Twitter is the best billboard a writer can have. In a few seconds you can write 140 characters, include a link to your blog or website, and drive more traffic to your blog than you could possible muster without it.
It’s also just about the only place where you can casually ask an agent or an editor a general question. Where else do you have that kind of access or insight into the process and daily routines of gatekeepers? (Directory of Book Trade People on Twitter)
The knowledge being shared in short, quick soundbites on Twitter every day is phenomenal. To get the same level of awareness of your market (who’s open to submissions, who’s looking for what, what’s selling and what’s not, etc) you’d have to spend many hours scouring thousands of sites in person. With Twitter it’s all gathered in one place so you can skim the cream.
The communities that spring up around scheduled writer chats draw editors and agents to them, too. I had a manuscript request from an editor during a discussion of the lack of potential literary classics in the Young Adult category at that time. (List of Writer Chats on Twitter)
If you’ve written an instructional, helpful post loaded with useful links that ties into a chat’s topic of the week, you can share it and attract a bunch of targeted, interested readers to your blog.
So if you’re wondering why few people seem to know your blog exists, why you don’t have many followers, and why you hardly get any comments, it’s probably in large part because you’re not using Twitter to let people know there’s a new post up.
Until you have a decent following on Twitter, however, you’ll need to use hashtags to reach a specific target audience. Just add # and whatever your focus is to the end of your tweet. The example below uses several of them to hit as wide an audience as possible:
QueenBeeDM Must-read article for #writers–reality of advances, sales expectations, etc: http://bit.ly/b9iA5M #litchat #booktalk #askagent #authors
and here’s another one:
glecharles “It is not only the act of writing that is changing. It’s reading, too.” http://bit.ly/hYkqs6 via @lardevils #transmedia #dbw
To gain followers fast, attend one of the weekly Twitter chats for writers or your topic of interest. Most of the chats on Twitter can be found HERE but if you only want writing-related ones, check out Inky Girl’s list HERE.
You can also find followers by finding others. So who should you follow? If you have a favorite author who’s on Twitter, see who they’re following and add anyone who looks interesting to you, too. I would check each one personally. You want to make sure they regularly tweet about things you find relevant, interesting or useful. If they haven’t tweeted in the last 48 hours to a week, don’t bother. They’re not using Twitter enough to notice anything you post there on a regular basis.
Try to contribute useful information, or pithy opinions, or just respond intelligently to someone else’s tweets and you’ll soon see your followers mushroom.
Use your own name or pen name, (or some easy-to-remember version of it if your name is very common and therefore already taken) so that you start to build a brand that can last your entire career if necessary. It makes you easy to find, no matter how many books you write or how many times you change genre.
Use your smiling, friendly face (not your book cover or an avatar) as your profile pic. I can’t connect with an avatar or a book cover.
Do NOT use a cutesy nonsensical moniker that means nothing to anyone else but you.
Only 10% of your tweets should be self-promotional. For the rest, offer value to those who follow you by being amusing, educational, generous (by retweeting other people’s tweets), warm, and responsive.
If others tweet something, respond in a way that invites conversation. This is also a great way to acquire new followers. People on social media are looking for a way to connect emotionally to others with the same interests.
Avoid subjects that can offend or alienate, like religion.
Don’t be negative.
Don’t set up automatic tweets unless you’re out of town and have no choice. Think of Twitter as a conversational tennis match. You can’t keep hitting balls into the other court and then walking away when someone bats one back at you. It’s discouraging.
Do make sure that you add your blog to your Twitter profile.
Do be sure to add a link to your Twitter account on your blog, too, preferably right up at the top of your sidebar. There are some very attractive social networking icons you can use to create a concentrated, cohesive line of links to all your social networking sites. Make it easy for others to follow you!
Craft your Twitter bio with as much care as you apply to your writing. You can get a lot of info across in a few words. Make sure you’ve put your best foot forward.
Great post, Lia!! Twitter is the cyber watercooler for writers. I really love it.
Me, too, Paul! And I love your description of Twitter as a cyber watercooler for writers. I'll have to remember that next time I give a talk!
Thanks for this, Lia. I hadn't seen some of the links you listed and it's always good to keep up on the most current information!
You're welcome, Lisa. Thanks for letting me know it was useful, even to a pro!