Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Pros and Cons of twitter - as a writer and a regular human!

The Pros and Cons of Twitter

(as a writer and a regular human)

As I try to finish my latest story, ‘The Wish Factory’ (the third of four ‘Beastly Bullies’ children's book collection stories to be released on Amazon Kindle) which will hopefully be out later this month, I've spent the last couple of days fiddling around on twitter during my writing breaks.
beastly bullies gremlin allerton
Doctor Gremlin of the 'Beastly Bullies' collection

I’ve never really 'used' it before but have found it to be quite involving, especially as you can choose who to ‘follow’ on it and find all kinds of interesting information, ideas and opinions.

This has also led to me becoming further distracted by the upcoming UK general election, as a lot of the content on twitter is focusing on that.
I would never ever include politics in any of my stories, as I believe children should be free of the worries of the adult world as they get on with the busy and confusing job of growing up, going to school, doing homework, making and breaking friendships, living with their family or whomever, and taking on all kinds of different hobbies, facing various personal challenges, etc, etc.

twitter bird laptop
Twitter: a good but time-consuming way to follow events?
But in that case it is perhaps even more important for adults here to get involved, take a moment to find out what’s happening, form an opinion and use their hard-earned vote to try and make a change in whichever direction they think will help create a brighter future for the next generation.
And while there also appears to be a fair amount of nonsense on twitter, it still seems like one place to go to follow what's going on.

uk general election 2015
General Election: click here for an interesting viewpoint 
Speaking of UK politics, I discovered the above piece on twitter and found it rather interesting, especially as it is concise and by someone who tires to supports ideas with facts, so I thought I'd share it here. The author is Owen Jones who wrote 'The Establishment and How They Get Away with It':

owen jones establishment
Owen Jones: The Establishment

I can’t really say that I have my ‘finger on the pulse’ at all – as following the news can take up a lot of time and I try to avoid spending too long staring at screens. Instead I prefer to write, exercise, walk in nature or see friends, which in a way can also inform my opinion. Either way, I certainly don’t like what I can see going on at the moment either in the UK or on my travels around the world, with the rich getting richer as the poor continue to get poorer.

However, twitter seems a potentially empowering forum for people to ‘speak up’, if you can separate the more interesting or useful bits from all the hundreds of thousands of other random daily ‘tweets’!
twitter revolution free speech
twitter - a good forum for people to speak freely on?

If you have a moment, why not visit my twitter feed to see who I’m following and find out what some of them have to say:

There’s all kinds of cool science feeds like ‘Physics World’ and 'Science Weekly', links to master documentary makers such as Simon Schama, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Louis Theroux, amazing images from Earth Pics, the insights of characters ranging from Ekhart Tolle to Russell Brand, and regular updates from great children’s authors including JK Rowling, Michael Rosen and Frank Cottrell-Boyce.

jk rowling twitter feed
JK Rowling's twitter feed could be worth following
But please beware, Twitter can take up a lot of your time(!) - I spent half of yesterday mooching about on it and still feel like I’ve barely touched the surface! The amount of tweets constantly rolling in from the 'twitosphere' is incredible and I honestly don't know how anyone can possibly follow more than a handful of feeds at any given time.

I also suspect you either have to be famous or ‘time rich’ to get a lot of followers – something I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with anyway!

I aim to use my own twitter feed to 'retweet' or 'favourite' anything I think might appeal to any like-minded souls, while perhaps adding a few comments and observations of my own along the way if ever I find the time - so feel free to follow:

follow me peter allerton twitter
Feel free to follow me on twitter!

As for any aspiring authors reading this and pondering the use of such social media, I suppose it can't do any harm to try - although I’m not sure I’d recommend putting too much time into when you're supposed to be writing...

Anyway, from a writer's point of view, twitter seems potentially useful for:
  • Announcing new releases
  • Keeping readers up to date with potential new developments in your stories, the evolution of your characters, new cover designs, etc
  • Interacting with your readers
  • Increasing your 'exposure'
  • Giving updates on any readings, signings, talks, etc that you might be doing
  • Interacting with other authors
  • Announcing any new posts on your Blog or Facebook page
However, as great as all of this sounds, it's not all wonderful, as twitter can still be:
  • Very time consuming to keep up with everyone’s tweets and respond when necessary
  • Difficult when trying to choose ‘the wheat from the chaff’
  • Open to abuse – are you ready for the possibility of negative comments on social media?
  • No guarantee of increased book sales
best ways to use twitter
twitter can be a good way to interact with readers

If you do decide to start 'tweeting', you might find these online guides useful:

Mashable twitter guide book

How to get more twitter followers

And for teachers, 50 ways to us twitter in the classroom

You can also learn how to 'embed' your twitter feed into your blog page here (it's very simple, even I managed at the first attempt - see the right-hand side of this page)

Do you have a twitter feed already? Which are your favourite feeds? Can you recommend any interesting ones for young readers or children’s authors? Please share them with us...

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