Twitter is a great little place to mingle and pass around the figurative cigar, but there are so many opinions out there on what is the right (and the wrong) way of using this social network site.

If anybody gives a hoot, here’s my two cents.

Don’t spam.  People who choose to follow you did not follow you to look at links to your book every hour on the hour.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s free or 9.99–don’t spam.  That’s not saying you shouldn’t promote your work–absolutely you should.  But, in moderation.

You need to have something to say that others are going to enjoy.  It’s amazing the simple things I tweet that garner attention.  Yesterday, I tweeted because I saw a flock of pigeons wandering around and flapping their wings; I commented on their lack of intelligence.  I got a response, so I thus responded in kind.  I’ve lost track of how many times this kind of thing has happened, where I’ve begun a conversation because of a simple tweet.  The one thing I can tell you, though, is that not a single one of those conversations began because of a post about my book.

Twitter is about making connections.  When you’re a faceless person earmarked by your twitter handle, you shouldn’t be trying to sell your work.  You should be selling yourself.  Your tweets should give some kind of insight into the person you are–hell, a lot of my tweets are things my younger sister says or observations I make of the world as I walk through it.  Through those simple things, I connect with the people who follow me.  I give them a glimpse of who I am so that when I eventually tweet about my book or my blog or even my successes, they already like me as a person so they’ll be more inclined to go check those things out.

Too many of the people I follow do nothing but tweet about their work.  Of course, I’m a huge indie supporter; I haven’t bought a traditionally published novel in over a month because I’ve spent so damn much money on indies.  But all the books I’ve bought have been from people who have interacted with me in some way; they’ve taken that extra step to be kind, to be witty, to allow me to get to know them.

I try to respond to everyone who sends me a PM thanking me for the follow; if they say something back, it can usually spawn a pretty awesome interchange.  If not, they just become another number on my page.  If I catch a tweet in my neverending feed that strikes my fancy, I make the effort to reply or RT–even if they never write back (usually they do).

I can’t get to know someone on Twitter who constantly says, “This Novel is Great, now available at Amazon for 4.99 gen.er.ic.bit.ly.link…”  That doesn’t make me want to get to know you.  But if you tweet that once every few days, and in between you’re making me laugh, sharing inspiring quotes, and taking the time to interact with me and others, then I may just go buy your book.  Because I like you.