Monday, September 5, 2016

Social Media in 140 Characters (Twitter, Tweetdeck & Co.)

By Laura Rueckert

On the Friends of SCBWI Germany & Austria Facebook Page, we were talking about different forms of social media. Several of us extolled the charms of Twitter, and I suggested we give anyone who isn't familiar with it an overview. Twitter is a wonderful way to engage with peers, follow people you admire, and find loads of information. I've met at least one critique partner on Twitter, too.

What is Twitter?
It's a type of social media that allows you to read and post short messages, no more than 140 characters. These messages are called tweets.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is public, meaning everyone can see what you post. You can
follow anyone you like. They do not have to follow you back in order to see their tweets.

Twitter is distracting, but it's also more than that!

What can you find on Twitter?

People write about everyone and everything, but for the purpose of this article, I'll focus on writing-related topics.

The Main FeedThis is where you find tweets from people you follow.

NotificationsWhen people write to or about you, they'll appear here.

Twitter chats—Topics are announced and moderated. Usually, there are a few scheduled
participants, but anyone can add their own questions and comments. Some topics I've recently seen were Religion and Faith in Kidlit discussions and 2016 debut author interviews.

Pitch Contests—Write a 140 character teaser for your manuscript to entice agents or editors to request it. These events are announced ahead of time to allow you to prepare. Some examples are #pitmad#dvpit#sffpit.

Share a line of your WIP—There are several hashtags like this. One I find fun is #1linewed. A
topic is announced, and you find a line in your WIP that relates to the topic. Examples of past topics have been "work" and "fire."

Direct Messages (DM)A DM is a hidden place to have a private conversation. Only you and the people in that conversation can see the tweets, which are allowed to be longer than 140 characters.

What tools make Twitter easier?

Hashtags—Hashtags are basically just a way to group information. For example, people who tweet
helpful information regarding querying often use the hashtag #querytip. You can
search via the hashtag to find a large pool of suggestions on querying.

Lists—Twitter moves fast. It's easy to become overwhelmed or feel like you are missing a lot.
You can group people you follow based on any criteria you like. I have lists for Writers, Resources, Agents, Publishers, Bloggers/Reviewers, and one I call "Look". If I don't have much time, "Look" is the only one I check, and it includes my closer friends, my CPs and my agent.

What if I want more functionality?

If you need more help in organizing Twitter, you can use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. They use all of the data from Twitter, but have two advantages:
  • You can schedule tweets. Let say you want to promote something and won't be awake
    or around to do it. Or maybe you need to enter a contest that only accepts
    entrants at a certain time. You can schedule a tweet to be sent automatically
    at a time you specify.
  • A column is shown for each list you've created. You can see at a glance what's
    going on in each area you follow.


I've tried both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. Once upon a time, Hootsuite's schedule
function wasn't working and I switched to Tweetdeck, which I love. To be fair,
Hootsuite is probably fine now too. I think it's just a matter of personal

Where do I start?

When you create your account, you'll be asked to select a few people to follow. For example, you could follow your favorite authors (and actors, bands, etc). In terms of writing though, these would be my recommendations. I'd love to see everyone else's recs in the comments!

Writers and/or Editors—writing tips, querying tips, book recommendations

Contests—some contests are actually on Twitter, and some are only announced there but take
place on blogs. Possible prizes could be a critique or that an agent requests pages.

Resources—agent and author interviews, giveaways, writing tips


Agents—If you're planning on querying an agent, following them on twitter can give you insights
into what they're looking for and what kind of personality they have. These agents also tend to share helpful writing and querying tips:

  • #mswl is "Manuscript wishlist." Agents and editors share what they're
    looking for, and you can mention it when you query/submit. Please do not pitch
    your work using this hashtag.
  • #askagent  Some agents announce when they'll have time for you to ask them questions
    about publishing, querying, even what they are personally interested in
  • #querylunch  Many agents tweet about their submissions (anonymously). I like this one
    because Agent Amy Boggs uses 2-3 tweets per query and really explains what she
    found interesting or problematic.
  • #querywin
    is new and sounds promising. Instead of focusing on what didn't work in
    queries, agents will tweet what made them request pages.
  • #writetip  Just like it sounds, tips on writing.

One caveat! Since people can say anything they want, do your research before following suggestions or making decisions. Not everyone who gives advice, not everyone who calls themselves a publisher/agent/editor is necessarily experienced or trustworthy.

I hope this was enough to get you started. Hope to see you on Twitter, and feel free to add any questions you might have in the comments!

About Laura:

Laura grew up in Michigan but dove into a whirlwind romance just after college, which meant moving to southern Germany without a job, but with a lot of love. She and her husband married a blink of an eye later, and they've now lived there happily for more years than seem possible. By day, Laura manages process and system projects, and she's a mother of two. Nights and stolen daytime hours are devoted to living in her head: writing YA science fiction and fantasy novels. Laura is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, and her work is represented by Zoe Sandler of ICM Partners.



No comments:

Post a Comment