Everyone’s telling writers to build their platforms. Reach out to your readers. Market yourself. The go to solution for most authors is Twitter. Yet if you’ve never used it, the whole experience can seem overwhelming. I started in earnest last April. Through hard work and plenty of tweeting, I went from 8 followers to 215 followers in just a month. It can be done without ruffling feathers or becoming a spammer.
This is the easiest part. Click over to twitter.com and sign up. Choose a username. Some folk will pick a fancy handle that they think is clever. I hew to something that sounds more like you as writer. With new Twitter, the concept I moot. Twitter displays your real name first and then your twitter username.
Your username will have the @ symbol in front of it. This is important as it’s the only way to directly contact other tweeps. Without a username, you’d be shouting everything out for all to hear.
Tweets and Hashtags
These are the life blood of the twitter universe. Tweeting is a simple 140 post about anything. As a writer, your tweets will most likely be how many words you’ve typed today.
A tweet will go out into the universe, but typically no one will see it. How can this be? Because you didn’t tell anyone you were writing it. Wait, you say, if the whole universe can see it, then how come I don’t get a response? Mostly because people can’t find your tweet. There are 300 million users. Who’s going to find you?
If you have a followers, then they can see your tweets on their stream. But as a newbie, you’re unlikely to have any followers. Therefore, you need hashtags. Hashtags use the # symbol to make a word searchable. For example, #write clues readers in that your tweet will be about writing.
Common hashtags for writers:
#IAHB (Indie Author Hand Book: Tips for independent authors)
More writer hashtags
You can combine multiple hashtags in one tweet. For example, say you’re writing and just passed the 10,000 word mark. Your tweet might read:
Just passed 10K on WIP. So excited. #amwriting #wordcount
Be sure to avoid putting a period on the end of the hashtag as this will change it.
Retweets and Abbreviations
One way to build readership and get more people to read your tweets is through retweeting. A retweet takes another person’s awesome tweet and sends it back out to the twitterverse. Basically, you’re saying that someone’s tweet was so awesome, everyone should read it.
The trouble is, you only ave 140 characters to tweet. If people want to retweet you, they may not be able to. If you use ALL of your 140 characters in your tweet, there’s no room for a retweet. A retweet adds RT @username to your original tweet. For example:
Just attended writing conference in San Diego. Speed dated with agents. I met with four agents, 10 minutes at a time. They asked for my MS.
A retweet would look like this:
RT @username Just attended writing conference in San Diego. Speed dated with agents. I met with four agents, 10 minutes at a time. They asked for my MS.
Now it’s 152 characters, and that’s too many.
Ideally, you should make your tweets about 120 or 125 characters. This allows for multiple retweets.
You can also save space using abbreviations:
WIP (work in progress)
POV (point of view)
YA (young adult)
MG (middle grade)
DM (direct message)
TY (thank you)
SO (shout out)
Mentions and Direct Mentions
Mentions are your way to have a semi-private conversation. Mentions are also a way to build followers and readership. When you mention someone, you send a message just to that person. However, people who follow both people will be able see this message and possibly jump in. For example:
@username What did you think of Apple’s new release?
If you move the @username anywhere by at the start, then everyone can see this tweet. That way, you could respond to a person, but make your response public. I reserve this for responses that are witty or interesting.
Apple’s crushing Amazon with it’s new publishing program. @username
If you want to send someone a message that’s completely private, you use a direct message or DM. Only the recipient can read this and respond.
On the next post, we’ll go over how to be polite and tweet effectively. If you’re rude, you’ll lose followers or possibly be banned from Twitter.