Tweeting the Light Fantastic

Twitter for writers #WritingCommunitySelf-promotion. It’s a concept that terrifies most writers. Face-to-face contact with other people? Actually trying to push people to buy your book? No, thank you. (That’s one of the themes in my current WIP, actually. See the poster here.)

My feeling when Twitter, Facebook, and other social media started hitting the mainstream 10+ years ago was that, “Yes! Finally, here’s a medium designed for writers. For anyone really, who doesn’t like the idea of promoting themselves, especially in person. We will all take to this like a duck to water!”

Unfortunately, turns out these writer ducks are largely hydrophobic. I thought it was just me who was perplexed by the vagaries of Twitter, how to use it, and what it all meant. But then I saw an interesting tweet from @CamillaWrites. Camilla realized that writers were having a problem connecting with others in the #WritingCommunity, never mind with potential readers. And she decided to do something about it.

Through a series of tweets, Camilla gave step-by-step instructions how to connect with other writers, including:

  • Going through her own list of followers and following them
  • Searching for the #WritingCommunity and following anyone who posted with that hashtag
  • Asking people if they wanted to get onto her lists of writers
  • Following back other writers who followed you

That last one is the key one – a follow is like a handshake in the Twitterverse, and a new opportunity to communicate with someone.

The #WritingCommunity is Out There – and Thriving

Suddenly writers who had struggled for years to gain followers said they were gaining hundreds more within a few hours. I myself have gained a couple hundred more this week, which more than doubled my previous total.

It didn’t end there. Others like Mark Kalita decided to help out as well, asking for writers with fewer than 1K followers to contact him – and then retweeted there names. I was lucky enough to be one of those on his list, and that one tweet alone gave me dozens more.

Camilla in other tweets said it was easy to get yourself over 1,000 followers – and by all accounts it is. I’ve more than doubled my followers, and I’m confident I can reach 1K fairly quickly. I might be there already if I had more time to commit to it.

Time – the Constant Enemy

But there it is. Time is the constant enemy of every writer, except the lucky few. I have struggled myself with the value of writing on Twitter rather than work on my own novel. Even keeping up with my blog seems to be a challenge.

But it’s important, I think, to connect with others. I’ve heard from authors that one of the questions they get when submitting works for publication is how many social media followers they have. It’s obviously a measure in the publishing industry. I’m not sure exactly what those measures are, but I surmise from those conversations that it has something to do with potential sales and a measurement of your commitment to the business side of writing.

Ah yes, so we come back full circle. The business of writing. The reality is that in the Information Age, you have to be aware of the business side of being a professional writer. Social media is a part of your author persona. It may take away from your actual writing – and social media in general can be a huge time suck – but judicious use of this (let’s face it) marketing tool appears to be worth the time you put into it.

Okay, I Have Followers. What Next?

That’s the part I’m still trying to figure out fully. However, I do have a few ideas:

Engage with other writers by commenting on their tweets – I like to add light jokes to my replies (maybe to a fault) but really anything that adds to the conversation is great.

Help writers who ask for it – Over the last few days, I’ve given input to some people who have tweeted a question.

Write your own meaningful tweets – This is where I’ve had problems, and I’m working on it. One thing I’ve noticed so far though is that it helps to read other popular tweets, figure out why they worked, and emulate them. Questions seem to garner responses. Links to cool resources work as well. And, of course, videos of cute kittens waterskiing draw eyeballs (but I suspect that’s universal).

Retweet other tweets – Try to say something about it as well (another thing I’m working on). Like commenting mentioned above, try to add to the conversation.

Use hashtags like #WritingCommunity and #amwriting in your tweets to reach other writers. – There’s a list of 50 hashtags for writers here.

There seems to be a Twitter Golden Age happening for writers. If you’ve ever thought of getting onto Twitter yourself, now is the time to do it!

Follow Me!

Are you a writer looking for followers on Twitter? Follow me: @pgrahamstrong – I follow back all writers. You can also follow my blog by adding your information below (I never share contact info) or comment below to say hello!

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