Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why I Tweet

I read a post today on an online writer’s list I subscribe to. The topic was should a book author use Twitter to help promote their books. I use Twitter nearly every day and I have some opinions on that topic. Twitter is another tool in a writer’s toolbox to help promote themselves and their work. It can be a powerful tool if used correctly, and a waste of time if not used correctly. I’d like to list a few things I’ve learned over the last two years of using Twitter:

What Twitter is Great At:

1. Driving traffic to your website and blog. In my experience, nothing is better at driving traffic to my sites than Twitter. Over the last two years I have accumulated nearly 7,000 followers. When I post a review or article on my blog, I also tweet a message about that post on Twitter with a link back to my blog site. I find that I usually get a one percent response, that is, I get an additional 60 to 70 hits on that blog counter. Same for when I post a free story on my website.

2. Getting your message out to thousands of people. Everytime I post a message on twitter, a potential 7,000 people will read it. But if the message is rather interesting, other people will retweet that message to all of their followers. If three or four people retweet the message, that message could be viewed by ten or twenty thousand people. Where else can you get your name and blog link to twenty thousand readers?

3. Meeting new people. Over the years I’ve met dozens of people who have become friends, and fans of my books. People sign up on twitter for two reasons. The first is to sell something (like me). The second, is because they want to make new friends. It is easy to make friends because that’s what most of those people are trying to do.

What Twitter is NOT Great At:

1. Passing large amounts of information. You only get 140 characters. That’s why you want to hit them with a short teaser, and then include a link where they can get the rest of the info. FB is much better at posting pictures and larger amounts of info.

2. Direct selling. If you post a message like “Please buy my book” people will unfollow you in a heartbeat. You have to be more subtle. You post a link to a review of your book. You post a link where they can read the first few chapters of your book. You post a link to pictures of your latest book signing. Most of your posts should not be about your book, they should be about you. Sell yourself, not your books. If you can get followers to like you, they will buy your books.

A Few Tricks to Know

1. Whenever someone interesting follows me, I send them the following direct message: “Thanks for following, Insert Name Here. Looking forward to your tweets. You can find out more about me and my books at”

You would be surprised at how many people message back saying they have looked at my website and like what they saw.

2. I like to retweet interesting message. Often times I have nothing to post, so I look for interesting things others have posted and I repost them. The original posters are always grateful, and you get to know them better. Your followers are grateful too for getting the interesting post.

3. I try to always be upbeat and positive. Nothing turns people off on twitter like negative whining.

4. When I post something, I normally post it several times over the span of two or three days, and I post it at different times of the day. Most people will not see it if you only post something once. Posting it several times will ensure maximum exposure.

5. I target certain groups of people to follow: 1) writers and people in the publishing business, 2) gay men who are mature enough to read novels, 3)Women who might read M/M. I’ve noticed that many writers I follow only follow other writers. I think that is a big mistake. I mostly go after readers, not other writers. That is the great thing about twitter, it lets you target your audience.

People I Don’t Follow:

1. Anybody selling something.
2. Anybody who is only looking for sexual hookups. (of which there are many)
3. Porn sites. (of which there are very many)

Lastly, I’d like to state the obvious. Twitter is a great marketing tool. Any author will get out of it what they put into it, that is, the payoff will be determined by how much time and effort you put into it.

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