Yesterday, I got a notification from Twitter that it had been seven years since I signed up. I'd resisted Twitter for a while. The word "tweet" as a verb was so precious that it made my skin crawl. I couldn't imagine that anyone would be interested in anything I had to say, but I'd written my first manuscript and had just started querying and I'd learned quick that there was writing intelligence to be gleaned there.
I started by following publishing houses. After that, the algorithms began suggesting for me other people to follow within my area of interest: literary agents, publishing house editors, well-known authors. I followed everyone I could and followed back anyone who connected with me who had writing in their bio. The staggering amount of information at hand changed my life--and made me serious about getting published. These people were doing it--why not me?
Twitter isn't perfect and probably, overall, has not exactly assisted in calming my already busy life, but I'd never be a published author without it. I met my first critique partners there--in an online writing contest I heard about on Twitter. I learned about inciting incidents, story beats, saving cats, comma splices, to avoid people waking up at the beginning of chapter one, and that using the word "said" in my dialogue tags was preferable to "exclaimed" and "replied." I connected with other writers and exchanged query letters, first chapters, and later, whole manuscripts. I read agents' feeds about query mistakes and what they wanted to see in their inboxes. Publishers shared information on trends and overdone tropes and I learned. Side benefits: I learned early about much-anticipated book releases, discovered Goodreads, and once interacted with Betty Buckley, famed singer of "Memory" on Broadway.
I never took a creative writing class in school, though I took many that required persuasive writing. Without Twitter, I might never have learned all that was wrong with that first manuscript in time to write the better second one that eventually got me an agent. Sure, Twitter is full of political hot air and self-obsessed celebrities and spoilers for every form of entertainment you love. Though it's not how I learned to write, it is how I learned to write what might sell. It's how I found the other writers who would help me make that dream come true.
The word "tweet" still kind of makes me cringe. If you're interested in becoming a published author, though, Twitter is still where I'd recommend you start. Really, it's indispensable.
You can start by following me: @kbuttonw
Coming soon: THE DARKEST FLOWER!