Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Ways Twitter Can Help Writers

by DEBBIE on JUNE 25, 2009


(Also see my Writer’s Guide To Twitter.)

When I first heard about Twitter, I dismissed it as just another social networking site. I didn’t pay much attention to it; I was already overloaded with keeping up with the social networks I had already signed up for. Plus why on earth would I want to read about what someone eats for breakfast or what they’re doing every minute of the day?

I admit now that I was completely wrong. I’m now @inkyelbows on Twitter, and here are some of the reasons I’m glad I joined.

1. Twitter forces you to exercise your writing and editing skills. With only 140 characters to work with, you have to choose your words carefully and be concise.

2. Stay informed about the publishing industry. With so many publishing house Twitterers (from editor to publicists to slush pile readers), you can learn a ton about what’s happening in the industry. Find out what’s happening at major publishing or writing events while they’re happening. From Alexis Grant:

I may have been the only aspiring author who wasn’t at BookExpo America last week (or did it just feel like that?), but I followed the publishing event through its Twitter hashtag, #BEA09. I can spout off panels from the event, happy hours, book giveaways — If I didn’t already tell you I wasn’t there, I could have tricked you into thinking otherwise.

3. Make contacts in the publishing industry. One of the reasons I decided to take Twitter seriously was because I kept hearing about various editors and publishers who were Twittering. And they weren’t just posting promo items; they were also reading posts by other Twitterers and sometimes replying to them. Here’s just a partial list of some of the people in the publishing industry who are on Twitter, and here is a partial list of authors on Twitter.

4. Meet and share ideas with other writers. Yes, you can do this through other social networks as well. I’m finding, though, that Twitter’s platform provides a unique experience not yet duplicated by other social networks (though other networks are trying). There is a HUGE network of writers on Twitter and chances are good that you’ll find other writers who are going through the same types of experiences in their careers as you.

5. Promote and market your writing. As writers are expected to take on more and more of the responsibility of marketing their own work, it makes sense to use every possible venue to do so. You may already be promoting your book on Facebook and Myspace, for example, but Twitter gives you access to more potential readers.

6. Get writing gigs. In addition to several Twitterers posting exclusively about writing jobs, there are also opportunities to find out about writing gigs indirectly.

7. Increasing your blog readership. Post a summary or blurb about the great content on your blog on Twitter, with a link back to your blog post for those who want to read the full content. Increased blog traffic means increased exposure to your work, which could lead to other writing-related benefits.

8. Writing motivation. I’m starting to participate in the daily #writegoal group on Twitter. To see others who are participating, just search for the hashtag #writegoal. Many other writing-related hashtags / groups exist. Feel free to post others in the comments section.

9. Get ideas for your writing projects. Get inspired by following current hot “trending topics” as well as thought-provoking posts.

10. Find useful resources, articles and tips to help you in the craft and business of writing. Most of the people I follow with @inkyelbowsare writers, editors, publishers or book publicists, and many of them post links to useful info for writers on a daily basis. I try to do the same.

I could go on, but I have to get back to writing now. :-) Follow me on Twitter! I’m @inkyelbows. If you’re an experienced Twitterer and know of other benefits of Twitter for writers, or want to share how Twitter has helped you, please do post below (and include your Twitter id).

Quotes about Twitter:

From Darren Rowse:

If you own a business of any size and you’re still not Twittering, you’re missing out on what amounts to a worldwide virtual chamber of commerce networking event that’s at your fingertips 24/7. Only on Twitter, you don’t press flesh or swap business cards—you exchange links to your Web site, blog, e-books, and online résumé. And you build relationships 140 characters at a time.

From Iain Broome:

Not all, but there are many creative writers who might consider a platform like Twitter to be counter-productive. They might also think it a place for journos, bloggers and beatniks, but not, in their fictional words, serious writers.

It’s nonsense. All writing is serious, now more than ever before. Creative writers need to start taking the bull by the horns and realise that in today’s world, there’s more to writing than simply the act itself.

At the moment, Twitter is ‘the thing’. How long that lasts is irrelevant. As a writer, you can harness its power right here, right now.

