Tag Archives: social media

Twitter for Writers: Top People to Follow on Twitter (and Useful Hashtags)

I’ve posted before (Why Writers Should Use Twitter and Social Media for Writers: Twitter v Facebook) about the ways I’ve come to value Twitter.  I’ve gathered a list of the people and organizations I’ve found most interesting to follow on Twitter this year.

I recommend them based on interest, usefulness and activity level on Twitter.  That is important to say, since, for example, the lit-mag and writer lists clearly leave off many magazines and writers I love.

The list is partially annotated, and loosely categorized (nearly all of those listed might fit in more than one category) and includes some related hashtags.  Also, there are links to my lists within Twitter, to find more writers, magazines and more.

I hope it is useful to you, and would be interested to hear  your own recommendations in the comments — better yet, look me up!  Elissa Field on Twitter: @elissafield.

* * *


(Some agent specialties are listed, although I follow many agents outside my genre, based on the information shared in their tweets.)

@RachelleGardner – an agent whose advice on everything from querying to income is thorough and honest.

@DonMaass – ubiquitous agent, Donald Maass

@SaraMegibow – a lovely agent at Nelson Literary Agency, who shares sample replies by posting #10queriesin10tweets (Thursdays)

@michellewitte – MG & YA lit

@sarahlapolla – associate at Curtis Brown

Michelle, Sarah and other agents share advice in open Q & A #askagent chat (Wed evenings)

@greyhausagency – represents romance and women’s lit, and shares sample replies with #GLAQueries

@NepheleTempest – CA lit agent, writer, reader

@QueryShark – a great resource, offering frank critiques of queries submitted by writers

(Note: you can find more than 30 agents and junior agents by checking my list of agents .)


@mpnye – Michael Nye is managing editor of Missouri Review, and author of Strategies Against Extinction

@HannahTinti – editor of One Story, author of The Good Thief and more

@robspill – Rob Spillman, Tin House editor

@MargotLivesey – editor of Ploughshares, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy (on my reading list) and other novels

Also, check out my list of editors, and publishers.

Literary Magazines:

@parisreview – The Paris Review

@GrantaMag – Granta

@_conjunctions – Conjunctions

@Missouri_Review – Missouri Review

@haydensferryrev – Haydens Ferry Review

@mcsweeneys – Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly

@NERweb – New England Review

@asfmag – American Short Fiction

@TheReviewReview – a review of literary magazines

@Tin_House – Tin House

@PaperDarts  – Paper Darts

@onestorymag – One Story

(In addition, here is a listing of 70+ literary mags I follow.)


@NathanEnglander – his Ministry of Special Cases (2008) was one my best-reads last year

@meganmayhewbergman – has been featured in BASS and has a great short story collection out (2011). Her tweets about writing and life on a New England farm with tiny daughters and vet-husband are elegantly genuine.

@Benjamin_Percy – a great writer, on my list of great workshop leaders as well

@alexanderchee – author of Edinburgh (2002), with new novel coming

@alanheathcock -award winning author of highly charged collection, VOLT (2011)

@CherylStrayed – author of the memoir Wild

@tayari – Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow and more

@SalmanRushdie – does he need introduction?

@Shteyngart – most enjoy his tweets in exchange w others, like Rushdie

@novaren – the writer of YA novel, Imaginary Girls, and more

@katemessner – a children’s writer and TED2012 speaker, who hosted TeachWrite! camp this summer

@alexizentner – author of Touch and The Lobster Kings (coming 2013)

@unitedirishman – Irish ex-pat writing crime noir (his The Cold Cold Ground is on my reading list), whose blog is fierce with wit and intelligence

I will read anything this witty writer posts:

@mat_johnson – author of the novel Pym, whose twitter profile reads, “Because it amuses me to say so.”

@emmastraub – author (on my summer reading list: Other People We Married (2012)), bookseller, @RookieMag  staffwriter, with a lovely wit.

(I follow many more writers than this, so check my list of writers.)


@Duotrope – a powerful writers’ resource listing 3,500 publications, with submission tracker — posts updates about publication reading periods, etc.

@newpages – tweets updated info on litmags, booksellers and more for writers, editors and readers.

