I’m not a Twitter expert nor its biggest fan. I joined it – reluctantly – in 2019 in order to be able to participate in pitching events, after someone on Scribophile suggested it was a good path to finding an agent.
Before that, I’d never considered joining Twitter. It was useless to me in real life – none of my friends had it, it was not very popular in my country an no one I knew had used it for business. Only after that first PitMad did I realize there was a huge writing community there and a good chunk of publishing business was happening on Twitter in real time.
Yeah, I’m slow like that.
Three years later, I’m still a very small fish (bird?) in the BookTwitter community. I have about a thousand followers and I’ve made a few real writer friends. I find it useful to follow various SFF magazines and publishers to see what they’re up to, I like to find new books and stories, read reviews and stumble upon occasional brilliant threads on various weird subjects. My own tweets often go unnoticed. I don’t have a business or a brand that depends on my followers, and if Twitter disappeared tomorrow, I don’t think it would have any significant impact on my writing career.
In many ways, for an introvert like me, a huge community like BookTwitter often felt like some incomprehensible popularity contest, a spotlight lottery I could never win. Most of the time it was crowded and confusing. At its worst – when I was querying and felt very vulnerable – it was downright harmful. Seeing the callousness and tone-deafness of some publishers, editors and agents, and reading about the publishing scandals, almost made me abandon writing altogether.
For me, Twitter never felt like home, it felt like an obligation. The dogma that writers must maintain a social media presence in order to reach their readers can’t be challenged. And I understand why it is so – I live on a sparsely populated island, if it weren’t for the internet, no one would ever find or read my work.
However, I wish someone would come up with something friendlier and less cruel. I’m testing Mastodon right now. There has been a huge migration of writers from Twitter to Mastodon last weekend, and so far it feels quieter and more comfortable. However, I don’t know if it will have the random chaotic quality of Twitter, which allowed me to discover new people and topics. In case you want to find me there, I’m @firstname.lastname@example.org