Mar 4, 2011

My Twitter Rules For Authors


1.  Being a friend is more important than being important. If you're on twitter to show how important you are, you're doing it wrong. Talk to people.  Build relationships.  Join communities. Show an interest in the people who follow you. This is called "being a real person."

It's not enough to show up and expect to be adored.  Honestly, if you're perceived as a snob, you are better off staying away.  I refuse to buy books by authors with better-than-thou twitter personas.  Lots of authors are good and I choose to give my money and my time to nice people.  I have a thing for nice people.  And publishers.  And book sellers.  Nice people rock my world.  I want them to succeed.

2.  Don't keep score. RT the things that make your heart sing.  #FF when you are moved to do so.  Be genuine in the things you promote.  When you compliment someone, mean it with your whole heart.

3.  Acting in love is never a mistake. Encourage people.  Inspire people.  Fan the sparks of creativity until they catch fire in others.  If you're asking, "What's in it for me?" you're doing twitter wrong.

4.  Stories matter. The stories we tell say something important about who we are and what we value.  Keep telling your stories even when it seems like no one wants to listen. Believe in the power of your own story.

This is where my advice may seem a little contradictory.  Following back is a good thing to do.  Talking to people is critical.  Being open to new ideas is essential.

BUT: you are not required to continue following anyone who makes you feel even one bit smaller than the amazing person you are.  It's okay to unfollow negative energy.  Sometimes it's mandatory.  If someone makes you feel your story is too insignificant or too small, if someone makes you feel like the writing world would be better off without you in it--unfollow that person immediately.  Cultivate an atmosphere of love in which to write.  Listen to the voices that help you get better.  Get rid of the ones that tear you down.  Period.

5.  Individual voices matter. No voice is so small it has no value.  This goes hand in hand with the last rule, but it's the flip side.  No one deserves to be your stepping stone. If you're pushing someone else under so you can jump across the stream, you're doing twitter wrong.

6.  Diversity matters. Same begets same begets same.  Brilliance bubbles up in the Pond of Different.  Twitter gives you the opportunity to listen to people who are not just like you.  Listen.

7.  Positive energy comes back to you. If you want good for others, they will want good for you.  Want=energy.  Want=prayer.  Want=power.  Be careful what you want.

8.  Happy trumps smart. Write your heart out.  Surround yourself with others who support you.

9.  Enjoy the presence of other writers. Twitter allows us to peek inside the habits and minds of our writing colleagues.  And wow.  Seriously.  Wow.  It's a carnival in there.  There's no neat little rule book to follow.  There's no one set path.  There are bright colors and clowns and dark alleys and balloons and ferries and ferrywomen and goblins and dragons and monsters and one room with boxes of epiphanies and cloaks in various shades of red.  If you can imagine it, a writer is working with it.  Give yourself permission to absorb this amazing energy and find your own wings.  I started #amwriting to get writers talking to each other and the energy there still blows me away.

10.  Life is short. Everything we do, we do right now.  Hug the kids. Write the novel. Eat with friends. Pour the wine. Twirl. Spin. Laugh. Think. Tweet.

Now is all we have.

So, you know what I'm saying:  tweet in the now, but make time for the rest.  Especially the spinning.  Never underestimate the power of a good spin.

122 comments:

  1. what a wonderful blog post. all very good, clear, and sane advice that I have tried to follow since I began twittering, but always bears repeating.

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  2. So interesting Johanna and just as I'm trying to figure it all out. People unfollow me everyday and of course I feel a pang, but then I gain a few which always makes up for it. I read the other day "is Twitter for narcissists?" or something to that effect and I have since been wondering if that is how I'm handling it, but I don't want to give up as I really, really enjoy Twitter and feel like it's a classroom of sorts. See? I'm learning something right now! ; )

    I'm also a fellow YAYOM...I seem to be more of a bystander, but I am enjoying and truly gaining so much from observing, etc.

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  3. Excellent post! I agree wholeheartedly. :)

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  4. Thanks, Thea! Every so often I start feeling like people need more than just "be nice" for guidance. :)

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  5. It's so good to see you here, Suzanne! One of the things I love about twitter is the mentoring feel of it. By following someone throughout their days, it's easier to understand what they do.

    I know it takes a while to quit watching followers and unfollowers, but you already have a good sense of things. Focus on balance and the rest falls into place.

    And speaking of YAYOM--I used a self-portrait for this blog entry! I'm getting so brave. :)

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  6. There is so much to gain from Twitter and tweeting. Great rules put together and thanks for making it known that every individual counts.

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  7. Your rules are not only for Twitter, but I would apply them to everyday life. Thanks so much.

