February 26, 2011

Twitter for Writers

A while back I followed the advice I’m sure you’ve all heard and signed up for Twitter. I was told it was a way to help to get my name out there, to build a following and connect to readers. I was told it was fun. Hmmm…

Before I continue I have to confess that I fought signing up tooth and nail. “Why?” I kept asking. No one cares about what a lowly romance author in Michigan has to say. (And if I’m being honest, there’s still a part of me that feels this way.) ::sigh::

But I signed on. Then I spent months watching other people tweet and did nothing. I was lost. I was overwhelmed. Hell, I still am. But I jumped in with both feet. I caught on a little, then a little more. Why does this stuff not come with a ‘For Dummies’ manual? Seriously.

Here are a few things I’ve learned, and am still trying to master:

Twitter isn’t just for connecting with readers. It’s also a great way to connect with other writers, agents and editors. You can connect with people who write a similar genre, keep your eye on publishing tips, and even get yourself noticed by others. How?

One word: Hashtags

Hashtags are a way of categorizing your tweets by using certain words prefixed with the pound (#) sign. Some of these hashtags are as easy to understand as #WIP (a tweet about the authors work in progress), while others may leave you stumped as to their meaning. Also, new hashtags are invented daily, so there’s really no way to keep up with all of them. However, hashtags are ‘clickable’ and doing so will bring up a list of all of the tweets that contain that hashtag, meaning you can usually discover it’s meaning fairly easily.

For now, I’ll share with you the ones I’ve noticed that may be important to you as writers. Yes, the ones I’m still trying to remember to use.

#amediting or #amrevising (posts from people who are editing/revising)
#amwriting (posts from people who are or about what people are writing)
#askagent (agent questions and answers.  Usually at a scheduled time)
#askeditor (editor questions and answers, again, usually at a scheduled time)
#ebooks (when you want to target ebook audience)
#pubtip (publication tips)
#storystarters (the first line of a new wip)
#vss (very short story)
#wip (work in progress)
#writegoal (how much people are writing or struggling with)
#writetip (writing advice)
#writingtips (writing advice)

That’s all I can remember for now. BTW, it is fun. Although I’m still not convinced anyone really gives a hoot about what I tweet. But hey, I’m a writer, I’m pretty darn good at talking to myself.  #amadork

Follow me at:  http://www.twitter.com/@SGrimmAuthor


Maeve Greyson said...

Great post, Sarah! I'm a mediocre tweeter, myself. I agree. Twitter can be over-whelming and if you're not careful: an enormous time-suck. But I've made some great friends from around the world on Twitter. So, I'm thinking of it as a definite win.

Mary Campisi said...

Sarah! Is this blog for me??!! Thank you for the extra push to jump into the 'tweet'! And thanks for the all the hashtag info.
Much appreciated!

Leah St. James said...

It is a great post, Sarah. Honestly though, I just don't get Twitter and have never even considered it. But you've given me something to think about!

Linda Banche said...

I'm with Leah. I'm on twitter, and it just seems like a waste of time for me. No one has time to sit there all day and tweet, although some people seem to do just that. *g*

Sarah Grimm said...

I know of a couple of authors who have tweetdeck open while writing, so they're notified when someone tweets. I question, wouldn't it constantly be 'beeping' at you? With how many people some authors follow, I think it would.

Personally, I treat a lot like email. When I have downtime, I log onto Twitter and glance through everyone's tweets. Some I respond to, most I don't. But I do follow the links at times and discover some interesting things.

And on scheduled #askeditor or #askagent times, there's a lot to learn. But like email, if you missed the chat, you search the hashtag and check out what the editors and agents had to say on your own schedule.

Sundays, I do a low of tweeting with the other #sixsunday authors. :)


Rolynn Anderson said...

Great information about Tweeting. I'd set up a site but hadn't learned how it works. Many thanks for your clear explanation. Will it sell books? that's the question. Rolynn

Sarah Grimm said...

@Rolynn Anderson Will it sell books? Honestly, I'm too new to know.

I do think it will help build name recognition, which I believe is important.


Sandra Crowley said...

Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I'm still trying to learn Twitter so the hashtags are helpful.

I've found that scheduling my blog posts to publish about 6:30am ET and automatically tweet then has resulted in more hits (stat option available on blogger) Also, I gets hits from around the world, depending on the subject.

BTW, I notice you have Twitter and FB sharing option at the end of your posts. Where did you get those?

Joanne Stewart said...

This is a great blog, Sarah. I have a FB and I have to admit I haven't gone the Twitter route yet because I can't figure out if I really need it. I have FB, Myspace, do I really need one? I just don't understand it, but I suppose I may have to actually check it out in order TO understand it. Thanks for a very informative post.

Sarah Grimm said...

@Sandra Crowley Sandra, the Twitter and Facebook sharing option is from http://sharethis.com/

Sarah Grimm said...

@Joanne Stewart I understand your reluctance, and honestly, only you can decide if you need to do it.

But I have to tell you, I cancelled my Myspace account after getting everything set up on Facebook. I get more traffic there. And Twitter - well, I've decided it's more fun than Facebook. Just my opinion. :)

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Sarah,
Great timely post. I recently began Tweeting and like you, I'm not sure I know what I'm doing -- or if it's of any interest to anyone but me. HA
But you can find me on Twitter
@erotic history

Alison Henderson said...

What a timely post, Sarah! As usual, you've hit on a topic I've been mulling over for some time. I haven't experimented with Twitter yet - heck, I'm brand new to Facebook - but I'm giving it more thought now. Thanks!

Sarah Grimm said...

Guess what? I just learned something new from using the #amwriting hashtag. From someone who I'm not following, and they're not following me - they just saw my post and replied. Awesome!

Then Terry O'Dell was kind enough to jump in with even more helpful information. Twitter is growing on me by leaps and bounds!


Chrystalla Thoma said...

Great post!

Joanna Aislinn said...

Hi Sarah,
Every time I read another Twitter post, I realize how un-alone I am in my limited knowledge of it or its real purpose to anyone. I enjoy the networking w/folks, especially on Facebook, but I too wonder what the point of all of it is sometimes. Friends are friends, though, and makes it worth it.

Thanks for taking the time to list the hashtags, especially being able to click on them for clarity. Think I'm finally getting it!!!

Joanna Aislinn said...

BTW, I'm off to Twitter to follow you and as many of you from this list I can remember, lol!