networking:you can meet, talk with, even develop friendships or professional relationships with other authors, editors, agents, and book publicists. Even if you don’t engage in conversation, just by following them, you find out whether or not you’d like to work with that person in the future. You may also find projects, events, or people that interest you or that help you in your career;
you can further or deepen professional relationships or friendships that you already have;
you can break isolation. Writing (or editing) can be lonely, isolating work. Talking with others who understand the way the process works can be validating, supportive, and build a community for you. You may also find others who want to celebrate your highs with you, as you celebrate with them;
you can participate in–or just read/watch–live Twitter chats about writing; there’s lots of great information and idea sharing and neworking that happen. There are Twitterchats such as #kidlitchat (Tuesdays, 9pm EST) and #YAlitchat (Wednesdays, 9pm EST) for children’s and YA writers, editors, agents, etc; and some more general writing chats such as #writechat (Sundays). See Debbie Ohi’s fantastic article for these chats (and more), and how to easily attend/follow them;
you can always connect with or find other writers on Twitter who are also writing using the hashtag #amwriting;
you can help gain name (or book, or publisher) recognition among other writers, editors, agents, publicists. This is a good thing IF you are professional, and if you help others. BUT if you’re just going to go on Twitter to promote yourself, don’t bother. You’ll alienate a lot of good people.
industry information:you often hear industry information here before other places–which editors or agents are accepting submissions (or are closed to them); who’s published what; new publishers, publishing lines, or agents; what new publishing innovations or events are happening (I’ve found a LOT out about new ebooks on Twitter); etc.;
you may hear about resources, conferences, new people on the scene, etc that you didn’t know about. And, if you can’t attend a conference, there are often attendees who will tweet info from the workshops;
you also hear industry gossip and news on Twitter–things such as Justine Larbalesteir’s Liar cover being whitewashed, and then fixed. Twitter can be an interesting, informative place to learn a LOT more about what goes on in the publishing, writing, editing, and agenting world.
professional development:you can find a ton of quality articles shared through Twitter about writing technique; editing; book promotion; and how to behave professionally (which is important). You can learn from these–even if you only skim a few of them;
just by following other writers, agents, editors, publishers, book publicists, and readers or book bloggers, you can learn a LOT. Many times you can pick up what works for a particular agent/editor/blogger, etc, and what *doesn’t*. Some agents, for instance, post no-nos about query letters and author behavior (most of which should be obvious, but aren’t to some); others talk about what they’ve liked. All of it’s helpful;
you can find great new books to read in (and outside of) your genre that interest you. Reading is (I believe) an essential part of being a great writer (or editor, agent, publicist). Know your field and market–and learn from good writing.
How do you start? Follow a few good people, and when you read tweets you like, re-tweet (RT) them. That means sending out their tweet again, attributing them by putting their name at the beginning (or end) with an @ symbol. You’ll be helping others that way. And you may find that others are more receptive to helping you when it’s your turn to pass on information.
Of course, all this depends on whether or not you find Twitter appealing. But even if you’re apprehensive, why not try it out for a few weeks–even a few months–before deciding? You might find out you really like it. I did. (smiling)
Interested, but not sure how to go about it? Check out Debbie Ohi’s wonderful Writer’s Guide To Twitter.
Mitali Perkins has a great Getting Started on Twitter – Quick Guide that you might want to check out.
Need more convincing about why to be on Twitter? Check out Darcy Pattison’s post on why she’s finally joined twitter.
You can follow me on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/CherylRainfield. I tweet a lot of articles on writing, editing, book promotion, and more.
You can also find some good people through some of these Twitter lists:
YA authors on Twitter
picture book authors/illustrators on Twitter
Book Trade People on Twitter
literary agents on Twitter
25 good follows for writers
And yes, you might want to get yourself listed in some of those directories as well.
Come on in, and join the party!