Tag Archives: Twitter for writers

Pondering How Women Writers Self Identify on Social Media

stick-family-1449578571lWcLast week I posed a question on Twitter. I asked, Women Writers of Twitter who put “mom” or “wife” in your profile, why do you do that? Besides “it’s part of who I am.” I want to understand. As you might expect, I was being judge-y about it. My best friend and I had been talking the other day, and she said in her masters degree program in public health that the male professors introduce themselves as Dr. So-and-so, or Professor So-and-so, but the professors who are women, including the department chair, introduce themselves by their first names. This irked both of us. I believe professional women need to take themselves seriously if they want others to do the same.  I wanted to understand why women writers on Twitter would make the choice to include their marital or parental status. I know some male authors might include that information, but the majority don’t. Was there something going on here?

Mostly the responses to my question were variations of “it’s part of who I am.” Which didn’t really help me understand, but I get it. People wanted to engage with my question and that was what is there for them.

And I also heard, “I wrote my profile as if it were similar to a party when someone says ‘tell me about yourself.'” I can get that.

I heard, “I’m so proud of the fam. I came from a broken home, never thought I’d have a successful marriage or happy family.” Oh. Hmm.

I heard, “When I am in public w/my fiancé, other men give me more space than when I sit alone. Wife in profile = protection?” Wow.

I also heard from a number of women who are married to people in the military. One woman said, “I can only speak for myself, but I put army wife in my bio because there’s a sort of community for military spouses, since dealing with deployment is devastating. Helps to have people who know your pain, so the bio helps us to find each other.”  I’d never, ever thought about that.

Ok, so judge-y me was clearly schooled. There are so many reasons we each identify ourselves in the ways that we do, choosing the words that we choose. For example, I have consistently called myself a writer since I was a teenager, even though I have sometimes spent years not writing. My Twitter bio reads: I’m a literary agent. I’m usually reading. Or drinking coffee. Or reading while drinking coffee. So basically, I’m letting you know that I’m an over caffeinated Lit Agent. And who really cares that I drink coffee anyway? My bio is flip and quippy. Yet I just (very proudly) celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary and I stayed home raising my children for (what felt like) a gajillion years. Why didn’t I, too, identify myself on Twitter, and hence in my social media presence, as a wife and mom?

Something was bothering me about all of this. So I put up a poll and I really learned something.

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It turns out, people are using social media to be social! Holy crap.

In my myopic brain, I’d assumed that unpublished writers on Twitter could only be there for one reason: to find an agent or editor. Sometimes I’m a narcissistic fool. Sometimes (sometimes!) it’s not all about me. (Every time I re-read the previous sentence I laugh out loud at myself again.)

I love that we writers have social media with which to connect to other people. Writing can be a lonely and isolating endeavor. I also love that we literary agents, over caffeinated or not, have the opportunity to connect with writers online, to get to know what is important to them, to hear their voices, share in a little of their lives, and perhaps even find a client or two. And I love that we humans can always learn new things about others, that we have the opportunity to shift our perceptions, if we just listen to other people’s stories.

Writers: How do you identify yourself? Tell me in 15 words or less.

 

 

 

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Do Fiction Writers Need to be on Social Media?

Does chocolate cake need icing? Does my dog need doggie treats? Do children need playgrounds? Um, no to all, but they’re nice. Seriously, why wouldn’t you do everything you possibly can to get yourself noticed? Are you committed to getting an agent or will you sit in your drafty attic loft, starving, alone, miserable, agentless, with a manual typewriter, but knowing you’re a “real” writer? I mean, I happen to like my chocolate cake sans icing, with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Some agents say, “Don’t bother. I don’t even look at author blogs.” So you might ask yourself, “So why should I bother?!” Well, because not all agents say that.

I don’t give my dog doggie treats because she’s too fat and doesn’t listen to me anyway. But after reading an interesting query, I go straight to the author’s website or blog to “see” who they are. If there’s nothing listed, I google them. Yup. I do.

“The voice of a novel is a fictional voice. Therefore, the novelist doesn’t need a platform,” one of my blog followers opines. (Hi Megan! Thanks for the e-mail!) And I think city children do need playgrounds because they suffer from a lack of greenspace and outdoor time but I rarely took my own kids to playgrounds because we live near the beach and quite a few nature preserves. I say the authors behind the fictional voices can benefit from a little platform to stand on.

Is being on Twitter, hearing what editors are saying, listening to agents tweet, going to hurt you? If the answer is yes, than definitely stay off Twitter. But if it will help you in your query process or in your writing, than skulk and/or participate in the conversation. In this competitive industry give yourself every advantage you can, for crying out loud.

If you’re going to play in the social media playground, don’t use it as an excuse not to write though. Put up a website with some basic information about yourself and walk away and work on your manuscript. Or, if you’ve got some discipline, start blogging a little. For fun. So you know how. So if an agent or editor does want more information about you we have something to see.

It’s like a good college application essay. When so many high school kids have 104% averages, perfect or near perfect scores on their SATs, enough community service hours to put flush toilets in all of India and leadership positions in all the right places, how does the college admissions office decide who to let in? They look at what stands out about the student. When I have 276 queries in my inbox and there are a number of manuscripts that all look promising, yet I’m being extremely selective in my offers of representation, how do I know who to choose? The author who has a smart or funny or interesting or quirky blog or website or Twitter feed, that’s who.

But that’s just me. I mean, I prefer powdered sugar to buttercream on my chocolate cake after all.

What playgrounds do you play in, actual or virtual? 

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