Kristen Lamb wrote a great post recently about the dangers of getting too wrapped up in social media that only involves other people exactly like you (in this instance, of course, it was about writers who are following hundreds of fellow writers and other people who are already fans) instead of the people you'd like to target (all potential readers). This is easy to do, of course. We want to share our experiences with like minds, and we want the hive mind of Twitter to answer the questions we have - so who better to follow than people likely to know those answers? It's the same reason we all read and comment on one another's blogs - our "sames" are much more obvious than our differences, and that's the human comfort zone.
This tendency is only natural, so natural in fact that psychologists (and political pundits) already have a term for it, "confirmation bias": people tend to seek out information (and people) to confirm what they already believe. The danger, of course, is that this only makes one more firmly entrenched in that belief...even in the face of otherwise seemingly undeniable factual evidence. And it means we have difficulty reaching out to others who might offer other opinions, even if they may also offer clear benefits like a willingness to purchase books. Other opinions are scary! People who aren't confirmed romance novel fans are scary!
But what (you're probably asking) does confirmation bias have to do with writers who write kinky romance? And Twitter? Quite a bit, I'd say, because part of Ms. Lamb's point is we need to branch out and explore other opinions, even if it's difficult. Twitter is a perfect way to do this, and I think erotic romance writers might have an easier time of it than most because there are a lot of circles overlapping ours on that infinite venn diagram. There are tons of Twitter users who are involved in kink but not in writing or publishing, I've noticed. There are also tons of readers who may or may not be romance fans, who may never have read a kinky book, but might become a fan if they got to know a kinky book writer. There are media folks with interests that mesh with ours, medical or other professionals, just a wide variety of people, any one of whom might be a new reader.
This week, try challenging yourself to follow at least one person a day you see mentioned in a tweet - who isn't a writer, editor, or reviewer. You may get friends and family of writers, you may get random persons out in the universe...but you may also get new readers, people who may have never read a romance novel of any sort before but might read yours. I've found one easy way to stretch like this is simply to look at the other folks mentioned in my mentions and @replies...and look for the men. Since so many romance writers of any flavor are women, this is a down-and-dirty way to narrow your search to non-romance-writers. The vast majority of the time it isn't somebody like Sascha Illyvich, it's some dude who has only recently discovered that erotica isn't just for the ladies. Target: acquired!