So, due to the machinations of several "friends" of mine, I joined Twitter last week. It's not the timesink I originally feared, nor is it the great haven of Important Social Networking I'd heard it touted as.
Mostly, it's a place for me to post random thoughts about whatever I'm writing and swear. Twitter makes me swear!
I know, I cuss a fair amount on my blog (although my recent YA sale will most likely bring that to a crashing halt) but Twitter has turned me into a sailor. My first three "tweets" involved the words bastards, fuck and the LOLSupernatural recap of last week's episode "Pervy angel watches u masturbate". Hey, I only get 140 characters. I do what I can.
Here's my theory--a blog is like a prepared speech. Twitter is like your internal monologue. Should our thoughts be publicized? In most cases, probably not. But it's amusing as hell to watch the tweets pile up in my feed, ranging from "currently watching" to recipes to Warren Ellis's recap of a Law & Order: SVU episode that featured orchestral sodomy.
You also have a false sense of intimacy on Twitter--the person you're "following" just typed that thought RIGHT THEN. There was no blogging, no editing. You're getting feed live straight from inside Wil Wheaton's brainmeats! (Or so he wants you to think. He's wily, that one.)
So, to bring this to a point, is Twitter a valuable resource for an author or aspiring author? I'd say the value is directly proportional to how popular you are, either as an author or a person, and how tech-savvy that audience is. If you're a hugenormous internet personality like Wil Wheaton or the gal who was Dr. Horrible's main squeeze (and has cute tweets about her dog in her stream), then yeah, Twitter the hell out of your daily routine because your fifteen thousand loyal readers are waiting. If you're more like me, well...I'm still waiting to see how it swings. It's free, and if you don't get all OCD about it and follow 657 other people, it won't take more than 60 seconds out of your day to update and read. Internet networking is a slippery slope--it's insanely valuable for certain genres and virtually useless for others. Know your audience and focus your efforts there. My audience happens to be on the tech-savvy side, since I'm a geek and I write books targeted for geeks. Playing to the intartubes is worth my time. For you, it may not be. Plan accordingly.
I like Twitter. I don't love it, I don't think it's going to save the world, but it's fun and an easy tertiary service to the blog, like MySpace or Flickr. And let's face it, EVERYONE needs to know what I'm eating for lunch.