On Being a Twitterbug

Phew! Those last three days of posts were intense! I enjoyed talking with you about elevator pitches, but I gotta tell ya, that was a lot of work. So today’s post will be brief. I want to say a few words about my new favorite way to waste boatloads of time stay connected with people. Many of you are already following me on Twitter so you know what I’m talkin’ bout. If you don’t know what Twitter is… well, thank your lucky stars you’re living under that comfy rock, and pray that you’re able to stay there.

But if you ARE on Twitter and you’re following me, let me give you some hints about how this works. Other people may be different, but the bottom line is, I don’t do business on Twitter. Just like I don’t do business on Facebook or on my blog. If you have a query or if you have some kind of business with me, please do it the usual way: through email. Of course, all my dear clients are welcome to call me on the phone anytime. (It’s that old-fashioned contraption over which we actually speak aloud to one another. Weird, huh.)

If you’re a writer and following me because you’re hoping to somehow glean some inside secrets or something, well, Twitter ain’t it, folks. I am a completely useless Tweeter. If you want to actually learn stuff and have lots of edifying conversation about publishing & writing, this blog is where it’s at. If you want to hear about what I’m watching on TV and which workout I did at the gym and what news stories I found interesting, well, Twitter is it! Take my word for it, you will NOT get anything that will help your life as a writer by following me on Twitter.

So… don’t pitch me an idea on Twitter. Don’t ask me the status of your query. And definitely don’t expect to hear about what I’m actually doing all day. If I Tweeted my moment-by-moment activities, it would be something like this: Working on a contract. Client phone call. Returning emails. Working on a proposal. Submitting project to publishers. Talking to prospective client. Returning emails. Blah, blah, blah. B-o-r-i-n-g. So instead I say things like “I have a toothache” and “I’m taking my dog for a run.” (Not much better, I realize.)

Twitter for me is like the water cooler. You know, the place you go when you need a five-minute break from work. When you need to chat with a couple friends and get refreshed. So don’t expect anything important from me on Twitter!

What social networks are you on? Facebook? Twitter? What do you use them for? Do you find they take up too much time?

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent and hopeless Twitterbug.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Kaci on January 29, 2009 at 8:08 PM

    >What social networks are you on? Facebook? Twitter?

    Blogspot. Although I don’t comment much. Technically Facebook. I’m a moderator on an author’s message forum. I am technically on a couple other message boards – but no longer frequent them.

    What do you use them for? Do you find they take up too much time?

    Facebook emails me if someone sends me a note or something. I usually respond via email. My friends know better than to try anything but phone or email.

    I really only read things related to writing and/or editing in some form or fashion. A few semi-philosophic/theological ones, but little else.

    It can take up too much time, but since I read in spurts it’s no longer a huge deal. Just have to watch my time.

    Anyway. I think technically I registered with Twitter because someone sent me an email thing, but then I looked at the Twitter sight and got a bit scared of the format.

    Besides. Mine would be boring.


  2. Jen and Kev on January 29, 2009 at 7:45 PM

    >I love to blog, especially if the posts are entertaining or enlightening. It gives me an avenue for sharing my voice, too. Twittering, however, seems too detail oriented to me. I can’t keep up with my housework, 40 hour a week job, and writing evenings; why spend time I don’t have telling everyone what I fed the cats or how many inches of snow we got today?

  3. elaine @ peace for the journey on January 29, 2009 at 7:26 PM

    >My 19 year old son set up a facebook account for me back in the Fall. I now have close to 100 friends (I know…small in comparison to others). But I don’t measure my “friendship success” by that count. Please. Who has time? And as for “pokes” and “invitations” and “snowballs”, I am useless; nor do I care.

    I do find it an interesting way to re-connect with others from time to time, but honestly, I don’t need another addiction, and I do believe it can easily become as such.

    Many of my blogging friends have gone the way of facebook to the neglect of writing on their blogs anymore. That’s a personal choice, but honestly, I don’t get it.

    I’d rather spend an hour over coffee with a friend, face to face, rather than trying to scratch an old itch with a few moments of plesantries.

    Wow…is than an opinion or what? Sorry. You asked.


