How Twitter made me a better writer

catniss2On any given afternoon, when not in class or working on school-related things, you will typically find me at home with a cat or two and several social media tabs open on my laptop: Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter. It’s the last one, however, that’s been most beneficial to me as both a reader and a writer. But mostly as a writer.

When it first became “a thing,” I convinced myself I’d never have anything to do with Twitter unless I became a Really Big Deal, and there was a captive audience who actually cared what I was doing every moment of my every day (highly unlikely and just a tad creepy). It seemed no different than the Facebook status, but with fewer characters allowed. At the time Twitter started gaining popularity, I was working on my first book, and had no idea there were more strategic ways that Twitter could be used.

As a product of the late eighties, the ‘#’ symbol is still called “pound” in my mind, not “hashtag,” but I’ve gotten used to it. #AmWriting, #WriteTip, #AmReading, and #MondayBlogs (only on Mondays, of course) are some of my most-used hashtags. Using them is not only the most effective way to spread the word about my own work, request feedback, and find related articles; it’s also how I formed a network of other supportive writers.

You get what you give in the world of social media. Following the 20/80 percent rule – twenty percent of my tweets (approximately) are my own content, but eighty percent is others’ content – has turned that small network of writers into a community of friends.

People are not only more likely to ‘favorite’ your content when you ‘favorite’ theirs, but the real gold mine is in the personal responses and retweets…especially when they come from some of my favorite authors and bloggers.

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The wisdom of more experienced writers is invaluable. I’ve gotten feedback from agents I follow with the possibility of querying one day that I’m on the right track with building my platform. Twitter, it turns out, has been the most effective way to reach out to influential people and “meet” new writers on the rise that I might not have otherwise heard of. It’s somewhat of a surreal experience to chat with someone on Twitter for several months, and then find their book on the New Fiction shelf at Barnes and Noble.

While it certainly isn’t foolproof, the “method” of using Twitter has worked best for me in this way:

  • Tweet about my work sparingly, but mostly share kitten pictures (the internet LOVES kitten pictures!)
  • Twitter user sees pic, “favorites” it, or retweets it if it’s especially cute (I don’t blame them, since my fur kids are adorable)
  • Twitter user likes content enough to click the “follow” button on my profile
  • Twitter user notices my biography and sees that we not only share interests, but that I write books (if you have books available, link that up! Make them as easy to find as possible)
  • After talking for a while, and mutually sharing each other’s content, Twitter user likes me enough to decide their money is worth spending on something I wrote
  • With any luck, Twitter user tweets an opinion or review about my book, and the cycle repeats with someone else.

Time consuming, yes, but luckily I enjoy this enough that I’d do it even if I was guaranteed to never sell anything. I’m a big introvert, so this form of socialization is actually preferred.

This should be obvious in any kind of business, but relationships always matter more than the product. To quote author and marketing expert Rachel Thompson, “In publishing, we brand the author, not the book.”

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Like this post? Check out Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic, now available on Amazon.

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