Feb 26, 2014

Utilizing Twitter as a Writer

a post by Gina Denny 

How can 140 characters be all that helpful? It can't be THAT great. I mean... it's about the length of this opening paragraph. So what?

Turns out, if you know how to use it, twitter is enormously helpful to aspiring, querying, agented, contracted, and published writers. Here's how:

- #WriteClub 
You want to write a book, that means you need to get words on the page. Every Friday night, no matter where you are in the world, there is Write Club. Follow @FriNightWrites to see sprint times and report word counts. Meet other writers, share milestones, commiserate, and just have fun. Despite having paltry numbers during the week, I regularly put three or four thousand words down every Friday. Write Club is crucial to meeting my writing goals every week. Sprint for 30 minutes, break for 10, repeat for as many hours as you can handle. Follow the hashtag during the week for impromptu sprints with others trying to meet their goals, just like you.

- #MSWL 
Every so often, agents and editors take to twitter in droves to tell us all about what they wish they saw in their slushpiles. ManuScript Wish List is a compilation of these wishes. If your manuscript is shiny and ready to rock, you can stalk this tag to find an agent who is looking for just the thing you wrote. If you're stuck in a rut, this tag is chock-full of fantastic ideas that you can use as writing prompts. BONUS: This is happening TODAY (2/26) Go follow the #MSWL tag to see what agents and editors want to see more of.

(Note: Please do not query agents via twitter. If you someone who is asking for the thing you wrote, save the tweet, go to their profile, find their submission guidelines, query like normal, but put #MSWL in the subject line or mention it in the query itself)

- #PitMad / #PitchMas / #AdPit / and other pitch contests
Five or six times a year there are huge twitter pitch contests happening. They go like this: You craft a pitch for your (completed and revised!) manuscript. Tack the hashtag on the end, and tweet it once an hour. Agents and editors will stalk the tag and favorite pitches. If they favorite your pitch - they are requesting your work. You are bypassing the slushpile. They usually request partials, but I've had one editor send me a private message and ask for my full manuscript via one of these pitch parties.

The next one is happening on March 25th (#pitmad) and you can see all the rules here.

- Networking
Meet other writers. Meet beta-readers. Meet book reviewers. Meet people who are funny and super useful when you're trying to distract yourself from your revisions. Meet people who just like books and words and want to talk to you about them all the time. We all need support and we can find it on twitter.

I've met almost all my critique partners through twitter (with the exception of my local ANWA sisters, whom I also hang out with on twitter a lot).

You want to self-publish? Meet editors. Proofreaders. Cover designers. Layout experts. People with hundreds of hours logged doing the thing you want to do. Twitter is literally a world-wide collection of people who want to connect with others who do the same things they do.

- Advertising

Now that I've said that: You can absolutely advertise on twitter. Your profile should have a link directly to your author website or Amazon landing page. You should tweet about your release date and your cover reveal and your ARCs and great reviews. These tweets should only make up about 10% of your overall tweets; you should be a real person, not just a virtual billboard for yourself. But yes, twitter is an excellent marketing tool.

- Connect directly with readers
This is pretty self-explanatory: You can connect directly with readers, without them being connected to your personal facebook page or having your personal email address or anything like that. Some authors who have pretty big names are people I count as my friends as a result of twitter, and some authors that I regard as something akin to rock stars have answered questions and had discussions about their books with readers via twitter.

So there you go. Seven amazing writing-related resources on twitter, something useful, no matter where you are in the process. A little bit of something for everyone.

Go forth and tweet :)


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I signed up for twitter, but have yet to take the time to figure it out. One of my goals this summer.

  2. Great ideas, Gina. Thanks!

    What is resource number seven? It must be even better than the first six.


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