Twitter Guidelines: How to be a Proper Writer on Twitter

November 12, 2013 | By | 46 Replies More

There are a lot of writers on Twitter. Twitter lends itself perfectly to procrastination and insecurity, both of which are standard writer traits. The key is to make sure that you stand out in some way and, as an observer of writers on twitter for some years, Tracy Kuhn has compiled some simple guidelines to help you on your way.

The Basics

  • 12322796_10154229205330934_4530497123530850560_oThe main thing you need to know is that as a writer, your tweets should be 80% pushing your book, 15% re-tweeting your good reviews, 3% complaining in a passive-aggressive way about your bad reviews, 1% begrudgingly congratulating fellow authors on their good reviews, and 1% interacting with your fans, I mean followers.
  • Tweet your latest word count as often as possible. To your followers, there is nothing more interesting. Often, they have a special wall chart on which they chart your progress. And for fellow writers who might be struggling to find the next 100 words, nothing perks them up more than seeing that somebody else has managed to churn out 40,000 words in the time it’s taken them to arrange their pens in order according to the colours of the rainbow.

As an added note to this, you get extra ‘writer’ points if you tell people that you managed to write these 40,000 words before 6am. Getting up at the crack of dawn makes you look like a proper artist.

  •  If anybody so much as mentions you in a tweet, retweet it straight away to your followers, it reminds them how popular and loved you are. Been #ff’d? Retweet it. Good review? Do it.
  • Try to name drop as much as possible. Casually drop as many famous author names into conversation as possible, people love that. Remember to put a full stop in front of any conversations that include a vaguely famous person, especially if you’re going to something like a Very Important Book Fair, then everyone will know how much you are in with the in-crowd.
  • When someone new follows you, DM them straight away with a link to your Amazon page or blog. They’ll thank you for it, you’re saving them time, what’s not to like? This is how fortunes are made!

How to Deal  With Agents on Twitter

  • Find all the agents that have ever shown their face on Twitter, ever, and follow them. Interrupt their conversations with witty comments to show them how funny and clever you are. Then harrass them. Exactly two days after you have sent them your manuscript, ask them if they’ve received it yet. They love this. Agents are notoriously lazy and are often to be found just sitting around drinking tea with their feet up, so they appreciate the reminder.
  • If you still haven’t heard anything after a week, tweet them again to ask them why. Following them on Twitter is more or less the equivalent of being their best friend, so you can bypass all the usual avenues and get right in there. If you receive a standard rejection letter this is clearly a mistake, you have slipped through the net.

A gentle reminder that a personal letter would have been better, preferably one with balloons attached, will soon remedy this. Many an author has been offered a three book deal on the back of a cheeky tweet questioning an agent’s decision.

Also, remember that most of them have only rejected you for one of two reasons. Either they were in such awe of your masterpiece they were rendered incapable of forming a sentence, never mind being able to represent you; or they have also written a book and want to keep the market clear for themselves, so have rejected you out of spite.

In this circumstance it is customary to slag them off on Twitter and shame them into accepting you. Maybe send them the review on your blog that your mum wrote under an assumed name, the one where she says your book is ‘really good’. There’s no way they will be able to deny your genius any longer.

Best Practice on Twitter

  • Point out typos in other writers’ tweets. They find that really helpful, especially if you retweet their mistake to all of your followers. It makes people think that you’re really clever.
  •  Try and have some kind of emotional outburst on Twitter every so often. Ideally, fabricate some kind of slight against your character and tell everyone that someone is being mean to you. You don’t need to actually name them, remember, most people don’t actually check the facts, they’re usually happy to jump to your defence anyway, especially if you have a lot of followers.

Remind people how sensitive and misunderstood you are. Then, announce your departure, always with the implication that you are better than this, that helps. Do not, I repeat, do NOT actually leave Twitter, that would be silly. Just watch from afar as everyone begs you to reconsider and stay. You’re onto a winner with this one as everyone will guilt-buy at least five copies of your book.

  • Don’t forget to add the hashtag #amwriting at the end of every third tweet. This hashtag can, on occasion, be used to make contact with other writers and can be a kind of support group, but who wants to talk to other writers? They’d only pinch your ideas. So even though you are clearly not writing, you are tweeting, while drinking coffee, to the average follower it’s the same thing. It’s worth noting that tweets count towards your daily word count.
  •  Don’t waste time tweeting with ‘normal’ people unless they can further your career in some way, although if you think you can get a good review out of them, tweet away. You should, as a rule, only follow other writers, you should definitely not follow more than half the number of people who follow you, you wont look like a proper writer then. It is other writers who will be buying your book, not those other annoying people who keep tweeting you, ignore them.

