How To Use Twitter: A Readers Perspective

I’m a big twitter user, and have been since 2008. Since deciding to get myself in gear and write and self-publish my own book, I’ve read a lot of blogs about how to market your indie book. And all of them say the same thing:

Use Twitter.

Which is great advice, because twitter is an excellent platform to get in touch with likeminded – and even famous! – people and exchange thoughts and opinions with them from the safety of your 140 character security blanket.

Unfortunately, I keep seeing people on twitter with something to sell going about it all wrong. And this is not a post by someone who’ll soon join your ranks with authority on the subject from the inside (my first book is still months from seeing the light and I have a grand total of 364 followers) but as an avid reader and twitter user who follows a fair amount of authors – traditionally published and self, famous and… less famous.

So, having spent at least an hour a day on twitter for the past five years (oh dear), I have compiled Some Thoughts that may be helpful for authors hoping to connect with their audience.

1. YOU ARE NOT A SPAM BOT

You know what DOESN’T make a reader want to buy your book? A link to your amazon page. Tweeted again. And again. And again. I’ve seen this mistake made many times before, and I’ve unfollowed every account that’s done it – even if I like the writer and/or their work. And no, changing the tiny blurb does not mask the fact you’ve posted the same link twelve times in one day.

Many marketing blogs will allow you one amazon link tweet per day. I’m going to disagree. One a week. Maybe. If it’s relevant and you’ve hit a personal milestone with sales, or someone’s written a really great review, or you’ve done an interview about it. In which case, post a link to the review or the interview, rather than the amazon site. Readers who have read your book will be happy for you, readers who haven’t yet committed will be much more interested to hear what someone else has to say about it than you do.

Tweeting Links To Your Amazon Page, A Cheatsheet:
1. Put a permanent link in your twitter bio.
2. Tweet it along with all your excitement when you first launch your book.
3. Tweet it when you hit personal sales milestones.

And of course you can tweet about your book (sans linkage) but do it like a normal person rather than a sweet little robot who just wants to learn about love has been programmed with exactly three sentences: Have you read Title Of Book yet? amazonlink.com; Excerpt of book synopsis, check it out here! amazonlink.com; SPECIAL SALE 99c/FREE ONLY AT AMAZONLINK.COM

Seriously, would you want to look at anything that looks like it came straight from a subject header in the depths of your spam folder?

No. You’d delete it, and the person who keeps clogging up your timeline with it.

Which leads me to…

2. YOU ARE A HUMAN PERSON

All of those marketing blogs aren’t telling you to use twitter to sell your work because spam is a scientifically proven path to moving goods, they’re telling you to use twitter because the best way to sell your writing is to sell yourself.

Think about it. How many times have you become more open to watching, say, a movie because you saw an actor on Graham Norton and they turned out to be really likeable? I know I do it all the time, and when I was a young person working behind the ticket counter of a cinema, I heard it about twenty times a day (people above the age of forty-five really like to tell you things).

It’s not that you have to force yourself to be likeable per se (though I’m sure many of you are), but tweet in the way you would normally talk. Put yourself out there a little, allow people into your thought process or your day. Do you like/have animals? Share something funny they’ve done. Same goes for kids. Are you crafty on the side? Post pictures of the awesome things you make! Love to cook? Congratulations! I don’t understand you, but I do want to see pictures of your food.

Amongst these normal people actions, tweet about what you’re working on at the moment, or books you’re currently reading, or thoughts on a TV show you’re completely addicted to. The people who follow you, as an author, are most likely going to be friends and family; fellow writers; and readers. All of them want to hear from YOU, author and person, rather than AUTHOR B. WRITERSON, desperate amazon spam artist.

3. BE NICE TO YOUR FANS

Do you have fans? That’s awesome! Do you have someone who’s expressed mild interest in your work and communicated this to you via a tweet? That’s still pretty great! No luck yet? Well, it’ll come.

The point is, anyone getting in touch with you about your work is good news (bar trolls, but we’re not going to talk about them), as it means you have a READER, or FUTURE READER. So answer these tweets genuinely and with enthusiasm and respect. DO NOT just retweet them to make yourself look popular, or, if you must, make sure you also reply to the tweet. Maybe you can afford to ignore them when you’re a big shot and your fan base is solid, but at this stage you should be thrilled anyone’s actually spent a few dollars and a few hours of their time on your work.

And aside from being polite, it’s good business sense. I’ll admit it, I’m so much more loyal to authors and other celebrities who’ve taken the time to engage with me. And your fans will be too, even if you’re not at celebrity status. By communicating with your readers, you’re telling them that you appreciate their opinion and their time. And they’ll most likely return the favour by continuing to follow you, and by checking out your next book. Not to mention the word of mouth that comes with you being a lovely/awesome person.

4. JUST DON’T BE TERRIBLE

Unless this is the market you’re going for, try not to be a negative person who trash talks other authors, other books in their genre, anything popular just because it’s popular, etc.

I’m not saying you have to be a Carebear and love everything, or that you can’t criticise anything via your twitter account, but avoid being THAT PERSON who hates on everything so much that your opinions become invalid. Unless you can make it funny, it’s kind of a massive turn off.

tumblr_lwn747LtCM1qdlkggThe tumblr unfollow meme applies here.

And there you have it! My very basic guide to Using Twitter While An Author, from the perspective of one person who follows a lot of them.

What are your twitter do’s and don’ts? What makes you follow or unfollow someone?

Your thoughts?

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