A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Category: Advice for Authors (Page 2 of 2)

Social Media For Writers

Social media is an ideal space to think about how you present and to begin interacting publicly as a writer. Twitter and Instagram have thriving Writing Communities, where you can find your tribe. A Facebook page (or Instagram) are great spaces to share your writing life and books with personal contacts. Any of these plus Pinterest, Youtube and others are potential spaces to reach readers and promote your published works. And Tik Tok? If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know writers are selling books over there. So which social media is most appropriate to you as a writer, which account is best to start with and how do you get started on your writer social media?

Social Media Introductions

Twitter

Twitter used to be a great starting point, because of its #WritingCommunity. The pandemic hit it hard and Musk virtually destroyed what was left. The final tweets I saw before deleting my account were people asking if the community still existed, because algorithms and Musk’s garbage were hiding most people they knew. I don’t recommend it now, as much for moral and ethical reasons as site dysfunction and the disintegration of the writing community. On the odd chance it gets sold, gutted and refurbished, I won’t delete the Getting Started on Twitter section at the bottom of this blog.

Twitter Alternative: Mastodon

This is a different category of social media, because it isn’t algorithm based. You can go offline as long as you like, and it won’t change your visibility or content on your feed, unlike Twitter and Instagram. Unlike them and Facebook pages, you can’t even see how many impressions your toots get. Best of all, its crowdfunded, so it isn’t littered with promoted posts. Its decentralised, so you join a server and can view toots on its feed, or on the fediverse, which is every server linked to the one you joined.

It’s tricker to be seen there, as algorithms don’t boost you hours after you toot. But boosts (re-toots) share your toots on both the feeds of anyone following people who boost you, and on the fediverse. As a nonbinary, neurodiverse person, I can also report that its a friendly space to diverse people generally, especially in terms of accessibility. If you’d like to find out more about interacting on Mastodon, this post has some good advice.

I also recommend checking out the daily #WritersCoffeeClub, #WorldWeavers and #PennedPossibilities prompts, posting and interacting on them. These prompts are a great bridge, connecting writers across Mastodon instances (servers). You’ll also find many prompt hashtags, such as #Vss365, #VssPoem #Mpotd, #MicroFiction etc, with daily prompts to stimulate your short or poetry toots.

Twitter Alternative: Blue Sky (my new home)

This seems to be where the #WritingCommunity from Twitter is regrouping. Its basically Twitter, looks the same same, is gradually getting the same functions (though its still in beta so has far less functions currently). But it doesn’t have sponsored ads, or an algorithm, or transphobes or rage tweeting or… its got alt text and feeds filtered by topic (and keywords on posts.) Its a friendly, inclusive space and I’ve a written a separate blog about getting started on it.

Instagram

If you have a personal Instagram account and feel at home there, its #WritingCommunity are also welcoming. A good way to introduce yourself there is on hashtags like #MeetTheWriter and #FindMyWritingCommunity. (Include a photo of yourself for increased engagement). Instagram also has #Bookstagram and is a great place to promote your books to readers. With Twitter under new management, its writing community is also taking on Twitter refugees. For more see below, Getting Started on Social Media, Instagram.

Who can you reach there? Hootsuite’s 2022 research found Insta still more popular than Tik Tok for Gen Z, and most popular with Gen Z and millenials (18-34). If your books are likely to appeal to these age groups, but Instagram is outside your comfort zone, I’d leave it for now, but plan to set up a writer/ author account there eventually.

Facebook Page

I say ‘Facebook page’ as opposed to ‘account’ or ‘profile’, because if you want to use the word ‘author’ or ‘writer’ in your name, Facebook considers you a public figure and requires you to have a page. If you create a profile as (whoever) Author, you will have your account suspended, and probably deleted for ‘posing as someone else.’

Research on Facebook’s demographics by Hootsuite says its most popular with men and women aged 35-44 (younger than I anticipated from personal experience). If you’re active on and comfortable with Facebook, a Facebook Page (or group created by your page) is a good place to start book promotion. Alternately, you can use your personal Facebook account , if you just call yourself first name, last name. For advice on choosing between using your profile or creating a page, see Facebook for Authors by Jane Friedman.

Pinterest

Pinterest differs from the above three media in a few key ways. Pinterest’s algorithms work differently, with the pins which appear on people’s feeds being determined by the topics each Pinterest user selects, as opposed to pins created or pinned by people they follow. On Pinterest, users are also more likely to use the search function to find particular types of pins, so who sees your pins isn’t limited by how small your following is. It doesn’t even require you to be active on Pinterest, or to make algorithms happy for your pins to be seen.

Pinterest Boards You can pin (create your own copy of, collect and organise) other people’s pins by pinning them to your own boards, using them to attract followers with similar interests. You can click and drag your boards, to position them in the order you want visitors to your profile to see them. You can also select the edit icon (on the bottom right corner of any board) to select (and position) which pin it displays as its cover. I have the boards I’ve saved my blog pins to across the top, where they’re most prominent, and inspirational image boards (for my writing and drawing) underneath.

If you’d like to create pins for your blog or site pages to embed on your WordPress (so visitors can pin them from there), here’s a Pinterest tool which makes that easy. To learn about who you can reach on Pinterest and how often, here’s Hootsuite’s Pinterest statistics.

Tik Tok

I’ve seen a few posts in an author Facebook group (20Booksto50k -great for learning about marketing), noting an increase in their book sales which appears to correlate with an increase of their book promotion and impressions on Tik Tok. An advantage of Tik Tok is that hashtags are a big factor in how your posts are seen, so if you choose the right hashtags and use popular sounds, you can potentially be seen by far more people than your followers.

Another advantage is that when you start typing hashtags on TikTok, it will tell you how many people post on that hashtag, assisting your visibility by hashtag within the app.

