Twitter Hashtags for Writers: Turning Strangers into Friends

by Marylee MacDonald in Apps & Software, Online communities

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If Twitter is one of the social media platforms you’re using to let the world know about your debut novel, hashtags could make all the difference in whether people discover you or pass by without taking a second look.

Imagine walking  walked into Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America. People head for the exhibit halls.  A man and woman chat happily and loudly about the connections they’ve made and the number of new clients they’ve met. You stand at the top of the elevator. What a waste of time, you think. With my measly little table in the back of the exhibit hall, who am I going to meet? Why would anyone even bother stopping to learn about what I have to offer?

In essence, this is the challenge Twitter presents. So many people. So many languages. So many interests. How can you jump into the mosh pit, and why would you want to? Besides, it’s another thing to learn. It’s too hard and you’ll never get the hang.

McCormick Place

Jumping into the flow seems terribly daunting until you try it. Photo: Creative Commons license Русский: McCormick Place. Главный вестибюль. by Игорь Феденко

Yes, you will. And if you’re an author, getting into Twitter is going to result in some great connections. Through Twitter I have had meaningful conversations with a young man who was wrongfully convicted and who had self-published a book about that; a Hungarian man whose son-in-law has ALS; a Filipino playwright who’s an avid Anne Rice fan; a British woman heading to a tea shop with her aged mum; an Argentinian writer who admires J.D. Salinger; and also with a young Algerian interested in exploring works by Nietzsche.

Given the limitation on the number of characters Twitter permits, you may be surprised that meaningful conversations could happen at all. (Twitter used to restrict users to 140 characters with 20 for your “user handle,” meaning your online name. In late 2017 Twitter raised the limit to 280.) But, meaningful conversations do happen. There’s no character limit on direct tweets, meaning that you and your conversation partner are going back and forth with direct tweets.

But, number of characters aside, how do you jump into the Twitter stream?

Hashtags Can Help You Get Oriented

Imagine each one of those people-clusters at McCormick Place holding up a sign. Some might say #author or #writer. #Author and #writer are hashtags. You would know that you could approach them and comisserate.

But, let’s say you’re not especially interested in networking with other authors. You might look for folks holding up the #MustRead or #Bookworm signs. That’s where you’ll find your “reading tribe.” You can’t know until you talk to them what kinds of books they read, but at least they do like books.

Hashtags for Debut Novelists

Previously, I featured a guest post by debut novelist and Twitter user, Decima Blake, who explained how her publisher encouraged her to get on Twitter.

Decima created a hashtag using the name of her novel, Hingston’s Box#HingstonsBox. That helped her know when people were talking about her novel. She began to develop a community of readers shortly before the book’s release, and then continued building that community afterwards. Her canny use of photos allowed her to attract passersby to her exhibit table.

Hashtags Can Help You Find Agents

Building a community of supportive readers is not the only reason to use hashtags. As you read the comprehensive list below, you will see that I’ve marked a number of tags specifically for those authors wanting to find an agent. On May 15 #pitchwars opened a mentorship program. The program will close on May 30, but if you’re looking for help on your website, needing a mentor to check out your tweets to agents, or anything else, you would do very well to explore this opportunity.

The other hashtag I’ll just mention here is #MSWL You will find more about this under the heading below, “Book Industry News and Publishing Tips Hashtags.”

Hashtags Can Help You Find Beta Readers, Book Reviewers, or Vloggers

Three years ago I began working with BookTips’ founder, Fady Mokhtar, to help get the word out about my new novel, MONTPELIER TOMORROW. Fady used Twitter to find “vloggers”, meaning book reviewers who post reviews on YouTube. He contacted vloggers and gave me info on where to send a copy of my book. This was a new experience for me. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a vlogger.

One of my favorites was this review by South African reviewer Book Sniffing Fangirl. On no other platform but Twitter could this reader and I have connected.

I was actually stunned by her difficulty figuring out how to pronounce the title. It had never occurred to me that a reader in South Africa wouldn’t know the capitol of the great state of Vermont! But, of course, she wouldn’t. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of other people struggle to figure out how to pronounce the word “Montpelier”. Reminder to self. Never, ever title a book in such a way that people stumble on the words or go, “Huh? Is that in France?”

Which Hashtags Work Best?

If you’re a writer hoping to find readers for your books, you might try hashtags that mesh with the book’s characters, setting, hobbies or professions. The way to get started ferreting out interest areas is by typing a keyword into the white # box at the upper right. That will show you tweeters who’ve already staked out this corner of the exhibit space. You’ll see prolific users and also glimpse a sampling of recent tweets.

hashtags by subject

To find hashtags, start by entering your interests into the search box at www.hashtags.org. You’ll very quickly see who’s active in that interest area and what they’re Tweeting about. Unlike Facebook with its frequent posts about family, vacations, and events, you can use Twitter to look for those who have common interests.

