Twitter, the Ongoing Writer's Conference-- If You Use it Right

Jan 22, 2013

I'm a big fan of Twitter. BIG fan. I was unsure about it when I started (who cares what I ate for breakfast or how many words I wrote today?), but once I started using it effectively, it was amazing. I can credit it with two of the biggest things in my writing life.

I met my awesome critique group through Twitter, just by chatting with a local writer (Chersti!). It's also, in a round-about way, how I got my agent. On my previous manuscript, I tweeted about needing beta readers and Hannah volunteered (she wasn't an agent yet). She gave me awesome feedback, and we continued chatting occasionally. Then, with my current book, when I tweeted what it was about, she tweeted back and asked to see the full manuscript when it was ready. Thus it was that just over a week after I started querying, she offered representation.

See? TWITTER IS AMAZING. It's like a writer's conference that never stops. Want to make friends with fellow writers? Tweet. Want to chat with agents and editors? Tweet. Want to talk with established authors? Tweet. Want amazing writing tips and advice? Tweet, tweet, tweet. Of course, it's true that no one cares about what you had for breakfast. So here are a few things I've learned that have made Twitter an awesome tool for me. (These are not the basics. If you want a quick tutorial, check out this.)

Figure out your focus. You can tweet about anything and everything. But to be a little more effective in networking, it's helpful to have a bit of a focus. For instance, I can always count on Dan Wells to share fascinating and often odd articles about science, history, or the world in general. Elizabeth Craig always links to fabulous articles about writing. So think about what you want your "brand" to be-- how do you want people to know you? And be specific. Mine could probably use some work. My focus tends to be on my writing progress, funny things from my family life, and my current nerdy exploits.

Don't be afraid to chat. Even if you don't know the person, that's okay! People tweet because they want to talk. That doesn't mean make a nuisance of yourself, but if you have something to respond, go ahead. I recently commented on a Twitter friend's tweet and ended up in a hilarious conversation about the merits of the band Hanson with several other people. It was so fun, and I became better friends with some great people.

Find some places to hang out. Hashtags aren't just for witty asides. If you tag your tweet with #amwriting, for example, you've just hopped into a water cooler kind of area. If you click on the #amwriting hashtag, you can see who all is participating, and make some new writer friends. Some other good ones are #myWANA and #writechat. There are some weekly chats for writers on Twitter, too. Here is a great list. Twitter chats are a great way to make friends, have fun conversations, and learn new things. Another favorite is #askagent.

So, my friends, are you on Twitter? Do you love it or hate it? Have you been avoiding it, or you just don't care? If you're not following me, you can find me here!

(Post topic requested by my awesome sister-in-law, Kami McArthur. She's new to the blogging world, so go say hi! Or follow her on Twitter!)

16 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

I've been with twitter for a while, but it's only in the last few months that I have worked out how to make it work for me and not the other way around. It's a fun tool.

ilima said...

I'm on twitter but probably don't utilize it as I should. This is a great, informative (yet not intimidating) post on the subject. Thanks!

Romance Book Haven said...

I'm on twitter and love it! The other day I tweeted asking how to change dialogue quote marks from single to double in a 78,000 word ms I was editing, and I received so many replies.

So help is always on hand on twitter!

Nas

Kami McArthur said...

Not gonna lie, not a big twitter fan. I love facebook though. I think my problem with twitter partly stems from the fact that I haven't learned how to use it effectively yet, so thanks for the blog post :)

Tammy Theriault said...

I don't do twitter, not sure is have the time....wow.

Angie said...

Now following Kami! I am still undecided about Twitter. There are times I love it and times I just ignore it. My hubby uses it in a very different way from what you've described. He uses it to get news, sports and other info quickly, without a lot of interaction. I think I use it somewhere in between.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I love Twitter. I've connected with so many other writers through Twitter, and it helps me keep up with publishing news and current events.

I love your agent story! I didn't realize you'd originally connected with your agent on Twitter. Very cool. :)

Cortney Pearson said...

I'm with Ilima--I use twitter, but probably not as well/as much as I should! I'm mostly a lurker, just checking out to see what others are saying! But this is definitely a great post on how to get more involved!

Jessie Humphries said...

That was a great informative and persuasive post about Twitter, but I still don't feel so great about it. I need to change my attitude!

Meredith said...

Such great tips! I'm hoping to dive into the Twitter world soon, and I need to figure out what my focus will be. Thanks, Shallee!

Tara Tyler said...

bookmarking for when i join the friendly skies =)

Saumya said...

This is awesome! I'm still learning how to use Twitter and this post helps a lot.

Kittie Howard said...

I walked away from Twitter when I began getting nasty DM messages I couldn't stop. But perhaps enough time has passed I could begin again. I bookmarked your post, Shallee. You've got a ton of great info that doesn't intimidate. Thanks!

Lynda R Young said...

I'm not a huge fan of Twitter mainly because it takes up so much time. I start chatting and woops an hour has gone by ;)

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

I have a twitter account, but I'm not great at it. Something about the process doesn't click in my head. Your post makes me want to give it a closer look.

Deborah Walker said...

I'm on a big. I'm not very good, but I like it for catching up on people's news. But I keep forgetting to tweet.

 
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