by Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)
As longtime readers know, I’m a big fan of using Twitter for lots of reasons. What you might not know is that one of the things I always tell authors who are just getting started with Twitter is to learn about Twitter’s lists. So I was very pleased when author Marcy Kennedy suggested a guest post on the topic, and I’m sure you will be too. Here’s her report.
One of the most common complaints I hear about Twitter is that it moves too fast and you don’t know what to pay attention to. It’s a valid complaint, but there’s a simple solution—Twitter lists.
Once you know how to use them, they become a powerful tool not only for making Twitter more enjoyable, but also for building your author platform. Before I give you my top six ways Twitter lists can help build your author platform, let me tell you how to create them.
On TweetDeck, all you need to do is click on the username of the person you want to add to a list. In the image below, I’ve clicked on Joel’s username. The red circle shows you where to click to add him to a list.
That will bring up a box where I could add him to an already created list or create a new list. Only make a list public if you’re comfortable with others seeing what you’ve named it, how you’ve described it, and who you’ve put on it. Otherwise, keep it private.
Lists in Hootsuite take a couple extra steps. You can add someone the same way (clicking their username and choosing to add them to a list), but you first need to have that list open in a stream or it won’t show up as an option when you try to add someone.
To fix this, click on Add Steam, and go to the List tab.
You’ll be able to easily create a list and add it to a stream from there.
Your lists are linked to your Twitter account. They’ll follow you if you switch from TweetDeck to Hootsuite or vice versa.
So now that you know how to create Twitter lists, what makes them so valuable?
1. Make connections with agents/editors or book reviewers.
The great part about Twitter is that people who are usually behind stone walls and inaccessible to the newbie writer are available on Twitter.
If you hope to traditionally publish, create a list for agents and editors. Not only do these people offer links to useful information, but you can also get an idea of their personality and whether they’d be a good match for you and your book. Do they sound like someone you’d like to work with? Do they keep up on new trends? What types of books do they represent and read?
Whatever publishing path you plan on following, create a list for book reviewers. By retweeting material for them and replying to comments they make, you can start to build friendships with them. When you later send them a polite email asking if they’d be willing to read and review your book, they’re more likely to accept because they already recognize your name. You’ve given to them first.
2. Build relationships with other writers in your genre.
From the start, if you know what genre you’re going to write in, you should be putting together a list of people you follow who also write in your genre.
When you have a genre-specific question, these people can be a great resource.
When you need beta readers who understand your genre, these are the people to turn to.
When you have a book out and want to guest post on a blog where your potential readers already hang out, you’ll already have friendships with the people who run those blogs.
When you’re running behind and quickly need material to tweet that would interest your readers, these people’s blog are most likely to yield what you’re looking for.
3. Keep track of subject matter specialists.
Say you’re writing a book set in Australia, but you’ve never been there. Create a list for people you find on Twitter who live there.
Say you’re writing a book with horses in it. Create a list where you can add people who mention horses or horseback riding in their bio.
As you get to know these people and they get to know you, when you have a question that can’t be answered through traditional research, you’ll have someone you can ask.
4. Connect with writers who live in your area.
Connecting with writers who live in your area means you have friends who can turn into critique groups, who you can organize writing events with (e.g., everyone meets at the local library during NaNoWriMo and writes for two hours, you share a book signing), or who you can meet up with at local conferences.
5. Reciprocate for people who regularly retweet (RT) your tweets.
As your followers grow, it’s going to be difficult to keep track of which ones are actively engaging and trying to help you by RT-ing your tweets. Yet these are the people who’ve already taken the initiative to try to reach out to you and do something nice. If you start putting them into a list, it’ll help you RT for them in return when they tweet something great, and it’ll also help you keep the conversation going.
6. Stay in touch with fans who contact you about your book or say something good about your writing.
Readers like social media because it gets them a little bit closer to their favorite authors, so when you take the time to personally reply to one of their tweets to cheer them on or suggest a book by another author they might like, it builds rapport.
Some authors also provide special bonuses just for their Twitter followers. For example, tweeting a link to a new short story that you don’t advertise elsewhere or offering a single-day Smashwords coupon code.
You don’t have to confine yourself to the lists I’ve suggested here. Once you start thinking about lists, you’ll find ways to customize them that fit you.
On Saturday, August 24, I’m teaching a 90-minute webinar called “Twitter: 10 Essentials Every Writer Needs to Know.” Click here to find out more.
P.S. I’ve put together something special for everyone reading this post today. I’m offering a free PDF called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hiring a Freelance Editor.” Click here to sign up for your copy.
Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy) is a speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at www.marcykennedy.com.