10 Writers Killing It On Twitter in 2019
I've been teaching my MFA students about platforms, social media engagement, and brand recently. It has forced me to think about perfect examples of writers who do the Twitter thing right. It's more than just being approachable and constantly plugging your latest book. If you want to know more, go check out what these writers are doing. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Roxane Gay
I recently published a list of writer I think should run for President and Gay was on it. She's also leads off this one. If you want to know why, just go take a look at her Twitter. She's wildly entertaining and shares a lot about her professional life while simultaneously providing some of the most epic clapbacks in recent history. Hell, it even says so on her bio: "If you clap, I clap back." A recent favorite of mine was her telling some asshole she could wallpaper his home with her vita. I have no idea how she finds time to do all of this between writing and traveling and presentations and interviews and everything else, but I'm glad she does.
2. Nick Mamatas
The easiest way to tell if someone sucks at Twitter is to ask this question: "Have they tried to pick on Mamatas?" If the answer is yes, then they probably suck at Twitter... and maybe sympathize with Nazis. In any case, Mamatas keeps a nice balance between being funny, informative about the publishing business, plugging his work, and destroying assholes. It's fun to watch and you might learn a thing or two. Oh, and please don't go there expecting sugarcoated messages about how awesome publishing is and how you're going to make money all the time; go there when you want the truth (that truth is sometimes presented in the form of the sales numbers of writers who talk a big game, and that's always hilarious).
3. Jericho Brown
There are many poets who do Twitter well, but Brown excels at it. He's a positive, talented, approachable guy. He is also very responsive to fans and fellow writers. His love for poetry is almost palpable via his account. He also shares a lot of writing, both by himself and from other writers. His energy is contagious. A lot of people like Brown, and I think he has earned that. In fact, he earns it every day.
4. Porochista Khakpour
Besides being a superb writer, Khakpour is one of the most honest people on Twitter. Her battle with Lyme disease is one the elements at the core of her Twitter activity. It's heartbreaking and raw and real and informative and frustrating and... you get the point. She also finds time to share writing and articles. Her Twitter account isn't one that will make you happy every morning, but it is real, wonderful, and necessary.
5. Carmen Maria Machado
Machado is a magical bruja who also happens to be very real and approachable on Twitter. She is also a serial retweeter. Her timeline is packed with all kinds of goodness almost daily. There's art, questions, and humor. There is writing and serious stuff. In short, there is a bit of everything, and that means anyone following her will find something to like. That, my friends, is how you use Twitter.
6. Saeed Jones
Jones will drop a link to something cool, share a photo, provide some scathing social critique, and sprinkle in something about race in contemporary America, all on the same day. This man enjoys life, enjoys writing, and enjoys his work, and all of it becomes very obvious if you check him out on Twitter. He's one of those writers that shares everything and gives you a look at what his life is like without trying too hard. He has a great sense of humor and a sharp mind. Go check him out.
7. Chuck Wendig
I think Wendig doesn't give many fucks. He's here to write books and share love for the things he likes. That drama occasionally is part of his life is normal, and he shares some of it on Twitter. He's on there often and you can find him talking comics, books, movies, and politics any day. You can also find him being honest about the business, discussing his career, and talking about his own work. That makes for a complete, balanced timeline. It's one I find very enjoyable.
8. Alexander Chee
Chee is another writer who is constantly retweeting amazing content as well as providing his own. Life, sexuality, travel, politics, movies, popular culture; it's all there. In fact, if you want amazing essays but don't have time to go looking around for them, just scroll through his Twitter and you'll find what you're looking for. He has managed to create an account that makes readers feel like they know him. That's not easy today. It's also hard to maintain.
9. Celeste Ng
The beauty of Ng's account is that she'll hook you with her own work, humor, and politics and then you end up going to her account when you're craving GIFs or bunny pictures. If that's not balance I don't know what is. I always tell fellow writers to focus on being a complete person, not just a writer. Ng does that beautifully.
10. Lincoln Michel
If you know me, you know my sense of humor is darker than a puddle of oil in the middle of a forest on a no-moon night. You know what? Michel makes me laugh. Yeah, the man is a sharp, witty cynic and I dig every tweet where he demonstrates that. If that's not your cup of tea, then check him out for the jokes, the attacks on stupidity (especially White House stupidity), and invitations to submit to the anthology he's currently editing for Catapult. Again, it's all about balance and engagement, and he nails both.
I love Twitter. I think it's a very important element of your platform as a writer. You can learn how to do it right by spending time on it, being yourself, and identifying things others do that you enjoy. This list was kept to ten because that's how things work online, but I could go on and on. Brian Keene, Nicole Chung, Ashley C. Ford, Nisi Shawl, Lauren Groff, Stephen Kozeniewski, Ijeoma Oluo, Morgan Jerkins, and Danger Slater are all worth your time for a wide variety of reasons. The point is this: get on Twitter and start building that platform.
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