Lastly, Tik Tok’s like of people being themselves, not the polished, scripted versions of themselves you may see on more formal youtube channels, makes it friendlier to the budding writer who isn’t a budding actor. And if you don’t like showing your face on social media, #BookTok is fond of book trailers, and related videos, so videos of you aren’t necessary. If you’re scared of Tik Tok altogether, according to Hootsuite, 70-80% of its audience also uses Facebook, Instagram or Youtube.

Hootsuite reports that 40% of Tik Tok users prefer it as a search engine over Google and Instagram, and that while still very popular with teens, in 2022, 31% of its users were aged 24-35 and its still growing in popularity with all ages and many walks of life.

Youtube

This may not be technically social media, but Youtube is competing with Facebook’s levels of active monthly users in the US and Hootsuite has lots of encouraging statistics about audiences reachable on it. A few writer friends with established channels have recommended youtube. If you have an interest in film, acting or audio narration, or if your day job involves public speaking, this may be a natural platform to establish yourself as an author.


An advantage of Youtube is that it basically functions as the Google of videos, with users regularly searching it for content, so again this is a space that doesn’t depend on a large following or interactions on the platform nudging algorithms to display your posts to more users. If it isn’t in your comfort zone, again I’d get started where you feel more comfortable.

Getting Started On Social Media

Man's hands holding tablet displaying social media icons.
Photo by NordWood Themes

Whichever social media you start with, find and follow some writers, and if you like, people who share similar interests to you. Spend some time looking at what content they post, how they interact and getting a feel for that space and which content could resonate with potential followers and readers there.

When you start your second social media account, post asking other writers if they are on it and begin your platform by connecting with and learning from writers you already know on the new platform. I see periodic tweets about this for anything you could follow authors on, and this was my entry point into Pinterest. I also met writers to share Instagram and Tik Tok content ideas with on Twitter.

Social Media Names and Profile Photos

I’ve read that your name is your brand —not your book title— so my name on all my social media profiles is @ElisesWritings. My first and last name are also the dot com name and header of my site. My social media profile photo and the most prominent head shot on my site are the same.

Consistency across all these spaces lets you build your brand —you— so when choosing a user name, think of something appropriate across every social media you plan to use (including Discord). I’ve seen some writers develop logos as profile photos, but I find logos easy to forget, while faces are memorable, so I prefer self portrait profile photos.

What Should I Post? Getting Started on Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook

(for Twitter see below)

Marketing 101 —don’t only post book adds! Your account will look like spam and you’ll put people off following you. Vary your content. A ratio a few authors like to use is 80% give, 20% ask. That could be 80% entertaining posts —quotes, photos, jokes, discussion questions related thematically or by genre to your writing. It could be personal interest or update posts and some work-in-progress posts. Then 20% ‘sign up to my newsletter’, ‘here’s my latest review,’ ‘please vote for my cover,’ or ‘my book is currently on pre-order/ discounted’ posts.

On Instagram

Yes, if you’re time-pressed and mostly write tweets, you can just share them on Insta. But Insta is a visually focused space. My favourite posts to view and read are ones with thoughtfully selected quality photos or images, which compliment a thoughtful personal update, or someone’s reflection on life or writing.

Insta is a great place to share mood boards for your works in progress, character art or sketches. Posting a good photo of yourself can signal a personal update or a reflection on your writing post. You might also like to post photos of and write about some of your other interests —especially if they tie in to your books— and make those connections clear to your followers.

Whatever content you choose, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags to boost your post’s visibility. It has multiple equivalents of #WritingCommunity hashtags and many hashtags for posting about books. Here’s a list of around 70 writer and bookish tags to get you started.

#Bookstagram is full of book covers artfully arranged with props, coloured fabric backing, glitter ect. So if you’re posting book reviews or adds on Insta —be creative. Make your cover the focus of a visually pleasing scene, or explore short animated video add options.

If you want to share quotes or questions, I suggest getting on canva and designing an Insta post image with a coloured (or photo) background and a nice font. Using the same font on all Insta posts helps them become recognisable by it, as well as looking good.

Marion Blackwood's 3 Storm book covers, candles and a sword on a wooden chopping board.
An Insta book promo post by Marion Blackwood of her Storm Series.

No, you don’t have to do the above

Yes, people will follow you if you just take photos of your cat or not-very-visually-pleasing photos of your device with your work in progress on its screen and write comments about those. But if you want to gain (and retain) followers, and to attract potential readers to your account, I suggest making full use of the space by creating visually pleasing and interesting content and taking book add inspiration from #Bookstagram.

How Often Should I Post?

Until I hit around 500 followers, I routinely got unfollowed by multiple people if I didn’t post for a week or 2. You’ll gain the most followers posting daily —and may keep them if you post popular content like motivational quotes, but you’ll attract a lot of people follow for follow-backs unfollowing you too. For me, posting every second or third day was the best balance to gain the kind of followers who stick around and not be unfollowed for not posting.

Following & Bots on Insta

There are quite a few bot accounts on Insta —particularly those of single men following women— and some bots which write generic comments on your posts. The bots’ aim seems to be the same as that of people who follow you, wait till you follow back, then unfollow you —to gain followers (or ‘dm me to promote your books -for a fee). Its annoying. The best safeguard against it is setting your account to private, so bots can’t bother you. (Yes I’ve done this, and yes I get requests from people wanting to follow me, even though they can’t see my posts —my bio alone seems to be enough).

You can get apps to track follows and unfollows, but there’s a LOT of Insta following apps, so I’d choose one carefully. (I don’t use an app, ignore bots and follow back carefully, screening my followers by taking the steps in When Following Back on Twitter and Instagram below.)

Promoting a Blog On Instagram

The provider of my social media share button (Social Warfare) doesn’t include an Instagram share button. Their research shows over 80% of Instagram users stay on Instagram and don’t want to visit other sites advertised there. However, having found great quality photos on unsplash to illustrate and promote my blog posts with, I post those on Instagram. I write a blurb relating to my personal experience of the blog topic and I include a discussion question for people to reply to. Then I paste the text of the link (which people have to copy and paste into their browser, as Instagram posts don’t do hyperlinks).

