Twitter Don’ts for Writers

My Twitter stream and online circles used to be dominated by technology folks and librarians. Over the past two or three years, I have been in the process of widening the range of people I follow on Twitter to include authors of various stripes and publishing folk. I have noticed some distressing, and often annoying trends, in some of the new people I have encountered.

This is a generalization and sweeping statement. I know. Please forgive me.

I present to you, as a public service announcement and as a plea for my own sanity, a list of Twitter Don’ts for Writers.* I will be doing to Dos in two weeks on the next Writer’s Chat.


Send auto direct messages. When I see that I have a DM from Twitter, I used to get all excited. One of my friends had a secret to share or a special message just for me. No longer. I can now almost always guarantee it is an auto spam DM from an author I just followed telling me to buy their awesome book, like them on facebook, or to send me a link to their super awesome webpage. No thanks. If I wanted to look at your super awesome website or buy your awesome books, I already did that before/when I followed you. At best, the auto DM causes annoyance. At worst, you get unfollowed.

RT everything. I too am guilty of sending more RTs than actual tweets some days, but I don’t make it a habit. There must be some writer’s groups who make this a practice (and I bet they have a name for it like “cross-promotion”) because I have noticed some groups of indie writers clog my feed on certain days. You know what my response is? Unfollow. I do not click on your links and I definitely will not be buying your books. If you do want to RT something, add a comment and make that tweet your own. And this brings me to the next item.

Tweet only book promos, yours or anyone else’s. If you take a close look at your Twitter stream and 50% or more of your tweets are book promos for your books or the books of other authors, ur doin’ it wrong. I am not saying you shouldn’t promote your books, but you should do so very sparingly. Not even everyday. As a reader, I am more likely to buy a book because I a) had a great interaction with the writer online or b) someone I respect/trust reviewed it and loved it. A great interaction is not a book promo, it is talking about something else not related to your books. Constant and overuse of RTing is not reviewing, it is spamming.

Don’t Be a Dick. Follow Wheaton’s Law and be nice. Writers can be passionate about writing because that’s what we do, get passionate about things. However, we need to control ourselves when it comes to being a dick about other people’s publishing choices when they differ from our own. Just be nice. Be happy when someone finds a publishing path which works for them and be a cheerleader not a dick.

#Over #use #hashtags #fortheloveofpete. Every time you overuse hashtags in your tweets, puppies and kittens die. Do you want to be a puppy and kitten killer?

Twitter and other social media tools are great ways of interacting with readers and connecting with other writers. Use these connections wisely and don’t make mistakes that will get you unfollowed.

What are some things people do on Twitter that make you unfollow them?

*This advice is good for Facebook as well, but I frequent that space much less often and thus am less likely to see these things there.