Twitter 101 for Writers

Over the holidays, my father-in-law mentioned that a friend had just written a book, his memoirs about the Vietnam War. Since my father-in-law knows I write, I felt like I should offer to help his friend, but I write middle grade and young adult stories. What useful advice would I have?

Then I asked if his friend was on Twitter. He wasn’t. That opened up a wealth of information and connections that could help him revise his manuscript, find an agent, or self-publish his story. I thought we might have a few Twitter newbies following the blog, or others who got the “my friend wrote a book” prompt over the holidays, so I decided it was worth a post.

The Twitter writing community is awesome, a great resource at all stages of the writing process. While you’re writing, it can be the water cooler, the place to chat for a few minutes between projects. It’s also a great source of craft advice. Once you’ve finished a manuscript, it’s a source of advice on revising your project to make it the best story it can be. You can also find critique partners to exchange your work with and get feedback from. When you’re ready to get your work out into the world, Twitter can help you learn about literary agents or participate in writing contests. Or if your plan is to self-publish, you can find out how and connect with professionals who specialize in packaging books. And it doesn’t take much time on Twitter to see that it’s an avenue for book promotion.

Where can a writer go on Twitter to dig into these topics?

Community

Writing is a solitary process. But Twitter can help you find like-minded folks who’ll inspire you to get your butt out of bed at 5:00 am to get some words written before work, or someone to chat with when taking a few minutes off from banging on your keyboard. Great hashtags for finding writing folks are:

#5amwritersclub
#AmWriting
#1linewed

Look for people writing in your age category or genre, or whose stories interest you. Follow them and over time you’ll carve out “your people” in the Twitter writing community.

Craft

There’s always more to learn – story structure, character development, how to write those darn kissing scenes. I don’t even know what aspects of craft might be important to a memoir…but I know someone on Twitter does. I frequent #kidlit, but found a bunch of hashtags for different genres in just a couple minutes.

#memoir
#TravelWriting
#HistFic (for historical)
#steampunk
#nonfiction

Writing hashtags will help you find experts who tweet about helpful topics, frequently with links to blog posts with even more info. I like:

@writerunboxed
@ayaplit (Adventures in Young Adult Publishing)
@nerdybookclub
And, of course, @WingedPen!

Revising

Once you’ve got a draft of your story, or at least the first few chapters, you need some critique partners to help you refine your story – identify what’s working well, what’s not clear and what’s just plain boring (erm…I mean…the pacing’s off). Find them through the community of writers you’re building or on critique partner match-ups hosted from-time-to-time by bloggers. #amrevising is a good hashtag for connecting with other writers trying to fix their words and for advice on wrangling your hot-mess of a first draft into something great.

Pitching

If you’ve chosen the traditional publishing route and are looking for a literary agent, many have an active presence on Twitter. You can follow them to get a sense of their personality and taste in books. Their Twitter profile should have a link to their website where you can find submissions guidelines. #askagent has querying tips, or try #10queries if you like advice without any sugar-coating.

You can also find writing contests and pitching opportunities on Twitter. The rules for writing contests vary. Some, like our 4 on 400 contest or Adventures in YA Publishing’s First Five Pages workshop, are focused on feedback. Others are selective and aim to refine your work and get it in front of agents. Selective contests include #sunvssnow, #pitchmad, #pitchwars, and many others.

Pitch contests allow you to pitch your story in a 140-word tweet. This is no easy feat! See our post here on writing a killer Twitter pitch. Pitch contests include #pitmad, #pitchmas and #sffpit.

Self-Publishing

If you’re going the self-publishing route, you’ll need things like cover art, a cover designer, and an editor to give your words a final polish. Tons of advice is available over on:

#selfpublish
#indiepublishing

Promotion

If you’ve checked out any of these hashtags, you probably found that there’s lots of book promotion happening on Twitter. #amreading is a good place to start.

 

The bottom line is there’s a mountain of information out there to help you no matter what point you’re at in your writing journey. But don’t forget to turn off your internet and get back to writing!

Want to know more about leveraging Twitter to support your writing? The Twitter 101 for Writers series continues with Building Your Writing Community.

What are your favorite spots for hanging out with the Twitter writing community and getting writerly questions answered? Let us know in the comments! And if you have any tips for my father-in-law’s friend writing memoir, please let me know that too!

For more on leveraging Twitter as a writer, see my prior posts:
Twitter 101 for Writers: Building Your Community
Twitter 101 for Writers: Etiquette

Photo by Pam Vaughan

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure and young adult thrillers with heroines much braver than she is. She’s on Twitter and her website is here.

6 thoughts on “Twitter 101 for Writers

    1. Ha! It looks to me like you know your way around, Carol! I was thinking about doing a follow-up post because I got some suggestions from Winged Pen folks that I couldn’t include without making the post super-long. If you’d like more info, let me know what topics interesting and I’ll look into it.

  1. Thank you, Rebecca. I need to pin this somewhere. I’m always wondering how to use these hashtags to the maximum. I wonder is there is a way to create a folder somewhere to gather the hashtag posts you’re interested in. For example, if I wanted #kidlits and #askagent in one folder, and off the Twitter feed. With so many posts on Twitter, it’s easy to get lost, miss something, or run out of time. Honestly, I can only type one per day, but if I had them all in one box, that’d be cool. Is there a way? How can I do that? Thanks a bunch.

  2. I think there are a couple ways to save hashtags, Sussu. One is in Twitter. I just had to fool around to remember how to do it. If you enter the hashtag in “Search Twitter” – #Kidlit for example, it will bring up the most recent tweets with that hashtag. On the upper right hand side of your screen you’ll see three dots. Placing your cursor over them lets you know that is for “more search options.” If you click, you’ll have the option to save that search. If I’m following a conference of a contest, I’ll save the hashtag to jump to it quickly. You could also do that with category or genre hashtags.

    Another way to save your favorite hashtags is through a program like Tweetdeck, which I like, and Hootsuite, which the Winged Pen uses to manage its Twitter account. Those programs let you create several columns of tweets to browse through. You could have your own tweets in one, your followers’ in another, and one or more hashtags next. You can even make a list of specific Twitter users you particularly like and just go through their tweets if you don’t have time for everything in your feed. (And when you’re following almost 5000 Twitter accounts, like the Winged Pen is, that’s important!)

    I hope that helps! Maybe this is worth another post on Twitter “how to’s.”

    1. Rebecca. I’ve already pinned my favorite hashtags. I’m now exploring Tweetdeck. It’s so much easier when someone gives us the tour of a virtual place. I really enjoyed this. Thank you much 🙂

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