Choosing Your Twitter Teachers

One of Twitter’s most useful features is the ability to create lists. Using them, you can cut through the maelstrom and focus on the people you really want to follow.

As an author, I have a variety of lists (some public, some private) that I use on a daily basis. These include selections dedicated to book news, publishers, other authors, and so on. I even have one called Local Emergency, which draws together all the police, fire and local news feeds in case I need a quick update on an unfolding situation.

But the one I want to talk about now is the private list I have called Teachers.

(Private means only I can see it).

This list isn’t huge. There are around twenty people on there. But these twenty people are some of the most successful and talented authors on the planet. And I’ve chosen them because I want to learn from them. I want to see what they’re talking about, what they’re retweeting. Find out what’s important to them.

Even though they don’t know it, these people are my mentors. Scrolling through the list is like standing in a hotel bar, listening to them all talking. It’s like the world’s best ever convention, or a university seminar where I’ve selected the guest speakers.

If I’m going to learn, why not learn from the best?

Who would you put on your list? Who are the people you want to learn from, or aspire to emulate? Why not take ten minutes and choose your own list of Twitter teachers?

How I keep track of Twitter

Recently, a couple of people have asked how I keep track of Twitter. With over six thousand followers, four thousand of which I follow back, it’s no easy task. But there are ways to simplify it.

I use Twitter for a number of purposes – to stay in touch with personal friends, writer colleagues, and drinking buddies from conventions; to network (a term I personally dislike) with editors, agents, publishers and other book people; and as a conduit between myself and the people who read my novels.

So, to facilitate those aims, I’ve created a number of private lists within Twitter. I’m sure this isn’t an original approach, but I have been asked how I keep track of Twitter, and this is the answer. I have one called ‘Essentials’ that contains updates from people I do not want to miss, such as those friends and drinking buddies I mentioned above. I’ve got another called ‘Daily’ that is like my newspaper. It features several hundred interesting feeds that keep me up-to-date with what’s going on in the world, and in my wider circle of friends and followers. And I have a list called ‘Work’ that features all the editors, agents, reviewers, publishers and news sources I need to keep track of.

I even created, in the wake of the riots a few years back, a list called ‘Local Emergency’ that contains feeds from the local emergency services, the local NHS authority, the local councils, local and national travel information, BBC Bristol and other local news sources, and even the utilities, such as gas, water and electricity.

Breaking my timeline down into manageable chunks, and being able to click from one to the other, helps me stay abreast of both my personal and work lives. As I work from home, I spend most of the day alone. Being able to keep up with friends and colleagues on Twitter makes my job easier and provides a sense of company. In many ways, Twitter is my water cooler.


My bet with the Internet

So, last week, I posted the following on Twitter:



Amazingly, in the space of five days, that message was retweeted more than a thousand times, by readers, writers, publishers, Telegraph columnists, scientists, Forbidden Planet; even the Sunday People newspaper. As a result, in order to honour my rash promise, I shall be attending the Bristol launch of Macaque Attack dressed as its hairy hero.

Stay tuned for photographs.

Follow the monkey on Twitter

As well as following Ack-Ack Macaque on his Facebook page, you can now also follow his banana and rum-fuelled ravings on Twitter.