Generally my Insta posts about my blog get more likes than elsewhere. So if you have a blog to promote and you join the Writing Community on Insta, I encourage you to experiment with posting about it.

For more advice on creating an appealing look and on what to post, see:

Instagram for Authors: Building a Platform and Selling your books by Catarina Pinto.

Writer’s Guide to Instagram: Tips from Top Bookstagrammers & Authors by Francis Bogan.

For tips and Free Webinars, see Instagram Best Practices for Beginners by Mary DeMuth.

On Facebook

Because Facebook allows link sharing, your Facebook page is a good place to share interesting articles of topical or thematic relevance to your books. Most commonly, I’ve seen writers posting updates about their latest work in progress, favourite quotes (of other writers and of their own works), character art, cover reveals, reviews of their books and some book advertising, interspersed between personal posts about holidays etc.

There’s plenty of room for Facebook Page and Insta content to overlap, and I tend to post the same poetry (sometimes with different travel photos to illustrate) on My Facebook Page as on my Insta. I post occasional work in progress updates on both, but tend to go into more detail on Insta, where I have more writer followers interested in detail about writing than the personal contacts following my Facebook Page.

For a thorough introduction on setting up each part of your FB Page, what to post and interacting as your page, see Epic Facebook Author Pages: Everything You Need to Know.

On Pinterest

I recommend using canva.com to create full pin size images for Pinterest (as I did in my pins), and to add text to pins (if applicable). Hashtags are also used on Pinterest. I tend to choose 5 on my pins, and to search terms I think would be popular tags in the Pinterest search bar to help me choose them. Some popular Twitter or Instagram tags aren’t used at all on Pinterest, so its worth checking your choice of tag has a chance of boosting your pin impressions and isn’t just taking up space in your pin description.

As Pinterest is also very visual, you may like to use the same images to create pins as mentioned for posts above on Instagram. If you’re looking for photos on Pinterest to inspire your character or setting descriptions (something I plan to do), you may like to save these as public boards, as they may also draw interest to your account.

When creating pins for blog pages (if you have one), you may like to use photos from unsplash.com (as I did with the pin on the right). I’ve also made pins of my sketches of Lord of The Rings characters, because I write fantasy and some people interested in those drawings may also be interested in my books. As with Insta, thinking of photos or images from other interests which relate to your books may give you content ideas.

For more ideas on how to use Pinterest, see Pinterest for Beginners by Jane Friedman.

Also, Pinterest for Authors: the Formula for Great Pinterest Boards by Penny C Sansevieri.


Following Back on Social Media

You might feel great gaining your first followers, and be tempted to follow them all right back. Don’t. Most writers following you in #WritingCommunity’s are probably fine (but don’t assume so). I only blocked 4 jerks on Twitter in my first 2 years -so I didn’t unwittingly follow them- but its always a good idea to screen accounts before following back, in case they happen to be a troll, a jerk or to post content you dislike. So before following back, check the account:

-has a bio and has posted (writing a comment and using hashtags on Insta, not just posted a photo) -so you don’t follow a (primitive) bot account.

-look at posts and see if you want that person’s content on your feed.

-check if the account is only following a few hundred but followed by thousands -they’re an influencer who’s likely to unfollow you after you follow back.

Also be aware that while some writers will always follow back fellow writers, others may follow or follow back through interaction only (in my case when replying to people’s posts).

Further General Social Media Reading

Social Media Tips by Marc Guberti is aimed at businesses generally, but has some useful tips for writers.

Why You Should Join All Social Media Networks, yet not be active on all, by Jan Friedman.

Would you like to discuss author socials, newsletters and other aspects of author platform with fellow authors?
My Strictly Authoring Discord Server is dedicated to this. Let me know you’d like to join it by replying to my posts on Blue Sky on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

Related Reading

Prioritising Writer Social Media

Becoming an Indie Author advice part 1

Becoming an Indie Author 2: Book Launch

Author Newsletters: the Basics

Author Website Set Up Tips

Getting Started On Twitter

Computer with Twitter bird on screen.
Photo by MORAN

Twitter Bio

Some writers are partial to following writers of the same genre. The easiest way to let us know what type of writer you are is to state your genre/ text type and audience age in your bio. If you have a website, you may like to put a link in your bio to make it accessible through your @ (and by extension through your tweets) instead of just on your profile page. Beyond that, try to inject some personality into your bio, as well as telling us about your interests, so your bio gives us a sense of who we’re potentially following.

First Tweet

Introduce yourself to the #WritingCommunity. Tell us who you are, what you write, that you’re new and anything else you like. I suggest asking other writers a question to encourage people to interact with you too. My first tweet said who I was, who I’d like to meet and had a question for the #WritingCommunity (I forget exactly and it no longer exists because I deleted my account).

It got a tone of likes, tens of replies and perhaps several hundred followers. One of them is still a friend now, four years on. I can’t promise you the same response, but it’s a great way to ‘meet’ people. (I don’t recommend #MyFirstTweet -you get some weird/ random responses).

Before You Tweet

You might like to ask; why am I on Twitter? I assume many of us hope to sell our books, but do you want writer friends/ colleagues to share the journey and seek help and advice from along the way? If so -will you tweet as a companion in the writing/ revising/ querying trenches?

Will you tweet writing motivation and encouragement, or humour or tips and advice? If you want to connect with readers, will you tweet discussion questions related to themes in your writing, your interests or share links to topically relevant articles? And what and how much would you like to say about yourself, your life and your opinions on your writer/ writing focused twitter account?

