I had no clue what Twitter had to offer writers until I sat down for coffee with my hilarious buddy and author A.B. Funkhauser. I was on Twitter but didn’t understand how it could help me as a writer. She gave me some Twitter basics but when I sat down and began to closely examine the platform, the light went on.
Since that coffee date back in early November, my followers have jumped from about 400 to close to 2500. Let me explain what I learned and how I expanded my followers so rapidly.
1. My Game Plan
My main objectives are to use Twitter to connect with other writers, learn more about writing and publishing and use social media to market my work. I learned that there is a close knit (yet global) group of writers with similar objectives. By no means are they a homogeneous group. My writer contacts range in age from 15 to 75 and every conceivable genre is covered. They live in North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
2. Connecting With Other Writers
The first thing I did was participate in the many hashtag games and chats that are directed at writers. Each game or chat has a theme for writers. Some are weekly (e.g., #MuseMon, #TuesTropes, #FictFri) and others are daily (e.g., #WIPTruthOrDare, #authorconfession). Chats take place on the same day and hour either weekly, biweekly or monthly (e.g., #JustAddTea, #StrongWomenWrite). A writer hosts each event and one wonderful writer, Mica Scotti Kole maintains a list of all writing events on her blog. She also lists writing events on Twitter each day on @writevent Mica also has a newsletter you can subscribe to.
These writing events are not just about having fun. I use it to try out lines from my manuscript by tweeting them as part of the hashtag games. Writers may choose to respond to the tweets by “liking”, retweeting or commenting on them. Over time, I start to collect information on what lines are popular with readers. I also use these writer events to establish my brand. I’m a humour writer and I reinforce that as often as I can.
I should point out that Twitter is not the only place to network with other writers. I’ve made friends at creative writing courses. I also belong to a local creative writing group.
3. Managing Your Followers
You will come across other writer who you will want to follow for one reason or another. Many people will reciprocate and follow you back. I will not automatically follow back someone who follows me. I run across people who have a humongous number of followers and people they follow. I’m usually not interested in people who are follower collectors. Also, there are writers who exclusively tweet ads for their books. I don’t want to be looking at their ads on my Twitter feed every day. Then there are those who almost never tweet and predominantly retweet other people’s tweets. My feeling is if I want to read other people’s tweet, then I’ll just follow them. I’m also not going to follow a bot or someone who is on Twitter to market a service to writer. Finally, I get a lot of followers who aren’t writers. They may be an accountant, a chef, a psychologist and so on. I rarely follow non-writers and less there is something about them that interests me.
I look for people who I can relate to. They may have interesting or funny tweets. Perhaps they have a lot to share about writing or getting published. Some have terrific blogs so I will follow them on Twitter and keep up with their blog posts. Currently, I might gain fifteen to twenty new followers each day and screening people takes up time. At the end of the day, you need to find an approach that works for you.
4. Learning The Writing Game
I worked mostly on my own when I wrote THE ROAD AHEAD. Writing is clearly a solitary activity but doesn’t mean you should be working in isolation. That was a mistake I made. I still have a lot to learn about writing and there are some good people on Twitter to learn from. There are other benefits from networking with writers. Other writers will provide you with support and encouragement when you are going through a rough stretch. They can make you more accountable. If you tweet your writing goals, some people will check back with you to see how you’re doing. You might develop even closer relationships with a few writers and agree to be critique partners and beta readers for each other (topic of a future post).
Marketing is something that turns off creative people. That’s fine if you are truly writing for yourself. But if you want other people to read your work, you need a plan on how to reach out to readers. Even traditional publishers have an expectation that you will do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to marketing. They will want to see you active on social media with a website and/or blog.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m using Twitter to establish my brand, specifically my genre and writing style. I want to engage other people online but at the same time I don’t want to come off as being someone I’m not. It’s delicate balance between connecting with people and selling yourself. In addition, writers are avid readers. Every writers talks about their lengthy TBR (to be read) list. I want to be on people’s TBR.
My approach to Twitter has been constantly evolving as I become more comfortable with it and as my needs change. There may be a day when I cut back on my Twitter activity. But for now, I’m sticking to what I’ve been doing the past eight months. I want to see how all this will impact on my second novel.