@GrubWriters – Grub Street center for creative writing in Boston, hosts the MUSE conference in May (hastag #MUSE2012, or -2012

@poetswritersinc – Poets & Writers magazine – the only “how to” magazine I’ve ever liked for writers

@galleycat – “first word for news in the publishing industry” from Mediabistro

@PublishersLunch – tweets for Publishers Weekly

@BTMargins – Beyond the Margins literary blog

@janefriedman – has been an editor, current role changing, she posts frequently on all aspects of publishing and promoting literature


@JonathanGunson – a writer, sharing publishing, writing & emedia advice

@ErikaDreifus – author of The Quiet Americans, collects and shares useful information for writers

Teaching & Teaching Writing:

@writingproject – National Writing Project

@edutopia – “what works in education” – the George Lucas educational foundation

@RWTnow – Read Write Think. org

@nytimeslearning – New York Times Learning Network

Social Media or PR:

@robertleebrewer – a poet whose blog My Name is Not Bob is generous with advice on social media and more

@kmullett – Kevin Mullett – a developer/designer tech guy, not PR, who just… well, seems to get all those things folks have questions about

@wordwhacker – Linda Bernstein – writer, editor, blogger, posting about all this and social media and parenting

Look for Kevin and Linda on SM & tech chats using hashtags including: #pinchat #toolschat #tocc (tools of change)

Indie Booksellers:

@TatteredCover – an indie in Denver, with great online content

@indiebound – use indiebound.org to locate your neighborhood indie bookseller online, or purchase books online from any indie in the network.

(Raid this list to find all the independent booksellers I follow. Find one near you to do your shopping.  Find one to order from.  Connect with these guys to build your reading tour when your book launches.)

News Sources:

My two favorite sources for news:

@nytimes – The New York Times

@guardian – The UK’s Guardian

Other sources I follow:

@reuters – Reuters top news

@the_irish_times – Irish Times

@washingtonpost – Washington Post

Book News & Reviews:

@nytimesbooks – New York Times Books

@nybooks – NY Review of Books

@latimesbooks – LA Times Books

@guardianbooks – Guardian Books

Online Curators:

@brainpicker – Maria Popova shares one brilliant thing found online

@FridayReads – use the hashtag #fridayreads to share what you are reading each week

More Hashtags and Chats I Follow:

#toc variations – Tools of Change discussions and conferences

#litchat – literary or book chats held several times each week – great to visit, or to add to your book release tour

#YAlit, #MGlit or #kidlit – chats about young adult, middle grade & children’s lit

#amwriting #writetip – for kindred spirits at work on writing

#WSchat (formerly #MNINB) – Used by Wordsmith Studio, a writers’ group formed by participants from Robert Lee Brewer’s April 2012 Platform Challenge

#educhat – matters related to teaching and education

Twitter trick: Have you ever wondered what a hashtag stood for and didn’t know how to look it up?  Try this: http://tagdef.com/

(If you’re curious about a meaning and the tag is not listed on the tagdef site — as happened for me with #WTLconf12 — you can always tweet someone using the tag to ask them the meaning.)

* * *

Feel free to add your suggestions or your own Twitter ID in the comments, and do look me up: @elissafield

Housekeeping takes time: if we are already connected on Twitter, check to see if I added you to the twitter list you would fit on by checking here. If not, private message me so I can add you.

* * *

Related Posts:

*     *     *     *     *

If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s follow option, or via email or RSS feed. I love to connect with like minded bloggers!

Coming next:


Filed under Reading, Seeking Publication, Social Media

Social Media for Writers: Twitter (vs. Facebook)

I was just responding on Facebook to writer Kathy Conde, who read my last post about Why Writers Should Use Twitter (and my 5 Top Tips). Kathy is a fabulous writer in Colorado .  We met through online forums, but she expressed her reluctance with Twitter as arising partly from the cryptic brevity of twitter-speak.

Not just hashtags, not poetic brevity.  Twitter is more like semaphores, is it not?  Like telegram days, when you paid by the word. “Not dead. Home soon.”

We rose up from being cavemen, right?  Grunted, “Talk gooder,” and invented grammar for clarity.  Spent centuries melding language from hundreds of cultures to achieve elegance and exactness in word and sentence and intonation. Wordsmiths from throughout the ages must be smacking foreheads in their graves over this ugly Twitter relapse in language skills.

On that we agree.  I shudder to type “r” as a verb when 140 characters doesn’t leave room for the “a” and “e.”

But here’s the thing. If I were a sentry on a Revolutionary hill who spotted troops advancing, I might later have written a letter to my mother with real words and exclamations to describe the experience — but, in the moment, I would have been pretty stoked to have signal fire on hand to warn the distant village.