Before You Retweet

You may consider, am I going to retweet everything of interest to me, or just things topically/ thematically/ genre or generally related to my writing and or topics I feel strongly about? Will I retweet things which are helpful, useful, encouraging or entertaining to my followers? Will I retweet to help the writer whose tweet I’m retweeting?

It’s also worth considering how often you retweet. Retweeting anything which interests you many times a day may make your account look like a bot, and put people off following you.

What Should I Tweet?

Tweets with images tend to get more impressions, but writing or reader related quotes, jokes and clever or just well-timed comment tweets about writing, reading or life can get lots of interaction. Asking a few questions to get to know your followers and encourage people to interact with you is also a good way to start.

Don’t forget, social media isn’t just about producing organic content. On Twitter or Instagram -reply to and interact with others- especially if you’re looking to find your #WritingCommunity on either. Even if you’re not -reply to people who reply to your content, to connect with your audience.

Promoting a Blog or Book On Twitter

Include a blurb. Don’t just tweet a link. No-one will click it if you don’t give us reason to. And don’t just write, “My book is out on Amazon now!” Sell it to us, with a pitch.

Example: “George thought he had problems. He’d lost his job and the house might be next. Then his city vanished, taking everyone he knew with it. If he can’t work with out-of-towners to find his city and bring it back: he’ll truly lose everything. #BookBoost #SpecFic #BookPromo.” (Yes, these are actual Twitter promo hashtags.)

How Do I Get Tweets Seen or Interacted With?

Short answer -use hashtags. By algorithms no-one I’ve spoken to can fully explain, hashtags help your tweets get onto people’s feeds, but they can do more. Specific, relevant hashtags can act as subheadings and incline people to read and interact with your tweets. Savy Twitter users may also find and interact with your tweets by searching hashtags. For a list of hashtags to connect with writers and find tips, help and prompts on, see this post.

Tips for Getting Tweet Impressions & Interactions

1. Be Concise

My two line tweets often get the most impressions, whereas 3-4 lines often get the least.

2. Tweet Some Questions

Few of us have the gift of being able to write statement tweets which go viral, so ask some questions most writers/ readers can answer (unless you’re seeking specific information). This encourages people to interact and is a good way to get to know your followers. The odd poll can help too, especially if your question is thoughtful or a research question.

3. Use 1-3 RELEVANT Hashtags

Lots of hashtags hurts eyes and puts people off reading tweets. No hashtags means we don’t know what the tweet is about. Using vaguely relevant hashtags clutters that hashtag’s feed with tweets writers searching that tag for information or tweets to interact with may find irrelevant and or annoying. So stick to 1-3 relevant tags. Here’s a list of popular, categorised tags to choose from. Using a popular, umbrella hashtag like #WritersOfTwitter/ #AuthorsOfTwitter will also boost impressions.

4. Interact

Don’t just ❤️ others tweets -some of us only look in ‘Mentions’ and only notice replies -so reply. Help when you can. Answer questions. Play tag games or respond to prompts (these are listed in my Hashtag Guide.) Reply to familiar faces on your feed and log in at a regular(ish) time of day. Doing this increases your chances of seeing and being able to interact with the same writers, and their chances to interact with you, making it easier to get to know people.

What do the Community Acronyms Mean?

WIP= work in progress

CP= critique partner

POV= point of view

Antag= antagonist villain/opposing force

Protag= protagonist

MC =main character

MS= manuscript

PB= Picture book or paperback

MG =Middle Grade

NA used to mean New Adult -which no longer a marketing category (aside from Romance/ indie books), but some people use it because they don’t know about YA Crossover (the new traditional publishing thing).

YA = Young Adult

SFF =Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction

LI =love interest (courtesy of @Davina06496120).

What do these Query Related Terms Mean?

QT =Query Tracker, for keeping track of literary agents you’ve queried (courtesy of @KLSmall_Author).

Synopsis: means ‘book summary’ -including the ending- generally 500 words for literary agencies. But some agency websites call a query letter pitch (which is ideally around 300 words, ending with an impossible choice the MC must make or point of tension after main conflict and stakes are revealed -but not the ending) as… a synopsis.

‘Short synopsis’ tends to mean ‘query letter pitch.’ ‘Long synopsis’ tends to mean book summary. Unfortunately, ‘synopsis’ can mean either. (Unsure? I’d ask others how they interpret that agency’s guidelines, or email the agency to clarify).

A Blurb is NOT a pitch

Blurb =back of the cover description, which can say anything to entice a reader to read the pages.

A Pitch must include: MC intro, MC role in conflict, MC personal stakes, (MC impossible choice) and anything unique about those. It can include other interesting things, eg lists of crazy situations MC must overcome to resolve conflict, but omitting or not making any of the 3 clear is likely to see your query letter rejected, or your tweet pitch ignored (rejection/ no industry likes having many other causes too).

Staying Connected On Twitter

Managing Notifications: Untagging, Muting & Seeing Replies

Replying to @____ and 48 others
Tweet your reply

Once you’ve met people, don’t be that person who notifies 50 people when talking to the one person who tagged them. When you hit ‘reply’, check if above it says ‘replying to @___ and 48 others’. (Like it does on the right).

Select the ‘and’ before ’48 others’ then untick the ‘others in this conversation’ option from the menu, to reply to the one person who tagged you.

Or re-tick/ re-tag the 3/50 people below you’re speaking to (below ‘others in this conversation). If the blue box is ticked -like above- you’re about to notify (in this case) 48 people of your reply. It’s much easier to stay connected if our notifications aren’t bursting with replies of people not speaking to us.
If others don’t do this for you, hit the top right 3 dots on any tweet in the thread clogging your notifications, then select ‘
mute conversation‘ from the menu.

This means you won’t get notified when someone replies to your tweet in that thread. To see those replies, go to your profile, select ‘Tweets and Replies’. Then scroll down the ‘tweet and reply’ feed to your reply in the tag thread. Selecting your reply will display replies to you.