  4. Susan J. Reinhardt on January 29, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    >I’m on Facebook, and I blog Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

    I’ve noticed an increase in my blog traffic since I signed up for Facebook. The connections I’ve made with other writers on both these venues are priceless.

    Thanks for your blog, Rachel. I stop by every day.

    Susan 🙂

  5. Sharon Rainey on January 29, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    >I agree. I use twitter for the water cooler, not expecting a whole lot, but really glad when i see great articles or connections to interesting blogs. it helps me feel more connected in the most casual of ways. i use FB for fun. But I can’t be “ON” all the time – have to stop work sometime.
    Nice to draw the line for yourself and others. 🙂

  6. Heather B. Moore on January 29, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    >For me FB and blogging. I’m afraid of twitter. I’m wasting too much time as it is.

  7. Josephine Damian on January 29, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    >What I love is how Twitter and FB have for me replaced the even bigger time sucks: blogging and email.

    There’s a right way for a writer to friend/follow/interact w/any agent online – and being annoying is not the right way.

  8. Catherine West on January 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    >Actually if someone pitches you an idea on Twitter within the letter limit, what is it, fifty or something I think, and it actually peaks your interest, then I think you should offer representation on the spot.
    However, time waster…maybe, but like others, I link my Facebook and Twitter together so when I update it shows on both sites. Right now I’m using them more for personal enjoyment and not worrying too much about networking as a writer. I am immensely grateful for having these outlets at this stage in my life because it’s a really quick way to scream for prayer and people actually do respond! I have great friends and there are a lot of people out there keeping me sane right now, and some I have not yet met in person! That’s kind of weird, but it is what it is I suppose. Of course I don’t add people that aren’t connected in some roundabout way through ACFW or whatever…as in everything, it’s moderation. For me right now, moder…what? Life will return to normal at some point I’m sure. Remind me again why we’re building a house??

  9. Timothy Fish on January 29, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    >Currently, I’m on Facebook and there’s a number of blogs I frequent. I’m also on Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers and Writer Interrupted on Ning, but I figured out I’m not as far out on the edge as some people are and Writer Interrupted is too much of an interruption. I visit occasionally. I used to be on AskVille, but I got tired of telling people how to plug a video camera into a computer. I will say though that AskVille is the only social network that significantly increased my book sales. Hanging out with authors, literary agents and publishers is not the best way to sell books through online activity.

  10. Mark Adair on January 29, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    >It’s good to be connected, and invaluable to a writer. Although, just one social networking site can become a full-time job…like hanging out at the water cooler, all day long. By pre-allocating and limiting my total time each day for that type of interaction, I’ve managed to keep from drowning in the sea of electronic conversations. In addition to following a few blogs, I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn (a professional networking site), Instant Messenger, my website, and On the Way (my blog). Now that I’ve disciplined myself in that area of my life, I enjoy it all the more. Cheers.

  11. Carla Gade on January 29, 2009 at 12:15 PM

    >I already spend too much time online so I’m trying to resist the temptation to Twitter. I’m trying to spend more time writing and less time online, though I’m obsessed with both!

  12. Lady Glamis on January 29, 2009 at 12:06 PM

    >And, oh, yes blogging takes up a lot of time. It’s the water-cooler for me, for sure. I did a whole post on that, and decided that blogging is a good thing since I’m stuck inside all day every day.

  13. Lady Glamis on January 29, 2009 at 12:04 PM

    >I just blog. I don’t really have a clue what twitter is, and quite honestly, it sounds way too time consuming and obsessive-worthy for me to get into.

    I’ll just stay under my rock.

  14. Mindy Obenhaus on January 29, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    >Boy, there are so many things I can find on the web to waste my time when I should be writing. They’re like the procrastinator’s best friend 🙂
    Seriously, I drag my feet on venturing into so many of these places simply because I’m afraid I’ll be sucked in and no one will ever see me again. In person, that is.
    ShoutLife lost it allure. I did a MySpace page then forgot my password because I never go there. Facebook is fun, and I like how I can pop in every so often and catch a glimpse into my friends’ worlds. To tweet or not to tweet? That’s a question best left for another day 🙂

  15. Sharon A. Lavy on January 29, 2009 at 11:34 AM

    >Twitter doesn’t take as much time for me as Facebook. I feel responsible to respond to my many Facebook friends and I keep the twits I follow to a reasonable amount.

