- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470556137
- ISBN-13: 978-0470556139
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form 1st Edition
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From the Back Cover
How to write short and sweet for the Information Age
The advent of Twitter and other social networking sites, along with the ubiquity of text messaging, have made short-form communication and constant contact an everyday reality. Expressing yourself clearly in short bursts—particularly within Twitter's 140 character limit—takes special writing skill.
For marketers and business owners, social media and text messaging have become an increasingly important avenue for promoting a business, but you have to be able to get your message out in just a few words. 140 Characters is the first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with customers, colleagues, and contacts with the succinctness and clarity that the times demand.
Twitter User #9 Dom Sagolla teaches the lessons of great short-form writing, including the importance of communicating with simplicity, openness, and humor. What Strunk and White's Elements of Style did for traditional media, 140 Characters does for the social media revolution happening today. Inside, you'll learn all the basics of:
Developing your own honest and unique writing style
Evolving rules of grammar for the short form
Principles of brevity, including tech-speak/leetspeak
Avoiding the too-much-information syndrome
Mastering the art of the text message
Winning techniques for writing poetry, news, fiction, and much more
About the Author
DOM SAGOLLA helped create Twitter with Jack Dorsey and a team of entrepreneurs in San Francisco. He also helped engineer Macromedia Studio, Odeo, and Adobe Creative Suite, and now produces iPhone applications with his company, DollarApp.
Top customer reviews
Written by one of the original twitter creators,(actually the ninth person to have a twitter account)the author really understands what twitter was meant to be and what it has evolved into. It has become all things to all people. Enabling users to bring the internet with them where ever they go and no matter what activity they are doing, they can stay connected with followers and friends.
This book could have been called "The art of the tweet" author Dom Saggolla explains the newly created short form and all the styles that can be used to tweet your own 140 characters.
The short form consists of describing, simplifying and avoiding. Give enough information so people understand what you are talking about, simplify it as much as possible, and avoid giving too much information.
Tweets are a way to share real life, not a replacement for doing real activities.
Express yourself, find your own voice.
Tweet consistently so followers know your 'office' hours.
Use multiple accounts if you have different interests.
Know your audience and tweet on topic.
Be funny and have fun.
The book is filled with many examples of great tweets and examples of different forms of writing and techniques to build your own tweets.
This book is a nice addition to your social media library, a quick read with tweet tips from someone there from the beginning.
The major sections promise to show us how to LEAD, VALUE, MASTER, EVOLVE, and ACCELERATE. The three-layer table of contents supports the book's claim to be a style guide. The depth stops there. By the time the author revealed that he had prepared to write the book by sending brief ideas that occurred to him off to a special Twitter account for later assembly, I was not surprised. Giving lie to the structured outline, the book itself has a snippety, disjointed feel to it. This style works for tweets, but not for a full-length book that ought to contain smooth transitions and thoughtful integration.
There are some useful take-aways. The book begins with an informative history of Twitter's inception and evolution. Some good thinking went into the 12-stage "cycle of focus and distraction" experienced by Twitter users. There are inclusive lists of various language and text techniques. The book does stress basic writing concepts like simplicity, conciseness and attention to your audience. It warns against lying, rudeness, and naiveté. And it admonishes us with PC sincerity to never, ever post drunk.
Beyond its choppy presentation, how does it disappoint? By falling short. The author has much to say about style and developing one's voice. But the highest form of style it advocates is offering up a stream of glib one-liners and attracting followers who enjoy them. There is little on style in service of some more substantive message, be it personal, political, commercial or social. Such an expansion of focus would bring depth and utility that the book currently lacks. Too much of the material is standard writing advice, better presented elsewhere and only slightly adapted to the short form.
And, I am sorry to say it, the author's examples just aren't that clever. Yes, there are some good one-liners. But how do you write short form messages that entertain and invite engagement and response? During the time I spent reading this book, I learned more from the status messages of a few Facebook friends than I took away from the book's extensive collection of tweets past. I believe the author's understandable enthusiasm for the Twitter archive may have influenced his authorial judgment.
I recommend a quick look through this book at the library to satisfy your curiosity--and perhaps discover that you disagree with me. Then spend more time with something that will really improve your writing, like Susan Bell's The Artful Edit or Marc Kramer and Wendy Call's Telling True Stories. Neither focuses on the short form of writing. But you can use their insights to adapt to it on your own. In this book, the author advises us to "[t]hink of every tweet as an epitaph." Well said. Let this collection of tweets rest in peace.
I was a user but I knew there was more to this and more that could be learned to effectively broadcast my message of "what I'm doing" to nearly 4 thousand followers. Dom Sagolla helped make that happen.
Sure I'm friends with Dom and may have gotten a copy of the text early but that doesn't mean I didn't learn something and now want to shout if from the rooftops.
140 Characters is for a person who is new to Twitter or who just celebrated their 3rd year of using the service. Of course, users of Facebook and Myspace aren't excluded. this book helps readers cultivate their story, engage their audience and capitalize on Twitter's impossible message limitations.
I say "impossible" because that's how I felt when joining Twitter. "140 characters? How am I going to post what I'm doing in such a small space?"
Well, over time, I adapted my own style and continue to improve on that. Dom's book merely took my hand and opened a few more doorways to explore. There are styles & processes that I never would have used and the only way to go beyond "using Twitter" and "mastering Twitter" is to read 140 Characters, stopping often to try what you just read.
The Kindle version is cheaper, portable and works on iPhone or Kindle. It's a great way to get the book NOW. However, the layout and design of the print version is excellent as well. Get both! :P
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