Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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October 3, 2016

Making Friends and Allies on Twitter—The Lone Wolf Watering Hole

Piper Bayard

Lone Wolf Writers are those who shun critique groups, avoid craft classes, and cross the street when we see volunteer editors heading toward us. We are known for keeping to ourselves and avoiding too many voices in our heads and in our lives.

If you're still not sure if you are a Lone Wolf Writer, click here.

But while we Lone Wolf Writers can produce drafts without a pack, we still need friends and allies to nurture and grow those drafts into great books that we hold in our hands and show to all of the family and friends who keep telling us to get “real” careers.

In that, we are no different from all other writers.


Actual Photo of Writers at the Watering Hole Image from Canstock Photo

Actual Photo of Writers at the Watering Hole
Image from Canstock Photo


One of the most social watering holes for finding friends and allies is Twitter.

We live in an unprecedented age where agents, editors, New York Times bestsellers, and publishers are all at our fingertips. All we have to do is talk to them.

What? Talk to people? But I’m a Lone Wolf Writer. I only know how to talk to imaginary friends.

No worries. I’ve got you covered.

Twitter is a cocktail party.

Groups of people collect here and there about the “room” and discuss various topics. Those topics are called “hashtags,” and they look like a # sign with a word behind it, such as #hashtag.

Joining in a conversation on Twitter is like joining in with a group at a party. We first find a group, or hashtag. We read what other people are saying for a few minutes, and then we jump in with a relevant comment.

So how do I find these groups?

  1. Get organized. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are free programs you can download to keep your Tweeps in columns. This makes it possible to follow hundreds, or even thousands, of Tweeps at the same time.
  2. Start with the people you know. Find them on Twitter, follow them, and respond to their tweets.
  3. Check out their followers and say hello to them, as well.
  4. Make a writer hashtag column, such as #MyWANA, #amwriting, #amediting, or #amrevising. Read through the tweets, pick a few that resonate with you, and respond to those people with encouragement and feedback.
  5. Use your publishing name as your handle instead of a moniker. This way, people can find you and support you in turn.
  6. Help your friends connect with people by introducing them to each other.

Here are 12 Hashtags for Writers you might enjoy, courtesy of Marcy Kennedy.

That’s great for finding peers, but how do I network with the publishing superstars?

Ever see The 13th Warrior? There’s a scene near the beginning of that movie where Antonio Banderas is encamped with Vikings on a river in Eurasia. He notices another ship has arrived during the night, and a boy is standing like a statue in the bow. Omar Sharif explains that the boy is letting the other Vikings see him.

Antonio: “But he’s in plain sight.”

Omar: “They don’t know if what they see is real. Something to do with the mist. Apparently, they find dangerous things in the mist. The boy was being polite, giving them time to decide if he is real.”

We have to give superstars time to decide if we are real. Everyone wants a piece of them, and almost no one gives back. Some people suck up in the hopes of ingratiating themselves. Others create work for them by asking favors right off the bat. Still others exploit the superstar’s success by name dropping and giving the impression that relationships exist where there are none. In short, superstars have something to lose, and they know it.

Start by letting your chosen superstar “see” you.

  1. Promote them. Do this by tweeting their book release, retweeting their tweets, or giving them a shout out.
  2. Respond to their tweets with positive comments.
  3. Bond over something other than writing. For example, if your chosen author superstar is also a veterinarian, chat with him about pets.
  4. Do all of the above in moderation. Responding to every tweet constitutes sucking up and perhaps even stalking.
  5. Keep the chat light and impersonal. Remember—you’re at a cocktail party.
  6. Do NOT ask for favors. The goal is a long term genuine friendship, which leads to mutual support.
  7. Be The Little Drummer Boy and give what you have.

In the end, it is the act of giving that lays the foundation of a solid friendship, whether that is with our peers or with our superstars.


Deathbed Window in 19th Century Stockholm Church Image from Canstock Photos

Deathbed Window in 19th Century Stockholm Church - Image from Canstock Photos

If ever in doubt about how to respond to people on Twitter, treat them like they are dying.

[What? Who even says that?]

Yes, you heard me right. The best approach to making friends on Twitter is to treat everyone as if they are dying. Think about it . . .

  1. We don’t judge dying people.

Their Judgement Day will come soon enough, and the Big It needs no assistance from us on that score.

  1. We do listen to them.

In that moment, they are more important than we are so we keep our mouths shut and our ears open.

  1. We do let them know they are heard.

This doesn’t mean we agree with everything they say. It means we validate that they said it. The easiest way is to say, “That sounds . . .” Difficult, painful, amazing, intense, etc.

  1. We don’t argue.

Letting people know we heard what they said is not the same as agreeing with them, so we are not violating our integrity when we refrain from disagreeing.

  1. We don’t offer unsolicited advice.

They’re dying. As far as we know today, we’re probably not dying any time soon. Therefore, we don’t literally know how they feel. It’s important to realize that and not pretend that we do by trying to fix things for them.

  1. We don’t whine about our problems.

It’s one thing when we share the truth of our writing—our word count, our goals, our successes, our conference experiences, etc. It’s another to whine about our hemorrhoids.

