I’ve been asked to write a post about how I use Twitter and Facebook for marketing my fiction, and what I’ve learned from the experience. I think that was a great idea, and since I just hit 8,000 followers on Twitter this morning (WHAT!? I’m kind of floored), I thought to tackle Twitter today, and Facebook next weekend.
The first thing I should say is that I highly recommend Benjamin Wallace’s ebook, Giving the Bird: The Indie Author Guide’s to Twitter. I picked it up back in May when it was free, and learned a lot. Some of this following info may be from there, I’m not sure. I’m just going off what pops into my head as the things I wish I’d known I started using twitter. The first is:
- SIGN UP NOW. Like it or not, Twitter is essential in today’s market for pretty much anything. If you’re planning in the future to publish, create an account now if you don’t have one. You want to build up a following now, not after release!
- FOLLOW PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW PEOPLE SIMILAR TO YOU. Don’t rely just on Twitter’s suggested follow list, because it’s short and it doesn’t refresh often. Also, don’t wait on people to find you; go to them by finding a fellow writer in your genre (or four or five!) in your genre and following their followers. You’ll get some nice followbacks who have a genuine probability of being interested in you and what you have to say. If I had started doing this sooner I’d have many more followers right now than I do. Do this daily, and your followers will grow quickly; I started this when I read this tip somewhere, and I can assure you, it’s great advice!
- TWEET ABOUT YOU AND ABOUT LIFE AND YOUR INTERESTS, NOT YOUR WORK. This might seem counterproductive or counterintuitive, but the point of twitter is to engage people in conversation and be interesting. If all the tweets you ever put out are blatant “here’s my work” notices, your followers won’t be following you for long. You’ll bore them, or annoy them, or both. Benjamin Wallace really goes into this; make sure you pay attention to that chapter of his book.
- I SCRATCH YOUR BACK AND YOU SCRATCH MINE. When you find some fellow authors you like to interact with, retweet their stuff. Mention them and their blog articles. They’ll start doing the same for you. You can even make a list of these people to see just their tweets, to make it easy to find their material lumped together. Establishing these relationships with multiple people, of course, takes time; that’s why you need to sign up now for Twitter. Did I mention that?
- PUT A LINK TO YOUR WEBSITE/BLOG IN YOUR BIO. I know there’s a separate space for your website url on your profile. You can put a link there too, of course, and you should; the thing is, people will only see it there when they go to your full profile page. More often, I just click on people’ s names to see their pop up bubble of info, which includes the bio. That’s why your most important like should be part of your 14o character bio. Heck, during promo days, I put the link to my free book in the bio! Why make people go an extra step to get to the information you want them to have?
- HASHTAGS TO USE: hashtags on Twitter are fantastic; you click on or search for one, and you’ll get a list of the most recent tweets using that hashtag. Some important ones I love: #authorRT (RT=retweet), #amwriting, #amediting. When tweeting about my book, I also use #fantasy a lot. I highly recommend that you join the Independent Author Network and then promote your page with their hashtag (#IAN1). Also, I’d check out the World Literary Cafe and their hashtag #WLCauthor. Joining the IAN costs a one-time fee of $25 and is totally worth it! You can check out my Independent Author Network Page as a demo.
- TWEET REGULARLY BUT BEWARE OF TWITTER JAIL. You are only allowed 100 tweets per hour. If you go over that, twitter will temporarily suspend your ability to send tweets. This can be a big bummer if you’re, say, in the middle of a free promo. So be careful; I learned about twitter jail before I ever could land myself there, but I know lots of people who find themselves in that hole on a regular basis. As one of my best friends would say: It’s a problem.
- SHORT AND WITTY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL TWEETS. ALSO, CLARITY. You have only 120 characters, so get creative. You want your tweets to be eye-catching and interesting, and of course, add links! Some of my attempts have crashed and burned spectacularly, but here are some of the more popular ones I’ve come up with: “Life is tough, but Kora Porteg’s one tough teen sorceress.” I’ve also tweeted a variety of my tagline: “What would YOU do if you were 17 and a sorcerer wanted to see you dead?” One of my all time favs: “The kingdom depends on a 17 year old girl to save it? F#@!”
- ENJOY IT! Twitter can be annoying and frustrating, but it can also be a lot of fun. I have a blast during promos trying to outdo myself with entertaining tweets. And it’s always so much fun when you get random tweets like these directed at you: “
@vgrefer Hi Victoria.I’m just back from my hols in Spain where I finished The Crimson League. I loved it!! Well done,can’t wait to read more.” Another all-time great: “ @vgrefer Engrossing blog–I’ll have to read your books & maybe Rowling as well….” I remember the awesome tweeting moments when twitter becomes a drag: which it sometimes does, especially when I feel I’m too busy to work with it.
- WHAT LINKS TO TWEET: goodreads profile (to ask for friends or promote giveaways/events), blog posts, your website, your facebook fanpage, your amazon purchase page, reviews, your IAN profile…. you should never be lacking something to be tweeting! If you don’t have an amazon author page yet, you can create it at https://authorcentral.amazon.com.
- USE BITLY TO CREATE SHORT URLS. An extra tip for you: bitly.com. It shortens urls. I was such a newbie it took me weeks to figure out how people were shortening urls. I might have been totally behind the times, but I’m sure I’m not alone. If you are too: bitly.com. You’re welcome.