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  8. Don't give up Suzanne. I felt the same way. I was a little bit lost on how it all worked when I first joined the Twitterverse. Eventually I figured it out through trial and error. I remember when I only had 6 followers. I kept tweeting and following. Almost a year later I can truly say I have made some wonderful friends in the Twitterverse. I never expected to meet and connect with so many great people by way of the 140-character tweet. Had it not been for a few of my followers asking me share snippets of my work in progress (a historical fiction) at my blog, I would've never had the courage to post them.

    Johanna, thank you for this post, which I discovered via a tweet from one of my Twitter followers @lisajanicecohen. Thank you for creating the #amwriting tag, which I love.

    -Mia

    -Mia

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  9. I can't say this loudly enough: Here here! I tried to say something similar in my latest blog post, but I bow to your version. *bows* It's all about the nice. :)

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  10. @johannaharness words to Tweet by.

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  11. What a great blog post! RT @johannaharness My twitter rules for authors: http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #amwriting

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  12. Well said :) RT @johannaharness My twitter rules for authors: http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #amwriting

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  13. @johannaharness great rules - basically, be friendly and genuine! I would only add, don't post personal details that are too personal!

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  14. @johannaharness Great post!

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  15. @johannaharness My twitter rules for authors http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #amwriting >> rules for authors? How 'bout anyone - twitter from the heart

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  16. Thanks, Misa! RT @misabuckley: What a great blog post! RT @johannaharness My twitter rules for authors: http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0...

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  17. @johannaharness just read your twitter rules for authors. Being kinda new to this, it was a big help. L-O-V-E-D it. really. Thanks!

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  18. @johannaharness I think you said it all--and not just for Twitter--with "Be nice."

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  19. @johannaharness You are most welcome - perfect post, all true. ;-)

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  20. Great post, Johanna!! This list of yours goes well beyond Twitter rules. I mean, these are some cool life guidelines!!

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  21. I like these rules, I think, in general they count for everything in life, though the terminology might be a bit different!

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  22. Johanna--this made me smile this morning. I try to live my life this way--but sometimes it's hard to navigate the twitter thing. Who to follow, what to RT, the whole #FF and #WW--but it really comes down to common sense, doesn't it? Thanks for the reminder. Great post!

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  23. What a great post. Very thought provoking :-)

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  24. this is wonderful advice for all humans (not just authors, and not just on twitter) Love it!

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  25. Good morning Johanna, I really love your twitter rules for authors. Thanks for sharing them and also for setting such a supportive, welcoming tone for #amwriting.

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  26. I love this post, Johanna. Twitter is the best virtual classroom -- an information junkie's dream come true. Hardest thing for me, and I still struggle some, has been learning to manage the online with off-line. I've got a lot to learn. Trial and error. Also, being mindful that 140 characters can come across completely different than intended. I've been blessed with meeting some of the kindest, most supportive people, many who've turned into off-Twitter friends. If only Twitter weren't so darn addictive! Thank you for writing this. The Golden Rule applies on Twitter, too. : )

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  27. I love this post. It sounds just like you...authentic, vibrant & compassion filled. You know what else I love? That you follow a gadzook's number of folks. Usually folks with 20k in followers have a handful. That's what makes sense for them. For you? Just a bigger community. :)

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  28. Great rules.

    I have one more. I think I hurt someone on twitter and yet as sorry as I am that she is no longer following me as a result--it was the right thing to do for me.

    She re-tweeted these wonderful (and numerous) events that were happening in NYC. I would love to go to them, but I live in the heartland and the shear number was making a quick phone scan of tweets agonizingly long.

    I decided to shut down viewing her re-treets. I'm sorry, but we don't all have the luxury of running down to the west or east side to see or hear someone. Since I would SO MUCH love to go to them, they tended to depress me. I love where I live, but there are things that happen in larger cities that I would enjoy.

    Anyway, one more possible rule for people who RT.

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  29. As ever, you show speaking from the heart in plain and simple terms touches people so well. You nailed it, not just for authors, but for anyone using Twitter. It really does boil down to "Be Nice." Well done and thank you.

    Take care,
    Jess

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  30. Check this out! AWESOME! http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... by @johannaharness @vinamist I especially like the part about taking time for a good spin.

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  31. @mrsmica Yes. Too often people lose track of the fact that twitter is a public forum.

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  32. @angelaparson Thanks, Angela! Based on response, I'd say nice is making a comeback. :D

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  33. @johannaharness that was some good advice. Appreciate it!#amwriting

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  34. I can't say why, but this lovely post brought tears to my eyes. I've nothing else to add except thank you.

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  35. Thanks for this, I am new-ish to Twitter and a debut author and I found this heartening and helpful. I'll bookmark it for future inspiration!
    ~Cathleen

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  36. Honesty about writing always begins with an acknowledgment of the writer's importance. Anything else is false. Love includes helping each other get better, but it all begins by believing in the writer and the vision. Those conditions help us improve rather than giving up.

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  37. Hey Valerie. I was going to give a general reply, but I saw you comment and I decided to chip in with my thoughts (if you don't mind).