Tracy Kuhn is a freelance linguist and writer who lives in York, England, with her husband and two daughters. She has had several short stories published in a variety of magazines, and has a flash fiction story in an anthology: ‘100 RPM – One Hundred Stories Inspired By Music’. She has always written in a variety of genres and is currently working on a YA novel.  You can follow Tracy on twitter @Tracy_Kuhn or visit her blog volvodiaries.


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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, How To and Tips

Comments (46)

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  1. denise says:

    made me smile

  2. Love this! At first i was like hmm that tweet strategy sounds a bit off, then i clicked lol 😃

  3. Gee says:

    Loved loved your article Tracy and laughed my guts out ! Recently unfollowed someone on twitter owing to all the traits of a successful author on twitter and couldn’t have felt more relieved….

    Look forward to read more of you…Cheers….Gee.

  4. LOVED this!! Now, will you please write an article on how to really do Twitter for the twits among us… one of which is typing this. xox

  5. L. N. Holmes says:

    This is wonderful.

  6. amandacurtin says:

    Oh gosh, thanks so much for the laugh 🙂

  7. Brilliant article, Tracy! I’m new to Twitter, so your title pulled me in. Now I know what not to do, although I’ve seen enough evidence of that on Facebook. I wish more writers would publish excerpts. Even really short ones. I think it would draw so many more interested readers. Thanks for a fun read!

  8. Rebecca Holmes - 'Quiet Writer' says:

    I must admit this had me going for a few seconds – it’s surprising how many people push the drive-everyone-mad-on-social-media agenda – then I twigged. Naturally, I shall faithfully be applying every word! 😉

  9. Awesome. Great reminder of some horrific habits (and some slightly annoying ones). Funny stuff. #amreading

  10. Mmm, and I expect you could have given lots of name dropping examples for all of your tips!!!! Thanks for a breakfast read. Now to that other writing.

  11. Kristi Lloyd says:

    At first I thought “That’s not what I’ve heard.” Then I read more and realized it was a classic example of what not to do. Excellent!

  12. Funny, true, and worth remembering!

  13. Very clever. Thanks for the good laugh. Oh, but you forgot auto-posting the same inspirational quotes on a rotation every couple days! That really helps me feel like I have made a connection with a deep soul.

    • C.B. Pratt says:

      Ach! I hate that. I had some guy who was tweeting nothing but ‘inspirational quotes’ about every 20 seconds, day and night. Dropped him fast…yet he had like 11K followers.

  14. randy kraft says:

    Many a truth is said in jest. Great fun thanks.

  15. Frankie Valente says:

    For a few seconds I thought this was serious. I thought, “what a nutter” and then I realised it was a joke. Hilarious!

  16. Great post – thanks for giving me a really good laugh! “It’s worth noting that tweets count towards your daily word count.” Why hadn’t I thought of that?

  17. Ha ha ha!! Hilarious! You made my day.

    But now I have to run. My numbers are way off. I need to spend some time today tweeting about my books and my word count.

  18. Smoph says:

    Great satire Tracy! I wish more people would read this and realise this is not how to behave on Twitter.

    No problems with the occasional hashtag (one or two, no more), including #amwriting, but harassing publishing professionals is so sad.

  19. Donna says:

    #amlaughingmyheadoff #amwriting #snickersnickersnicker 😀

  20. Barbara says:

    So, a funny thing happened to me on twitter –

    Despite the fact I didn’t follow your directions, as well written and helpful as they are, I DID get a 3 book publishing deal from Twitter!

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      That’s great, Barbara, well done! I don’t know much about #pitmad but don’t agents choose to be involved? My problem is with writers who hassle agents on social media.
      But it must have been so exciting when that happened, it’s the kind of thing I’ve heard about, like an urban myth, but never actually known anyone it’s happened to, but now I do. Good luck with it all 🙂

      Thanks for reading.

  21. judyinboston says:

    Great “advice” NOT! LOL. I’ve seen ‘way too much of the self-absorbed tweeting.

  22. Norah says:

    I love it! Thanks. I have seen many follow your “advice”!

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      Yes, just this morning I saw someone on Twitter who seemed to follow it to the letter! Unfortunately those kid of people will never read this, they’re far too busy being ‘proper’ writers 🙂

      Thanks for reading.

