Twitter is an amazing tool for marketing yourself and your books. It’s one of those websites that authors often overlook because they don’t really understand how the website works and what benefits they can get from it. Just to show you how much power it has, note that the number of people using Twitter has increased by more than 50 million in the past year. The network now has over 270 million active users. On top of that, it’s also reported to have generated $716 million in sales in the year 2013.
Once you have familiarised yourself with the layout of Twitter, and the best ways to use it, you’ll quickly see benefits in your online presence and sales.
When you first go to the Twitter homepage, this is what you will see. As you can see, Twitter is free and easy to sign up to:
You will then be taken through a few easy steps that ask you to enter your contact details and select your username to get yourself set up. Use something simple for your username, something that easily identifies you. Your name (or pen name) is usually best – that way the fans you already have can find you easily. Whatever your username is, your Twitter website will incorporate this, for example Twitter.com/SamieSands.
You will then be taken to page, similar to the one below. It will tell you to confirm your email address (which you must do via your email account), it’ll suggest people you might like to follow and it will tell you that your timeline is empty – don’t worry, we are going to get to all of this.
The first thing you will want to do is organise your profile to get it looking good. This is the first Twitter impression that people will get of you, so make it a good one. To do this, you need to click on your name, shown in a blue box at the top left hand corner of the screen.
This will take you onto your profile page – which at the moment looks quite plain and boring. There is a button on the right hand side of the screen labelled ‘Edit Profile’. Click on that to get started.
This will present you with a selection of options that you can change. Your profile picture is one of the most important of these. It’s the first visual image that people will see of you. If you have a professional author picture, then use that. If you don’t, then it might be something worth considering. Authors often think that using their book covers is a good idea, but this can look messy as the thumbnail is a square – and most book covers are not. If you’re really struggling, why not get a designer on board to create you some professional-looking promotional material
Your header photo is an area you can be a little more creative as it’s bigger and it’s only seen by people who visit your Twitter profile page. It might be a good idea to include a photograph showing all of your books, or some promotional material related to your writing.
You can then go on to change how your name is shown, include your bio (there are a limited amount of characters for this, so choose each word carefully), your website and other details. Once you have this right, click ‘Save Changes’. This will make your profile look much brighter!
There is another way you can edit your settings. To do this, click on the egg setting found at the top right hand side of the screen, and select ‘Settings’ from the dropdown menu.
This will provide you with a wide range of selections, that you can play around with at your leisure:
It’s time to look at tweeting. It’s important to mention that there is a limit of 140 characters with a tweet – that’s part of its charm. It is quick blasts of information that isn’t bogged down in details. At first, this may seem restrictive, but you’ll soon find ways to use it to your advantage.
If you click onto your profile, you will see that Twitter has suggested some first tweets to get you started. These are alright if you are really struggling, but it’s much better to put something more unique.
You will need to start with clicking on the ‘Tweet’ button, found at the top left hand corner of the screen.
This will bring up a box, where you can write your first tweet. Here you will see a box, which is where you will write your 140 characters. You will also see the option to add ‘Media’ (this can be photos or videos), your ‘Location’ and a ‘Poll’ (which can be a great way to get people to interact with you.
So what do you write? Well, to begin with you could post that it’s your first tweet, you could include a link to your books, you could include a picture…anything to hold interest. Practice for a while – until you have followers, it’s unlikely that they will be seen by very many people anyway.
Once you have posted your tweet, you still have options available to you. If you click on the link to your profile (which can be done by clicking your name next to your profile picture). There you will see your tweet:
Now you will notice under your tweet, a selection of symbols. Knowing what these mean and how they can help you will benefit you greatly.
The singular arrow means ‘Reply’. If you wish to do this to someone else, click on it and it will tag them in your tweet, alerting them to your communication.
The double arrows curled over each other is for a ‘Retweet’. If someone retweets one of your tweets, it will also be sent out to all of their followers – getting you a bigger audience.
The heart if for a ‘Like’. If someone likes what you have written, they will click on this.
