There are many articles written about how indie authors can use Twitter to promote their books and to help build an author's platform. Some of them have great advice and some are just smoke and mirrors.
Self-published authors have slightly different needs and requirement from other twitter users, but many of the usual Twitter "rules" apply like making sure that you have a good profile set up. Don't use hashtags in your profile and go easy on the "award winning", "bestselling" and "greatest of all time" accolades unless they really have a high value. If you have won the Pulitzer Prize or the Orange Prize for Fiction - by all means boast about it.
Your photograph should be recent and a good portrait shot. Remember it gets reduced to a teeny weeny little picture in twitter feeds so it should be clear and crisp.
Write a Good Twitter Bio
Work carefully on your description -Twitter bio - how you describe yourself . Here are some good ones from 20 of the all-time best Twitter bios:
@QueenRania A mum and a wife with a really cool day job…
@BittrBetty Just some chick bitching about her effed up life and stuff…
@maxxhendriks I was born. When I was 11 I got my first computer. Then I started writing funny tweets. That’s still what I am doing. The end.
@RebeccaWoodcock I am a sample size of one, not statistically significant, nor representative.
@MadsBloggingMom Smart ass blogging mom. Its all about me, really.
Helpful Twitter Tips
- Create Lists (Click Lists < Create New List). This is an easy and great way to keep track of tweets and tweeters that might otherwise get lost in your ever-expanding Twitter feed! Create lists for Authors, Influencers, News, Friends, etc. To add people to your list, go to their profile and select “add to list”.
- Anticipate and join twitter conversations (as they are happening); respond to everything, positive or negative.
- Use tweets to set up meetings.
- Reach out, just say hello.
- Make your bio and your tweets personal.
Daily Task on Twitter
For indie writers to succeed on Twitter, you have to do it every day/all day.
Check followers every day, follow back your new followers, and tweet them a message of interest or thanks.
Follow 10-15 new Twitters a day, but no more. It is very important that you don’t go overboard with following since this can be flagged as spam and cause Twitter to suspend or even delete your account permanently.
Use a site like www.friendorfollow.com to:
- Make sure you are following your followers (that aren’t spam)
- Unfollow accounts that are not following you
- Unfollow spam accounts
Go through your feed and lists and:
- Reach out. Tweet 5-10 followers with a message
- Retweet 3-5 relevant tweets in your own feed
Check Trending Topics and top news stories. Trending Topics are the words, phrases, and hashtags that are the most popular on Twitter at the time. It is a good strategy to Tweet about Trending Topics daily, as people will click on the topic, and see the real-time results. The top 10 Trending Topics will appear in the middle, right-hand side of your Twitter feed.
Getting Down to Tweeting
It would be best if you installed something like Buffer, where you could schedule your tweets, or even Hootsuite - which is a great desktop Twitter platform. You can also schedule tweets on Hootsuite.
Tweet at least once a day, but we recommend one to two custom tweets, and one retweet. The best times for tweeting are early morning and evening/night -- but of course it's a global platform so it's always morning or night somewhere. The point is to work out where your followers are -- or where you want them to be. If you're targetting a specific location, middle of the day is not as effective because people are at work.
Don't be afraid to experiment and to tweet and retweet your tweet at multiple times during the day, to increase exposure on it.
Write Tweets that sound like headlines.
Types of Tweets
- Quotes/Factoids/Anecdotes (where appropriate)
- Relevant news/stories
What are Hashtags?
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets to show more easily in Twitter Search. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
- Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet.
- Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics
- ALWAYS try to include a hashtag in your tweets
- Hashtags should be relevant to what you are posting. For example, when posting about your novel, include “#fiction” and “#novel” in your tweet.
Tip: If you include another user’s @-handle, they’ll see your tweet. It’s like sending a message to them that the whole world will see.
Monitoring your Tweets
Use Bit.ly Url shortener. Bit.ly links are customizable and provide analytics on how many clicks your links are getting. (http://bit.ly)
Use Tweetdeck (or others like www.Hootsuite.com) as a resource to see what the top tweets/tweeters are in all different categories http://www.tweetdeck.com/directory/
Use a real-time Twitter search engine to find relevant tweets; use as another tool to reach out (www.kurrently.com)
Use Twilert.com to set up alerts for different keywords in Twitter. Similar to Google Alerts, it allows you to see what people are saying about certain topics in real time.
So, What's the Buzz about Twitter?
The thing with Twitter is some people get really into it and for others it is a chore. And then other people just never get it. So the suggestion to all indie authors is to give it a good try for three to six months. If you get no benefit, dump it and invest your energies elsewhere.
Twitter is great to install on a mobile phone which means that you can spend all that "wasted time" - like on public transport, waiting in line, in doctor's waiting rooms etc on Twitter.
- Pros: Many. Like posting on Facebook, if you’re not tweeting on Twitter, you’re not joining the social media conversation that 1 billion others are -- many of whom are readers or people who can help you be a better indie author
- Cons: Time consuming
- Cost: Free
- Overall rating: 5