Note: Hemorrhoids are those pains in the butt that never really go away, like wretched stepmothers, drunken relatives, or abandonment issues. Dying people may be interested in us, but NO ONE wants to hear about our life’s “hemorrhoids.” Hemorrhoids make everyone uncomfortable.

  1. We do validate a dying person’s feelings.

Again, “That sounds . . . .”

  1. We do validate their lives.

We read their words and comment on their pictures.

  1. We do find sincere, positive things to say.

We cheer for their successes. We acknowledge their efforts. We share the beauty of the day, whether it’s a good meal, a new baby, or a stunning sunrise.

  1. We do show our gratitude.

We say thank you. Because every single time a person shares themselves with us, it is a gift we may never experience again.

In short, when we are the friend and ally we want to meet, we find the friends and allies we want.

Are you a lone wolf writer? Do you use social media? Which social tool is your favorite and why? What are your tips (or questions) for building relationships, on Twitter or elsewhere online?

[Note: Piper is on the road today so she'll be answering comments at rest stops - lets be sure to entertain her.]

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About Piper

Bayard and HolmesPiper Bayard is an author, a recovering attorney, and the managing editor of the Social In Worldwide network. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE. You can find Piper at BayardandHolmes.com.

56 comments on “Making Friends and Allies on Twitter—The Lone Wolf Watering Hole”

  1. I am the complete opposite of a Lone Wolf, Piper. I'm the golden retriever, herding the pack to the watering hole, and drooling happily.

    But I love your suggestion to treat people like they're dying. Never seen it before, and it has great ramifications in real life, too.


  2. I love meeting new people in the book community on Twitter. I'm a hashtag fan too, I enjoy using #MondayBlogs #TuesdayBookBlog #wwwblogs #IndieThursday #fridayreads #WeekendBlogShare #ArchiveDay (Sat) #SaturdayShoutOut and #SundayBlogShare Happy tweeting.

  3. I'm a total Lone Wolf and now my love for Twitter makes sense. It also lets me know why others might not embrace the medium as much as I do.

  4. I'm on Twitter, but I don't use it enough--or effectively according to their analytics.
    I'd also like to voice one major pet peeve - if I follow someone and I immediately get a return message telling me to buy a book, like them on Facebook, or any other "call to action" that reeks of BSP, I ignore them, and they'll never make the 'cut' into one of my filtered groups.
    Worse are those who use automated responders. They're saying I'm not worth their time. Those, I unfollow.

    1. Amen! Preach it, sista! It is the height of bad form to solicit people on Twitter when you haven't said hello to them. Thank you for bringing that up.

  5. I'm a Selective Wolf. 🙂
    Love my writing peeps and I'm always happy to connect - especially (mostly) via social media. But I also need those cave times when I retreat with my made-up people.

    Great suggestions on how to connect with people.

  6. Lone Wolf, yes. But Twitter makes me feel like I am howling agasint the wind. I have to try realy hard to connect to people. Been working at it for years, and can count on one hand the people I have made any real connection to at all.

    1. Even with all the WANA/ROW80 peeps, Lynnette? I admit I do more chatting on Facebook, but there's nothing better than a really great Twitter discussion. It's lightning fast and always creative. I don't do it nearly enough, but I love it.

    2. Try following up with people you like by connecting with them on Facebook. Also, go to their blog, if they have one, and comment. Twitter is often the way to meet people and to make acquaintances, but those connections must be nurtured through other avenues to develop into solid friendships. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

    3. You're not alone in howling to the wind. And I can count on one hand the number of people I've really connected to. Initially they were just members of a group, but they became real friends, despite being only in the virtual world.

  7. Fab post, Piper! Your innovative approach is a great way to deal with anyone you might encounter. I never thought of myself as a lone wolf, but there is a lot I recognize in the description. I am grateful for the pack that lets me approach the watering hole when I've worked up the courage. Thanks for all of your support in my writing endeavors! <3

    1. Thank you, K.B., for being part of my Lone Wolf pack, if that makes any sense at all. You are a great example of an acquaintance met online who has become a friend. The watering hole would be a colder place without your generous spirit.

  8. Great article that had so many good tips.
    Thank you. I especially like lightning quick conversations, on Twitter and at real parties, too.

  9. Interesting. Like the "sick people" analogy, but not a lone wolf (not your definition at least). Enjoy critique groups, and feel they've greatly improved my work.

    1. Definitely not knocking critique groups. Many writers find them indispensable, and I'm always happy when people find something that works for them. 🙂

  10. Your article is rich of interesting points. Especially for one like me, given that when it comes to networking I'm not just a lone wolf but a bewildered one as well =)

  11. Lone wolf here checking in!

    I'm on twitter, and yet, I still don't get it! Just can't quite figure it all out. Not sure why, but it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense...

    Maybe it's just me, but maybe, I need to do a good twitter tutorial. One that can break it down easy. Thoughts???

