Margaret Atwood has joined Twitter. Atwood’s no stranger to technology, of course, check out Atwood’s “Long Pen,” for proof of that, but to see an author of such stature take to Twitter is both surprising and deeply amusing. She’s written about it here. Atwood tweets about all sorts of things: environmental issues, her books and other projects, but what’s really interesting is her posts about the incidental details of her life: the time she had to have her wisdom teeth “hammered out,” her cell phone pics and her occasional asides to her fans.
If Atwood has determined that Twitter might be a useful communications platform for furthering her career and personal interests, then perhaps you might want to consider doing the same. If you do, add me (and Atwood). I’m at http://www.twitter.com/mattstaggs.
As a child I remembered a large sign in the study area of my local public library that read, “Libraries Will Get You Through Times Of No Money Better Than Money Will Get You Through Times Of No Libraries!” Apparently, this is more true than ever in these tough economic times.
A study released from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation revealed that almost half of all poor Americans – that is, those living below the poverty line – depend on their local library for access to their email and the web. The kinds of tasks patrons used the library’s internet service to accomplish are highly illustrative of the way that web access has grown from a luxury to a necessity in our information-based economy. From the study:
- 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half of these users filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
- 37 percent focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third of these users sought out doctors or health care providers. Of these, about half followed up by making appointments for care.
- 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.
- Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.
Libraries, now more than ever, are functioning as community gathering places where a wide cross-section of the populace interact to meet their information needs. Perhaps including a few public library reading groups on your next book tour or other promotional event might not be a bad idea.
Matt Staggs is a literary publicist and the proprietor of Deep Eight LLC, a boutique publicity agency utilizing the best publicity practices from the worlds of traditional media and evolving social technologies. He has worked in the fields of public relations and journalism for almost a decade. In addition to his work as a publicist, Matt is a book reviewer and writer whose work appears in both print and web publications.
If you’re like a lot of people I know, then you’re probably trying very hard to watch your expenses right now, but what if you’d like to try to take in a writer’s conference or two? Opportunities for networking and sharpening your craft are just a couple of reasons why that even during a recession attending a conference might be a good idea. But which one?
There are all kind of conferences, ranging from very informal, modest affairs to sprawling, major industry events. Some focus on readers, other on publishing professionals, and others yet on writers in specific genres. A little research can narrow things down to a list of potential cons that would be most appropriate for your career. But before you do that, it might be a good idea to ask yourself a few questions, first.
- What do you hope to accomplish at this event? Meet potential publishers? Agents? Network with other writers?
- Are you at a point in your career where any of the above might be constructive for you? If you’re just beginning your writing life, then meeting an agent might not be useful at all.
- How well do your career goals match those of the conference organizers?
After you’re sure of what you hope to accomplish and have picked out a few potential conventions for attendance, then you should move forward with some final research. One of the most important things you can do is to ask other people about the conference. A poorly organized event can fall apart quickly, despite a promising program schedule and great guests. Try to find other people who have attended in the past, and see what they’re experiences were. Also, don’t be afraid to approach the con organizers themselves with any questions that you may have.
Ultimately, you should let your instincts be your guide. If something sounds a little “off” about an event, then you’re better investing your time and money elsewhere.
Wondering where to start? Try these websites:
Writers’ Conferences and Centers