Twitter continues to be the very best social network for the publishing industry. Whether you’re publishing traditional, self, indie, or hybrid, your people are here, both writers and other pros. But if you’re not using hashtags, you’re not fully engaged with this online community yet.
Social media (emphasis on social) is like a cocktail party. If you’re going to get all gussied up and rush halfway across town straight from work to hit up a publishing event, you’re not going to spend the entire time talking to that one friend you already see all the time. (Right??? Don’t do that.) You’re going to mix, mingle and meet some people.
The same idea applies to Twitter—don’t just connect with the same people you already know from other places, mix! Mingle! Meet! Hashtags are your totally non-awkward way to weasel into an existing conversation, make some connections, and learn a thing or two about what’s up in the industry.
To turn a word in your Twitter post into a hashtag, all you do is add the hash symbol (#) to the front of it. No spaces. No other special characters. That’s it.
Here are some of my favorites to get you started:
- #amwriting — If you’re posting about your writing process or work in progress, this is a great one. View the feed of this hashtag to cheer on others, wax eloquent on the struggles of the craft, or seek support. To join a specific genre community, add it to the end: #amwritingromance, #amwritingfantasy, etc.
- #writelife — This hashtag used for inspiration and sharing challenges related to life as a writer. Related: #authorlife
- #5amwritersclub — Even if you don’t literally start at 5am on the dot, this hashtag for morning writers consists of a lot of coffee talk, word count, and digital high-fiving for showing up.
- #querytip — Agents share their insights into the querying process, and how to catch their eye.
- #10queries — Agents again, this time offering 10 posts in a series in quick succession, offering their reactions to 10 queries from their slush in a row. Great for getting in an agent’s head beyond the general advice. Also sometimes #tenqueries.
- #mswl — Short for manuscript wish list. If you’re querying, this is gold: A direct line to what agents are craving to see, right now. If you’ve got a project that lines up, you’ve got the perfect opening.
These are only a few examples I personally love—keep an eye on your favorite writer accounts for even more.
Including Hashtags in Posts
Before you start using a hashtag yourself, skim through the recent posts in its feed. You can do this by clicking on the hashtag in someone else’s post or running a search for it. (Don’t make assumptions about what a hashtag means—you’d be surprised what’s out there.)
Once you have that sense of colloquial usage for context, fire away! Start using the hashtag in your own posts when appropriate. Try to avoid using the exact same tags in every single post, though—it’ll read as coming on too strong. So mix it up. Use a variety of hashtags (up to three per post) and don’t feel you have to tag every post. Use them when it makes sense.
Engaging with Hashtags
Hashtags should be a two-way street, so don’t just blast them out and wait for the likes and retweets to come in.
Check in on the feeds of your favorite tags from time to time, and retweet, like, and reply to posts from others. That’s where the greatest benefits lie for growing your network and meeting new people.
Join the Party
If Twitter is a cocktail party, come on in and grab yourself a drink! Shake some hands! Discover some new friends!
Hashtags are your ticket to start connecting with hundreds of growing communities and ongoing conversations on a network where publishing is throwing a continuous mixer. So get out there and have some fun.
By day, Emily Wenstrom is an author social media coach and content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.