Is Your Twitter Presence Helping—Or Hurting?—Your Writing Career?

Twitter is THE BEST in a lot of ways: it connects writers who are far apart, it clues readers in to new releases in their favorite genre, and it allows authors to look for agents and editors who might be interested in their work. But like lots of social media, it pays (sometimes literally!) to use it with smarts and style. A dodgy Twitter feed can actually work AGAINST your writing career—and no one wants that. Just like querying mistakes, these are little things you may not even realize you’re doing! Here’s what to look out for.

Helps: You reach out to other authors.
Getting to know other writers—for solidarity, for commiseration, for critique—is one of the hugest benefits of social media. But to reap those benefits, you have to say hi! If you’re chatting back and forth with your writer peers, nicely done.

Hurts: You reach out to ONLY other authors.
It’s easy to get trapped in a bubble of fellow writers and never venture into the wider world of book Twitter. Be sure to vary your feed (and interactions) with industry publications, publishing professionals, and useful writing blogs.

Helps: You share useful tips.
Whether it’s a quick #writetip or a retweet of a helpful post, sharing writing help is a great way to establish a presence as a useful resource (i.e., someone worth following!)

Hurts: You share nothing but (or mostly) self promo.
Tweeters are smart: they know an ad when they see one, and it can be a huge turnoff. There’s nothing wrong with using your social media to show off new releases, sales, or special deals, but constant repetitive tweets about your book aren’t engaging. And statistically, they don’t convert into sales at NEARLY the rate of a newsletter or a freebie book in a Facebook ad!

Helps: You act like a human.
Tweeting like you talk, sharing photos of your workspace (or vacation!), and generally being, well, personable shows that you’re not just there to promote and network. Social media craves authenticity!

Hurts: You act like a robot.
Constant scheduled tweets, or, even worse, the dread “thanks for the follow, buy my book!” auto-DM are at best ignorable and at worst extremely irritating and can earn you an instant unfollow. Don’t be pushy!

Helps: You are professional and polite.
Especially when interacting with agents, editors, contest admins, or any pros, keeping it respectful and kind is always a good look. They’ll remember you as someone who’s on top of it!

Hurts: You overshare, bully, subtweet, or whine.
Describing your stomach flu in gory detail, picking on other authors, vaguely tweeting about publishing pros who’ve rejected your work, or complaining about how hard it is to get readers or sales—just don’t. Nothing screams “unprofessional” like someone who uses a public forum to air grievances. Find a trusted friend to vent to—offline.