Staying In Touch: Twitter Lists

The easiest way to remember who you’ve met and something about them (eg. genre, where they live in the world, etc) is to add them to a twitter list by a category of your choosing (using the left menu in your profile page). This will store people’s twitter handles for you and create a list feed which only displays list members tweets (which is how I find my friends tweets out of tweets by the 4k writers I follow.)

Staying in Touch: DM Groups

If you want to talk regularly, or easily ask questions in a private group, or find out what friends are saying without sifting through public Twitter feeds, you can make or be added to a group DM. That’s when someone starts a new Direct Message, but after pasting one person’s twitter handle into ‘search people’, and selecting that account from the drop down menu, you paste another twitter handle in, and continue adding up to 75 people (soon to be 100 under new management). Then select ‘Next’ -top right- then type your message. See below for DM etiquette.

NB: twitter etiquette is to speak via public tweet and agree to DM people, not to jump straight into people’s DMs. So if you’re creating a DM group, I’d tweet publicly asking who’d like to be added.

Shortcut: scan your feed for writers offering to add you to their DM groups (which is what many of my friends did with mine ?).

I hope this helps you get started.
To navigate Twitter’s #WritingCommunity and find out which hashtags to use in your tweets, see my Hashtag Guide. If you’d like a more detailed Twitter introduction (including Twitter etiquette), see Emma Lombard’s comprehensive Twitter Tips for Newbies.

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#StrictlyWriting Community

Like many writers, one of the things I loved about joining Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was the opportunity to discuss the craft and to learn with other writers. But as I followed more writers, questions about the business of writing virtually vanished from my feed. I created the hashtag #StrictlyWriting to make these things more visible.

#StrictlyWriting‘s goal was to act as a space to ask for writer or wip help, talk nitty gritty of writing craft and reflect on outlining to querying). It was also to tweet advice to help each other on our writing journeys, and share opportunities like workshops and festivals.

The hashtag died before Twitter did, but not before those of us who enjoyed it most relocated to a Discord Server, on which the hashtag’s original focus (in the graphic below) is still a goal.

Text: #StrictlyWriting is for... giving advice, reflecting/ learnings, outlining through to author platform, opportunity sharing (critiques, workshops, conferences, groups).
#StrictlyWriting is also to ask for help with outlining, drafting, editing, critical readers, querying, author platforms and publishing.
To share/ find resources, #StrictlyWritingResources.

Strictly Writing Community -on Discord

Discord began with gamers. It creates private, invite link only groups. Instead of viewing posts via a personal profile, you enter a Server (like an old school forum) with group feeds (channels), organised under Categories. Everyone comments or asks questions on topically relevant channels, so you can go straight to channels whose topics interest you and ignore channels which don’t.

Left Text: Strictly Writing Community
Left image: silver laptop, white hands writing in notebook at coffee table.Right Text: Strictly Authoring
Right image: bird's eye view of a long rectangular table with books for sale across it, buyers on one side, purchasers on the other.

The Strictly Writing Discord Community is a supportive space. It has channels for writing craft discussion and seeking critical readers, query discussion and query package feedback. There’s also a companion server, Strictly Authoring, with channels for discussing self publishing, newsletters, social media, author profiles and book marketing.

Both are open to fiction writers. Most of us on both write novels and or shorts, for audiences of all ages, many being SFF and quite a few queer.

Left Text: AusWrites on yellow square background.Right test: Queer & Or ND & Or Dis Writers on brightly painted rainbow backgrou

There’s also a Discord for Aussie Writers, and one for Queer and or Neurodiverse and or Disabled writers (because why stop at two?) The Queer/ Disabled Writer Server is for discussing life as diverse people, and writing diverse characters.

To join any server, let me know by replying to my posts about them on Blue Sky or Mastodon, or via my contact page.

#StrictlyWritingResources

This tag has also fallen into disuse, but selecting#StrictlyWritingResources shows many great resources relating to craft, querying and more. Feel free to add resources you’ve found helpful or you’ve made on it or to tweet them on #StrictlyWriting.

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Which Other Writer Hashtags Exist? Many.

If you’d like hashtags to connect with specific types of writers, prompts, live chats & tip tags (on Twitter and Instagram), I’ve cataloged many in Writing Community Hashtag Guide.
If you’re interested in questions about wip content (eg. characters, setting etc), and writing, a good tag for this is #WritingQ which is also taking off on Blue Sky (see my Blue Sky Newby Guide to get started there).

If you’re new to writer social media and #WritingCommunity, you’ll find advice on what to post and getting started on multiple in Social Media for Writers.

Bird's eye view o long bookstall tables with books arranged across it, sellers seated  on one side, buyers standing on the other.
Am I selling my book to the best of my ability? Photo by Maico Pereira 

Whether you’re pitching to hook literary agents or readers, either way, you want to do it WELL. This blog focuses more on pitches for literary agents and publishers who take unagented work, but there’s still plenty for querying writers and indie authors both to learn. (And indie authors will have more wriggle room than this blog implies. It becomes ‘know the rules and know why you’re breaking them’ more for indie authors than traditional publishing pursuing writers).

Book Pitch vs. Blurb

On Twitter, you will see people use ‘pitch’ and ‘blurb’ interchangeably. A pitch is NOT a blurb. A pitch aimed at literary agents or publishers will not get you requests if it doesn’t include specific ingredients, address them clearly and well (see below). Pitches often conform to particular formulas, like ‘Character is X, but when Y happens character must A or else incur terrible C.’ There are variations, which include essential pitch ingredients (see below). Whereas, a back-of-book blurb may or may not include all the essential ingredients of a pitch. A blurb may also include bonus details to appeal to readers, like thematic statements. (Thematic statements are mostly NOT included in pitches because they take up limited space and are usually not what sells a book to industry professionals).

