Using Twitter as a marketing tool for your novel

Twitter can be a good marketing tool, and I have wanted to write about it for some time. But there are already countless websites that explain the basics and just as many from other authors explaining the dos and don’ts of using Twitter to promote your book.

And it is here that I falter. So many authors, myself included, are doing exactly what these authors say not to do. So let’s address some of these issues.

1.) Don’t use Twitter to sell your book

I hear this one often. Twitter is not a marketplace, and you shouldn’t constantly tweet out “buy my book.” Some have even said that you shouldn’t tweet about your book unless it is an announcement – new review, author interview/guest post or giveaway/free book.

Another rule of thumb I have seen is that you need to intermix tweeting about your own content (your books or blogs) with sharing useful, interesting and amusing resources from other people. (retweeting)

And I agree, if all you do is tweet about your book, people will begin to unfollow or ignore you. I saw a tweet the other day that compared it to a radio station with advertisements only. No one certainly would tune into that station.

I generally tweet out about 6-7 personal tweets a day: 2 on my books, 3 on my blog topic of the day, and one on Independent Author’s Network. I also sometimes add one or two about what I am doing that day – usually regarding my WIP or the kids. Then of course I am tweeting information from my Triberr friends and retweeting other author’s content.

2.)  Build relationships/Join the conversations

Again, here is advice I hear often about Twitter. People are forever saying that it is not a marketplace but more a social gathering. One author compared it to a big writer’s convention. These authors suggest you pull up a chair and make friends, not customers. Their slant is that if you are interesting enough, the people you talk to will find out for themselves what you have written.

Now this is where I have the most trouble. I follow about 1723 people and have 2131 followers. It is hard to get to know them. I do receive direct messages (DM) from people I follow – usually telling me to check out their book or website – but this is a marketing ploy I don’t use because I know it never works when they send me this type of message.

But my main problem is that I rarely see conversations to join. A lot of what is in my Twitter stream is content – about books, blogs, interviews, giveaways. Very rarely do I see people trying to start a conversation. I have participated in a few and even attempted to start a few but nowhere near what you would expect if this is all just a big writer’s convention.

 3.) Retweeting 

Speaking of building relationships, some of that comes from retweeting the content of others. Here is the advice from other authors: If somebody’s shared a link to a great story somewhere, retweet it and spread the word! However, don’t retweet everything people say.

Now this is an easier one to follow. I do think I have built up a small but consistent group of other authors who retweet my content, and I of course try to return the favor. Sometimes this is hard to do. If I go to their page and all that is there is them retweeting other people, it is a challenge to find something about their own work that I can tweet about.

In that case, I sometimes resort to the quick “Thanks for the RT!” This may not be the best way to build a relationship, but it is better than nothing.

4.) Followers

Other authors will tell you not to be concerned about the number of followers you have and to not automatically follow back everyone who follows you.

Now this one I whole-heartedly agree with. I do follow back other authors as well as avid readers or book bloggers, but I never follow back anyone with nothing in their bio. If you really want me to follow back, have a clever bio.

5.) Don’t use tons of Hashtags (#)

Hashtags allow people who are interested in something find others that share those same interests. The other authors’ caution that using too many can make your tweet come across as spam.

I do note that I sometimes use more than I should when writing a promotional tweet. I sometimes add 3 or 4 when I should be using probably no more than two per tweet.

I am sure there are many other dos and don’ts of using Twitter as a writer. But in the end, you really just have to do what you feel comfortable with and what works for you. But I will say that I know I have sold books off my tweets, and I have certainly increased my blog’s traffic with mentions on Twitter.

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One thought on “Using Twitter as a marketing tool for your novel

  1. [...] Twitter can be a good marketing tool, and I have wanted to write about it for some time. But there are already countless websites that explain the basics and just as many from other authors explain…  [...]

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