The first time I heard the word “Twitter,” I recoiled. What is a tweet? Who has time to tweet? Why would a serious writer ever participate in such nonsense? I had to jump in and find out.
Simply put, Twitter is a worldwide network at your fingertips. We writers are often quarantined, hunkering down in cluttered home offices, strumming away on our keyboards, not seeing another human, or a shower, for days. Twitter brings a support system right to your computer screen. Luckily, they can’t see your dirty hair.
With a few guidelines, you can develop a community of talented, helpful writers to nurture you and your craft.
Do’s and Don’ts:
1. Be creative in your bio. Don’t simply put “writer.” Show your layers. When choosing someone to follow, most people decide based on the bio. If it’s boring, they’ll assume you are too. Make it shine.
2. Interact with people, including the professionals. Pretend you’re at a cocktail party with conversations going on around you. Join in, but be real. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. They’ll sniff it out. I know a few writers who have acquired agents this way.
3. Pimp your fellow writer, meaning tell your followers about them. Read their blog. Comment. Tweet it out. If we won’t support each other, who will? I promise, acts of kindness come back tenfold.
4. Have a website or blog linked to your profile to show your voice beyond 140 characters. Blogs are easy and free.
5. Tweet helpful advice, articles, and websites. Be there for your fellow writer. Offer to read their work and provide feedback with encouragement. Let’s be honest: often our own families can’t supply that.
6. Follow agents, editors, and publishers, and attend their chats. They post valuable tips throughout the day. Seeing an agent’s personality allows us to find a better fit for our own. It’s easier to query an agent you’ve seen as a person, not just a gatekeeper. Priceless.
7. If you have something to promote, tweet it at different times of day to catch more people online. Some people have the luxury of watching their Twitter accounts from their day job, but others don’t.
8. Show your personality, not just your projects. People want to work with someone they like and followers become friends. One day, I blogged about my friend’s death, and Best Selling thriller author, J.T. Ellison, stumbled upon it. As a thank you, she mailed the first three novels in her series. We became fast friends. Since then, we’ve even met in person at a conference. You never know who is reading your tweets. Be brave and real.
9. View Twitter as a part-time job. Dedicate one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening to start your following. Be patient. It takes time to create a network. You get out what you put in.
10. Join Twitter writer chats. These chats are the quickest way to meet writers, talk craft and learn. Each chat occurs at a specific day and time. Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s site has a complete list: http://www.inkygirl.com/twitter-chats-for-writers/.
Once you’re comfortable, you can branch out into new territory. For example, one day while in a writers’ chat, some friends and I realized there was no Twitter chat for screenwriters. Within five minutes, Jamie Livingston, Zac Sanford, Kim Garland, Mina Zaher, and I (@jeannevb) created Scriptchat. Every Sunday, we meet online to discuss a specific topic with screenwriters all over the world. We laugh, we learn, and we drink tequila … all with no ego. What started as a simple idea by five friends has grown to 400 screenwriters talking craft and eagerly anticipating the next session. The possibilities on Twitter are endless.
The writer’s quarantine of solitude is lifted. Twitter is the new water cooler.
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Tweet: A tweet is similar to a text message. The character limitation has challenges, but it’s a lesson for writers in editing. Be effective in fewer words.
Conversations: To “talk” to someone, put an @ symbol in front of their username. The tweet will go automatically into their column of “mentions,” where they can easily respond.
RT: An “RT” denotes the tweet is “retweeted” from something already sent out. Always give credit to the original person.
Trending Topics and Hashtags: A # sign in front of a word or series of words denotes a searchable topic. When a topic becomes popular, it becomes a “trending topic.”
Twitter Chats: These are organized chats at specific times. A site to easily participate in chats is www.tweetchat.com.
FollowFriday: On Fridays, people recommend others to follow.
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman writes freelance articles and scripts, and is working on her first novel. Jeanne will choose the winners in the Teleplay category of the Write On! Online June Query Contest – Screenplays and Teleplays. Deadline is June 30, 2010.
On this Sunday’s Twitter Scriptchat, The Great American PitchFest organizers, Signe Olynyk and Bob Schultz, will be the special guests! The GAPF is an annual event where screenwriters meet with producers, agents, development executives, managers and other industry professionals to pitch their TV show and movie scripts. It’s like “speed dating” for writers. This year’s event is June 26th and 27th at the Marriott Burbank Hotel and Convention Center. Saturday consists of free screenwriting classes from StoryLink.com, and Sunday is the big pitching event. To participate in Sunday’s chat, please visit the Scriptchat site for instructions: www.scriptchat.com.
Tags: Bob Shultz Great America Pitch Fest Great American PitchFest Jamie Livingston Kim Garland Mina Zaher Moving Write Along Scriptchat Signe Olynyk Social Networking The Writers Store Twitter 101 Twitter for Writers Write On! Online Zac Sanford