Related sources:

Twitter Update: My Latest Thoughts by Becky Levine
Twittering Is Not Just For The Birds by Nicola Morgan
Why Writers Should Use Twitter by Alexis Grant
Twitter For Freelance Writers – Tweet With A Plan by Angela Booth
Using Twitter For Book Marketing by Henry Baum
How Twitter Can Make You A Better Writer by Jennifer Blanchard
8 Ways Twitter Can Grow Your Freelance Business by Darren Rowse
How Twitter can help you improve, market and publish your creative writing by Iain Broome
Twitter Tips For Writers + 25 Good Follows (Editor Unleashed) by Maria Schneider
Twitter Benefits For Freelance Writers by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
50 Useful Tools Twitter Tools For Writers & Researchers
How Twitter Can Help You Write With Confidence by Joanna
Using Twitter To Become A Better Legal Writer by Josh Camson
How Twitter Has Helped My Writing (Culturefeast)

Know of other useful articles about how Twitter can help writers? Please do post the URLs below!

{ 7 trackbacks }

Twitter Update: My Latest Thoughts « Becky Levine
06.25.09 at 10:06 am
Writers’ Roundup « Aspiring Author
06.26.09 at 4:21 am
Debbie’s Blatherings | Ed, Michael and Farrah R.I.P.
06.26.09 at 5:28 am
Great Virtual Resource for Writers: Twitter Chats — WRITERS IN THE (virtual) SKY
08.25.09 at 4:19 pm
James Preller’s Blog » Blog Archive » James Preller Interviews . . . Lewis Buzbee: Part Two!
10.07.09 at 12:51 pm
links for 2010-04-01 « Green Tea Ice Cream
04.01.10 at 6:02 am
Social Networking For Authors: Tips For Using Twitter Effectively | The Creative Penn
04.05.10 at 11:19 pm

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen 06.25.09 at 7:50 am

Thanks for mentioning my article about Twitter for writers, Debbie!

What I love about Twitter: it helps me write concisely…..before my stint with Twitter, I may have written that sentence as: “Twitter is helping me be a better writer by showing me how to write more concisely.”

See the difference? Both sentences mean the same thing, but the second is 3 times as long. Writers are encouraged to use one word instead of two, Twitter hones that skill!


Alexis Grant 06.25.09 at 8:36 am

Thanks for linking to me here! I’m going to include YOUR helpful post in my Writers’ Round-Up tomorrow:http://alexisgrant.wordpress.com.


Christina 06.25.09 at 8:21 pm

This is such a great post Debbie. I really liked how you broke down the reasons and each one is important. I think I need to twitter more now!

Reesha 06.26.09 at 7:04 am

How cool is this! Thanks Debbie!
I think, though, my favorite part about your post is when you said “I could go on, but I have to get back to writing now.”
That kind of sums up my thoughts right there. Twitter is great. Writers should do it. And they should get back to writing after poking around with it.
Balance between writing, reading, blogging, and internet surfing is essential.
Anyways, I’m going to go tweet and then write. Thanks for the great post! As always, your resources are a joy to find.

Kate Fall 06.27.09 at 9:22 am

Wow, Debbie, great resource. I’m on Twitter at @katefall. I tried “tweeting” the Rochester Book Festival and learned just how hard it is to be concise and interesting simultaneously. I picked up some great authors to follow by searching Twitter for the festival afterwards.

Karen @ Snarkington Post 07.02.09 at 6:56 am

I actually visited Twitter for the first time yesterday, got overwhelmed, and clicked away in a panic. Maybe it’s time to put on my big girl panties and take the plunge. It’s just such a difficult balance…how much time do you spend blogging, tweeting, networking and how much time do you spend writing?

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen 07.03.09 at 7:34 am

Writing seems to be the least of what I do. I jump in and out of the Tweet stream regularly, and spend alot of time researching for my articles. I’m trying to increase my blogging earnings to be my main source of income — but it takes alot of time and dedication! (I’m a full-time freelance writer right now).

I think Twitter is less daunting if you find the right application (I use TweetDeck), and if you remember that you don’t have to respond to every Tweet — or even read every Tweet! It’s not possible.

Did you find your big girl panties? :-)

C. Lee McKenzie 07.06.09 at 8:33 am

To fit everything in (which now includes Twitter) I’m getting up before the first twitter of birds outside my window. If I don’t I can’t get in all of the tweets, the blogs, the emails and STILL write.

Appreciated the comments here and have linked to the 10 Ways on my blog. http://tinyurl.com/ma2j45

I don’t have personal experience with anything that you’ve not already mentioned, but a friend and her editor did a very creative interview using Twitter. I’m thinking about copying that later when I have time.