What’s odd about that metaphor is part of why Twitter is actually more intimate than one would expect. All that sentry can do is light a fire. Yet imagine the people in the village, the moment they see the plumes of smoke. Instantly, they know what the signal fire means. They experience communication of the shared fear — internally getting all it implies.  They build their own fire to signal back, “We saw it.  Thanks,” and to relay the warning on to the town next distant.

The signal fire at work for writers: Writers (Cheryl Strayed, Meghan Mayhew Bergman, Rebecca Makkai, Saeed “Ferocious Jones”) post that they have a reading at a book store tonight. I’m not in their town, but I know immediately their mix of expectation and hope for an audience. I have followers in that town.  I retweet, lighting signal fire for the next village:  “Are you in Brooklyn/Minneapolis/Pittsburgh… ? Go see…”

Twitter does this, but accomplishes what the fire only wished it could. That sentry, now long in his grave, nods in envy, because his fire could signal only “danger.”  The citizens of London neighborhoods tweeting about riots last summer could name streets, buildings, the kinds of danger and, when details got longer than 140 characters, add a link.  The sentry could have linked a blog on the number of soldiers, if they were on foot or horseback, a map with the direction of approach.

The signal-fire-plus-link works for writers partly through the access it gives us to immense cross sections of useful reading.  One Sunday morning I stumbled across a post with a hashtag for a publishing industry “non”-conference held in NYC, with countless industry players tweeting streams of the current issues and thoughts in the industry live from the various panels and roundtables they attended. Another morning began with link to a lighthearted and candid New York Times feature sharing Nathan Englander’s plans for the day, from coffeehouse and dogwalking, through writing and editing, through evening dinner plans. My last two Mondays, morning writing was kicked off by inspiration from Twitter links. This week, it was an hour-long conversation between Michael Chabon and Andrew Sean Greer, recorded at the Aspen Institute’s Winter Words.  They became the conversation in the room, as I re-envisioned a scene for my Irish novel (random piece about the character’s difficulty to steady his key to open a lock), that I now love.

Of course, the signal-fire-plus-link also serves writers as a chance to reach readers, by sharing links to new work or blogs, or simply things that interest us.

The main reason I have come to prefer Twitter over Facebook in recent months comes partly because of Facebook’s constantly shifting respect for its users — I begin to doubt the company’s integrity in how it will use our information, and many of my friends have begun to shun it, which makes it less useful to me.  Beyond this, Twitter offers a different kind of access than FB.  The benefit of Facebook conversations is they are comparable to a chat you’d have with someone you know over coffee. In that sense, they are more full and extended. The benefit to exchanges on Twitter is you have access to anyone. Exchanges are more limited, like what you’d say passing someone in the hall or riding on an elevator or passing on the street, possibly handing off a paper to be read. But think about that “passing on the street” essence:  How often, passing a stranger on the street would they pause in their step to tell you about the fab article they just read?  On Twitter, they do.  And that’s the difference.  Like living in a friendly, small town — but populated by everyone you could hope to connect with, in any industry or area of interest.

I describe it as a warm environment, but key to that is the amount you participate. If you rarely post or connect, then exchanges will be as cold as that stranger reading the paper on the subway. As you become more engaged, those “on the street” exchanges seem more like the way people in small southern towns used to call out to each other, sitting on front porches, to trade news. The people on the street may still be strangers, but with the familiarity of people in your village.

A couple weeks ago, Nova Ren Suma (author of Imaginary Girls and other young adult fiction, whom I first discovered through a Twitter #YAlit chat) was one of dozens of people tweeting that she was going to see Hunger Games.  Only, I knew that her tweeting this news was different from the hundreds of others reporting on the movie’s premiere, because she was in her second week of a monthlong writer’s residency in a grassy-hilled retreat overlooking the distant Pacific, so it took the coincidence of an excursion into town for her to be able to see the movie. I’ve read enough updates by New England writer Meghan Mayhew Bergman about her children, her marriage to a country vet, and their countless dogs, cats, chickens and other animals, to feel it when she posted about the sadness she felt, watching their aging dog approach her up the drive.

That said, I completely get the blank cryptic feel Twitter has.

In my post the other day, I said it took me months (years?) to warm to Twitter. Even now, I don’t feel that connection every time I glance at the feed.  The reason I post an article like this is because all the new forms of media are continually evolving grey areas for all of us. I once loved Facebook, wrangling all my friends to join. Now, I use it less, while a few of those who once refused to join are the ones prodding me to get back to it. I was reluctant with Twitter, now I sing its praises, although maybe six months from now I’ll be posting what a time-drain it is and no one clicks my links anyway (grinning, to imagine). Oh, now friends, don’t let’s even mention Pinterest. I was complete skeptic there, but do you know the greatest linker to my blog these days?…

If you want to find me on any of these media forms, I do welcome connection.  In the comments, I’m sure we’d all love to hear what media has worked for you and which ones you avoid.