Let’s Experiment

If you have characters who are teachers, try these hashtags:

#Teacher
#Teachers
#Women

If your book has a Polish culture or history theme, you might try these:
#Polish
#PolishPride

But, don’t try “kielbasa.” There’s no one discussing this particular Polish sausage. You don’t want to be standing alone while everyone else is off having a good time in another circle.

If you’ve self-published a memoir and want the world to know about it, then you’ll want to see how other memoirists are finding a community of readers. A quick check of the hashtag #memoirs showed me that writers of memoirs used hashtags to cast a wide net by hinting at the inspirational nature of their books:
#memoirs
#inspiring
#lifestories
#momreflections
#onwardandupward
#shareyourstory
#shareyourworld
#truestory
#welovememoirs

Search by Interest or by What’s Trending

You can search for hashtags by interest. Hashtags.org shows you spheres of interest.

hashtags

Without giving away any personal information, such as your Twitter handle, you can see if Twitter is going to be of interest to you or whether it’s going to make you run screaming from the room. Start by clicking on the Popular Hashtags tab and clicking on one of your interests.

You’ll also want to check to see what’s trending. That will allow you to add a hashtag that might bring you into contact with folks who wouldn’t see your bookish hashtags. Examples are #Christmas or #Halloween.

How Do You Set Up a Twitter Account and Get Started?

Just as at a loud party where the people in groups all seem to know one another and you don’t know anyone, the hardest part is getting started.

The absolute best guide I know is a book by Cathy Turney (https://www.CathyTurneyWrites.com). She walks you through every single step, including how to set up your account. All you have to do is follow her detailed, jargon-free instructions.

Twitter followers

Cathy Turney’s book about navigating the Twittersphere helped me become more proficient at using this platform. It also helped me automate certain tasks and reclaim my writing time.

Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers Easily, Quickly Ethically: Step-By-Step: You Can Do It! gives you the tools to partially automate Twitter tasks. This is super helpful because no author I know needs another “thing” to do. Cathy Turney also explains that participating in Twitter is not all about promoting your books. One reason to join is simply to expand your network. Twitter allows you to turn strangers into friends, but that doesn’t happen overnight.

Books and Reading Hashtags

Let’s dig a little more deeply into hashtags you might want to explore. When you add certain hashtags to your Twitter posts, you will inevitably make connections with other Twitter users.

And, there’s another place–besides Hashtags.org–that you can search for like-minded folks. That’s Twitter itself.

#Books
#BookWorm
#GreatReads
#IndieThursday
#MustRead
#Novel
#Paperbacks
#Storytelling
#WhatToRead

memoirs hashtag

After you’ve set up a Twitter account, enter the hashtag you’re searching for in the upper right. It’s good to do preliminary work at www.hashtags.org so you know that there is some action for your topic. Otherwise, it’s hit or miss.

At this point, I want to show you the specific communities you can seek out. Like any other in-person relationship, you’ll want to show that you care about their interests, too.

Book Industry News and Publishing Tips Hashtags

#AskAgent –> use to get honest feedback from agents
#AskAuthor
#AskEditor –> use to get honest feedback from editors
#dvpit –> tweet your pitch, adding appropriate hashtags; agent uses like button to request. (This one is for marginalized authors only; official #DVpit account / pitch event for un-agented marginalized creators only / by @beth_phelan / returning Fall 2018 / on hiatus)

hashtags for agents

I know many writers who continually email query letters to agents. It’s a lot of work to do that. It’s much faster to hop on Twitter and find out what agents are actually looking for. Then spend time writing a grabber of a Twitter pitch. You’ll get a faster response.

#MSWL –> Agent manuscript wish list (agents looking for manuscripts) also see [email protected]; If you see who’s following this hashtag, you’ll see large numbers of agents @ManuscriptWList
#MSWL YA –> for Young Adult authors

PitchWars hashtag

#PitchWars is another great hashtag for authors who need agents. You can also easily find agents’ names and Twitter handles by looking at the list of those who follow the hashtag.