Laura 07.06.09 at 9:33 pm

I’ve been impatient with Twitter as I kept getting junk followers. I’ve been more aggressive deleting followers who post too many promotional posts versus friendly chatter or information I really do want. I’ve seen interesting things starting on Twitter as people find where it fits in for them. There are people who don’t have any other site listed in their profile, just their Twitter account.

My Twitter is @thatgrrl

None 07.10.09 at 3:16 am

blahblahblah any of them had really to do with writing but publishing, promoting, listening to others. motivating… Is that writing? That’s to be a writer (or his/her agent)

But writing is still a lonely work.

This does Not convice me.
I prefer your blog.

C. Lee McKenzie 08.20.09 at 4:32 pm

For the comment from None: Twitter and blogs are different critters. One is a stop by and say hi and the other is “this is me,” “this is what’s new or of interest.” It’s a way to establish yourself as someone worth knowing or someone with similar/interesting things to contribute to others. Maybe you just prefer the latter.

Catherine Franz 08.26.09 at 8:42 am

Thank you for this great information. I passed this post (link) to my blog readers.

Terri Nixon 09.21.09 at 3:26 am

Great post – I’ve been on Twitter since April 08 – as @TerriNixon – and met loads of great writers, building up a nice network of support.
I also began following other people from my city, and in particular @inplymouth, http://www.inplymouth.com) who picked up one of my more “writerly” tweets and asked if they could do a feature on me and my work for the Plymouth online presence.
If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t have had that local exposure, so there are indeed many plus points for getting involved.

Mr Uku 09.21.09 at 4:33 am

Some great reasons to join Twitter, Debbie.

Since I joined, I’ve found I think more about my writing. It’s become more precise, but still – I hope – full of my personality :-)

And can I also just plug the #fridayflash meme for those who love flash fiction. I think it’s a great example of how writers can support each other through Twitter.

Leah 09.27.09 at 8:06 pm

Here’s a whole bunch more ways writers can use Twitter:

D.M. Solis 10.01.09 at 8:17 pm

Thanks. This is fantastic. Would L-O-V-E…love to see one on the marriage of Twitter, Facebook, and a writer’s blog. Thank you again and thanks for all you do. Peace and all good things for you in writing and in life.

Newish Blogger
New Facebook User
Began Using Twitter a few months ago.

Julie a.k.a @Writers_Cafe 12.20.09 at 3:22 pm

As the host of @Writers_Cafe, with over 3300 writer-type followers, including aspiring writers, I’m here to tell you that the community of writers and related folks is amazing. Where else can you: help a writer determine how to best electrocute a character in a dunking booth, joke about providing a ‘stud service’ for breeding dust bunnies, find retweeted articles about all aspects of the industry (and more), ask questions of agents (without having an agent), talk about saving room in your refrigerator by cooking your Thanksgiving turkey all night long on low heat, participate in discussion groups, meet some pretty amazing people and discuss WIP rewrite & editing issues?

I carefully screen the ‘follow’ requests – people I follow must be in the publishing industry. I have ‘Lists’ of agents, editors, publishers, and more. I also have over 1500 writers in 4 separate lists (no rhyme or reason to which writer is in which of the lists). I maintain a rather eclectic ‘Literary Related’ list that contains stores, clubs, groups, services & other ‘related’ people.

To be part of @Writers_Cafe, I look at bios AND tweets. A mention of being a ‘writer’ in the bio isn’t enough. I need to see writing-related activity in the first page or two of tweets. There are very few exceptions.

I’m vigilant about spam, people pitching non-related goods & services (especially the ‘get more followers’ thing), and foul language. Any of the above gets an immediate unfollow.

All publishing-related folks are welcome. I do not as yet have a blog/website, but it is in the works.

poppy 01.06.10 at 8:02 pm

This is so useful. Thanks a million. I found the list of agents and publishers etc on Twitter and have now added some more follows to my meagre list. I realised, as a writer, I’m not marketing myself well enough.

Brigitte 02.02.10 at 6:28 am

Thanks, have shared with a number of writer friends, and sent on to our writers’ group in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sanjay Nair 04.06.10 at 7:49 pm

Once again, great work! What it tells me is that I havent really tried to make the most out of Twitter. Maybe I must seriously think of giving it a shot again.

Fleur McDonald 04.07.10 at 12:31 am

This was fantastic, for me – still trying to conquer Twitter! @fleurmcdonald

Mark 05.11.10 at 4:48 pm

Spending time around my kids has a proportionally detrimental effect on my ability to use/understand technology…thanks for this useful list on Twitter :-)

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