Twitter for Writers

It amazes me how many writers aren’t on Twitter. Whether they think it’s “noise” or “just a platform for self promotion” (is that really a bad thing?), there are so many misconceptions. Twitter can be an amazing tool – if you know how to use it.

Turning off the noise
The best way to turn off the noise is to decide from the start who you want to see on your Twitter feed. Here are some hints to keep the noise to a minimum, and get the best out of your experience:
1. Check the accounts of the people you want to follow. How often do they post? What do they post? Is it something you want to see?
2. Don’t auto-follow. Someone follows you! Great! Now go check them out. Do you like what they  have to say? If there isn’t much on their feed, go to their website. See if they’re someone you really WANT to follow.

Seriously. That’s all it takes. Follow the people you really want to follow, and don’t feel guilty if you don’t follow back. You can also make lists to keep different account types separate if you want to further reduce the noise.

Congratulations! You’ve published your first book/article/blog! You’re excited, and ready to share it with the world. First, you need to know how and why. If you over-promote, people won’t read what you’re saying. No one wants to see constant promotion. You certainly don’t, right? (see above – re: who to follow) Pace yourself. There are different schools of thought on how often to post your promotions compared to how often you tweet about life, etc. Basically, what they all say is the same: Balance. You need it.

Ah…the lifeblood of the biz! A great way to find writers is to go where the writers go, and there are a lot of us on Twitter. Try the hashtag #amwriting. Simply type that into the search box, and marvel at the world that just opened. You can also find networking opportunities by participating in “pitch parties.” I’ll get to that in the next section. When you participate in pitch parties, you network with people in the business – and that’s a valuable tool for a writer. Comment on their tweets. Just don’t over-comment, or you might come off as a pest.

(Pitch) Party, Party!
So, you have a shiny, new (completely edited and ready-to-query) novel. Now, you need someplace to send it. But where? Have no fear…pitch parties are here! I can’t say enough about these things. They’re absolutely one of my favorite things about Twitter for writers. It’s amazing to see the talent out there. I’ve learned so much, and made such great connections. Even found critique partners to keep me on my toes!

The different contests have different rules, but most are very similar. Once an hour, you post a pitch (a sentence to interest the reader), starting at the appointed start time, with the appropriate hashtags. Fellow authors will retweet your pitch, and you can retweet the pitches you really like. ONLY retweet. Save the stars or “favorites” for the agents or editors. Yes, agents and editors keep up with the pitch parties in order to find people to request queries from. If they like your pitch, they’ll star it. Follow their guidelines for submission, and make sure you put your Twitter handle/pitch they liked in the query. No guarantee you’ll get a book deal here. What you will get is experience in distilling your book into the shortest explanation possible, new writing friends, and…yes…attention. “They” will know you exist. That’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Some of my favorite pitch parties are: #PitMad, #AdPit (for adults), #SFFpit (scifi/fantasy)…just to name a few. There are so many more.

Other Important Stuff
My biggest advice is: Have fun. Know what you want to get out of it. Followers? Information? You decide.

A few cool accounts to follow: @LiteraryRejections (agent information, positive thoughts), @BrendaDrake (the host of #PitchWars and #PitMad), @WritersDigest (obviously), @Michelle4Laughs (another pitch party host).

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments! Any information shared is good information.