Welcome to Twitter Tuesday with Dr. Twuth. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.
So who is Dr. Twuth? Heard of Dr. Ruth, Sex Therapist? Well, today I am introducing you to my alter ego Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist (Dr. Twuth is accredited by one of the best mail-order PhD universities in the Bahamas. She isn’t a real doctor, just plays one on the Internet).
Have a question about Twitter? A problem? A sticky wicket? Let Dr. Twuth help, because the Twuth will set you free.
Dr. Twuth–Putting the “smart” back in smart phones.
On to our tweeps in need…
Dear Dr. Twuth,
When I had my avatar image taken my hair was long (oh how I miss my hair) A while back I had it all cut off ( I do this every 3 yrs or so. Don’t have a clue why) and now my hair is very short. I had new pics taken a few weeks ago, but I’m not crazy about how I look with short hair and have put off changing my avatar since I am, as we speak, wishing upon stars, fallen eyelashes, pennies found on heads and any other crazy suspicion known to man that might help my locks grow overnight.
True my question is based on vanity…I’m sure there are loads of truly important questions in this comment segment that you would rather answer, but Dear Dr. Twuth, should I leave my long haired and preferred avatar alone or should I replace it with my updated image?
Crazy for the Coif in Georgia.
Ideally our avatar should be of our face. I, personally find it distracting to try and have a conversation with a man’s muscled chest, in life and on Twitter (with a 6’6″ hubby, I have to stand on steps sometimes). I know romance authors love to put pictures of hot guys as their avatars, but mentally it is jarring to see a picture of a Chippendale’s model next to the name Jennifer or Susan. It’s just WEIRD.
What is even worse is when there is a picture of a hot guy and the author has a gender-neutral name like Carol or Sam. I find myself having to rewrite tweets to them so I don’t have to use a gender pronoun. I know I have a 50-50 chance of guessing the right sex, but why publicly embarrass myself?
I have a peep on Facebook who has a pic of a beautiful woman, but the name is a man’s. There are times I want to comment on something, but don’t know how to. I am too afraid I might mistake this author’s gender and embarrass both of us in a very public way.
So the best answer is use a picture of yourself that at least closely resembles you. Twitter is about a conversation and creating a sense of intimacy. In life, we don’t walk around wearing book-covers on our faces or dressed like Johnny Depp, and most of us don’t cross-dress so people don’t know whether to call us “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
Okay, again, @ClayMorganPA IS the standard exception. He and @KerryMeacham dig the pirate boots and cutlass and @ChuckWendig is a total instigator. What can I say?
If we went to a cocktail party, we wouldn’t introduce ourselves as Dragon Girl or Procrastinating Writer. We would use our names so people could know us and possibly become our friends. Twitter is no different. In fact, those who are the most authentic generally reap the greatest reward, and why wouldn’t they? If we don’t know your real name or even what you look like, how emotionally vested can we become?
Hiding behind cutesy monkiers and cute pictures is emotionally distancing and it is the habit of people playing on Twitter, not professionals. If we look up any NY Times best-selling author on Twitter, I guarantee you they have their NAME and a nice picture (likely the one used on the back of their books). If we hope to one day be like these authors, it only helps to learn what we can from them. Besides, many agents are now googling authors who query. Who will they meet if they google you?
In the end, long hair, short hair, no hair, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure the picture resembles you and that it is smiling and inviting. We are writers, not supermodels. So long as we have one head and two eyes and look friendly, we’re good (those with two heads or one eye are excused from using a picture).
All the best,
See how easy this is? Dr. Twuth is all about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. Dr. Twuth is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like her advice, she will give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).
So gripe away and leave your woes in the comments for the
expert rank amateur with candy. Let Dr. Twuth help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.
Tweet ya later!
Wow, thanks Doctor, it looks as though I got this much right. Actually, I quite enjoy your blog, and have learned a great deal from it. Thanks for sharing the goodies, may the gods bless your generous heart.
It’s true about me and Kerry being swashbucklers, but the guys have really been razzing him lately about his Tennessee Titans bandana. Interesting you bring up this topic as I just had a bunch of pics taken the other day in order to update profile and avatar pics. And to the initial question I did this after a hair chop even though my existing Twitter pic doesn’t show hair.