#pitchwars –> another 24 hour agent event. There are specific rules and entry criteria. (See past items under that hashtag.) That said, note that on May 15 the  #PitchWars Mentor Application window opened. It closes May 30, 2018. If you want to get some free mentoring, use Twitter’s direct message feature to contact @brendadrake.
#pitmad –> Agents take tweeted submissions for a limited time. If they “like” the ms, that means send it. The user handle is @Pitmad.
#revpit –> another agent event
#tenqueries –> agents go through 10 queries and tell what turned them off; peek behind the curtain

Indie Tips about Publishing

#BookMarket
#BookMarketing
#GetPublished
#EBooks
#IAN1 (Independent Author Network)
#IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
#PromoTip
#Publishing
#PubTip
#QueryTip –> both Pubtip and querytip give writers insight into the kinds of things agents don’t want to see
#SelfPublishing
#SelfPub
#WritingTip
#WriteTip

Prompts for Writing Exercises

#1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)
#Creativity
#StoryStarter
#WordAThon
#WIP (work in progress)
#WritingPrompt

Connect With Readers

The romance, thriller, and mystery writers have learned how to navigate Twitter and sell their books to bargain hungers and to the avid fans of those genres. For a while this strategy paid off for those authors. They formed Tweet clubs and promoted each other’s books. However, for many, the problem of fake Twitter accounts has arisen. The way they know accounts are fake is that clicks on Twitter don’t translate into sales. For more on that, follow this conversation thread on www.Kboards.com.

Lately, I’ve been eavesdropping on some disgruntled tweeters in a private Facebook group. They’re saying that their book sales have dropped way off due to changes Twitter has made in its operating procedures. Apparently, much like Facebook, Twitter is now favoring paid tweets. Those are elbowing out tweets by regular folks. Until this recent change, self-published authors were having good luck using giveaways and offering the first book in a series as a freebie. Now? Not so much.

#99c – Use this if you are selling your book for 99 cents.
#99cents – ditto
#Amazon
#AmazonCart – Each time your readers include #AmazonCart in a tweet, Amazon will know to add the items with the corresponding Amazon link to your readers’ shopping carts.
#AmazonKindle
#AmazonLikes
#AmazonPrime
#AmReading
#AuthorRT
#BestRead
#bibliophile – If you’re looking for a reader for your books, add this hashtag
#Book
#BookBoost
#BookBuzz
#BookBuzzr
#Bookclub
#BookGiveaway
#bookmarket
#BookMarketing
#BookPlugs – 1000s of Authors Offering Tiny Writing Blurbs. It’s like wine sampling but with books. Authors add #bookplugs to your promos. Prefer the author’s own work.
#BookReview
#Books
#BookWorm
#Borrow
#eBook
#eReaders
#followfriday or #ff – used on a Friday to suggest people to follow to your followers. (Don’t just tweet handles, tell them why.)
#fRead0 (that’s a zero at the end – not a lower case oh)
#Fiction
#Free
#Freebie
#FreeBook
#FreeDownload
#FictionFriday
#FictionFridays
#FridayFlash
#FridayReads or #FridayRead- tell people what you’re reading
#FollowFriday
#FreebieFriday
#FreeReads
#Goodread
#GoodReads
#GooglePlay
#GreatRead
#IndieThursday
#IndieTuesday
#iPad
#iTunes
#KDP
#KDPSelect
#Kindle
#KindleBargain
#KindleBooks
#KindleeBooks
#KindleFire
#KindleTouch
#KindleTweet
#Kobo
#LendingLibrary
#LitChat
#MustRead
#MyWANA (Writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
#New
#Nook
#Novel
#Novelines
#Novelists
#Novels
#Paperbacks
#PDF1 – PAID FORWARD – A re-tweeting tag for Books/Authors/Writers/Publishers/Agents (This tag was created by Van Heerling and his Pay It Forward Team.)
#Poetry
#PoetryMonth
#Pubit
#Read
#Reader If you’re looking for a reader for your books, add this hashtag
#Readers
#Reading
#Reviews
#SampleSunday
#ShortReads
#Smashwords
#Sony
#Special
#Story
#StoryFriday
#StoryTelling
#TeaserTuesday or #TeaserTues
#GreatReads
#WhatToRead
#WriteQuote
#WeekendReader
#whattoread

Hashtags to Connect with Other Writers

#140Poem
#1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)
#1LineWednesday
#amwriting (venting and soul searching and celebrating; lots of activity)
#amediting (used by authors, but also by editors; can get some good ideas here on things to avoid)
#AmRevising
#amquerying (used by authors to see what’s out there; some agents use it to say when they’re open for submissions)
#AuthorLife
#ASMSG
#BookMarket (Thursdays at 4 pm ET)
#CopyWriting
#cpmatch (speed dating for a critique partner; good one to use for finding beta readers)
#EditGoal
#Editing
#IndieAuthor
#IndieAuthors
#LitChat (every M/W/F)
#MemoirChat (every other Wednesday at 8 pm ET)
#MyWANA (writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)
#PoetTues
#RomanceWriter
#ScriptChat
#WANA or #MyWANA (We Are Not Alone community) –>This is a huge community of over 12,000 people who are “there for each other”. You may ask for help, but you must also give back when someone else needs help.
#WednesdayWisdom
#WIP
#WordCount
#WriteChat
#WriteGoal
#writelife
#WriteGoodNews
#WriteMotivation
#WritersLIfe (more activity than some others)
#WritersRoad
#Writer
#Writers
#WritersBlock
#WriterWednesday (or #WW or ##WW)
#Writing
#WritingBlitz
#WriteMotivation
#WritingParty
#WritingPrompt
#WritingSprint
#WriteTip – writing advice
#WritingTips
#WritersBlock
#WroteToday
#WW
#YALitChat

