Tuesday 12 May 2020

Writers’ Questions: Which writing hashtags should I follow?

Welcome back to my Writers’ Questions series, where, drawing on my own experiences of my debut novel, Bronte’s Mistress, coming out this year, I’ve been covering topics of interests to aspiring novelists.

We’ve already talked craft (e.g. words to cut and passive voice), trying to get published (e.g. finding literary agents), and more. This time, we’re covering social media, with a list of handy hashtags you should consider exploring if you’re new to the online writing community.

A #shelfie from my apartment
One word on platform. Hashtags are most central to the social experience on Instagram and Twitter. Some of the hashtags I mention are more prevalent on one than the other. A broad strokes distinction? I see many writers using Twitter to connect with each other, but Instagram to connect with readers.

Short of writer friends? #WritingCommunity could be a great resource for you. Grow your followers, ask questions and learn from each other’s experiences. Generally, #WritingCommunity is a supportive community and, importantly, a reciprocal one. So don’t join the conversation just planning to take. You should be prepared to give (whether likes, follows, retweets, advice, or morale boosts) too.

#TenQueries, #10Queries, #100Queries
All of these are hashtags some literary agents use to ‘live tweet’ the contents of their query inboxes. They don’t give away identifying details for each author/book, but share what makes them request or reject a manuscript. Reading along can be very helpful if you’re in the process of writing your query, but don’t get too obsessed, worrying if agents are talking about you once you’ve pressed send!

Are you a writer from an underrepresented group? Or do you want to support and learn from authors who are? Then check out #OwnVoices. Here you’ll find writers of books featuring protagonists who share the race/gender identity/sexuality/disabilities of their creators.

I’ve mentioned #MSWL (which stands for Manuscript Wish List) before. Essentially this is a hashtag agents and acquiring editors at publishing houses use to tell the world what sort of books they are looking to represent or publish. Search #MSWL + key terms related to your novel to track down interested individuals and/or keep up with the hashtag more broadly to identify content themes the industry is loving now.

Want to up your own Instagram game? Learn from the pros, by looking at the beautiful posts shared by the platform’s bookish influencers, known as Bookstagrammers. They’ll teach you how to perfect the #Shelfie (a photo of your bookshelf), or the #TBR shot, which shows off your ‘to be read’ books.

Your genre’s hashtags
Every genre has its own hashtags (often acronyms and abbreviations). If you write historical fiction like me, check out #HistoricalFiction and #HistFic. The genre is also shortened to just #HF on occasion (e.g. in some #MSWL posts).

If you’re a writer, I’d love to know what hashtags you love to engage with to connect with others online. Let me know—here, on Facebook, on Instagram, or by tweeting @SVictorianist.

Plus, big news, if you’re signed up to my email newsletter already, or if you sign up this month (May 2020) using the link below, you’ll be in with a shot of winning one of two advance reader copies of Bronte’s Mistress, prior to its publication! My novel gives voice to Lydia Robinson, the older, married woman, who had an affair with Branwell Bronte, and offers a new perspective on English literature’s most famous family. Sign up below!

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