The basic graph chart is where you can see your insights. If you click on this, it will bring up the following box, showing you exactly what has happened with your tweet.
The final option – the three dots – brings up a dropdown menu for more choices. It gives you new ways to share your tweet – via direct message, link or embedding (which is HTML code for your website or blog). It also gives you the option to ‘Pin to your profile page’. This is for important tweets – announcements, competitions, etc – that you want to show at the very top of your profile page, so it’s the first message that people see when they visit your Twitter profile. Of course, you can also delete your tweet.
Following and Getting Followers
So now that you’ve gotten to grips with the way that Twitter works, and you’ve practiced a tweet or two, it’s time to get your audience. The best way to begin doing this, is to follow other like-minded people. Twitter will suggest some people in the ‘Who to Follow’ box, on the right hand side of your home screen. This will be based on your likes, tweets and the people you already follow:
You can also use the search bar, to hunt for people you know or people who share similar interests to you. For example, my book series is focused on zombies, so by searching ‘zombies’, I could find people who have tweeted about this topic:
You can then chose people that look like people you want to follow from the list, and click on their name to be taken to their profile. You then need to click on the ‘Follow’ button to add them to your list.
This persons tweets will then start to appear on your homepage, on the timeline. Once you start to follow a few people, your timeline will begin to fill up with tweets. With a bit of luck, at least some of the people you have followed, will follow you back – this will spiral onto other people following you.
It’s also a good idea to share your Twitter link over all your other social media accounts, to get some of your fans to connect with you there too.
So, how do you make your tweets stand out from the crowd, once you have a few followers? Connecting with people is a good start, and there are a few ways to do this. The first thing you can do is link other users in your tweets. The way to do this is with the ‘@’ symbol. The name will come up coloured, so you know it’s linked correctly.
If you struggle to do this, or remember the name you’re tagging, you can also go onto the persons profile and tweet directly from there. Click on the cog symbol and select the ‘Tweet To’ button.
If someone tags you in a tweet, you will be notified by the ‘Notifications’ icon, found at the top of your screen. Whenever someone tags you in a tweet, likes one of your tweets or retweets you, you are notified in this way. The bell icon will have a number next to it, letting you know how many communications you’ve had. Click on this to see them.
Next to the notifications button, is the one for messages. Direct messages can be sent privately, so the world cannot see. This will also crop up with a number when you have any new ones.
When you click on this icon, a box will be brought up. Here you will see all of your messages, and you will also see the option to send a message.
Sell Books With Twitter
Now we will get to the important stuff – promoting your books. You should have grasped the basics of Twitter, so you need to know how to use it to your advantage. Twitter is an amazing way to sell your books, as long as you understand the tips and tricks.
You will have noticed a selection of phrases and hashtags under your profile picture on your homepage:
This is the things that are trending on Twitter – the things that most people are tweeting about. Tweeting about these things will often lead to conversation as it’s what people are particularly interested in at that moment. Sprout Social has some great tips and websites for finding the most popular tweets at each moment.
There are some specialist hashtags that authors have claimed, and using them are a great way to connect with others. Here is a sample of the most popular for you to consider:
Connect with Authors:
- #BookMarket (Thursday’s at 4 pm ET)
- #LitChat (every M/W/F)
- #MemoirChat (every other Wednesday at 8 pm ET)
- #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)
- #PBLitChat (picture books only)
- #WANA (We are Not Alone community)
- #WriterWednesday (or #WW or ##WW)
Connect By Book Genre:
- #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
- #RWA (Romance Writers of America)
- #SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
- #Science #Fiction
- #Short #Stories
Get Industry Information:
- #IAN or #IAN1 (Independent Author Networking)
- #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
- #VSS (very short story)
Get Your Creative Juices Flowing:
- #1K1H or #1K1HR (write one thousand words in one hour)
- #WIP (work in progress)
Connect With Readers:
- #ff (Friday Follow)
- #fRead0 (that’s a zero at the end – not a lower case oh)
- #MyWANA (Writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
- #TeaserTuesday or #TeaserTues
Promotion, Marketing & Networking:
Try using some of these in your tweets and see what happens. You are much more likely to get an audience if you use these, so they are definitely worth a try.