Wow…I haven’t seen this until today, but now any pictures of yours or your followers’ that you’ve commented on appear in your profile. I’m okay with the pics on my profile, but it does feel invasive, and I’m not the only one to feel that way! Several of my followers are having a conversation over it this morning.
Another thing to be cautious about: don’t write anything your mom can’t read out loud in church, and don’t post or comment on mancandy pictures.
It is only getting worse. It’s a Brave New World. NOTHING is private. Privacy is an illusion. Writers are public figures whether we like it or not, so we must be extra careful what we have floating around the Internet. Thanks for the comment and go load that pretty picture of yours on to Gravatar. You have an awesome profile pic :D. You should show it off.
I totally agree privacy is an illusion. This is good advice for everyone, not just authors. I keep telling this to my teenagers who are on facebook and twitter — if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face you probably shouldn’t tweet or post it.
Thank you, Doctor! I was hiding behind a generic twitter name while I figured out a pen name, but I figured out one last week–I guess I better come out with that now, eh?
Yay! I passed the picture test. I have a head and two eyes and a nose!
Great advice Dr. Twuth 🙂
BTW, Clay and Kerry are totally pirates so maybe a tricorn hat and eye patch for their pics? Maybe? No? Okay, nevermind.
Dear Dr. Twuth,
In your opinion, do nude author pics tend to scare off fans? Or will you end up with a fan base that doesn’t really like reading? Could I be shooting myself in the foot?..Hmmm…;)
Muddling Through In The Midwest
Good advice. For a while I had a pic of a canoe as my profile picture. I know. Go figure. I don’t even write about the outdoors. I finally got the guts to change it to an actual picture of myself, after a friend kindly and gently suggested that anonymity (did I spell that right?) was not the best strategy for launching a writing career.
Now I have to take the next step and get a professional headshot. My 9-year-old took the photo I’m using right now (after my husband gave up in frustration after about the 12th retake. What can I say? Some women are picky about their pictures!).
I think your pic looks lovely! A happy smiling face is so welcoming:)
Dr. Twuth, I read your WANA book and as soon as I got to the part about silly names and pictures and such I put the book down, hurried to all of my accounts and changed my name to the real deal McShpeel! Ok, I actually changed it to Darlene Steelman. I also changed my pictures to decent headshots (aka me not flashing metal fingers m/).
And you know what? I feel light and fluffy and REAL… I love your blog. I am learning so much!
Thanks for another Te-wiffic Tuesday Twitter lesson!
Ooh! Great post and a shout-out and a zing to @ClayMorganPA all at once! 😉
Yep, am now up and running on Tweetdeck and Twitter AND I have a blog, too. All because of you and a certain Nicola Morgan – a UK writer who is almost as awesome as you.
By the way I have linked this blog on mine, it feeds updates and everything. Can you tell I’m a technical virgin?
I’ve put a photo which I think reflects the real me, in that I don’t take life too seriously 90% of the time.
I didn’t think for a moment that I would enjoy twitter, but I have to say I am having a really good time. And in the spirit of giving, on my blog there is a cool chocolate cheescake muffin recipe.
Is it bad form to put the link here Kristen?
The link to ‘Fiction With Fizz’ is already there – just click on your name 🙂
Thank you Les, see what I mean about clueless?
Another tidbit of wisdom. Love this ” If we look up any NY Times best-selling author on Twitter, I guarantee you they have their NAME and a nice picture (likely the one used on the back of their books).” Aspiring authors need to act “as if” they’re actual authors.
Glad you jumped into that comment thread on Google+, to support me when I quoted you about authors using their own names in blog titles. Amazing how many people seemed to ignore it though, even when you stepped in yourself.
It shows how many people really are just playing in social media. Nothing wrong with that, unless they then turn around and say “social media isn’t selling my books!”
I couldn’t agree more. I had an awkward gender moment the other day. Male or female please be clearer 🙂
I had done some marketing and knew right off the bat I was going to use my name and picture. I love how you described talking to a guys chest or their book cover. I know one writer who isn’t following any of these tips and doing pretty well for herself. I can’t help wonder how much more she might succeed if she did.
Good advice! I’ve had my twitter name since 2007 but it’s a nickname. My married last name is so common (Scott) I don’t have a lot of options to use my real name unless it’s funky with some numbers or an underscore. Same thing for my blog, so it’s all different names. I’m just at the beginning of my writing career, but I’m guessing you’ll still say the same: update to your real name as close as possible. Right?