Book Pitch vs. Log lines

You may see people advising, ‘Don’t name characters in pitches. State their role or what makes them unique instead. Definitely state their uniqueness, but I suspect this advice confuses log lines with a pitch. A log line is generally telling the audience (eg. at the movies) they’re in for a wild ride or a fun journey. It’s not trying to get a literary agent or publisher to care about or take interest in a main character. Its not trying to persuade busy agents and editors that they like this character so much or relate to them so well that they want to spend their limited time reading about this character. ‘Little Timmy’ is more likely to generate sympathy or to be relatable than ‘little no-name’. So I advise against log lines in Twitter pitches (in a query letter it may work), and for either, I say name your main character!

Basics

Over the past year, I have critiqued an estimated 100+ tweet pitches for various parties (not including revised pitches). This has helped me note patterns in essential ingredients and maximise opportunities to hook a reader. However, quality ingredients don’t guarantee a quality end product. So I won’t just list ingredients, I’ll explain why it’s important to address them well, then give advice on how to do so.

Essential Book Pitch Ingredients

Main Character
Inciting event, central conflict & stakes
Character growth that must occur for the MC to resolve conflict and avoid stakes or impossible choice the MC must make

Before we dive in

Remember that your pitch isn’t just saying ‘this is a great novel’. You’re telling an industry professional why they want to represent your novel. So how does your novel differ from others in your genre? What is unique about your character, inciting event, conflict, stakes & character growth? As you draft and revise your pitch, keep checking that it highlights what is most unique and compelling about your novel. Try to be as specific as you can in your pitch.

Note For SFF & Multiple POV Writers 

It’s tempting to write an opening which introduces the wonderful world you have created -but don’t. In a tweet pitch and even in a query letter, you aren’t selling your fantasy or scifi setting. You’re selling an intriguing character, with a compelling personal role to play in a conflict involving significant personal stakes. This is why it’s so hard to pitch multiple points of view. Its also why, if your novel has multiple points of view, I recommend giving the main characters a pitch to themselves, to do justice to each character’s arc. You may also write like to attempt a 2 pov pitch. A two pov tweet pitch normally has a sentence to introduce each character and a third sentence explaining their roles and stakes in the conflict.

Character

Seated, brunette woman wearing fancy red headdress, black lipstick and a green silk, floor length dress wielding knife curved, jagged silver bladed knife.
Photo by Ferdinand studio 

Your main character is your hook. Your goal is to introduce them that piques interest and or invite a literary agent or publisher to connect with them. (Do name your MC- thats a mental hook for details about them to hang on and makes more sympathetic than ‘random, un-named office worker’.)
A character description could be a single adjective, or a job title. Ideally, it will show or state what your character draws on to help them confront the conflict and be specific to your character.
Eg. fear of swimming from near-drowning as a child, in a story of personal growth in which she sees a child drowning offshore at a deserted beach. However you introduce your character, consider: what is the most unique thing about them? What helps them resolve the conflict and what are the most engaging word choices to show or describe that?

Character Intro Examples

“17 YO Jorden’s specialties are baking apple pie, hand to hand combat and leaping before he looks.” -Debbie Iancu-Haddad @debbieiancu.

“Elective mute Ashari remembers nothing before the void in her mind.” -Halla Williams @hallawilliams1.

If you’re struggling to find space for an engaging character introduction, you could use the inciting event as your hook and frame your introduction with it, as I have done here. “Thrust to power by death in the family, peace-born Ruarnon…” -Elise Carlson.

Inciting Event and Tension

You might like to frame your character introduction with ‘when’ to lead into the inciting event. ‘When’ is a good opening to lead into a collision of worlds, desires or wills etc. It amplifies the fact that the character we’ve just met and connected with is about to have their world turned upside-down and leaves us wondering how and what the outcome will be. (Try not to use the phrase ‘turned upside-down’. This phrase is common to many stories and can sound generic. If you use it, highlight the way in which that character’s life is changed. Or their emotional response/ reaction, to keep the focus on what is ‘unique’ about your story). Ending with a clash of wills with another character, or clash of morals between the character’s beliefs and actions -with an obstacle to their goal or resolution of the conflict- is a good way inject tension.

Inciting Event Examples

“His suicide mission: Build a bomb, destroy a space ship and save the world.” -Debbie Haddad.

“Having lost her memory in a storm, she chooses the unlikely safety of becoming a mercenary for the enigmatic Captain Westorr.” -Halla Williams.

“Monsters live under beds, but Julie is sure there’s one in her ceiling.” -mine.

Conflict

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Photo by Chris Sabor on Unsplash

An important thing to note with conflict is that in a pitch you don’t create conflict by saying ‘there’s a war on.’ Conflict here doesn’t refer to external plot events. It refers to your main character’s personal struggles within those events. Or to struggles in relationships necessary to achieve story goals, or to moral or ethical dilemma’s your main character faces. Again, inclusion of these personal elements creates opportunity for readers to connect emotionally to your character and story and for your pitch to hook them.

Of pitches I’ve critiqued, I would estimate that half do not clearly state the external conflict and or the main character’s role in it. Author bias really kicks in here. You know your story so well that your subconscious fills holes in your pitch. But critical readers can point them out, so you can fill holes and clarify that pitch for industry professionals. This is where I highly recommend trading pitch feedback with other writers.

Conflict Examples

“But falling in love wasn’t part of the plan…” -Debbie Iancu-Haddad.

“There’s only one way to find out and stop being scared -climb the tree beside the house and meet the THING!” -my picture book pitch.

Stakes

Once you have introduced a character and conflict which has hooked our interest, we need to know not only the external stakes, but the personal stakes your character faces. A pitch in which the stakes are ‘or the world will be destroyed’ is generic. Also, the world/ fantasy kingdom x’ is an anonymous entity the reader knows nothing about, so it has little impact on us. A character however, is someone we can connect with, so when you threaten that character, we feel something. If external conflict is key to your story, be sure to state the character’s role in it and the personal stakes their role entails.