Tweet Your Book
There are many ways you can tweet your book – but every time you do, be sure to include a link to it. Twitter is brilliant for generating sales, so you want to take full advantage of this. Although you’ll want to tweet other things too, you’d be missing out if you didn’t. Just remember, there are millions of tweets being sent out constantly, so you need to make sure your tweet stand out. You need to make your book visible.
Include your book blurb, use an image (maybe your book cover), include a short sample of your work, and don’t forget the hashtags! Anything to make the tweet more interesting than simply showing your book link.
You can even create your own hashtags – encourage your followers to use it too, to create more of a buzz about your books. As my books series centres around a virus known as ‘AM13’, I often use #AM13 in my tweets.
Use A Link Shortener
As Twitter is restrictive with its 140 characters, it can be difficult to say all that you want to. That’s why using a tool to shorten your links is helpful.
Consider using Linkredirector when linking to your books. It provides smart links that takes your readers directly to the right book store, in the right country with one click.
For example, if you share an Amazon UK link, that isn’t much use to someone living in America.
Giveaways and competitions are a brilliant way to generate interest, followers and some excitement around your Twitter account – people love a freebie! If you chose your giveaway rules correctly, you will be able to gain some long term fans from it – making it very worth your while. Here are a few ideas you could try:
Run a photo competition. Ask people to post a photo, with a hashtag or tagging you – linked to your book or storyline.
Have a competition where people Retweet you:
Get people involved with a caption contest:
Or you could use an external website to help you run your competition. A great, really simple and popular website for this is Rafflecopter – https://www.rafflecopter.com/.
This is another free and simple website to use. You can follow the steps to set it up, ensuring that people follow your Twitter account and tweet a message you set to enter. You can also include your other social media accounts – really enhancing the benefits you’ll get from this competition.
After the Rafflecopter competition has finished, you’ll also be able to download a list of email addresses from all of the people that entered the contest – helping you to compile a list for email marketing.
The top 10 hashtags to use alongside your competition to generate interest are:
Useful Twitter Apps and Tools
You can add applications to your Twitter account – to make your tweets much more exciting. Here are a selection of these apps that are very useful for authors:
You’ll need to sign up for your free account at http://www.slideshare.net/, then begin to upload samples of your books. These can then easily be shared to Twitter, with the sample included so the users can see them really easily:
Once you’ve uploaded your sample, you’ll want to click on the ‘Share’ button, use the Twitter icon, and share the tweet:
This will then come up on your Twitter account like this:
You may have noticed a red icon containing a number on my Twitter account, that you don’t have. This is from Klout – https://klout.com.
This number lets you know how influential you (and others) are on Twitter. Although this may not help you sell books directly, it will let you know how well you’re doing – and people it might be advisable to network with, due to their influence.
One of the most prolific Twitter users, singer Katy Perry, has a Klout number of 93, which should give you an idea for where you are aiming.
Crowdfire – http://www.crowdfireapp.com/ – allows you to check out who is and isn’t following you with ease. It also allows you to send out an automated message to all your new followers – starting a conversation. This website is free and all you need is your Twitter account to sign up.
Thunderclap – https://www.thunderclap.it/ – is a website that helps you build up an audience and find new ways to connect with people.
It’s based around setting up exciting campaigns for milestone events. Setting up a campaign is really easy to do – all you need to do is set up a message about the event, and a date you need it to go live on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Then you need to get people to support your campaign. You need a set number of people to ensure your campaign goes live, so you’ll need to be sure to get everyone you know to agree to have the message posted on their social media accounts on the day.
Posting at random times of the day can be difficult – especially when you consider different time zones. When you have a worldwide fan base, you’ll want to be able to connect with them all. That’s where Hootsuite – https://hootsuite.com – comes in.
You can get all your messages set up, and decide when they go live. That way, you don’t have to worry if you go away, or if you sleep! Your Twitter account can still be active.
Do you have any other ideas for book marketing on twitter? Leave a comment below!