Hashtags for eBooks, Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Smashwords

#Amazon
#eBook
#BookBuzzr
#eReaders
#ePubChat
#iPad
#Kindle
#KindleBargain
#Kobo
#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)
#Nook
#Pubit
#SmashWords
#Sony
#Webfic
#WritingTip
#WriteTip

Genre and Specialty Hashtags

You can get a lot of support from writers working in your same genre, and if you’re writing in the very popular romance or thriller genre, you’ll find readers, too.

#ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
#140Poem
#Biopic
#Comedy
#Cookbooks
#Cooking
#Crime
#Comedy
#DarkFantasy
#Dystopian
#Erotica
#FanFic
#Fiction
#FlashFic
#Food
#HistFic
#History
#Historical
#HistFic
#HistNovel
#FaithLitChat
#Horror
#KidLit
#KidLitChat
#Literature
#LitFic
#MemoirChat
#MGLit (middle grades literature)
#Mystery
#NonFiction
#Novel
#Paperbacks
#Paranormal
#Poetry
#PoetryMonth (Each April in the USA)
#Recipes
#Romance
#RomanceWriter
#Romantic
#RomanticSuspense
#RWA (Romance Writers of America)
#TrueStories
#SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
#ScienceFiction
#Science #Fiction
#SciFiChat
#Short
#ShortStory
#ShortStories
#Short #Stories
#SteamPunk
#Suspense
#UrbanFantasy
#WomensFiction
#YA
#YALit

Promotion, Networking and Marketing Hashtags

Just a word about marketing. You want to keep the ratio at about 20% marketing to 80% other content. Share your other interests and be genuine. (Some of these are repeats of hashtags mentioned above, but I thought it worthwhile to include them under the rubric of promotion.)

#99c (to offer or pick up an eBook bargain)
#AuthorRT
#BookGiveaway
#BookMarketing
#FollowFriday
#FreebieFriday
#FreeReads
#Novelines (to quote your own work)
#99c – use this if you are selling your book for 99 cents
#99cents – use this if you are selling your book for 99 cents
#Amazon
#AmazonCart – each time your readers include #AmazonCart in a tweet, Amazon will know to add the items with the corresponding Amazon link to your readers’ shopping carts.
#AmazonKindle
#AmazonLikes
#AmazonPrime
#AmReading
#AuthorRT
#BestRead
#bibliophile – If you’re looking for a reader for your books, add this hashtag
#BookBoost
#BookBuzz
#BookBuzzr
#BookGiveaway
#bookmarket
#BookMarketing
#BookPlugs – 1000s of Authors Offering Tiny Writing Blurbs. It’s like wine sampling but with books. Authors add #bookplugs to your promos. Prefer the author’s own work.
#BookReview
#Books
#BookWorm
#Borrow
#eBook
#eReaders
#followfriday or #ff – Used on Friday to suggest that people follow your followers. (Don’t just tweet your followers’ handles. Tell the Twittersphere why these folks are great.)
#fRead0 (That’s a zero at the end.)
#Free
#Freebie
#FreeBook
#FreeDownload
#FictionFriday
#FictionFridays
#FridayFlash
#FridayReads or #FridayRead- Tell people what you’re reading.
#FollowFriday
#FreebieFriday
#FreeReads
#Goodread
#GoodReads
#GooglePlay
#GreatRead
#IndieThursday
#IndieTuesday
#iPad
#iTunes
#KDP
#KDPSelect
#Kindle
#KindleBargain
#KindleBooks
#KindleeBooks
#KindleFire
#KindleTouch
#KindleTweet
#Kobo
#LendingLibrary
#LitChat
#MustRead
#MyWANA (Writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
#New
#Nook
#Novel
#Novelines
#Novelists
#Novels
#Paperbacks
#PDF1
#Poetry
#PoetryMonth
#Pubit
#Read
#Reader If you’re looking for a reader for your books, add this hashtag
#Readers
#Reading
#Reviews
#SampleSunday
#ShortReads
#Smashwords
#Sony
#Special
#StoryFriday
#StoryTelling
#TeaserTuesday or #TeaserTues
#GreatReads
#WhatToRead
#WriteQuote
#WeekendReader
#whattoread

As you can see, Twitter has an infinite number of hashtags you can use. Play around and see what happens. It can’t hurt to plunge into the convention and strike up conversations. For more see “Twitter Marketing for New Authors.”

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