    1. Marcy rocks! Thanks so much, Jenny, for including her link.

      It's a cocktail party, or the office water cooler. A place for light chat that can lead to something deeper. I mostly chat with national security types since I write spy thrillers and work with a senior member of the intelligence community, but I'm always happy to converse with folks who say hello. I'd be happy to introduce you to author friends on Twitter to help get you going. You can find me at @PiperBayard.

  12. I read both the previous and this post and I was hopeful for advice I could apply. The thing is, the advice is essentially to stop being a lone wolf.

    Meaning, if I'm reading and interpreting the above post and the referenced previous post correctly, this is mostly advice on how to break out of the lone wolf mold, establish connections, make industry friends.

    Assuming for a moment that is not a path I'm comfortable with (hence the lone wolf thing), me commenting here is so I can ask a question:

    Can someone still "make it" in this day and age (of publishing) by strictly and purely being a Lone Wolf?

    1. Most of us refer to our books as our "babies." No one can make a baby alone.

      The publishing process itself is so much bigger than writing. It includes editors, beta readers, layout artists, cover artists, marketing gurus, and, if you're going traditional, agents and publishing houses. Unless the plan is to write brilliant novels and leave your progeny with the enormous task of seeing them into print after you're gone, you will have to talk to someone sooner or later. Again, no one makes a baby alone.

      I know that's a hard pill to swallow. It took me years to accept it and crawl out of my shadowy coffee shop corner where I hid to play with my imaginary friends. If you find a way to make it without having to make connections, please write that how-to book. It would definitely be a bestseller among this lot of introverts known as authors. 🙂

      1. Other than beta readers, what you mention are professional relationships, and that is exactly what I would prefer.

        However, all that happens after a book is sold, and while I can see friendship arising out of those professional relationships, the opposite is what I would have trouble with, nurturing a professional relationship from a friendship, or, indeed, nurturing a friendship with an eye to turn it into a professional relationship (a personal quirk).

        But, thank you, I think I have my answer.

        And yes, if I find a way, I will share it, but per my understanding, those paths are often unique to individuals and their situations, and hence not much help to others. Plus, if I do write a book about making it as a lone wolf, I'm given to understand no one would publish it. To clarify, that last part is a joke.

        Thanks again.

  13. Love the "treat people as if they're dying" advice. Every one of them is so natural at the time, but I never thought to transfer that compassion to Twitter. Hmmmm....

    1. We'll get you on Twitter yet, Fae. I tag you there all the time, and you have 57 followers. Not bad for a gal that still has "the egg" (no picture) and zero tweets. I could see you having a grand time on there. 🙂

    2. If you do venture forth on Twitter, please say hello. You're doing great for "the egg" and zero tweets. I always assume those people are ISIS and block them. 🙂

      1. Another crazy thing, I have random celebrities who follow me. Music executives, sports players, etc... models, actresses/actors. Some RT and Reply! Fun train to ride.

  14. Lone Wolf writer! I had not given this any thought till now. I tried the work the room method and the find a friend and fit in. But I always felt and they acted like I was intruding. I thought long and hard about why this is and decided with the big red hair, smile most of the time, a little on the dramatic make up look I like and use I come on too strong and people are a little put off by all this. I had a boss once told me it was because when I walked into a room all the women thought "well shit now I have to shave my legs". True I do shave my legs but had to giggle at his assumption when I got out into the hall.

    I found if I just walked over to the bar and got a drink and move into a spot that was out of the way I could people watch or sooner or later someone would come over and talk. Either way was ok with me. "Lone Wolf" may explain what was happening. They were a little hesitant to approach me and I really didn't know what to say to them.

    Well I'll spend some time thinking this over but I think your right. I don't mind staying home with my toys alone. I talk to the dog and work on the computer but share little of what I write if any and I have no problem if I want to go out to get dressed and go any where I want. . alone. I love to have someone to talk to but it is not necessary to have a good time. I may give up Fighter Chick as a nick name and go for Lone Wolf.

    Your right about superstars they love to be approved of and for fans to tell them and I do that a lot because I admire them. But I never do it because they are Superstar writers I do it because I mean it.

  15. I'm a Lone(ish) Wolf. I'm social, but also shy in odd ways. I like Facebook, because it feels a lot like having the kinds of conversations I like having, but in writing - that's a little like a fantasy for me!

    I do belong to a NaNoWriMo group that meets weekly, year round. We chat and do writing sprints, eat, and build connections in a low-stress way. Four of us, including my lifelong best friend, have formed a critique group. I carpool with another writer, and we have amazing conversations (and sing Hamilton duets).

    I'm also active in ROW80. I've made friends through all of these, and they fit my style.

    I'd been having more trouble getting the hang of Twitter - i'm not especially familiar with cocktail parties or water cooler talk.

    But what you describe here, Piper, is so much like writing group that I think I have a whole new understanding of how to approach it. I haven't set up any groups yet, but that will be a goal in the near future.

    I'm very glad that I know both you and Jenny, because that's what led me to find this post! =)

  16. Very late to the comment party here, but I love the "treat them as if they were dying" idea. If (when?) I get back into Twitter, this will be my guiding rule. Also really like the idea of starting something on Twitter and moving onto FB and blogs, etc. Thanks, Piper!

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