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Once W.W. Norton Starts Twittering, Who’s Next?

I’ve been putting off Twitter as long as possible—between this blog, my Facebook status updates, and my Tumblr account, I suspect I’m contributing enough chatter to the mix—but I’ll probably come around eventually. One of the things that may just sell me on Twitter yet is that it (along with Tumblr) can be an elegant solution to an issue that’s come up in my recent conversations with publishing insiders about why they might want to consider a more aggressive public presence as a way to champion the books they love to readers, even if they hate the idea of spilling their guts out in a blog.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that W.W. Norton has a Twitter account, which so far the online marketing department has been using as a way to let followers know when their authors are in the news. This is actually slightly different from the way I’ve been thinking about Twitter; my vision has been running towards a more personal approach where, let’s say, Jill Bialosky would be posting about the incredible debut novel she just acquired at an auction, or how Nick Flynn had turned in the latest revisions on his memoir, or how such-and-such book was shipping this week… you get the idea. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the mini-press-release approach, and after all, you have to start somewhere. I’m just a bit skeptical about bigger publishing houses, with broader frontlist palettes, being able to create a “brand identity” at this macro-level compelling enough that readers will follow. I’m increasingly convinced the solution lies in giving voice to the individual passions that drive acquisitions and motivate campaigns. The industry already believes this to some extent; the example I’ve previously cited is the “buzz panel” at BookExpo America, where a small group of editors is paraded in front of booksellers and a handful of reporters to talk about their favorite books—all I’m saying is that more editors should take the opportunity to do that every day with all the readers who are willing to listen…

But, look, I know I’m probably missing out on somebody who’s been doing this for months; if I am, I want to hear about it—and I’m sure many other readers do, too.

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