Earlier this year when we were accepting submissions to the second annual Paper Darts Short Fiction Award, we reached out to writers among our Twitter followers to encourage them to enter. In the process of becoming acquainted with what felt like half of the Twitterverse, I became personally invested in the success of the Paper Darts following as it relates to their Twitter bios. Maybe a little too personally invested.
You see, sometimes people who call themselves writers in their bios turn out not to be [fiction] writers at all. This sucked because a) we were missing our target market in those instances and b) I began to worry that we were also skipping fiction writers who went the vague or ironic or withholding route in their bios. In the interest, then, of helping all the writers out there get recognized for their writer status — not necessarily by us, but by the entire internet — here are my tips to optimize your Twitter bio as a writer.
1. Start with what you do (and be specific). Most Twitter bios use this formula: list of jobs/accomplishments, small admittance of a personality trait, something witty to close. So you’re a writer, a mom, a caffeine addict, and a hardcore crochet-er? Honestly, when you preface your bio with “writer,” I’d be surprised if those other things didn’t follow. And even though this formula is so common on Twitter, it’s probably the most effective. So, start with what you do. Tell us that you’re a writer, and moreover, what you like to write. If you’re into fiction, poetry, or heart-wrenching obituaries, this is your chance to say it. Also mention any other jobs you have (attention: moms, dog walkers, editors, grocery bagging wizards, etc.), because that gives people a clue as to where you get your inspiration for writing, maybe.
2. Tell us where you find your work. In the same vein as telling us what you like to write, tell us where you’ve been published. If you’ve been published in a million different places, narrow it down to your favorites, or where the pieces you’re most proud of were published. And if you’ve written a book, tell us what it’s called! Some authors go so far as to link directly to where you can buy it. This is your Twitter after all, there’s no shame in promoting yourself.
Bonus points: Tag the places you’ve been published. This helps people find your work in the event that you were published by a not-so-well-known publication, and it also makes you look legit while throwing some attention your publisher’s way. You say you were published by @PaperDarts? Thanks for a) thinking we're that cool (sucker) and b) the web traffic!
3. Talk about yourself. This combines the personality traits and wit part of the formula I mentioned earlier. Mention your neuroses, your obsessions, and how you pass the time. We already know you’re a writer, but just remind us that you’re human, please. There are a lot of writers out there who have taken the advice of a friend or agent and have started a Twitter account for marketing purposes. They have nothing personal or personable in their bios, and you know what you’re signing up for when you follow them—endless self-promo. Don’t be like them. Tell the internet what you want it to know about you. But remember: it goes down better with a side of humor and lightheartedness. Unless that’s not your style, of course.
4. Let people know how to contact you. There’s a little place for a link at the bottom of your Twitter bio, and it is very worth your time to put something there. If you have a personal website with writing clips and whatnot, use that. (If you don’t have a personal website I recommend making one, because everyone loves those… but that’s a whole other blog post). Otherwise, a link to another social media profile you use more often, or anywhere that you can be contacted is very helpful. If your contact information can’t be found on a website, include an email address. Making it easy for people to contact you makes it easier to receive fan mail. Who wants 140 characters of praise in a DM when you can get sonnets by email instead?