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Historical Fiction Writers and the case for Twitter

The case for Twitter and tips for a Historical Fiction Writer Presence (and thoughts for more engagement amongst us).

I love Twitter. As a writer, it’s a small haven for me. I live in a rural area that is two hours away from writers groups and book stores, and though the area is blessedly full of readers, artists, and thinkers, I can’t get my fill of writerly chat except by Twitter.

So Twitter is my virtual writer “group.” When I find good writing tips on Twitter, I bookmark and sometimes even save them to Moments. Of course, I do meet with writers in person, also.

I recently attended the Historical Novel Society’s Bi-Annual Conference. This is my second time to attend. It’s an amazing conference where I get to geek out and make new writer friends. I’m also getting to meet my writer friends I’ve made on Twitter in person.

In fact, there are many writers here who are on Twitter and who are having meet-ups of their own. But I keep running into many others who are not on Twitter, mostly because they are afraid of it or who feel they have nothing to contribute to it. This is a basic Twitter post for writers afraid to take the plunge, but with some additional ideas for the rest of us historical fiction lovers to engage more communally.

We have something unique to offer the universe. We are generally empathetic, well read, and deep thinkers. And most importantly, we—of all people—know just how sexy and vital Historical Fiction is. Our group chatter will help highlight this to others. And Twitter is a great venue to spread the word to an innately curious audience. We can grow our reader audience by informing them of the greatness of Historical Fiction. Yes, Instagram is great to highlight book covers, but it doesn’t provide the same interaction.

But, (you may think) I don’t know what to say.

Yes, the first few tweets are strange. You think: what point can I make in a mere sentence or two? Who in the world cares? What if I sound stupid?

Short Answer to Tweeting:

Hashtags, View, You

Long Answer:

Stop worrying about these things.

Writers are a very friendly and supportive group, and they are chatty. Though Instagram is great for giving the world a picture of our process and lives, Twitter is about the creative use of language. It is creative writing! And, let’s face it, Twitter helps hone that elevator pitch.

In Twitterverse, people—especially writers—use hashtags to have conversations amongst themselves. They don’t downgrade responses, except to call out trolls, so that you can quickly block those persons without engaging. (More on that later).

Popular Hashtags change, but some are:

#1lineWed (a themed way to post a line or more of your current WIP)

#thurds (Thursday words, also themed each Thursday)

#HistFic (main historical Fiction tag)

Other generally lovely hashtags are:

Another great writer hashtag that is much more than a movement is #PitchWars (along with other tags the Pitch Wars group uses for agent pitches. And representation does happen!). Also #NaNoWriMo has a huge presence here. These deserve posts of their own, so for now please trust me on this.

A few specific daily hashtags for authors are:

Also find your own fun ### that might help you connect with readers. For example, many readers like cats. Cat lovers post fun #Caturday pics.

You can search # for trending hashtags—the writer ones tend to trend more heavily earlier in the morning. Also watch what ###s your writer friends use. Hopefully you’ve been exchanging cards at the conference. Follow all those twitter writers! Search #HNS2019 to do this, and ❤️ their posts to spread the joy. It would be so nice if we continued having themed hashtags so we could collectively share our love of historical fiction and our unique processes. Examples that might work:

#HistFicDaily —for a historical fiction daily check in on our research, unique process and news

#HNSgram —for writing news and updates, prior to or after conferences can have themes

#HFCraft —cool how to pointers and posts

#HNSChat —for themed or timed chats among members and others we draw

Or #HFChitChat (the brain child of my Twitter friend @jgnoelle — go follow her! (This weekend when we met @dolen writer of Wench and Balm who told her she was going to be famous one day!)

If you want to reach a wider audience, you can always pair these with other ###. Also, I know we love Instagram and many authors have real success there. These hashtags and others can help united us as a group and highlight our work there and on FB as well. (#HNS2019 made a good presence there).

Also be prepared: Many writers befriend new writers and give them Twitter shout outs on Friday via #FF (Follow Friday).

The interesting thing is that while you are chatting with these lovely, supportive writers via these hashtags, you’ll also naturally be talking about what you write, so others who are interested will find you. Your numbers will grow. More importantly, you’ll find your voice and people who may be interested in your writing.

This is where View and You comes in. Get your feet wet slowly if you must, watch what your friends do, pay attention to what you like and don’t like. But give Twitterverse an authentic view by posting topics and pictures of what you like, what you are reading (please!), your#TBR pile, or your process. (One popular picture that writers post is how our pets help or hinder that process). You can even make an #aesthetic (themed picture collages which bring your book to life). Twitterverse loves aesthetics and the bonus is that you can then use them on your blog, Pinterest and Instagram.

This also shows the You.

But what shows “you” even more is simply chatting. Many writers are great at dropping thoughts that get all kinds of responses. That may not be you, but until you try you’ll never know. And it doesn’t really matter. Keep doing it as this is the authentic you. Write a blog post and share actual content, that’s even better. Share a writer #quote you love and help someone have a better day. Bonus points if it’s your historical figure! Ask a question or run a survey.

By the way, yes, sometimes social bullying happens. You don’t have to respond (honestly best not to feed the beast). And if you run into a bully you can simply block that person. (More practiced writers on Twitter are often pretty good at giving troll warnings). Also you can mute posts you do not want to see. Hate all the politics? Mute it. Tired of a thread? Mute responses.

I’m busy, so I don’t spend a great deal of time on Twitter, but I do turn to it. Engaging with others who understand what the writing urge feels like gives me a lovely writer lift. It’s also nice to share my content with the wider world and get encouraging feedback. Best of all is making writer friends, it definitely happens.

I would absolutely love it if I saw more historical fiction writers sharing about this love of ours, especially collectively so that the chatter is more visible. I know I’m not alone, so I hope I’ve sold you on it.

If you think of a great relevant # —tag me, I want in on the chat.

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