Twitter 101 (for authors)

I make the distinction between Twitter and Twitter (for authors), because if you want to succeed at social media marketing as an author, you need a different approach.

If you think the purpose of Twitter is to garner as many followers as you can, you’re wrong.

If you think the purpose of Twitter is to have an outlet to plug your book shamelessly a dozen or more times a day, you’re wrong.

But if you opened a Twitter account in the hopes of connecting with like-minded people, fans, and want to promote in moderation, you’re in the right place.

Twitter is important for several reasons:

  1. It helps tremendously in getting your name and your work to the masses.
  2. Although it’s a terrific outlet to share your own work, it is just as useful when it comes to learning from others. Some of the most useful blogs I’ve ever run across, I ran across on Twitter. When you find such a blog, bookmark it to return to later.
  3. You can connect Twitter to other apps such as Hootsuite and even Facebook. This is a real time-saver. When I post to my personal FB page, it automatically shares it with my Twitter feed. With Hootsuite, you can share to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others all at once.
  4. It’s an excellent place to begin the branding process (Branding 101 for another time.)

But as with anything, there are tricks to using it successfully.

  1. Be selective. If all you’re looking to do is amass followers by quantity and not by quality, then I would suggest following anything that moves, even those annoying scammers that follow you, spam you with their ‘buy followers’ ads, and then un-follow you when they realize you aren’t going to buy. But, if you want quality followers, the ones who will refollow and engage by way of retweets and mentions, be selective. When someone new follows you, check out their Twitter homepage. Do they follow others? Do they post regularly? Even more important, do they retweet often? If you’re following a give and take Twitter protocol, why would you want to be connected to anyone who will accept your re-tweets and mentions, but never return them? I’m not one to condone the “Yay for me” attitude.
  2. Use a Twitter companion, such as Crowdfire. It certainly isn’t necessary, but it comes in handy when picking through the hay in the haystack. There are people who will follow you, and as soon as you follow back, they immediately unfollow  you. One person doing that to you is no big deal, but when enough do it to you, you will see the drop in your follower to following ratio. The reason most of these people follow only to unfollow is to make THEMSELVES look good to potential followers. Take Donald Trump, Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, etc. They have a boatload of followers who they don’t follow back, but because they are celebrities, people don’t mind that they don’t follow back. They don’t expect them to. But when an every day schmuck like you or I don’t follow someone back, they take offense and kick us to the curb. The follow/unfollow people want to appear to be as famous/popular/important as the people who truly are. Lose them. Crowdfire and similar apps will show you who has recently followed AND unfollowed you. You’d be surprised by how often the same name appears on both lists.
  3. When you are looking for tweets to retweet, after you’ve exchanged the favor for those who retweeted you, choose people who have posted a retweet of someone else. Often times, the person they retweeted is not already connected to you. They get a notice that you retweeted one of their tweets, and often will follow you in return. Why? Because you have proven that you’re not “all about me” by retweeting one of their tweets when you aren’t yet connected. It’s kind of like paying it forward.
  4. Make your posts relevant. And example: If you write legal thrillers, feel free to post current events that deal with something similar even though it isn’t about your book. People who like “true crime” type writing generally read the same type of thing in the news. With the right hashtags, you will draw them to your Twitter feed, to you, to your work. Compare a recent happening to your book when applicable, show them the connection between the stuff they already like and your work.
  5. Engage. Engaging is not the same as retweeting. Engaging is when someone makes a post and you reply to them. If possible, use open- ended questions to increase the likelihood of their responding back.
  6. Plug your work (sparingly and selectively.) There is nothing wrong with promoting your work. But, go about it with cyber-etiquette. Limit your posts to one or two per day. Obviously you won’t reach everyone on your followers list in the same day, but that isn’t the goal. When you post every hour, it’s like listening to someone say, “Look at my book, like my book, buy my book, have you read my book, what do you think of my book, I wrote a book, tell your friends about my book, this is my book, I have a book page.” Ann-oy-ing and I’ll be honest, enough of that and I unfriend. Can’t help myself! One or two posts a day, every day. But, don’t post the same exact post each time. Switch it up. You can share excerpts from your book, Amazon reviews, details, upcoming signings, interviews you may have done… there are a number of different ways to present the same item without it feeling same old. Be creative.
  7. Blog. Some people have embraced blogging while others can’t seem to get into it. Any of the popular social media outlets, including blogging, go hand-in-hand. How do you think you drive traffic in either direction? The more you blog, the more Twitter followers you will get. The more Twitter followers you get, the more people you reach with your blog/work. I hate to be the one to break it to the newbies who might be reading this, but you own it. The days of a publisher coming in and sweeping you off your feet are days gone by. This falls on you. Even if you do snag a publishing deal with a reputable house, they aren’t going to pound the pavement trying to sell you and your book while you sit in an air-conditioned bookstore signing copies of your book and posing for pictures with fans. Dream on. We live during the times where many publishers check your creds before they would even consider making you an offer – your creds being your online footprint (presence.) If you haven’t put forth the effort to get your name out there and familiarize the public with your work, it makes you much harder sell. Publishers want to know you are up for the job.
  8. Don’t underestimate the power of a hashtag! (#) is the ultimate Twitter search tool. Some hashtags are so popular, they trend regularly (#amwriting, #writingtips).
  9. To truly expand your presence, engage in trending topics. They reach far and wide and quickly. It may not be about the book you just released, but not everything is. This helps to get people who wouldn’t necessarily look for your book, familiar with your name. And after all, your name and your book are bed partners.

I know these tips may seem like no-brainers to many, but you’d be surprised by how many people either aren’t getting it, or aren’t doing it. Yes, marketing is a PITA. I have never heard anyone say I can’t wait until my book is finished so I can get to the good part – marketing it. It is time better spent on honing our craft, I agree, but it is an essential part of being a successful and marketable author. Don’t cut corners. Your sales will reflect it.

“Write to the ends of your imagination”  ~k.e. garvey

5 thoughts on “Twitter 101 (for authors)

  1. I’m slowly learning about Twitter. I’ve learned to not worry about offending–to not feel like I automatically have to follow back, and to not worry about amassing followers, because besides an inital DM (HATE THOSE THINGS!), they tend to disappear into a black hole and I never hear from them again. As for “celebs” who don’t follow back, but whose feeds I like, I simply add them to a list. I have found that when I am added to a list rather than just blindly followed, that person is more likely going to revisit my feed and engage, comment, retweet, etc. I am also not afraid of blocking. If some porn person is following me, I don’t want the extra number they give me. Crowdfire is a great app, because I don’t follow anyone who doesn’t follow me. Period. I try to keep the ratio an attractive one. I like to call it the Golden Ratio. 🙂 I just recently unfollowed over 1000 people just because I was like, “Who are you?!” I was finding that my feed was just cluttered with a bunch of celeb crap that I got sick of looking at every time I logged on. I’ve become very selective about who(m)? I follow back. I don’t have to deal with all the Direct Messages anymore, because honestly, most of them were SPAM!


    1. You make a lot of good points and I’d have to agree. And the SPAM… omigod, where do they all come from? Is there really anyone out there that buys into the crap they’re selling? If not, why are they still at it? I cannot fathom…


  2. Great tips! I’ve only been tweeting for a few weeks and I’m starting to understand the quirks of the platform. It was somewhat frustrating at first ( and still is, if I care to get too involved, haha!)

    Liked by 1 person

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