Sunday, January 06, 2019

Four Easy Ways A New Writer Can Rock Twitter (updated for 2019)

A few years ago, I wrote a post full of suggestions for How a New Writer Can Rock Twitter. Since then, Twitter has evolved. The "Favorites" star  turned into a "Like" heart, storytelling with GIFs has burgeoned into an art form, bots and trolls are far more prevalent, and the 140-character limit has doubled. While I stand by the advice in the post from 2015, this shiny new year provides a good opportunity to add an upgrade.

1. Crash the #WritingCommunity Party

I got on Twitter -- dragged against my will, I might mention -- in 2010. Then, the #amwriting hashtag, brainchild of the lovely and talented Johanna Harness, was the Place to Be for Writing Twitter. In many respects, it still is, but it has been hijacked in recent years by spammers who shill their work, but don't interact with anyone.

#WritingCommunity is different. For now. In some ways, it reminds me of Old Twitter, where people engage, retweet, support, and interact. IMHO, if you're new to writing, or new to Twitter and looking for community, this hashtag is a good place to start.

Other incredibly useful hashtags:

#MSWL -- in which agents, editors, and other publishing pros list the things they are actively looking for.

#amediting is great for support while revising.

*  And #TenQueries provides essential insight into how Actual Agents and Editors approach their slush piles.

--> #PubTip used to be a worthwhile hashtag, but has lately been overrun with noise.

2. Beware What You Share

Beware of tweeting anything too personal, pessimistic, or damning about your writing and your process.

I notice this most often on the #amquerying tag. As a writer, expect publishing pros to look up your social media profiles. You DO NOT want them to see something like "Just got a fresh slate of rejections. Over 100 so far! Oh well! #Amquerying again..."

If you have over 100 rejections on a project: congratulations. We all do. Join the club. But wait to tell that story until after you've found the one person who sees your genius. After you have enjoyed significant success, by all means, tell the tale. Until then, just keep writing...

Piggybacking on this: beware of using any form of "aspiring writer" in your bio. And, in general, refrain from the newbie move of putting "author," "writer," or similar words in your Twitter name.

If your name is Hinkerpaler McSnickety, then make your Twitter handle @HinkerpalerMcSnickety. Or, say, @HinkerSnickety. But steer clear of things like @AuthorHinkerpaler or @McSnicketyWrites.

3. Be Supportive

Twitter is full of supportive publishing professionals. Become one of them.

I have helped polish queries, made introductions, answered formatting and technical questions, and beta-read manuscripts. Thanks to Twitter, I have a few more clients and a lot more friends. Yet in the past nine years, I can count the number of times I've done a hard-sell promo for my work on one hand.

If someone asks a question you know the answer to, answer it. Then move along. Do not treat every interaction as an opportunity to smack someone over the head with your book.

Don't. Be. THAT. Writer. There are far too many of them on Twitter already.

Likewise: when someone joyously announces that they have representation, or have a publishing deal, or have a book release -- congratulate them. Be sincere. Post happy GIFs and fling virtual confetti. Publishing is tough. Its wheels grind slowly, and they often grind writers into chaff. Celebrate the victories of others. One day, we'll celebrate yours as well. In the meantime, jealousy looks good on no one.

4. Use Lists to Decide Who To Follow

Twitter inundates new users with suggestions of people to follow. Often, these people are uber-famous celebrities with millions of followers. As if any of them are going to follow back and interact with us.

But... who to follow? It's a bot-filled, troll-infested jungle out there.

One way through the jungle -- at least while you're getting your bearings in the mine-filled Twitter landscape -- is to follow someone else's curated list. For instance, I have a list of over 490 literary agents. I have lists of writers, a list of editors, and one of interesting people whose tweets are always engaging.
To find a person's lists, go to their Profile page and click on "Lists"
Many agents and publishers have their own lists, too. Unless a list is locked and private, you can follow it. Following a list allows you to see the tweets of list members, even if you don't actively follow them. It won't take long before you know who you want to add to your feed.

Remember: you don't owe anyone a followback. Just because someone follows you doesn't mean you must follow them. (Full disclosure: for years, this was an unpopular take. But it's a hill I will die upon. I look at the feed of every single new person who follows me before deciding whether or not to followback. If they talk only about themselves, if they never interact with others, if they are rude, or if they only retweet saccharine feel-good quotes, I don't have room for them in my timeline. Those are *my* rules. It's up to you to make your own.)

Here's hoping you find this post helpful. What did I miss? What's your best advice to writers new to Twitter?

[You're a blog follower, right? Hope so - 'cause 2019 is going to be fab-u-lous!]


Unknown said...

You're talking to me specifically, aren't you? :D Lots of great advice here! (though I don't think I'm up to changing my twitter name at this point...)

Ami Hendrickson said...

Isn't it funny how sometimes we read something and think "OMG, it's all about *me*"? I say, if the shoe fits (and you like the style, and think it's comfortable, and know it will go with your outfit), wear that Hush Puppy.

Hope at least some of the general advice -- not specifically targeted to anyone. I swear -- is of use!

Onward and upward!