    You have a good question there, and it's an important one. I believe being nice without being honest sounds fake, and when I find false nice I stay away from it. I don't necessarily unfollow, but don't stimulate close contact either.

    Of course there's a price for being honest. Many people don't like when you give a less favorable opinion about their work, but we all parrot that a writer must grow a tough skin, right? Who better to give constructive criticism (gently) than your friends? I'm sure open to that!

    Johanna, I think we've been reading the same books. I do my best to live in the now too, and all I've been collecting with my twitter friends is love. Amazing post. I follow it everyday, and I can't complain about the results. Very nice of you to share it so everyone can have what you've built with #amwriting. :D

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  38. What a great voice you have. You exude love. I would read anything you write.

    Judy aka@newsjunkieoc

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  39. That is a HUGE tweetdeck on the computer. XD =)

    Great post! =)

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  40. @johannaharness Number 8 is the best, not just for writers, but for life. "Happy trumps smart". Thanks!

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  41. Wonderful! I adore number 8 but they are all excellent. RT @johannaharness My twitter rules for authors: http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #amwriting”

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  42. @johannaharness Just read your Twitter rules. How do you balance being friendly/encouraging with being honest?

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  43. As usual @johannaharness nails it: "It’s a carnival in there." http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... Twitter Rules for Authors

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  44. @johannaharness I'm not sure what you mean? Is it egotistical to judge other people's writing? Or should I treat every writer as important?

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  45. .@valerievaldes The writing can't get better if the writer is destroyed. If you nurture the writer, help as needed, the writing improves.

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  46. .@valerievaldes And if we help someone else in that spirit, they help us the same. We both improve.

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  47. @johannaharness Okay, so honesty delivered as nicely as possible is the best policy?

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  48. Excellent post! I've made so many friends on Twitter, it's a terrific community.

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  49. @johannaharness Really enjoyed your twitter rules. But many writers won't share their opinions; prospective buyers might be turned off.Do u?

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  50. RT @johannaharness: Thank you! RT @vlsimplicity: I LOVE this!!! RT @johannaharness My twitter rules for authors: http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #a ...

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  51. Johanna this is a WONDERFUL post ;) It just confirms what I already knew, you are indeed one of the sweetest, nicest people I've met in the virtual world. Thanks for inspiring me to be nice :D

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  52. Great post. The most important rule is the first- to make friends, BE a friend. And don't take anything personally. Twitter is the most casual, least commitment-intensive of the social media tools I've used and people shouldn't take it personally if someone unfollows! Also, try to reply to people who reply to your tweets, as much as possible; your followers and fans don't want to be left in a vacuum or feel like you're not interested in what they have to say.

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  53. Thanks so much for this wonderful, positive energy of a post!

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  54. @johannaharness twitter rules for authors: http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0...
    Positive energy comes back to you :)

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  55. Wow! Very powerful post.

    I agree about being nice, it's important and too often goes unnoticed, but that's the nice thing about being nice, it's not about being noticed...it's about helping others :)

    Basically...agree with everything you say.

    Def. Tweeting this! ^_^

    <3 Claire

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  56. Lovely thoughts and ideas, especially for a writer who finds this "platform building" unnatural and somewhat belittling. Everyone seems more confident and worthy than me.Much better to think of twitter as being a place to be a friend, rather than a self-promoter.

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  57. this makes me wanna tweet! I am all over #10...what a great post and great photograph!

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  58. Thank you! RT @susanjsteward: Writers on Twitter--this post by @johannaharness is a must-read. http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #amwriting

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  59. Wow. Thank you so much. RT @supremetronic: Joyful, loving, wise: RT twitter rules for authors http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... #amwriting

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  60. @lillanyman It's so good to hear from you! Thank you. :D

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  61. @johannaharness You twitter rules are right on. http://johannaharness.com/blog/2011/03/0... Now is all we have indeed! Write on! #amwriting

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  62. Thanks - a very nicely stated set of guidelines.

    ~Lynette

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  63. @johannaharness I feel like going in the backyard and spinning right now. Great blog post.

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  64. I love ALL of these tips! I think the theme is: be authentic. I completely agree on the Twitter snobbery issue. I don't follow everyone back because they are either products or they tweet way too often about themselves and sound like a product. I don't like it when every other tweet is "Read a chapter from my book" and so on.

    A great post all around!

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  65. What an awesome post. You have connected and inspired so many people, Johanna!

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  66. Fabulous post. Twitter as reflection of life; seems the lessons are the same :)

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  67. Here's another thing to remember about Twitter - whether or not someone "follows" you - or even if you block them - they can still see all your tweets at www.twitter.com/yourTwittername. So never say anything you aren't comfortable having every person in the universe reading.

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  68. Johanna, I love this. So simple, yet so perfect.