    Besides Mike Hyatt recommends both for writers.

  16. Dara on January 29, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    >I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t use Twitter much–instead I spend too much time on Facebook.

    Yes, it can be a huge time waster, especially when you get caught up reading updates and other info of friends (including ones you haven’t talked to much since high school). There’s also all those time-wasting applications, especially the flair board…

    So yes, Facebook for me does take up too much time BUT I am glad for it because I get to stay in touch with friends as well as talk to my best friend (and little sister) nearly everyday about random little things.

  17. Cheryl Barker on January 29, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    >I Facebook and am resisting becomeing a Twitterbug at this point 🙂 I started Facebook because I had been encouraged as a writer to help build my web presence through a social network. Once I started I discovered how much fun it is. It helps me stay in touch with so many of my friends and family. I do use it for “work” as well — from time to time, I give the link to my blog and a heads-up about the current post. All in all, I’m hooked on Facebook 🙂

  18. Karen on January 29, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    >I’ve been blogging for over five years now. Joined a couple of writers’ forums: The Writers View, ACFW groups. And yes, I’m on FB and Twitter.

    Facebook has connected me with a lot of old friends and family who are scattered across the country. That’s been neat! It’s nice to keep up and like this a.m., know who may need a little extra prayer.

    Twitter-ing has to be disciplined. It can get distracting. I downloaded TweetDeck though and that helps me weed out what I truly want to read. I follow a lot of travel tweets and don’t need them mixed in with all the others.

    Yes. Water cooler is a good discription. It’s lonely when you’re writing and especially when you don’t have a sweet agent like Rachelle calling to talk. Okay, break over. Back to work.

  19. Anne L.B. on January 29, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    >Rachelle, your question cuts to my greatest struggle at the moment.

    My primary social network is church. We live right around the corner from ours, and I’m in the building a minimum of four times weekly, often more. There is no substitute for face to face contact with my family in Christ—all 1000+ of them. Talk about time consuming! But no contact there is unfruitful.

    My secondary network is e-mail and blogs. While I have a Facebook page, I’ve had no time to figure out how to utilize it. All of you convince me that I need to do so—soon. Most of my 1300-mile-away-birth family seems to live on FB, and I’d love to be in touch with them. And I know I need to build a better presence / network for the day I might be published.

    Twitter? Besides its appearance of being time-consuming but entirely unproductive, it seems way too exposed. Following it feels voyeuristic. The cop I’m married to and the ex-cop in me percieve it as an invitation to be cyber-stalked. I’ll pass for now.

    Richard, I like your approach—I might have expected such a wise and balanced perspective from you.

  20. Kat Harris on January 29, 2009 at 9:04 AM

    >I’m a facebook fan myself.

    I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around Twitter, but then you said, “Twitter for me is like the water cooler. You know, the place you go when you need a five-minute break from work,” I started to understand.

    Still, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I just don’t know why anyone would want to know that I’ve burned my toast.


  21. CJ Raymer on January 29, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    >Oh my word! What a relief to hear that people actually, uh, talk to one another, aloud! I’m afraid that I’ve been on the slippery slope of voiceless communication ever since I’ve begun text-ing in earnest from about October.

    Anyhoo, I have been known to procrastinate on my Facebook page, my Blogspot, and the “Blueboards.” I’m on Twitter, but have not been dedicated. I honestly can’t remember the last time I visited there. OOOPS!

    I love FB because it keeps me in touch with friends and family around the world. Hubby and I have been in FT ministry for the past 19 years, and have lived in and ministered at a lot of different places. Before FB, it was difficult to stay in touch. It’s nice to be able to share my life and know what’s happening in the lives of others in such a fun and convenient way.

  22. Sharon A. Lavy on January 29, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    >Twitter makes people seem more “real” but I don’t follow too many. I don’t see how to keep up with thousands of tweets.

    I use twitter to hold myself accountable for writing goals and since the twitter posts also go on facebook it is not too cumbersome.

