Today I’m hosting Writer extraordinaire – Stacy McAnulty. Stacy is giving us some great information on TWITTER. Have you tweeted anything lately or are you a stalker. ;0) I love the hashtag hints that she shares. I, myself, need to put these to use more often.
Thanks so much Stacy for sending this in.
Please post questions and comments. We always love to know what you all think.
Twitter Stalking: The Dos and Don’ts
By Guest Blogger @stacymcanulty
My mother joined Facebook about 2 years ago and she has yet to post a single word. I call her a Facebook Stalker. She loves to see what’s going on with friends and grandkids. She gets on a few times a day, but she doesn’t feel the need to ever update her status.
Now as writers, we often hear that we need to build an online presence. We aren’t supposed to be like my mom. We’re told the world wants to know what we are eating, thinking, and reading (and maybe even writing). But I’ve met plenty of writers that aren’t comfortable sharing this much of themselves. And I’ve met plenty of writers that just aren’t that interesting (yours truly included). But I believe social media can still be part of a “quiet” writer’s life. You can be on Twitter without being ON Twitter.
I actually consider Facebook my personal social media account and Twitter is my professional social media account. In Twitter, I follow agents, editors, authors, and organizations devoted to writing. I’ve learned about contests, conferences, and classes. I’ve also discovered agents’ and editors’ wish lists. I’ve seen an agent ask for a Middle Grade novel featuring a protagonist in a wheelchair. This is a very specific example. Usually you’ll see something more general like a call for YA featuring male friends or New Adult that takes place in the Midwest.
How to get started on Twitter. An account is free. You can search for people to follow within Twitter and most authors, agents, and editors advertise their Twitter handles on their websites. (My Twitter handle is @stacymcanulty) Once you started following literary folk Twitter will make assumptions about your preferences and suggest more literary people. Unlike Facebook, a Twitter user does not need to “allow” you to follow them.
There is a downside to stalking @mydreameditor (I made this up, fill in your dream editor’s or agent’s name.) Hearing about @mydreameditor’s pet goldfish or love of petunias adds a familiarity that is not appropriate in query letters. A query letter should be treated like a resume’s cover letter. Being someone’s Twitter follower does not make you buddies.
Do follow agents and editors that you admire and hope to work with some day.
Do follow authors that you enjoy.
Do follow Heinz Doofenshmirtz because he’s funny.
Do keep an eye out for hash tags of subjects that interest you. (You can search for these or they may come up in your trends on the left side of the screen.) I like these: #iamwriting #pubtips #queries #askagent #mglitchat
Do remember that anyone can see your tweets. Your ex, your boss, your agent, your critique partners, your children, your book-buying audience.
Do read the books your @mydreameditor is raving about. Use this information to see if you are a good fit (and if he/she is a good fit for you).
Do reach out to other writers—established an emerging—and tell them that you love their work. Or congratulate them on their success. Or tell them that you can’t wait to read their next novel.
Do use Twitter to virtually travel. You can follow happenings at Book Expo or ALA or Comic Con without even booking a flight. You can see what’s hot even before the bloggers fingers hit the keyboard.
Don’t harass a potential agent or editor on Twitter. Don’t even pitch to an agent or editor on Twitter unless it’s a contest (for example #pitchmadness).
Don’t promote your books or blog or website endlessly. This is just in bad taste.
Don’t use personal information learned on Twitter in a query. I actually heard an agent say that an author mentioned the agent’s love of bubble baths in a query. That’s creepy!
Don’t post anything you don’t want the world to know.
Don’t use Twitter as your only research tool. When information is fast and furious, it can easily be wrong. An editor may post the wrong e-mail for a contest (so double check a website or blog) or an organization may screw up results. Also, on occasion Twitter accounts do get hacked.
Twitter is making the publishing world smaller—and hopefully more accessible to us all. Use this up-to-the-second knowledge as a tool. Be sure to stalk wisely and keep it professional.