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  69. Love this post - very helpful for someone who's trying to figure out the twitter-verse.

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  70. Love this post -- so helpful for someone like me who's trying to figure out the twitter-verse and the best way to be on there. Many, many thanks.

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  71. @valerievaldes That's probably the most succinct way to say it. Yes. Being nice and being honest are not mutually exclusive.

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  72. @bookmd Hiding yourself to sell books feels like a bad strategy, but I'm all for self-censoring if it means not being a jerk. Balance, yeah?

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  73. @susieonthescene Yay! Thank you. :)

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  74. @johannaharness don't know how I missed this article, but I'm glad it was RTed because it's a great read. Thx for posting.

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  75. @weeklyadventure I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  76. @johannaharness You're welcome. Lovely post, so positive - everyone should read it.

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  77. @johannaharness it just proves that when you stay true to yourself & follow your heart good things will come to you. :-) have a great day!

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  78. @weeklyadventure Wonderful thought! Thank you. :)

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  79. Thanks, Misa! It's always good to see you here. :)

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  80. Wow! I'm really behind responding to comments here. I'll keep answering a few at a time. Thanks so much for everyone who stopped by. I appreciate you all so much.

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  81. Thank you for your wisdom
    And generosity. I've had a hard time grasping the 'point'...but kindness, love, authenticity and community? My need to 'grasp' was what got in my way.
    Aha moment. Thanks again, my new friend!
    Audrey

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  82. Exactly! The spotlight is nice, but it's a better feeling at the end of the day to know you've made a difference in someone's life.

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  83. Yes! What I find amazing is that I feel I know people better by following them a bit every day--rather than reading one big post once in a while. The pattern of people's lives say so much about them.

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  84. Yes. Exactly. If we lead with our heart, we may be hurt sometimes, but life will be so much more fulfilling.

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  85. Oh thank you, Judy! So nice of you!

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  86. lol. Yeah, I just moved to a bigger monitor and my mind is freaked out by all the little boxes. (That was actually HootSuite in the picture, but I've since moved to Tweetdeck and the point is the same. BIG.)

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  87. Johanna, if I didn't adore you already, for many reasons, this post alone would be enough to make me a fan. You are SO fantastic. This post is amazing. I don't do Twitter, but creative community is one of my absolute top-level concerns, and these rules don't just apply to twitter. Or to creative community for that matter. They're just the finest of rules for life. So incredibly awesome, my lovely friend!

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  88. Dear Johanna,

    Would you ever RT a tweet that contained off-colour language or other potentially age-inappropriate content if it was not gratuitous?

    Yours,
    Cheeseburger Brown

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  89. Aw, Amy! It's so good to see you here! Thank you thank you thank you.

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  90. Yes. So much is trial and error. We all keep learning and growing. So happy to see you here, Ezzy. Thank you.

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  91. It depends on the tweet. It's difficult to establish context in 140 characters.

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  92. @johannaharness pleasure! Thought it was excellent and as Amy said also applies to life generally!

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  93. Brilliant!

    Not only do I promise to abide by these rules, but I hope people will set me straight when I've gone astray.

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  94. Dear Johanna,
    Thank you for this tremendous post. I've realized people use twitter for a variety of reasons, but I believe your rules for writers speak well to the group that I'd like to be a part of. Encouragement, positivity, and connection - thanks for the uplift! -Valerie

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  95. My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/tDDxZE8 via @johannaharness

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  96. Thank you, Karen! :) RT @karenschrav: My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/rz3IF1K

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  97. Thanks, Sean! RT @SeanPlatt: Top 10 Twitter Rules For Authors: http://ow.ly/6ht4F (@johannaharness) #AmWriting #SelfPublishing

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  98. My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/9SCCLoq via @johannaharness I like "Being a friend is more important than being important."

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  99. Classic RT @AllanDouglasDgn My Twitter Rules For Authors by @johannaharness
    http://t.co/epP7IlF

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  100. My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/1h1YqlW via @johannaharness

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  101. I especially liked 9, @johannaharness! The carnival is...yes. I can see it. All around me! :) http://t.co/MAXnWPt

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  102. My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/KVOjAq6 via @johannaharness Terrific post, Johanna! Thank you!

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  103. This is good! RT @tglong My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/KRAglcf via @johannaharness Terrific post, Johanna! Thank you!

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  104. @johannaharness Terrific post on Twitter Rules for Authors http://t.co/8dbH3Az

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  105. Great advice on using Twitter from @johannaharness http://t.co/n34UE78

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  106. My Twitter Rules For Authors http://t.co/jzroxb4 via @johannaharness

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  107. Johanna Harness shares her rules on how authors should use Twitter. http://t.co/6jzfbW1

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  108. Loving the Twitter advice RT @michelewells: Twitter rules for #authors by @johannaharness: http://t.co/wJ8WJbj

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