Twitter: An author’s best friend or worst enemy? That depends….

1213696_aaaoooSocial media marketing–having a presence in the social networking community–is really a must for authors. This is especially true for Twitter and Facebook: a writer’s “big two,” in my personal opinion.

It’s common advice to hear, “Don’t wait until after you publish to get started on social media. Get going NOW. Build up a following before release. Get people interested in you and your work.”

But why? Why is social media so important? How is it that Twitter, in particular, can be a writer’s best friend or her worst nightmare?

I’ve been on Twitter for a year now, and built up a following of close to 25,000. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned some things from experience. Here’s how to make Twitter work for you, as a friend.

  • Let people get to know YOU, on a personal level. Not just your work. Not just the ways you promote your work. Send out occasional tweets about your reactions to what you’re watching on tv. Mention crazy cute things your nieces and nephews, or your kids, tell you. Let people know how you’re human when you do something goofy. (Recently, I bought a gallon of milk and left it on the dining room floor, in the bag I brought it home in. Found it the next morning. Well, it was no good after spending overnight at room temperature. I sent out a funny tweet about how scatterbrained I was, and got a funny response or two from followers)
  • People tweet about all KINDS of useful articles for us authors: about social media and how to use it, about grammar and editing, about writing and blogging, about SEO tips for your blog. Take advantage of the great information to improve your knowledge base.
  • When you tweet something clever, or links to your blog with valuable content, you’ll get retweets and responses from people with affirmation that will make you feel as warm and gooey inside as a chocolate cake fresh from the oven. It’s the best.
Ooey gooey greatness

Ooey gooey greatness

As great as Twitter can be, it can also turn on you if you’re not careful.

  • Set a time limit of how much time you’ll spend on Twitter and on sites that Twitter directs you to. Otherwise you’ll waste hours. I promise. Hours.
  • If you tweet nothing but self-promotion, you’ll be ignored. You’ll give people a bad impression of you and your work, which is worse than them never hearing of you in the first place. So share the love. Engage and help out other people rather than focusing on your material. And never, ever send out personally directed spam tweets to people.
  • Don’t overuse hashtags. One (or none) per tweet is optimal. Two can be okay. Make sure the ones you use are appropriate. If you’re new to Twitter, do a little bit of research on what hashtags are before you try to use them. (They group tweets on related topics together for easy search access. They also allow a group of people to have a large “conversation” on a feed based upon the hashtag)
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22 responses to “Twitter: An author’s best friend or worst enemy? That depends….

  1. Great article – Although, I’m not convinced of the power of Facebook after hearing how posts only reach 17% of followers, but this is still better than none I guess.
    Your evaluation of Twitter was spot on!

  2. I’m an editorial intern who joined Twitter to connect with editors, authors and publishers. I agree with all your advice, but particularly wanted to agree with the self-promotion one. There’s nothing worse than someone Tweeting about nothing but their book. You get no sense of the person at all. It’s worse when they’ve followed you, you then follow them and soon after they unfollow because all they wanted was to try and sell their book. Direct message spam is worst of all!

    Having said that, Twitter has allowed me to connect with lots of authors I’d never heard of before, learn about their books and have great chats with them about their work, other great books to read and to just discuss life in general. In turn, I’ve Tweeted about their work and have written reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to help promote their books because I loved them so much. It’s definitely worth the time to connect with your readers on a more personal level. You’ll be rewarded in the end.

  3. awriterweavesatale

    good post. I may use hashtags too much…

  4. Great advice!

    The one thing I always wonder is whether it is OK to ever make a comment on subjects that may be off-limits for some – meaning, political and social issues. Since there’s a lot happening with those issues, I hesitate to ever Tweet something about them. I think that if I do, I’ll be alienating potential readers and fellow writers. Of course, if you do it too much, you will. But I guess every once in a while is OK – just be prepared for any nasty responses.

    Also, I agree totally with spam tweets. I’ve unfollowed several authors for tweeting the same “buy my book!” tweets every 15 minutes. I really don’t see the logic in doing that.

    • I like your policy about political stuff, Megan! Like you, I tend not to tweet out about it but I don’t generally mind reading political tweets as long they aren’t worded in such a way to be insulting of others.

  5. Catherine Johnson

    I had to laugh at ‘when you tweet something clever’. I hope at least once in my life I can write a funny/ clever tweet lol

  6. I couldn’t agree more with this blog and the comments you’ve received. I roll my eyes at those who constantly tweet, “Check out my 5 star review! Voted best novel…” blah blah blah. The tweets I take the time to pause and actually read are the clever/humorous ones, tips on writing (like yours), and more personal comments. Although I totally want to support other writers, I don’t care to be bombarded by their book reviews and constant marketing. I want to get to know the author.

    • that’s exactly it! people try to social out of social media and turn it into pure advertisement, it doesn’t work. it’s all about connecting with people. getting to know people, like you say 🙂

  7. angel7090695001

    I use hashtags WAY too much.

  8. It’s so true. You don’t want to self promote. There are times when you can make helpful posts and let others know your expertise but it’s all in how you say it.

  9. Pingback: Twitter: An author’s best friend or worst enemy? That depends…. | Creative Writing with the Crimson League | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

  10. I’m still figuring out the land of Tweet Tweet. Thank you this was very helpful!

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