Your name doesn’t have to be super unique. Our name is only one compnent of our brand. Sandra Brown and Stephen King are not terribly exciting names, but their content is what defines their brands.
Thanks! It’s more that so many of the name variations are already taken. I suppose I’ll have to be StephanieScott997# or something like that b/c I’ve tried a few options for changing my twitter name and it’s not pretty!
I put my state after my name and became @KristenLambTX. Maybe shorten the first name @Steph_Scott. The last name is most important and most people will look to your profile for the full name.
I like you with long hair
Agreed–this drives me bonkers. It’s easier to have genuine conversations with someone with a face than with a book cover–even if it’s an awesome book cover. Seeing a photo of the person we’re talking to increases the conversational feel. Then I can actually picture the people I’m talking to online, even though I’ve never met many of them in person.
If an author does have a book with an amazing cover, then they can entice us to come to their website or Amazon to see it. I love it when authors release a new book cover in a blog post. Never underestimate the appeal of shiny, pretty things, even to the most intellectual among us. 🙂
Does anyone else feel strange when they read a book by an author who doesn’t have a photo of themselves out there anywhere–not just on the book jacket or inside back cover, but on their website, Twitter, etc.?
Don’t forget that Twitter, unlike most services, allows you to change your name. Go to Settings -> Account and type in what you want for your username. I was leogodin217, but after reading this blog I changed it to Leo_Godin.
I’m flattered straight down to my toes…You used my comment question!
And you also answered it in the best way possible.
Thank you so much Dr. Twuth.
You rock about as much as Kristen Lamb does ;D
Have a wonderful afternoon!!!
You chopped your hair? *gasp*
But, but… I love your beautiful picture *now* (whiny voice). 🙂
Spot on as usual, Dr. Twuth! One of the subscribers to my blog subscribed to your blog after a shout out from me. You already thanked me for the shout out and you are most welcome. Considering I have an average of 4 folks who comment on my blogs, that makes a 25% return! Grin.
Whew! Good thing I put a picture up before I read this post. That was a near thing. I mean, everybody would have seen me without a picture. That would have been embarassing. Really.
And look! It did not good….still a quilt square. *sad*
Here’s a crazy question. How do I put up my picture on here? I had a hunt on wordpress and I’ve signed in etc to this site. Is there a wee gizmo that I’ve missed that I need to click on?
You need to click on the icon and create a Gravatar. There will be a cue to upload a pic. The Gravatar will follow you no matter where you comment.
Good stuff here. Some things I hadn’t even considered. Thanks heavens on those I’m doing okay.
Thoroughly enjoying your diagnoses and suggested cures, Doctor. ( know, I know. You’re not really a doctor, you just play one on #myWANA and WordPress.com :))
I’m glad that I took your blogging class, I used to have the name of my book as my twitter account. Everything you said makes so much sense and I’m glad to have switched to my name. I agree that you connect with people so much better.
Also, I love the Doctor. So much fun!!
I agree about the picture. It’s hard to feel invested in an object. My profile pic doesn’t show up on the WordPress blogs. You mentioned Gravatar above. What’s Gravatar? So much to learn….
Thanks for your help!
Know how you feel, just go into the link and sign up to Gravitar. http://en.gravatar.com/ Click on the browse window and load up a lovely picture of yourself and every time you comment that photo will pop into the box.
Thanks so much. I finally got a chance to check back for a reply. Have been overwhelmed with work and welcoming my new grandbaby into the world! Thanks again!
Thank you for saying what I have wanted to utter to Twitter friends. I feel more personally connected with a smiling (or even grimacing) face than a cartoon character – even as much as I’d like to be buddies with Bugs Bunny and all. Another wise tip from Dr. Twuth!
I love this fun new style of Twitter Tuesday; too cute, Kristen! I mean, Dr. Twuth. Happy to be back in town and catching up on your blogs. 🙂
So true! Names and pics can be deceiving. But don’t discount the name of a person just because we think they’re either male or female based on their names. Some parents have the insane (they are few but still) who name their kids after names of the opposite sex (like Maria for a guy or George for a girl). Just throwing that into the conversation.
And you are very welcome.