet revise it again.”
One of my favorite posts is stepcase lifehack’s 7 Ways To Build Your Network Without Using People and I reread it time and again when i feel frustrated trying to make connections in the writing world.
You can read the article for the specific strategies but here’s the heart of the message:
Don’t network. Get to know people. Connect with them in real, unslimey ways.
I’ve chatted with publishers about statistics and how they view amazon trends, I’ve chatted childrearing with scifi smut writers, complained about wait service with a literary agent, and spent a few hours trading bad puns with a rather famous musician.
None of these actions were intended to increase my “market share” or spread the word about my upcoming book. The whole idea was simply connecting with and enjoying these people, as people.
The odd traffic spike of readership on this baby blog may be help when I discuss specific topics (such as discussing someone’s recent publication) but the consistent readership and connection comes not from an advertisement or pressuring someone into mentioning me, but the community itself.
Asking favors of an established relationship is one thing. “Hey, my best friend since sixth grade, can you mention on your twitter feed that the opening night of my new play is coming up?” doesn’t raise my eyebrows.
“Hey total stranger or recent acquaintance, I’m resting my hopes and dreams of success on you retweeting my link” is pretty darn creepy. It’s also pretty darn lazy.
Monica Byrne mentioned that she has received a number of people requesting retweets. Established writers receive this on a regular basis.
Even my own blog, which is less than two months old, has received a number of spam posts from writers asking me to mention their book. I don’t even have that much clout! I don’t even have a klout.com account, yet!
Making yourself discoverable is a necessity to getting a creative project really moving. There are a number of excellent articles on doing this. Here’s one by publisher Robin Sullivan. It’s five steps. It’s easy. Note that not a single one of the ideas in either Sullivan’s or Stepcase’s is “hard sell to people more famous than you.”
This particular incarnation of my web identity is fairly new. I’m meeting a bunch of new people. Most of have been friendly, helpful, and kind. I’ve been retweeted by some pretty famous people and seen readership spikes seemingly occurring in response.
When I’m tweeting at Wil Wheaton, I’m not trying to get page views. When I’m tweeting Wil Wheaton, I’m trying to make someone whose work I respect giggle, laugh, or squirt milk out of his nose if possible. Whatever comes after that, comes. The rest is beyond control.