Time and again I hear the same arguments from writers on Twitter:
- It makes no sense.
- Who should you follow?
- How do you get followers?
I felt the same when I started. But these questions have simple solutions.
This week’s featured Social Caffeine ebook is 10 Commandments for Authors on Twitter. This ebook shows you how to make sense of Twitter, why you need Twitter to better yourself as a writer, and how to build an engaged audience of readers and fans.
After April 5, the book will go back to its regular price of $2.99.
Just in case you’d like to try before you “buy”, here’s an excerpt:
Why Twitter Is Non-Negotiable For Writers
In the first couple of years after Twitter’s launch, authors doing the right thing got noticed easily. The competition was so low that just being on Twitter gave them an advantage over other authors. Twitter was a small community with users numbering in the thousands rather than the millions. Shining stars shone bright.
Those days are long gone. Twitter now has 140 million active users posting a billion tweets every three days. Today practically every author, wannabe author, has-been author, and their pet monkey is on Twitter. You’ll have to work harder to stand out. But the right effort will reap the rewards.
Smart authors are flocking to Twitter because it’s become a must-have marketing tool.
How Twitter Makes You a Better Writer
Twitter cleans your writing. Good writing is crisp and concise. Writing clearly, using as few words as possible, takes a lifetime to master. Twitter is a practice ground. With only 140 characters to play with per update, you’ll learn to express yourself with brevity. And because each update is only 140 characters, you’ve no excuse to avoid it. You can’t cop out on not having time or not knowing what to write. Everyone has time to write 140 characters, and everyone can find something to say from within those borders.
As zombie thriller author Jonathan Marberry put it, “The 140-character limit on Twitter is brilliant, and the fact that you can post a quick message and a hot link allows people to jump right in.”
Twitter is a fantastic learning tool. Every second of the day, someone shares a valuable piece of information on Twitter. That’s good news for you. You can find tweets and links to help you build your story world, get inside the heads of your characters, and promote your books. So don’t only follow writers — follow anyone who attracts your interest and who posts useful tweets. The downside is that the abundant information makes getting distracted and chasing links down rabbit holes easy to fall prey to.
How Twitter Makes You a Better Networker
Twitter connects you with like-minded souls. The writing life can be lonely, chained to your desk with nothing but your computer and your imagination. Author Paulo Coelho compares Twitter to a bar, but from the comfort of your own home. Other writers call it their office water cooler. You can talk about anything and everything, and you’ll meet all kinds of fascinating people.
As you network with other writers, you’ll find tips and tricks on writing. You can ask for ideas and help other authors develop theirs. You can learn from their successes and mistakes. As you make good friends, you’ll find writers you can collaborate with — either on writing a book together or marketing your books.
Looking for a Publisher? Check Out Twitter
Publishers and agents are on Twitter as well — for many different reasons — to promote their books, to find authors, personal reasons. You can connect with them and build a relationship. When you’re ready to submit your book to agents and publishers, relationships help you get your foot in the door.
Having a following on Twitter also helps. Publishers now expect authors to do their own marketing and engage with their readers (and potential readers) online. Publishers see thousands of great manuscripts every year. If you can tell your publisher you have thousands of engaged Twitter followers, that swings the pendulum in your favor. If you’re choosing to self-publish, a platform is an absolute must. Without an engaged audience, you’ll struggle to sell books to anyone other than family and friends.
Twitter is perfect for building this engaged audience. Twitter creates a direct connection between you and your readers. Not only do they get daily access to your thoughts, what you’re doing and what you’re reading, they can send you an @message at any time. Twitter creates conversation. Likewise, Twitter gives you direct access to great writers and your writing heroes like never before. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling are tweeting, to name two.
Does It Really Work? Check Out These Case Studies
Sarah Salway’s Something Beginning With was first published in 2004, but like most published books, it went almost unnoticed. In 2010, a new publisher relaunched it and it hit the top 250 in the Kindle charts. The difference? It was promoted on Twitter. Big-name authors picked up on the launch and passed the news to their followers.
Salway says, “From nothing, not even being in shops, the book went to the top 250 in Kindle charts. I have been offered interviews, book club readings, articles, etc. It feels it is the perfect example of how social marketing can help word-of-mouth like this.”
Even if your book isn’t given special treatment by Twitter’s big names, Twitter can help you hit Amazon’s best-seller lists. It’s not so much who tweets about your books that counts, as how many people tweet about your book and how they tweet about it. Think of it this way. If 20 people with 5,000 followers tweet about your book, that’s the same as one person with 100,000 followers. And you should be aiming for a lot more than 20.
Other authors who’ve used Twitter to sell thousands of books include Sean Platt and David Wright (authors of Yesterday’s Gone), Joanna Penn (author of Pentecost), John Locke (author of the Donovan Creed series), and Johnny B. Truant (author of The Bialy Pimps). Check out the Amazon.com reviews on their books to see the success they’ve had.
And Twitter isn’t only about selling your books. You can also use it to find bread-and-butter writing work to keep you going until your book hits the big time.
Writer and blogger Michelle V. Rafter says, “I used Twitter to say hi to a magazine publisher. She said hi back; I pitched a story idea; she liked it, gave me the editor’s email address; I wrote her and wound up with an assignment.”
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