What website am I profiling today? Twitter. Yes, really.
It’s a great resource for writers. Of course, most of you already know that since you link to your accounts on your blog or I’ve found your blogs via your accounts. But there are some still unaware of the boon that is Twitter. I know. I can't believe it either.
First of all, it allows you to connect with other writers. In a way, it’s like an extension of your blog, which is usually a one-to-seven times a week thing. Your Twitter is short bursts of conversation where it’s easier to go back and forth. On your blog, that is usually restricted to comments or maybe email if you’ve linked those up. That type of exchange is great for some tasks—exchanging books, discussing an issue—but it’s not designed for instant communication. One could call a blog a speech with questions at the end; Twitter is more of a party where everyone gathers in groups to talk. And people there are friendly! If you need advice on a subject, you’re bound to find someone who knows about it.
Next is Tweetchat. On Twitter, one can use a hashtag (#) to signify a specific subject. For example, one popular one is #amwriting. Hashtags are also used as parts of chats (#YALitChat, #WriteChat, etc.), which are gatherings at specific times, usually monitored by a special host and with a specific subject (genres, publishing, marketing). This is my favorite part of Twitter, I admit. To see what chats there are, I suggest looking at Content Maven Meryl’s list, which is absolutely excellent (just note that the times listed are Central Standard Time; remember to adjust). When the chat you want to visit rolls around, visit Tweetchat.com and type in the hashtag. It will connect to your account and act as a kind of chat room that automatically adds the hashtag to your tweets, keeping you right in the middle of the conversation.
Finally, there’s following. Many literary agents, agencies and publishers are also part of Twitter. You can follow them for inside information. I wouldn’t tweet book ideas at them—that will only serve to get you blocked—but paying attention to what they say can give you an edge. Maybe an agent will tweet they’re open to submissions on their website, even though it says they aren’t. Maybe a publisher will tell you what’s hot in the industry right now. The point is, it’s another learning tool, and a powerful one at that. Just be sure to block anyone who tweets at you to “Get paid to Write! Visit this Link!” They are dirty liars.