By Rob W. Hart/ There’s this saying, that you shouldn’t post anything on a social networking site that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. I’m going to take it a step further: Don’t post anything a prospective agent/publisher/reader would hold against you.
I don’t think I need to remind you how important sites like Twitter are for marketing and networking. It’s sort of like the Wild West – cool, mysterious, but also sometimes dangerous and if you’re not careful you’ll catch dysentery.
If you’re here, there’s a good chance you know the basics about Twitter, so we’ll skip the introductions. Instead, I want to talk about the intricacies of tweeting.
Here are the top 10 mistakes writers make on Twitter, and how to avoid them:
1. Sharing negative news: I was eliminated in the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, but I never wrote about it (until now, oops). Say an agent I queried checks my Twitter feed and sees it. He or she might think, “If it wasn’t good enough for them, it’s not good enough for me.”
2. Over-sharing about the process: This relates to the first point but deserves to be broken out. If you’re querying and you get rejected, don’t say it. Don’t even think about naming the agent/publisher. Don’t name names in general. The inside baseball of the process is best left unsaid. Wait for your memoir to do it.
3. Being humble to the point of disparaging yourself: Self-deprecation is not as adorable as you think it is. Or, there’s a difference between realistic and humble. Yes, we’re all students and we all want to learn, but be confident. Own what you do.
4. Maniac tweeting: Unless you’re building an image as the next Hunter S. Thompson, keep it clean and concise. Remember, you are being judged on everything you write. ‘Shock value’ is synonymous to ‘cheap shot’.
5. Not minding your ‘mentions’: I’ve got a really good friend who sometimes mentions me in tweets that are wildly inappropriate. It’s fun, and I love him, but I still delete them. I’m not endorsing censorship, but I am promoting a professional front.
6. Not publishing helpful content: People aren’t going to follow you to hear about your sandwich. They’re going to follow you for content. The occasional silly tweet is OK – you are not a robot – but make an effort to tweet content that people will want to read.
7. Ovetweeting: Do you often lose followers? Is it often when you tweet 17 times in a day about your blog post? That’s why. I unfollowed someone because they tweeted massive lists of people to follow on Writer’s Wednesday, and it took up my whole feed.
8. Auto-following and Auto-DMing: Unless you are super famous, and maybe even then, you don’t need to do this. People who catch it will think you’re insincere, and you don’t need to follow everyone who follows you.
9. Not engaging people: It’s called social networking for a reason. Don’t just retweet a few links and call it a day. Talk to people. Don’t feel bad if they don’t reply back. But be nice and make friends.
10. Not learning the lingo: I’ll be #amwriting this as my next entry, but you need to know which hashtags are going to lead people to your doorstep. And knowing the common abbreviations helps too, because it’ll really save you on your 140-character limit if you want to talk about your MC in the your WIP.
About this post’s author:
Rob W. Hart is a writer with a background in PR and journalism. He just completed his first novel, Apophenia, and maintains a blog about books and writing at blogduggery. You can also find him on Twitter.