  23. Katy McKenna on January 29, 2009 at 8:16 AM

    >Richard, I have enjoyed your Tweets! Especially the ones ab

    out the homemade soup and the fireplace, when other Tweeters are out there driving on black ice! 🙂

    I read yesterday that it’s expected that one million peeps will be tweeting by April. I have actually been blogging so long that I remember when the people who track such things forecasted that someday there would be “five million” bloggers worldwide!

    So far, I’ve actually made “real” friends through blogging, and the addition of facebook and twitter has definitely brought tons of additional readers to my blog. I’ve recently joined groups on facebook: my high school alumni group, grade school group, the historic KC neighborhood where I grew up, etc. That’s been fun!

    And thanks to a conversation with Agent Rachelle (on the PHONE), I am also trying to learn the subtler details of Twitterquette before I make a faux-pas of staggering proportions! 🙂

  24. Richard Mabry on January 29, 2009 at 8:00 AM


    Thanks for bringing this up.I got onto FaceBook and then onto Twitter because I kept hearing that authors have to get “out there” and build a presence. These are the same reasons I set up a web site and later started blogging. Worth it? Yes and no. Depends on what you’re looking for.

    I have my Tweets (except the direct messages and replies specific for friends) posted on my FaceBook page, but I never visit there. When someone writes on my FaceBook wall, I get that via email, but generally don’t respond. I use Twitter to keep up with a very small group of friends–sort of like instant messaging. I try to tweet only four or five times a day, which is probably still too much.

  25. Chatty Kelly on January 29, 2009 at 7:08 AM

    >I facebook, twitter, and blog. I do wonder about Twitter. Why do total strangers care what I am doing?? Because usually it is something mundane & boring. But facebook I like because my friends are really my friends. Blogging I LOVE because it is writing, my passion.

    I think it can all be a waste of time, as can TV, video games or anything else.

    Have a great day. See you on Twitter!

  26. lynnrush on January 29, 2009 at 6:42 AM

    >I’m a FaceBook fan. I’ve linked it with my Twitter, so my status shows on both. I love FaceBook. I have it open all day long, so during my day job, when I need a break, I check it out.

    I’ve met so many great people through FaceBook, both writers and non-writers. From there, many hit my blog, have read my work and encourage me at just the write times in my writing career. Funny how that works, huh? **smile**

    Also, I’m on Edgy Christian Fiction Writers and ShoutLife as well, although, most of my time is spent with Twitter and FaceBook.

    Have a great day!!

  27. Anita Mae Draper on January 29, 2009 at 4:20 AM

    >Hey Rachelle, thanks for the warning about Twitter.

    I didn’t think I’d like FaceBook but I really do. My family is spread across the country and with FB, I’ve never been so close to them. It’s heartwarming.

    I also use FB to keep in touch with my writer eFriends – it’s so encouraging to put my daily word count up and have them either encourage me to do better or slap my back saying I did good.

    I receive announcements for my kids’ Youth Group on FB.

    I love the eharlequin community. The Love Inspired authors were the first to encourage me with my writing. I participate in writing challenges, goal setting and there’s even a prayer room.

    I also belong to ShoutLife and MySpace but I rarely visit there.

    And I keep track of my reading and book reviews through Shelfari.

    Yes, FB and eharl can take up too much time if I let them.

  28. Nixy Valentine on January 29, 2009 at 3:39 AM

    >I’ve found I get a surprising amount of traffic for my blog at Twitter and Facebook has been great for meeting other writers and finding others who blog on similar subjects.

    I definitely DO have to limit myself to visiting each only once a day. If I were to leave them open all day, I’d never have time to write.

  29. Adam Heine on January 29, 2009 at 2:18 AM

    >Interesting. I recently wrote about this very topic.

    Twitter and Facebook are exactly what I’m on, primarily to stay in touch and let people know what I’m up to.

    It’s interesting to see how different people use Twitter for different things. I use it similarly to you, though I’m trying to learn how to write tweets that are fun to read, if not actually informative. It’s good practice.

  30. Kim Kasch on January 29, 2009 at 2:12 AM

    >Speak aloud?…Huh??? This sounds like some antique “contraption” similar to a record player.

    We got rid of that paperweight some people call a “home phone” – cause we never used that odd device.

    I waste time on
    ”my Blogspot”, facebook and chatboards – tweeting on twitter would be too much typing, plus I would just say “I’m working at work” or “At work – working.” Boring.