Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Case for Twitter

I often teach basic social media classes for local writers and artists. The other day I was consulting with a writer who recently retired to focus on his writing. I was telling him about blogging and forums when I casually mentioned cross-posting on Twitter.

"Oh, I draw the line at Twitter," he said, nose high in the air.

"Actually," I said. "Twitter is often the first step I recommend."

"Really?" He shifted in his seat, uncrossed his arms and focused entirely on me. "Why?"

I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir here on YAtopia, but Twitter often gets a bad rap. If you mention the word in a room full of 100 people, you'll average about 97 eye rolls and pointed sighs. Explaining Twitter to people is very difficult, especially if you're explaining it to someone who already thinks it is dumb or pointless.

So, to answer this writer's question: Why Twitter?

1) It's easy.

I know it sounds confusing, but Twitter is probably the easiest-to-use social media platform. You only have to communicate 140 characters at a time - no longer-form blog posts required. You can engage as much or as little as you want to - though the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it.

2) Learning.

The literary community has adopted Twitter in a big way. There is a wealth of information being shared about the publishing industry and the process of getting published. From literary agents (like @literaticat, @elanaroth, @bostonbookgirl, and @DeidreKnight) to published authors (like @veronicaroth, @kierstenwhite and @TaherehMafi) and organized chats (like #yalitchat, #askagent and #kidlitchat), it's like getting a full-scale education on the publishing industry.

3) Community.

Writing is often a lonely endeavor and there probably aren't many people in your life who truly understand what it's like to pursue publication. Twitter is a ready-made pool of thousands of writers who will be there to encourage you and celebrate with you through this trying journey. Some of the people I most heavily rely on (emotionally, when it comes to writing-related things) are people I've never met in person.

4) Privacy.

With Twitter, you only share what you want to share. On the other side of it, people can follow you without you following them so agents and editors are more open to sharing on Twitter than Facebook, which (more or less) requires you to give your followers access to all of your other information.

So, for those of you who don't 'get' Twitter. I'm going to ask you to check it out. You may have to give it some time before you really get in the swing of things. Feel free to follow me, I'm here if you have questions.


  1. Twitter is a great social outlet for writers! I agree with all these points, number 3 especially. Twitter is also great for book marketing and publicity.

  2. You know, it took me a long time to hop on the Twitter bandwagon, but the more I use it, the more I love it! It really connects people, giving us access to the people we admire 140 characters at a time.

  3. I was really reticent about getting on Twitter, but now I love it. It's so much less time consuming than any of the other social media I've tried. I love that I can take a five minute break from whatever else I'm doing and catch up with whats going on and who's doing what.

  4. I've never used Twitter before, but I've been thinking of checking it out. I'm hesitatant of using it because I don't really know anyone in real life who uses it. Everyone I know has a Facebook account. Even my teachers!

    At my school, some of our homework assignments require Facebook, so you kinda need one.

  5. Syrah: you should definitely try it out! my username is @sarah_nicolas - feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

  6. I waited to get Twitter, but once I did I was obsessed, haha. I think it's an extremely useful tool to not only communicate with writers, but as a book blogger I've found it great to be able to communicate with authors/publishers about review and whatnot.