I wanted to do something unique to promote my new book. Something fun. Something free.
My novel, Gimme a Call (on sale April 27, 2010), is the story of Devi Banks, a high school senior who accidentally drops her cell phone in a fountain. When she fishes it out, she discovers the only call she can make is to herself--as a high school freshman, at age 14, when anything seemed possible. But will Devi listen to her own advice?
I decided to ask fellow authors what they'd tell their younger selves and then tweet their responses. But even though I knew my way around Facebook, Twitter terrified me. RT? OH? Hootsuite? Huh? My Twitter-savvy friends attempted to explain what a hashtag was, but, still mystified, I signed up for an online Twitter 101 class. Yes. I'm geeky like that.
With pub day fast approaching, and finally feeling vaguely confident in my Twitter skills (I knew how to retweet! I was unstoppable!), I decided it was time to launch my promotion. I collected fourteen author quotes and planned to post two a day during the week leading up to the launch. On Monday night I wrote, "Ever wonder what YA authors would tell their high school selves? (If they had magic cell phones that could call the past?) #gimmeacall." On Tuesday I posted on Twitter: "What @sarazarr would tell her high school self: You are NOT FAT. You will be, but you're not now, so enjoy it. #gimmeacall." Sara Zarr retweeted it to her followers. Her followers responded. And retweeted to their followers. And so on and so on and so on. Somewhere along the twitterline, Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself), who has 1.4 million followers, joined in, adding: "Dear 15-year-old-self, those comics you feel guilty for spending your barmitzvah money on each week will save your life one day. #gimmeacall." A hundred and fifty people retweeted his tweet and suddenly it was one a.m. in the morning and there were new #gimmeacalls popping up every few seconds.
True, most people had no clue what #gimmeacall meant. (See @howardtayler's "It should have had #DearHSSelf as a hash-tag. As it stands, the tag is #GimmeACall, which is kind of dumb.") I probably should have used a more specific hashtag, but I doubt #pleasecheckoutthebookgimmeacallbysarahmlynowski would have gone viral.
Five of my favorite #gimmeacall tweets:
@dncallahan: "Dear High School Self: Stay away from any guy named Jeff, Joe, Will, Sean, Joshua, Jason, Tommy, Johnny, Mark, Billy, Ed, etc."
@Laurenmyracle: "Don't go on a pot run with Steve Campo. You will get arrested, and he will still take Leslie Prat to prom."
@SmashComic: "Dear High School Self: Enjoy hair. It won't last."
@realjohngreen: Dear HS self: There are two reasons you have no girlfriend: 1. no confidence. 2. poor hygiene. #startwithnumbertwo
@juliadevillers: Facebook will be invented. Are you sure you want your friend to take that picture?
What would I tell my high school self?
1. Do not kiss two boys in one day. You will get mono.
2. I know you like to read but there is a thing called SPORTS and playing one would be good for you. No, Tetris is not a sport.
3. Appreciate the full fridge, laundry service and allowance.
4. You will get over the D in Calculus, your parents' divorce and Kirk Cameron. Eventually. Promise.
5. Keep better diaries. One day you'll write teen fiction and need more material.
If you have something you'd like to mention to your high school self, go to #gimmeacall. You might want to tell her to invent Twitter.