Are you an author new to Twitter? Here are some tips to grow you a following and get you involved in the awesome Twitter writing community!
Table of Contents
Making a Twitter Profile
Your profile – the combination of your name, Twitter handle (with the @ sign), profile picture, background, blurb, and pinned Tweet (if any) – is the first thing people will judge you by. Here are some tips to setting these up right, many of them garnered from professional sources like agents and editors:
- Use your real name as your profile name. Use whatever name you plan to send queries under (pen names are trickier, but still ok). This makes it easier for people to find you and adds to your professionalism.
- Use something SHORT and EASY as your handle. Short handles make it easier for people to preserve space for extra letters when they add your handle to posts, and losing the underscores/numbers makes it much easier to remember. I chose @micascotti for mine – a combination of my first and middle names.
- Use your NAME in your handle. It doesn’t have to be your full name (see mine), but unless you’re an established author, it actually looks unprofessional to show @mica_rox_at_writing on your business cards.
- Use a picture of you for your profile image. Again, this helps people who’ve met you (like agents at conferences!) know they’ve found the right person. It also makes you look more professional and “real.”
- DON’T fill your blurb with hashtags. It clutters up the blurb, making you look childish, and it really doesn’t give you any personality. (For example, I’m a #fantasy #YA #writer seeking #publication! is a little hard on the eyes, don’t you think?)
- Make sure your background doesn’t show up pixelated. Come on – you can find a better image to use. Here’s a list of dimensions for different Twitter images. But be aware: sometimes a tiny bit of blurring can’t be helped (see my image). Twitter can’t support high-res images because it slows page loading time.
- Strategically use your pinned Tweet. (Pin a Tweet by clicking the triple-dot icon on any Tweet and selecting the option.) It’s the first Tweet people see when they come to your profile. Make it good, even if it’s just an advertisement for your book.
Twitter Hashtags and Searches
Note: The “Live” button is now the “Latest” button.
Hashtags are words with # placed before them (e.g. #amwriting). You can search for them to get into a feed, which is a list of posts that use the hashtag. It’s a way to find groups of like-minded people talking about writerly things. Here are some hashtagging tips:
- Consider using the “Latest” (previously “Live”) button at the top of your searches to view the most recent tweets in order. Otherwise, you will only see the most popular ones, according to some mystery algorithm. You’ll be surprised how often this tool is helpful.
- Don’t over-tag your posts, bio/blurb, or pinned Tweet. Yes, you’ll get your post more visibility, in more feeds – but people tend to skim over things filled with hashtags. Limit yourself to two or three. Besides, you’ll find that a lot of tags you can use mid-sentence (such as #writer) are spam-filled or unfrequented feeds.
- GET INVOLVED. There are a lot of events, conversations, and communities centering around certain hashtags. Getting involved is the best way to gain followers and a web presence, and to get better!
And here are some good hashtags to use and search:
You can also get involved by visiting:
- Daily Twitter Writing Events: Games and Chats Hosted Daily
- Free Online Writing Events: Calendar of All Periodic Events
- Monthly Free Writing Contests: With Prizes!
Many of these events have awesome communities surrounding them on Twitter, too 🙂
Use these Twitter posting tips to make the most of your feed and get the most follows!
- Don’t spam. People follow you depending on what you post. If the only things you post are advertisements for your book or website, people will be bored and possibly offended by your feed, and thus will be less likely to Follow you.
- Re-Tweet and Reply! Don’t let your personal feed be only your stuff. Look around your Home feed or a hashtag feed and Re-Tweet or Reply to things. Start a conversation!
- When Replying, note the placement of the person’s handle. Normally, the handle goes first, rendering your post relatively invisible on your feed. But if you move it to the end of the post, you make the post easily accessible to anyone. If you do this, it’s good to tailor the Tweet to be more general.
- Don’t over-hashtag your posts. I’m repeating myself, but seriously – one or two hashtags is enough.
- Use images. Images naturally catch the eye, so you’ll get more visibility if you use them. 1024 x 512 pixels are the perfect dimensions for Twitter post images as of this posting, if you want to make some yourself – but anything rectangular works okay. Tip: Quote images add flair, are easy to find, and you can find one to relate to almost any post using Google image search.
- Variegate your line structure. Use the Enter button on your posts to your advantage. A change in the usual post line structure is more likely to catch the eye.
- Use humor. Humor is the best way to get Re-Tweeted, Liked, and Followed, especially during daily Twitter games and chats. If all you can think to post is how great your coffee tastes right now, make it interesting by adding a joke on caffeine!
- Don’t always use all 140 characters. You don’t need to! And shorter messages can be easier to read and Re-Tweet.
- Remember the purpose of Likes and Re-Tweets: to get you more visibility. Likes move you higher up in feeds, and Re-Tweets spread your Tweets to more people. But there are other ways to get visibility, so don’t stress these things – they’re small stuff. You don’t get any sort of recognition for them.
Using Twitter Apps
There are quite a few Twitter apps you can use to enhance your social media experience. Here are a few I’d recommend from regular use:
TweetDeck (free) or HootSuite (not free). These can help you schedule your posts ahead of time. This is perfect for some Twitter writing events or for the occasional shout-out to your books or blog posts. Just double-check before you send – the dates and times have a habit of coming out wrong. And please, don’t ever spam!
Link-shortening sites like Bit.ly. These can help you shorten long links and tidy up your posts. If you make an account with Bit.ly (it’s free), you can even rename your links, keep them on file, and keep track of how often they are clicked!
Follow/unfollow trackers like Crowdfire. There’s a free version of this too, and it’s so useful if you are concerned with getting more followers. However, DO give people time – like a full week – to follow you back before you unfollow them (since they might also use Crowdfire, but only once or twice a week). Just remember: DON’T ever post about how many follows/unfollows you’ve gotten. Crowdfire makes it easy for you post things like this, but no one – I repeat, no one – is impressed by these useless things. It makes you look bad. Don’t do it.
The best way to make the most of Twitter is to get involved. You can do that with the following:
Participate in Writing Events.
Daily Events. These are free events that happen daily, either for each day of the week or each day of the month. The link leads you to my personal list (if you discover any I missed, let me know), and it includes events that encourage you to share your work, do creative exercises, or participate in scheduled discussions.
Periodic Events. These are much larger free events, usually annual or biannual. The link is to my personal list (best on Chrome), and it include pitch parties (where you pitch your completed work to agents in a feed), contests, workshops, and critique partner meet-ups. Many of these large events have lively Twitter conversations going on a related hashtag. These are often great places to meet people and learn a lot of DOs and DON’Ts of the industry. If you discover any Events I missed, let me know!
Participate in Chats.
Wattpad is a thriving writer community with a lively Twitter presence that includes weekly discussions like #Wattpad4 (Mondays 8-9pm EST, see above image). However, beware: some contests and publishers consider anything uploaded to Wattpad (or your own blog, for that matter) to be “previously published.” This means anything you share online may not be eligible for certain types of publication.
When you’re scouring other people’s posts and bio-blurbs, keep an eye out for mentions of your own genre/category or just anything you find intriguing. It never hurts to shoot people messages, and who knows – you could end up with a lifelong friend or critique partner if you keep your eyes open and stay curious!
Stay Personal, but Still Re-Tweet.
Somewhere I heard that only 20% of your posts should come from you – the rest should have outside content. I think that’s a bit extreme, but all the same – support your fellows by Re-Tweeting. And when you’re posting your own stuff, make it personal and relatable. Don’t be a machine, be a person. They’re much more interesting.