* * *

Related Posts:

Why Writers Should Use Twitter & Top 5 Tips to Get Started

Twitter for Writers: My Top Recommended Users (& Useful Hashtags)


Filed under Social Media

Why Writers Should Use Twitter and Top 5 Tips to Get Started

The legacy of Cypress Gardens (waterskimag.com)

Some of the best articles I read each week are through fellow blogs, newsfeeds and links I find on Twitter (find me at elissafield).  That said, since Twitter has played such an important role in where I am getting and sharing this reading, it’s time I sound off on why I think Twitter is so valuable.

I bet many of you are still Twitter skeptics.  A year ago, I had 3 Twitter accounts and honestly… could not see the point. I used Facebook daily to communicate with friends around the world (literally). I set up a separate Facebook for writing, and had been connecting with writers at Poets & Writers’ Speakeasy since back when not all of us had email accounts (really).

But, man.  That Twitter just made no sense.

Last fall, between following a series of advice on how to use the thing and beginning to use it more regularly, something clicked.

I can say this: it’s like when my dad taught us to waterski as kids.  Those first hundred yards, as the rope between you and the boat goes taut and begins to drag you artlessly through the water, the skis and chunky ski jacket adding resistance so it seems impossible to imagine you could ever lift up and glide across the water, it was so tempting to let go and give up. Newbies do that, calling back to whomever goads them on, “It’s not working!” But keep those skis and body in the right position, lean back against the pull as the boat gains speed, and there it is: water rushing beneath lifts the skis and up you go.

Getting up on skis isn’t impossible, but it’s a matter of getting up on plane – letting the boat accumulate speed and overcoming resistance so you lift and skim across the water.

In this metaphor, Twitter isn’t gliding when you first sign up because you do not yet have the momentum of a community to lift you, and you are not yet actively using muscles to work with that lift, to engage in the community so that posting and reading feels as fluid as conversation.  Once you seek out that lift and engage yourself, you pull free of the resistance and glide.

Why bother?

Extending the metaphor, the reason I’d push people to make the effort with Twitter is that active tweeps (Twitter peeps) find it becomes their hottest source of information, just like waterskiers who come to dash, leaping, across wakes.

For one, Twitter has become my fastest and most reliable source of news. New York Times and Guardian UK post news alerts the moment news hits, before it’s compiled and released through other media. I read about London riots on tweets last year, before anyone knew of the first fires. Reporters at the front lines and witnesses on site post firsthand accounts, and the media post frequent updates, so I get a more complete and corrected picture than other media has time to serve.

But beyond news, I’ve gained a watercooler intimacy on issues throughout the publishing industry. Not only can you get periodic news from the magazines and publishers you admire, but can connect individually with their editors, as well as agents, book reviewers, independent booksellers, librarians, and writers, readers and educators, at all levels.

And, hey, we’re not all that serious all the time. Can I say how thrilled I was to trade tweets with Tom Colicchio as he live-tweeted through Top Chef, or to trade tweets with the Dowager Countess Maggie Smith?

* * *

That said, here are my top tips for getting up on plane with Twitter:

5 Top Tips for Succeeding with Twitter.

1)  Identify yourself clearly. Establish your account in the name you use for writing, not a nickname. This is how people can find you. Take the time to write a bio statement for your profile, that lets people know who you are. Do you write? Say you’re a writer. Is it poetry? Fiction? Nonfiction? Add that. Most of us have a day-job, too, or we’re parents or have other interests that impact who we are as people and as writers. Note these simply, and unapologetically. If part of your schtick is that you’re funny, be funny. If not, don’t think you have to be. Just try to convey who you are. And, hey – you can modify it as often as you want, as your identity changes.

2) Get people linking to you.  The key to Twitter is to draw further connection, so make sure to include a link to you, in your profile. If you have multiple media sites (Facebook, Pinterest, a blog, Tumblr), assume people will only click one, so list the primary link that you want to draw traffic to.  For example, list your website or blogsite, and have links to Facebook or other media on those sites.  (Note: there is an option to create an About.me page, which is a splashy bio app, but don’t do that unless you have no other sites, as it will actually be diverting traffic away from your site.)

