Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Twitter for Writers: Twitter Doesn't Mean Fritter

Let me say, it’s nice to be back after my hiatus. I was posting at another blog, but it just didn’t work out so I bailed to return here. I did keep up my other two blogs (www.sharonarthurmoore.blogspot.com and www.angelicafrench.blogspot.com) while gone, but I missed you guys! 

Twitter is ubiquitous. We’ve all heard the stories of tweets that go viral. And wouldn’t I love that to happen with one of my tweets about one of my blog posts or book titles?

I have vociferous friends who refuse to tweet, calling it yet one more time waster. They’d rather be writing (so would I) then spending time contacting virtual friends in the Twitterverse. But, as a realist, I know my professional reality is marketing my work as much as writing it. And Twitter gives me a good ROI, return on investment.

This week, I’m starting a series of posts on Twitter for Writers in which I will simplify the world of Twitter, what it is and how it works, as well as strategies use it more efficiently for your purposes.

In a nutshell, Twitter can help drive traffic to your blog and to book selling sites. Eye-catching tweets gets re-tweeted to others followers and captured in some of the hundreds of on-line Twitter newspapers. You build trust, name recognition and followers so that when you tweet something, they want to help you spread the word.

I believe that at minimum an author ought to have a regular blog with content (not just book
promotions), an author page (or several) on Facebook, a presence on sites like Goodreads, and a few Twitter accounts. On Facebook, authors should belong to and actively participate in affinity groups who are potential readers of your work. Anything you do beyond that is the gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Notice I said “a few Twitter accounts”. I’ll be addressing that topic more fully in an upcoming post on maximizing Twitter coverage.

Twitter is unique among social media venues for several reasons. To me, the biggest are you have limited message space (140 characters), and you have the potential to contact hundreds of thousands more beyond your own set of followers. Even more than Facebook, the reach can be astronomical.

First, a little history. Twitter was created in mid-2006 (and there are some interesting, and conflicting stories around the creation that you can investigate on your own), and by the fall it had thousands of users. As of stats from 2012,
100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day! As of 2014, there are more than 500 million Twitter users with more than half being active users.

That’s a lot of potential audience for buying your books.

So what is Twitter and how does it work?

You set up one or more free Twitter accounts at https:twitter.com and then you find some people to follow. Select a few, click you want to follow, and then watch the Twitter feed those users send. The messages they send are called “tweets”. Watching what the feed looks like, how people grab your attention with their tweets and what others do with those tweets is the best way to learn.

First, setting up your account(s):
Choose a name to identify yourself to your followers. I messed up when I did this. I chose “cute” names, not name easily searchable for those wanting to find my books or blogs. Today, I would choose my author names as most of my friends have done. You can search for @CarynMcGill or @BreaBrown or @JoannFluke. You can’t find me with @Good2Tweat or @RomanceRighter. So do it right. Pick Twitter handles that are the names you write under--like I should have.

Create an intriguing author profile. Be sure to list a book title so it’s in view. Pick an avatar for your profile. Right now I’m using book covers for two and an odd science picture for the last. Some people have fancy backgrounds. You can do that, but at first, concentrate of learning the system.

Second, selecting people to follow:
You know author names who write what you write or people whom you admire and want to know more about through what they reveal in tweets. Use the search function at the top of your account and type in a name. If they have an account it will pop up along with the Twitter handle they use. All Twitter handles begin with @.

Click to follow the selected people. Their tweets will start showing up on your homepage. Re-tweet what you find interesting. This calls their attention to you. If you regularly retweet them, they may follow you. No guarantees.

To find others to follow, I go to the homepage of a person I’m following and see who they follow. I select more people from those lists. You can rather quickly build up your Twitter feed. [Caution: Twitter puts limits on following people I’ll address in a later post.]

I follow most of the people who follow me. I do not follow blatant advertisers nor people whose tweets I find annoying or objectionable. I can’t stop them (normally, but there is a way) from following me, but I don’t have to follow back.

Some people I follow will never follow me back, but I still want to read their tweets. It was a huge thrill when I got a follow from Emeril Lagasse! I immediately followed back. Well, he (or his PA) was just getting started so they followed anyone food related. Now that he has over 650K followers, he only follows 950+. I am not one!

Third, a few basics:
You’ll notice a range of options under a tweet. You can send a message to a tweeter. You can re-tweet the message. That sends it to anyone following you. You can like it so much you file the tweet in your “favorites” list. And there are more things.

Many tweets come highlighted. Some of the highlights are live links so you can go to the site they are promoting. Some of the highlights are hashtags so that tweets marked with # get collected so you can go read just those tweets. I am doing a post or two on hashtags and their use.

I hope this starter kit will entice you to try out Twitter. Set up an account and just read tweets for a week until I post the next segment of this series. See you back here for more!


  1. This blog was very useful. Lots of us authors haven't got on the twitter bandwagon, even though we know we should. Thanks
    JL Greger, author of medical thrillers - Malignancy & Ignore the Pain

    1. Thanks, Janet. That's just what I want this series to help with. It's not scary, just different. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

  2. Replies
    1. Ah, I hope my series can help users and non-users alike. I think you do a fine job with Twitter, but you might get some tips to increase your ROI!

  3. I finally took time to read this great series of blogs in light of this morning's OTP debate. It reinforces that I don't have time to take on another social media right now, but thanks to you I'll have good instruction when ready.

    1. Thanks so much for that, Nancy. I started with one blog and one Twitter account and learned "on the job". Ha! Now with three of each, there is definitely juggling going on. This series is continuing, so I hope to see you back here for more.