  23. Liz Jackson says:

    Brilliant, Tracy, and thank you! Just when I’m thinking this writing lark is serious business you turn it right on it’s head! Loved it! You had me in stitches!

    Liz xxx

  24. Tracy, Wow! I loved this article. It was so funny, I was falling out of my chair laughing. My husband was like, “What is so funny?” I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I feel like you pegged the worse-r habits of myself (and perhaps others!) Thank you for bringing such levity to the topic. Heidi

  25. Hannah Robins says:

    (grins) note you don’t follow your own rule on following:follower ratio! having decided to follow on basis of this article now can’t find tweet which led me here, but hey I don’t need to worry about wordcount now

  26. I think I’ve just died laughing with joy. Dearie me, I do so hate Twitter but feel required to love it in order to Promote Myself. I virtually never Promote Myself (as a writer….duh) because I tend to expire with boredom before I’ve even completed twittering a tweet. AT LAST a good reason for me NOT to hang out on Twitter for entire seconds on end – because it’s bloody stupid, pointless and horrifically infantile. Is this really the only resource I’ve got as a self-pubbed author?!

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      Unfortunately, for traditionally and self published authors, it is a necessary evil. Most writers I know don’t feel comfortable with this side of it and are very apologetic about it. I’ve read a lot of books by people on twitter but none of them particularly pushed them, I tend to chat to people and then read their work, but search it out for myself. There’s no quick way to do it, it’s gradual.
      It ironic that writing can be such a solitary, introverted pastime but then you have to do the opposite if you want anyone to read your work.
      Thanks for reading.

  27. This is perfect, and far too recognisable. I should tweet it, along with some passive-aggressive snipes showing some imagined intellectual superiority.

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      Ha, yes, Philippa, there is nothing more entertaining on Twitter than a bit of passive-aggressiveness mixed in with some superiority. I can almost picture them flouncing off. I almost can’t bear to watch but it’s SO entertaining.

  28. Shanan says:

    This is side-splitting–and a little convicting! I’m definitely guilty of overusing #amwriting and other faux pas on Twitter, the most impulsive of social media. What a great read.

    And about social sharing in general, I found that this sentence is too often actually true: “…most people don’t actually check the facts, they’re usually happy to jump to your defence anyway, especially if you have a lot of followers.”

    I laughed and learned while reading this–thanks, Tracy!

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      Thanks for reading it, Shanan. I think we’d all be lying if we said that we hadn’t done any of these things, just a tiny bit.
      And yes, people are very quick to jump in on Twitter, it amazes me how many people act without questioning anything.

  29. Aine Greaney says:

    Love this post, Tracy. Call me small minded, but the tweeting the daily word count is my personal favourite–not. There are days when I am lucky to articulate the words,’You want the shower first or can I jump in quick before my morning work meeting?’ are about it for me. Strangely,I don’t feel the need to tweet that word count
    : -)

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      Thanks, Aine, it annoys me too. Someone can tweet that they’ve written 3000 words in one afternoon but that doesn’t mean that those 3000 words are good words. I like to think that I go for quality over quantity, that’s my excuse anyway 🙂 I might only have written 10 words today but they were all fantastic, each and every one of them. Probably.

  30. Tracy, This post is a classic tongue in cheek (where did that expression come from?) essay. How to make people unfollow you on Twitter! Fun to read. Thank you for bringing humor to our oh so serious networking and textalizing on Twitter.

    I loved this one especially. “It’s worth noting that tweets count towards your daily word count.”

    And this, since we’ve been a recipient of it:

    “Point out typos in other writers’ tweets. They find that really helpful, especially if you retweet their mistake to all of your followers. It makes people think that you’re really clever.”

    (I’ve felt the wave of shame come over, as if in 4th grade French school after making a mistake in the feminine or masculine of a word, being sent into 3rd grade for the rest of the day to make me come to my senses. American as I was, that really helped me know which words I’d never heard before needed a “le” vs. a “la” in front of them! Not.)
    –Anora McGaha, Editor

    • Tracy Kuhn says:

      Thanks, Anora. I think we need to make sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. The thing about typos is a particular part of social media that I really dislike, I think it says far more about the person pointing out the mistake and never makes anyone feel grateful, just embarrassed and small, especially when someone does it so publicly.

      I think the expression ‘tongue in cheek’ actually comes from the facial expression pulled when someone is being ironic. I’m actually trying to pull this face as I’m writing this 🙂

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