Part Two of How to Build Your Author Platform.
If you found this blog through social media, you’re already on your way to building an author platform. Nice! This installment of How to Build Your Author Platform is all about Twitter’s hashtags and personal branding.
So whether you’re just making your writing Twitter account or have had it forever, let’s briefly discuss branding, as it affects what hashtags you’ll use most. Ask yourself what you want to be known for personality-wise. In general, there’s two main types of accounts: firecrackers and calm waters. Calm waters grow followers slowly but steadily. They don’t tweet about politics, religion, or any other hot topic. Firecrackers gain and lose followers in bursts. One tweet shouting at lawmakers will go viral and all the sudden they’ll have 200 new writing friends.
If you’re unsure, think about what online personality you can maintain. Will there be days you want to take a fiery stand, or do you always want to stay out of polarizing topics? Both decisions are valid. Saskia and I have different online personalities. She keeps her tweets calm and writing-tip focused. I’m out there whacking a Westboro bigot with my protest sign, which happens to be writing-themed. I’d like to believe it’d say something like “I should be writing my novel, not my legal defense!”
If you’re unsure what sort of online personality to build, take a look at what you’re writing. What’s a major theme in your work? My work bleeds diversity, mental health representation, and finding one’s self— with a heavy dose of mule-headed stubbornness. Now it suddenly makes sense why all my #pitmad retweets were #ownvoices pitches.
Bring on the Hashtag Flood
As you’re developing your online personality, your best tool is hashtags. When you have tens of thousands of followers, you’ll have enough eyes on your tweets that you won’t need to lean as heavily on tags, but when you’re below 5000 followers, even firecrackers can find it hard to gain traction. Most people use the same two or three, which keeps their tweets circulating to the same people. If you want to reach a wider audience, you want to use the most popular hashtags as well as the niche ones that will introduce you to smaller, more devoted sections of the writing community.
The following hashtags are the most commonly used, equating to at least 30 tweets per hour, and may be used with any writing-related tweet.
#Writers / #Writer: Different people habitually use the plural or singular form. Use both for wide reach.
#WritingCommunity: Watch out for misspellings in the tag.
#Writerstable: Shorthand for Writer’s Table, I did once think it was only for writers with horses.
The following are examples of once-a-week writing tags.
These are generally prompted of some sort, such as sharing a line from a WIP of a certain genre. Each has a very devoted miniature writing community that comes back week after week to connect with others using the hashtag. Search the hashtag and ‘host’ to find the general rules for each tag. If you can’t immediately find a twitter bio who says they’re the host of the hashtag, use the hashtag and tweet “Who do I follow for this hashtag’s prompt?” The writing community is extremely supportive and will provide the answer, though it may take a second tweet with the smallest tags.
Monday: #Musemon, #Monsense
Tuesday: #tuestropes, #twisted2sday, #trickytues, #2WayTues, #TeaserTuesday, #BtrsTues
Wednesday: #1linewed, #wackywed, #wipwednesday, #WedWIPAesthetic
Thursday: #thurds, #ThursdayAesthetic,
Friday: #FictFri, #FantasyFriday, #SciFiFri
Saturday: #SatSplat, #SlapdashSat, #BadWordSat, #SciFiSat
Next, you have question hashtags
These hashtags are where the host asks questions to the writing community, and respondents use the hashtag to answer. They’re often lightly themed, which might mean they just want to hear a funny line from your book, what your villain would do while stuck in traffic, or a quote from a book with LGBT rep. These could occur once a month, weekly, or daily. So there’s something for everyone. Examples include:
#vss365 and #vss365a: These stand for Very Short Story 365 days a year. Each day, a word is given. This word should be in any tweet you make with the hashtag. The tweet should be a short story or scene. When you use the second hashtag, you are saying you’d like your tweet to be submitted for possible printing in an anthology, hence the A.
#WIPJournal: General questions all month
#PunchLines: Wants your funny lines
#VWG: Virtual Writing Group, a small tag for resources
#WriteCBC: UK monthly writing competition
#WipWordSearch: You post a line from your manuscript with the prompt word
#WIPworldbuilders: Very helpful for all your worldbuilding questions
#WordWhim: Happens on Wednesday, all genres welcome
#WriteLGBTQ: One of my faves. Supportive.
#Writerslift: Lifts up new writers or writers in need!
#beElysian: Happens on Fridays. Has delightfully rare vocab prompts.
#Sffwa: For women in sci-fi and fantasy
#Readysetwrite: General writing tag, not too commonly used
#BardBits: Users make short prompted poems
#WomenWrite: Hosted every Saturday, open to all genders and genres
#Writerproblems: General. Uncommon but relatable.
#WIPJoy: Daily prompts that are handed out quarterly. Open to all.
#LesFicFri: Lesbian Fiction Friday. Prompted and adorable.
#amwritingfantasy / #amwritingromance / #amediting / #amquerying: less common cousins of #amwriting
#Fantasmance: For everyone writing fantasy with lots of romance or romance with lots of fantasy
#NerdWriters: Sundays, all writers welcome
#Writeaskew: For everyone, hosted on weekends
#hangtenstories: Another daily writing hashtag, they also have word prompts.
#FF: Follow Friday. You’ll always meet new writing friends this way.
#pitmad: an event that happens multiple times a year where you pitch your novel to American agents
Finally, there’s genre hashtags
#sff: science fiction and fantasy
#mh: mental health
#ownvoices: written about an underrepresented community by a member of that community
#YA: young adult
#MG: middle grade
#PB: picture book
#WF: women’s fiction, may also use the hashtag #womensfiction
How to remember all that
@WriteEvents is a free account you can follow that covers most daily writing hashtags and their themes, though not all of them. Still, I highly advise searching them on Twitter once in a while to learn new hashtags or to scroll through their feed and see if there’s any new hashtags you want to try out.
Try out hashtags for a while, see what ones you like best, and challenge yourself to occasionally use new hashtags to reach new audiences. This’ll allow you to meet the most writers the quickest. And remember, it’s always okay to ask the writing community for help. If you use the #writingcommunity hashtag while asking your question. It’s such a big hashtag, a lot of helpful eyes will see it.
In a later blog, we’ll discuss other instrumental ways to grow your social media following. In the meantime, though, think about how often you post to Twitter. Consistency is your best friend, after all. You want to post often and according to how you’ve branded yourself.
It’s perfectly okay to post a couple times a week like I do, but you will get better results if you post each day like Saskia. If you’re not on Twitter everyday, you can use tweet planners where you type ten tweets at once and schedule them to be sent out over the next few days. This works better for calm accounts since firecrackers tend to react to what’s currently happening in the news. Once you’ve built a sufficient author platform on Twitter, there’s Facebook and Instagram to master. Now, speaking of Twitter, if you want to follow Saskia and I, I’ve linked us below. If you have any writing hashtags I don’t know about, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Happy writing.
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