3)  Find key people to follow. Search out friends and colleagues. Search out authors, magazines and editors you admire. Follow your favorite news media or other influencers. Okay, not bad. When I was at this point, I was still a Twitter skeptic. The change from skeptic to being on-plane came for me when I discovered lists of the most recommended people to follow on Twitter.  Here are three lists of people to follow.  The first list is my own, posted June 14, 2012, and the other two each offer a different emphasis in selecting people to follow.

4) Use hashtags. Seriously, I think it’s a stupid word. We’ll move past that. Definition: hashtags are words, letters or abbreviations, preceded by the pound symbol: #. Wow do they make posts look ugly. We’ll get past that. They work. I really began to jump wakes with Twitter when I began making connections with others by participating in conversations I discovered using hashtags.  How? Keep one image in mind: growing community in Twitter is like the growth of crabgrass — you want to branch sideways, to reach more than just the people in your sights.

  • Use them when you post: When you post without hashtags, only your “followers” see your post. What if you’re new and are only followed by your mom and the account you set up for your dog? You found this great article on McSweeneys that jumpstarted your writing Monday morning, and posted the link. You had a Zen moment and posted a wise mantra.  You shared news that you finally finished novel edits. Unfortunately, the dog can’t read (What’s up with that? Lives in a house full of books, all that time on his paws, and still can’t read.), and mom is a twitter skeptic, so no one read your brilliance. When you add the hashtag (#writing or #amwriting, for example), it includes your post in the feed for conversations on that topic. Someone halfway across the planet you have no other opportunity to connect with now sees and clicks your link. They now: a. get the brilliance no one else saw, b. follow you to experience more brilliance, and c. retweet you, so the 2 or 200 or 2000 people following them now also see your brilliance.
  • Use hashtags when you read.  These hashtags are trickier — they tend to be tags you see included in an interesting post by a key player you are following. Don’t know what a hashtag means? Click it and see what people are talking about. Major conferences and events will establish a hashtag — for example, Associated Writing Programs used #AWP2012 during the annual conference that attracted some 10,000 writing and education professionals.  I’ve used hashtags to read the livestream of reporters attending a press conference for an international event who were live-tweeting before they even sent news back to their news desk (yeah, wow), and the livestream of publishing movers and shakers live-tweeting from panel discussions they were attending at an “un-conference” on change in the industry, held in NYC one Sunday morning. In both cases, not only did I gain remarkable insights by reading, but retweeting the genius I was witnessing convinced others I was genius as well, and led to many of my followers.
  • Use hashtags to participate in live chats. For nearly any topic you could want, there are live chats held on twitter, which you find by using the chat’s hashtag. I write adult fiction, but teach middle grades and ended up making connections with several young adult fiction writers, publishers, agents and teachers by participating in #YAlit (young adult) and #MGlit (middle grade fiction) chats I stumbled on to. I’ve met writers discussing their writing process by participating in “book tour” chats at #litchat, and discussed trends in education with teachers on various edu-chats.
  • You will notice that people also use joke hashtags, which is a funny way to make a point, although will not develop into a conversation unless everyone uses the tag. #works #pointmade #fewerwords That’s one reason for doing it. You can add an emotion to the post without having to say it in a full sentence, which the 140 characters don’t allow.  In twitter, I could have made the joke above with the silly hashtag #dogdoesntread #whatsupwiththat.
  • To get started, try this list of 40 Twitter Hashtags for Writers.

5) Number one suggestion is going down as number 5: participate. Reply to tweets. Comment on articles you read. Retweet articles that are worthwhile. I can give more specific advice about each of these, but will keep it simple here, because it is absolutely important to get this message: be genuine. Twitter is not for blasting demands. You may want people to buy your book or read your blog or follow you, but expect these things to happen naturally because you establish yourself as a participating member in the community. If you tweet and retweet things that are of interest, people will be drawn to find out more about you. Yes, share alerts when you post a new blog or get a story published, but readers will “unfollow” tweeters who only post “buy my book” updates. Don’t: harass, stalk, turn into a megalomaniac or post that you ate cereal for breakfast. Do: send thank you messages when people follow you, reply with interest when you liked a post or link, retweet the things you found worthwhile. Be genuine. Be mannerly. Be funny if it’s in you. Be helpful. Share what you know.

Those are my top five.  Feel free to start by connecting with me and seeing who I follow.  Leave comments to let me know how it goes, or post questions I could address in the next post.

* * *

If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, or via email or RSS feed. I love to connect with like minded bloggers!

Related Posts:

Coming Next:


Filed under Social Media, Writing Life