(Conflict and) Stakes Examples

“…completing his mission means sacrificing the girl he loves.” -Debbie Haddad.

“But ‘safe’ is a relative term. For both of them.” -Halla Williams.

Character Growth and Impossible Choice/ More Tension

Perhaps the greatest place to hook a reader into your pitch emotionally is when you state how your character must grow or develop to overcome the conflict. If main character Jane hates estranged uncle Tom, but his knowledge is crucial to preventing granny’s murder, and Jane must forgive Tom’s past mistakes to enlist his help in saving Granny -that adds tension.

Specific demons from your character’s past (or other obstacles/ shortcomings) they must overcome to resolve the conflict are often what makes me lament your book not being in print yet. Think about how your character must change to overcome the conflict they face and try to include it in your pitch. If you struggle to identify how your character changes (I did in my first Pitmad), this may be a sign that your novel isn’t ready to query. It may signal that your main character’s arc needs another structural edit (as mine did.)

Impossible Choice Example

“…she must use her voice or let her captain perish.” -Halla Williams.

But Wait, There’s More

The Save the Cat Formula features an addition that may be difficult to fit in a pitch, but can make a pitch highly engaging to read. This final ingredient to kick your pitch up a level is adding a complication to your character’s ability to resolve the conflict. Then indicate how this complication raises the stakes. What factor makes it even harder for your MC to achieve their goal? Does a friend betray them? Do they lose an asset crucial to success at the eleventh hour? Can you jam this complication and an indication of how it raises the stakes into your pitch?

“When a monster army invades…” (the second conflict in my novel).

Tweet Pitch Examples which got Agent Likes

The above pitch elements may seem like a lot, and you may only fit some of them into each pitch -which is why it’s great you get 3- so you can highlight different elements in each one. Here’s the pitches I’ve referenced above -each reference is often sections of 2 different pitches.

Debbie Haddad’s Pitches (You’ll find her website here.)

Crafting a Quality Book Pitch
Tweet: The day teen eco-terrorist Jorden Lund left Earth he had 4 months left to live.
His suicide mission: build a bomb, destroy a space ship and save the world.
But falling in love wasn't part of the plan and completing the mission means sacrificing the girl he loves.

Halla William’s Pitches . You’ll find her website here.

Late June 2020 update: Halla is now agented -congrats Halla!

How Do I Achieve All This in a Book Pitch On My Own?

You don’t. Whether you’re writing pitches, a query letter or book blurb, you can post on social media asking who’s happy to trade pitch feedback (which will get you more response than asking and not offering to return the favour).

Most of what I’ve learnt about pitch craft came not from reading blogs like this, but from reading MANY tweet pitches. It also came from reading query letters -critically- and providing feedback to help other writers strengthen their pitches. Not all of this knowledge applied directly to my own pitches (to date), but all of it has given me valuable insights.

If you’d like to join a Discord Server focused on querying and including tweet pitch and query and synopsis feedback channels, let me know by replying to my posts about it on Blue Sky on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

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More Book Pitch and Related Resources

I’ve listed the pitch parties I’m aware of, which months they’re held in and links to Pitch Party websites here.

You’ll find resource links spanning Query Letters & Synopsis to Finding and Communicating with Literary Agents, in this post.

If you’re new to social media Writing Communities, see my Social Media For Writer’s post, or Blue Sky Newby Guide to help you get started.

Writing Community Hashtag Guide

Text: WritingCommunity HashtagsBackground: pale blue

Hashtags boost tweet and post impressions, and on Twitter and Instagram alike, they can help you connect with writers in the #WritingCommunity, and with readers. There are specific hashtags for writing stages, genres, types of writers, promoting books and more. I’ve categorised hashtags by type and purpose to boost your visibility and help you find whatever you’re seeking in Twitter and Instagram’s Writing Community, via hashtag. [Note, this blog has not been updated since 2022, and as I’ve deleted my Twitter account in 2023, I can no longer check which writer chats remain on Twitter. You’ll find the ones that have moved to Blue Sky in my Blue Sky Newby Guide.]

Umbrella Writer Hashtags

First up, to find fellow writers to share the journey, share information, exchange beta reads etc, you need your tweets seen by writers. There are some popular, broad-in-purpose hashtags for this, including those below. Unless you’re posting on a niche topic (eg. steam levels in romance), I’d use at least one of these and a couple of specific hashtags (further down) as well.

Instagram Tags

#WritersCommunityOfInstagram

#WritersOfIg 

#WritersOfInsta 

#WritersSociety

Hashtags To Be Found/ To Find Writers On

Hashtags which say ‘I’m the kind of writer you are/ the writer you like to read’ are more likely to stand out on a Twitter feed and prompt us to read and reply -because they suggest we will relate to your tweet. Hashtags which say ‘I’m feeling your editing/ querying hopes/ agony’ also signal who will relate and invite a response. (If you use a few, well chosen, easy to see tags. For tweeting tips see this post.)
Some hashtags to give these signals with are Writer Type Hashtags, Genre tags and Wip (Work in Progress) Stage tags. I highly recommend the latter -most of the writer’s I’ve made friends and stayed in touch with on twitter are at similar stages of the writing process and tweeting about your wip’s stage on relevant hashtags is a great way to make those connections.

Twitter Tags

Instagram Tags

Writer by Type

#writersfindingwriters

#writersofindia

#poetsofindia

#writersofmirakee

(or search your country/ city -a few have tags).

#writersofcolor

#writersandpoets

Genre/ Text Type Tags

#FantasyAuthor/ writer

(Or your genre)

#amwritingfantasy

(Or your genre).

#Poets ( +variations)

#screenplaywriter

#nonfictionwriter

Writers at Same Stage, with Same Hopes/Woes Tags

Twitter Tags

Instagram Tags

#AmWriting

#AmEditing (You can add your genre too).

