Demystifying Twitter, Part 1: Basics

Posted by in Marketing, Social Media, Writer Resource, Writing

I keep getting questions from my CPs about Twitter – what’s the deal? How do you use it? What purpose does it serve? And just why?

I am very new to the Twitter scene myself, and still figuring things out. But I’ve learned a lot in a short time, so I figured a post on the matter help others get their footing a little quicker.

Just to be clear: this is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s solely based on my own personal experience thus far. If you have more to add, by all means send me a message or leave a comment below!

Demystifying Twitter Gameplan:

  • Part One: Basics

  • Part Two: Writing Events & Logistics

  • Part Three: Agents & Pitch Events


Twitter can be a great resource for meeting and networking with other writers, finding critique partners (CPs), editors, and just generally keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry. Tons of agents, editors, and publishers (big and small) are very active on Twitter, and it can be a wealth of information (if you can figure out how to use it).

The biggest “realization” hurdle I found myself struggling with early on, was how in the world using a social media application that moves a thousand miles an hour and has little to no organization could be used functionally.

The key is in the hashtags.

On the surface, they’re a filtering/keyword system, but in practice, they function more like chat rooms. You can watch a hashtag’s feed to find what other users are discussing, then like, retweet (RT), quote tweet (aka quote RT), or reply to participate.

I’ll break those down quick:

  • Like

    Doesn’t “do” much really, other than shows the user you appreciate the comment or agree

  • RT

    Retweeting takes the tweet and sends it out again to your followers. This can also be used on your own tweets if you want to send one out again.

  • Quote Tweet

    Creates a new tweet, linking the "quoted" tweet. Use to make a comment, declare support, or just a “hey check out this link!”. Include hashtags to refresh it in that hashtag’s feed, or it will only be seen by your followers.

  • Reply

    Just what you'd expect: Participate in the thread by adding a comment or asking a question. Again you’ll want to include hashtags if you want the reply to show up in that feed.


Writer Hashtags

For connecting with other writers
  • #OnThePorch*
  • #AmWriting
  • #AmRevising
  • #AmEditing
  • #AmQuerying
  • #Writing
  • #WritersLife
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #WordSprints
  • #TurtleWriters
  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #AmWritingScifi
  • #AmWritingFantasy
  • And there’s probably a thousand more.

Industry Hashtags

Agents, Editors, Publishers
  • #WritingTip
  • #PubTip
  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor
  • #AskEditor
  • #PubTip
  • #MSWL
  • #TenQueries

#OnThePorch is your go-to

  • General hangout where you can share in the excitement or stresses of life as a writer
  • A great place to find CPs, or to ask questions or for opinions
  • Event-related news will show up on this tag, so you can keep informed about upcoming pitch events, ask an agent events, etc. (More info on this coming up in Part 4)

Not only do you want to stalk view these hashtag feeds to find content to interact with, you want use them in your own tweets so people with like interests looking to converse will actually see what you have to say!

Have a question about how to query? Want opinions on which pitch you should use for an event? Unsure where to start looking for agents? Write a tweet and include #OnThePorch and #AmQuerying. Most of the time, friendly awesome people will get back to you very quickly! If they don't, it may just be a slow time. Wait a few hours and quote tweet yourself, asking for additional opinions.


This is just a place to start! After you spend some time participating in the community, you’ll start to get a feel for how things work, and be able to tailor all this info in a way that works for you.

Remember to:

  • Be friendly, courteous, constructive, and positive!
  • You cannot edit tweets. You can always delete a tweet or undo a RT, but because of cached timelines, once you’ve hit “tweet” it’s out there at least for a few to see. So always double check spelling, hashtags, etc., and always think twice before you post something.
  • Exhaustively use GIFs. Everybody loves GIFs.