In today's guest post, novelist Linda Poitevin shares some great advice for using Twitter in book promotion.
Ah, Twitter. Even if you haven’t yet succumbed to its potential marketing lure, you’re probably at least familiar with this rapidly growing social media platform. With roughly 555 million active users—and another 135,000 jumping on board every day (source: Statisticbrain.com)—it’s a difficult platform for authors to ignore.
Just as with any other social medium, however, your success on Twitter will very much depend on how well you use it. And sadly, many authors aren’t using it at all well. Rather, they’re committing the kinds of faux pas that cost them dearly: in followers, in sales, and in just plain goodwill. These authors are oftentimes the same ones who complain that Twitter does nothing for their sales, claiming it doesn’t work, telling others not to bother, and abandoning the platform altogether.
In my experience, however (gained over almost three years of trial and error), the exact opposite is true: used properly, Twitter can be an effective part of your marketing strategy. And much of your success with it will be rooted in basic etiquette.
1. Your profile: It’s fine to include something about your work, but your profile shouldn’t be just about that. Followers want to know something about the person behind the work. My own profile reads like this: Author of The Grigori Legacy, where police procedural meets angel mythology. Wife, mother, gardener, coffee snob. Twisted sense of humor. Prone to random tweets. As you can see, I identify my work, but then I tell people about who I am…and I guarantee I get just as many followers (if not more) because of my twisted sense of humor, coffee addiction, and random tweets asI do because of my career path. Have fun with your profile and make it unique. Then, before you post it, put yourself in a potential follower’s shoes and answer this question honestly: would you be someone you wanted to follow?
Oh, and please don’t include buy links to your book(s)! The only link that should be in your profile is one to either your website or your blog—anything more screams “sales pitch” and will turn off potential followers.
2. Include your photo: or your dog’s photo, or your cat’s photo, or your book cover, or anything other than the egg that’s the default. The lack of photo suggests a spam account and potential followers will pass you by on that alone.
3. Autoresponders: If you’re using (or thinking of using) one of the many auto-response apps in order to thank new followers, don’t. Just...don’t. No matter how you format these things (and yes, I know because I’ve tried them), the receiving party knows that it’s an auto response. I would rather receive no response from you (and assume you’re grateful for the follow) than be told in no uncertain terms that you can’t be bothered to take the time to do so personally.
4. Autoresponders part 2: If you absolutely must use an autoresponder (and again, I beg you not to do so!), under no circumstances should you include a buy link to your book. Not even if it’s free. Again, there’s a place in your profile to include a link to your website or blog (which in turn is the proper place to include buy links for your books). If I’m interested in seeing your work, I will click on that link. If you direct message me with an auto response that includes a buy link, I will unfollow you.
And that brings me to the topic of…
5. Self-promotion: As many Twitter users do, when someone follows me, I usually check them out before deciding whether to follow back. If your tweet stream is nothing but self-promotion, I’m not interested. Yes, we understand you’re excited because you have a book out, but if you take a look around you and you’ll see that half of Twitter has a book out. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but trust me: on Twitter, publishing a book is really not that special.
Instead of bombarding your followers with constant “buy my book” messages, talk to them. Engage with them. Have real conversations with them. Tweet links you think others will find interesting. Re-tweet (RT) others’ news and links (but don’t rely on this alone—a constant stream of RTs is a special kind of annoyance of its own). People are far more likely to buy your books—heck, they’re more likely to look at them—if they’ve gotten to know you a little. Behave like the proverbial used car salesman, however, and...well, not so much.
This isn’t to say you can’t ever promote your books, because of course you can. New release? Tell us about it. Stellar review? We want to hear. Special event? Knock yourself out. Just don’t do it in every single tweet, and remember to intersperse other things in there, too. (The general rule of thumb is no more than one promo tweet for every nine “other” tweets.)
In short, approach people on Twitter the same way you’d approach a stranger in real life. You wouldn’t walk up to someone at a social gathering and announce “Hi, I’m so-and-so. You should buy my book” (at least, I sincerely hope not!), and you shouldn’t be doing that on Twitter, either. Instead, introduce yourself, chat a little, find out about your followers, and be interested and interesting. If you begin treating Twitter as the social media that it’s meant to be, the marketing will follow…
…and you may even make some new friends along the way.
About the Author
Linda Poitevin is the author of the dark urban fantasy series, The Grigori Legacy, from Ace/Roc Books. Linda lives near Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and in her other life is wife, mother, friend, gardener, coffee snob, freelance writer, and zookeeper of too many pets. When she isn’t writing, Linda can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods. For more information, check out her website at www.lindapoitevin.com.