In response to some tweets about my last post about social networking, I will set out my personal and idiosyncratic six rules for Twitter etiquette. Remember, I am British, so full of all the weird constraints and embarrassments with which the land of my birth has burdened me.
1 If you think tweeting constant exhortations to buy stuff will work, forget it. But the odd link to something you want to sell or promote is fine, as long as you have offered a lot of entertainment value in between.
2 It is fine to put up links to nice things other people have said about your work in blogs and other media, as long as you let your followers know that this is what you are doing. They don't have to click on the link. Retweeting nice things twits have said about other twits is an essential politeness.
3 Tweeting constantly about your illnesses is also a big turn-off -- the occasional bid for sympathy in a sea of interesting and amusing micro blogs is fine.
4 People will follow you if they like what you have to say -- but one twit's eagerly awaited next tweet is another twit's smut, pretentious twaddle or boring rant. So don't get offended by unfollows.
5 Facebook and Twitter are different. Facebook works best with real world contacts -- people you have met, or who know people you know; Twitter is more like walking into a party full of strangers and attempting to engage their attention.
6 It is considered polite to conceal the real names of people close to you, such as young children, on Twitter. It's fine to tweet your pets' real names. The guinea pigs are Chalky and Billy by the way.
There is a whole Twitterverse out there that is full potential followers and followees, interesting illuminating friends and downright useful contacts, but also of rude, incoherent, revolting, dull and bizarre twits. I particularly don't like anatomical avatars. Now, dear, you wouldn't just go around showing any old person your bottom in real life before you've even been introduced. You would? OK.
You don't have to follow them, even if they follow you, and if they offend you can block them. I love Twitter and the friends I have made on there, takes me back to the early days of community forums where you joined a particular subject forum that interested you. On Twitter it works the other way round: ideally a community forms naturally as the nature of your tweets becomes evident.
I am really enjoying the publishing and book people on Twitter, and have learned a great deal in the last year about an industry that is as complicated and ritualistic as the last days of the Imperial Court in Peking. Thank you all my kind and friendly new publishing friends who have chosen to nudge, shove and otherwise propel me in the right direction, I am nominating you all for the Shorty Awards.