#Revising

#AmQuerying #AmPublishing

#WritersBlock

#WriterProblems

#WriterLife

Hashtags to Connect with Writers

Some writers tweet regular prompts to which other writers respond on specific hashtags. Mini writer communities can grow up around these, so if you like a prompt, I recommend viewing its feed (by selecting its hashtag) and interacting with other writers tweeting on it, as well as tweeting your prompt responses on the tag. (It’s not a prompt hashtag, but #StrictlyWriting (mainly on Twitter) has a small community talking about writing craft and the writing process on it, so you may like to search and reply to or tweet on it. For its companion tags & Discord Group, see this post).

Twitter Tags

Instagram Tags

Writer Prompts

#SFFWrite (DM me if you’d like to take over this prompt!)

#WriteStuff      

#SmoreWords     

#Auswrites         

#WriterlyWipChat

#WeaponsOfWriting  

Live Chats

(Courtesy of @AndrewRoberts66)

#5amwritersclub Daily EST

#WritersLifeChat Wed 8pm EST

#WriteChat Wed 10pm EST

#WeekNightWriters Fri 12:00 am UK

#StoryCrafter Sun 3pm EST

On Instagram, you don’t tend to get daily (or weekly) regular prompts. Challenges are more common, and they tend to run for set time periods. To find them, try typing #WriterChallenge in Insta’s search bar, and see which challenge hashtags that turns up. Check dates on posts in your search results to see if the challenge is still running.

NB: for more Insta tags see below Twitter Prompt & Twitter Help tags.

Twitter Shorts/ Poetry Piece Prompts

If you enjoy writing shorts or poetry, you’ll find regular prompts and fellow shorts writers and poets on these tags.  In this case, appreciating (and perhaps sharing via retweet) each other’s writing is a good way to connect. #WritingPrompts is used by a range of writers for a range of prompts, whereas the tags below have a single host tweeting prompt words on them, sometimes daily, sometimes on a particular day.  

Hashtags To Find Tips/ Help On Twitter

Whether you’re writing, revising, editing or querying, there are specific hashtags you can search to find tips and practical help. (In Twitter, selecting or pasting any hashtag in the search bar will display a feed of only tweets on that tag. All tags below are linked to those feeds).

To Tweet for Writer Help you’re welcome to use #StrictlyWriting or, if you’re searching for resources, #StrictlyWritingResources. For asking for help or tweeting to writers generally, #WritingCommunity is the best umbrella tag to use, which I tend to use with topic specific tags like genre or writing stage tags. Writers tend to tweet any subject on #WritingCommunity now, but the tag helps your tweets get impressions, so its still worth using.

To seek Critical Readers, you can ask who’s interested by tweeting on the Critical Reader Tags below.

Genre Promo Examples  

#YAFantasy

#LGBTQBooks

#Romance

Find Genre Promo Tags   

To find you genre, put your it/ your subgenre/ audience age (maybe with the word ‘books’) onto a # in the Twitter search bar, and see which variation of relevant tag is most popular.

More Instagram Hashtags

Writer Community

Hashtags

#WritersCommunity

#WritersSociety

#WritersHelpingWriters

#WriterSociety

#WriterCommunity

#WritersTogether

Tags to talk to

Writers

#WritersOfInstagram

#WritersOnInstagram

#FellowCreativeMinds

#WritersOfig

#WritersOfInsta

#Writers_Den_

#WriterGram

Author Type Tags

#IndieAuthor

#BlackAuthors

#AuthorsOfColour

#Authoress

#AuthorMom

#WattPadAuthor

#Authorpreneur

Talk to Authors

#AuthorLove

#AuthorsOfIg

#AuthorOfInsta

#AuthorOfInstagram

#AuthorsOfInstagram

#AuthorCommunity

#AuthorsCommunity

Tags to Talk About

Writing

#WritingANovel

#WritingABook

#StrictlyWriting

#JustWrite

Tip/ Help Tags

#WritingAdvice

#WritingTips

#AuthorsSupportingAuthors

Blog Promo Tags

#BlogPost

#InstaBlogger

#WriterBlog

#BookBlogging

#InstaBlogging

#BloggingCommunity

Critical Readers

#BetaReader(s)

#CritiquePartner(s)

Author Content Tags

#AuthorGram

#AuthorQuotes

#AuthorMemes

#AuthorLife

Author Activity Tags

#AuthorTalk

#AuthorVisit

#AuthorEvent

#AuthorInterview

#AuthorSigning

Book Lover Tags

#BookLover

#BookWorm

#BookAddict

#BookNerd

#ILoveBooks

#Bookish

Tags to talk about & or promote books

#BooksAndCoffee

#BooksBooksBooks

#BookPhoto

#BookPhotography

#Bookstagram

#AllThingsBookish

#BooksThatMatter

#BookLove

#InstaBooks

#FantasyBooks

(YourGenre)#books

Reader Tags

#BookReview

#ReadersOfInsta

#BookCommunity

#IgReads

#BookLovers

Poetry People Tags

#Poetry_Addicts

#PoetryLovers

#PoetrySociety

#PoetryTribe

#PoetryCommunityOfIg

Poem Tags

#Poetry

#MicroPoetry

#PoetryGram

#PoetryOfIg

#ByMePoetry

#PoetryIsArt

#PoetryPorn

#PoetryIsLife

#PoetryCorner

#PoetryForTheSoul

#PoetryIsNotDead

#PoetryOfInstagram

Instagram has many more tags and new ones developing. Searching any of the above tags and seeing which other tags people posting on them are using will turn up more related hashtags.

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Related Posts

If You’re New(ish) to Twitter or Instagram’s #WritingCommunity, here’s an Introduction and some tweeting and posting tips.

Leaving Twitter? Check out my Blue Sky Newby Guide.

For Pitch Party and Mentoring Program Hashtags, details & website links, see this post.

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