WW: Twitter for Writers
It’s about time I hitched up my Millennial skinny jeans and did this shit, right?
Let’s talk about Twitter. Let’s talk about it long and hard. Let’s talk about Twitter ’til the sun comes up. Or: in about a thousand words.
I’ve been active on Twitter, promoting my shiny little self, for about six months now. Not very long, but long enough to be sure of one thing: I’m not sure if it actually helps you sell books. (Like that? I always thought I was an attorney in a previous life, y’know.)
Sorry. I’m not sure it does. But it’s sold a few for me, and it’s definitely been a great source of promotion for this blog. And this blog DOES sell books. So is it useful?
Sure. In a roundabout way. When you put effort into it.
Long story short: there are multiple ways to make Twitter work for you. I see a lot of articles speaking in the ‘do this, NEVER this’ vein, and I get that, but I think people forget this fact about social media: it’s a malleable beast. There are few mistakes you can make (short of being absolutely shitty, of course) that you can’t UNMAKE. And there are different times to make each of these ways of using Twitter work for you.
Three functions, in essentia:
1) Delivering Helpful Content.
For me, this should be Twitter function A. This should be your main Twitterface–delivering helpful advice under the hashtags #writetip or #writingtips, retweeting other folks’, sharing helpful links, inspirational quotes. Nat Russo, whose blog is an amazing resource for independent writers, shared a great post about this here, and he goes into far better detail than I’m capable of.
A note here: for Twitter to really work for you, you should be delivering at least ten tweets (RTs included) a day. It’s not that much effort–hell, tweets are 140 characters or less–and the results are far better. Remember, all your followers have a lot of people THEY follow, and your tweets get pushed farther down on their activity lists every minute, every second, unless they’re retweeted by a mutual follower.
I don’t always make my daily ten. I try, but sometimes life gets in the way. I can tell you, though–my blog views DOUBLE when I do, and I usually sell a book or two as well. When you’re an indie author, visibility is the name of the game, and you want to be visible for good stuff. Which brings me to:
A Note: Don’t Retweet Random Shit. I mute spam, and I know I’m not the only one. Make your tweets count. Make them clever, funny, useful. At MAX, ten tweets a day is 1,400 characters. You could write more in your sleep. So put some thought into it: make your tweets things that’ll interest readers and fellow writers, and folks who follow the interests mentioned in your stories. And please God, don’t RT someone’s novel just because you feel obligated. Read the damn book. Offer it genuinely. If you recommend a lot of shitty books just because you feel like you have to, who’s going to trust you?
You’ve seen those people who have like 500 followers and 34K tweets, right? Unless they’re spam crazy, they’re spending a lot of time talking to other people on Twitter. You should spend some time doing this too: get to know people. Respond to funny tweets. Add your thoughts. Compliment somebody else on a useful link. Even if you aren’t a social butterfly, respond, respond, respond. People who aren’t already following you might see your comments and get interested. And, beyond that: you might make some damn friends. It’s good to have writer friends. You need somebody to grouse to.
Which brings me to another thing: have a goddamn personality. Seriously, don’t be afraid to use a few tweets to make conversation. Keep the personal pretty quiet, but the occasional post about your funny cat or your kids makes you human. And your fans, who we’re assuming are following you on Twitter, will be thrilled to see your #amwriting updates, and a few teasers from your work in progress. Some of my bestest, most-retweeted tweets have been stuff about my own book.
3) Spam I Am.
You shouldn’t do it a lot. It’s bad form, and like I said, people will mute or stop following you if you toot your own horn constantly. But at the same time, if it’s book release day, and you want people to know? Spam. Spammy spammy spam spam. Let people know every hour on the hour. Posted a blog today, a few pictures, a poem on Wattpad? Let People Know. Two or three times on the launch day is probably sufficient for a blog or a little thing, but if your book is free or just came out? Jesus Candycrunching Christ, don’t be afraid to shout it out. People will forgive you for a day or two of it–especially if you post an advance apology (“Sorry guys, but my book comes out today, so there’s going to be spam salad for every tea party for a little while. #mustread #amreading”).
So there you go, some thoughts on Twitter. For me, an average day should consist of:
6 Writing Tips/Helpful Links
2 Cute comments/writing funnies
1 Off topic post
1 Self Promo/Like My Shit type post.
As many conversational comments as you like!
And, just to round off the post, here’s some shit about hashtags. Hashtags make all the difference, and if you don’t know what they are I’m not going to tell you, because you can just google ‘hashtags’ and eight billion other bloggers will tell you better than me. I will say, however, if you already know:
You can analyze your tweets, their potential reach, and the popularity of certain hashtags at this website. I prefer it over hashtags.org, and it’s useful just to know what’s popular recently and what isn’t. It’s also a pretty good indicator of the sort of experience people have had using popular hashtags.
Here are a few hashtags you really should be using:
#amwriting (this is the most popular. Stick it EVERYWHERE.)
#amediting (for when you are doing this.)
#writerproblems (Good for your cheeky fun writerly tweets.)
#writetip (Good for guess what.)
#writerwednesday (on guess which day)
#FF (Follow Friday, for recommending great writers to follow on Fridays. Warning: if you do this, and you accept update emails from Twitter, prepare for your inbox to die.)
Also, genre-related tags such as #Fantasy, #Romance, #Horror, etc. As applicable; good to combine these with #amwriting or #writetip.
A note: I’m still looking for a viable and currently popular hashtag for novel lines and teaser bits. If anyone’s got a good one, let me know and I’ll add it in here.
For blog promotion:
#SundayBlogShare (especially on Sundays, obviously. You can use it any old day, but I’ve had GREAT results using this on Sundays. Don’t forget to check out a few other folks’ blogs too.)
#MondayBlog (especially on Wednesday. Just kidding.)
#amblogging (any old day)
#wwwblog (on Wednesdays) for women writers, on Wednesdays.
Such basics as #blogging, #blog, #blogger won’t kill you either. I recommend combining any of these beauties with a hashtag indicating what your blog is ABOUT (#amwriting, #amediting, #gardening, #pooping, whatever).
The lovely and talented Allison Maruska recommends #Archiveday on Saturday as well.
#IndieBooksBeSeen (Fantastic. One of my favs, and again, remember to reciprocate).
#SelfPub, #indiepub, #independentauthor, #indieauthor
#Amazon, #Kindle, #KOBO etc. As applicable.
Also, you might want to consider joining #IARTG, the Independent Authors’ Retweet Group, or #IAN1, the Independent Authors’ Network. This last costs a little money, at least $25, but they will RT the SHIT out of you all year, so you don’t have to do it on your own profile, and are, in general, a bunch of very nice people one way or the other.
If you have any good trendy writey hashtags, add them in comments, and I’ll put them up here (and thank you from the bottom of my rotten little heartmuscle). (Allison suggests #1LineWednesday. Thanks, from the heartmuscle.)
When using hashtags, you should use no fewer than one and no more than four per tweet. It’s good to combine genre specific tags (#Fantasy, #SF, etc.) with general writing tags (#IndiePub, #amreading), and possibly a mode of consumption (#Kindle, #Amazon, #KOBO, #Smashwords), when promoting. If you’re writing a novel with, say, a lot of spelunking in it, you might want to look into some spelunking hashtags (yes, #spelunking, I am looking at you).
So there you go. Twitter.
By the way, buy my book.