Reaching Readers – How to Sell Self-published Books on Twitter

Irish indie author J J Toner shares the route he has found to raise the visibility and sales of his self-published thrillers via Twitter.

Twitter bird outlineI think everyone would agree that, once you have one or more well-written, well-edited and well-categorized eBook(s) for sale on Amazon, visibility is the name of the game.

I have four thrillers on Amazon, two that feature the Irish detective DI Ben Jordan and two spy stories set during WW2. The Black Orchestra was launched in January 2013 and The Wings of the Eagle 12 months later. So far, I have sold over 8,500 copies of The Black Orchestra and close to 3,000 copies of the sequel. In addition, interest in DI Ben Jordan is experiencing a revival! Here’s how I do it.

Best Twitter Strategy

I use Facebook to announce launches and promotions and Twitter to maintain visibility. Having built up my Twitter following to 16k+ I use TweetAdder to schedule regular promotional tweets containing snippets from favourable reviews interspersed with notifications about World War II blogs that feature on my website.

This strategy was recommended by Laurence O’Bryan in November 2013 when I first signed up to his social networking support service BooksGoSocial.

In addition to this advice, selected tweets are sent out daily to the 235,000 followers of his service. This Twitter activity may seem like overkill, but as Laurence points out, only a small fraction of Twitter followers will actually read any one tweet, and of these only a fraction will click the link provided and a fraction of those will actually buy a book.

Compelling Evidence

jjtonerIn April I bought an Apple Mac to replace my old Windows PC. Switching my TweetAdder account proved tricky and I lost contact with Twitter for a couple of days. During that period, sales of my books declined. Switching off the twitter promotion by Laurence’s site for a month at a time had a similar effect, proving the value of that service.

If you’re looking for a promotional site that does an outstanding job of showcasing independently published novels, you might want to give BooksGoSocial a try. The quality of your writing and editing must both be high, and your books need to be priced and categorized correctly, but if you have these factors in place then a small investment in marketing might be just what you need.

So that you can see JJ Toner’s campaign in action, here’s his Twitter handle: @JJToner_YA


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 months. If you get no benefit, or are not enjoying it, invest your energies elsewhere.

Good Twitter Picture, Good Twitter Profile

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.

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.

Twitter Lists

  • 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.

Set A Daily Twitter Task

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 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.


Install  Buffer  or Hootsuite to schedule your tweets.

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

  • Links
  • Questions
  • Photo/Video
  • Quotes/Factoids/Anecdotes (where appropriate)
  • Relevant news/stories
  • Q&A

Twitter 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.

Twitter Analytics

Use Url shortener. links are customizable and provide analytics on how many clicks your links are getting. (

Use Tweetdeck (or others like as a resource to see what the top tweets/tweeters are in all different categories

Use a real-time Twitter search engine to find relevant tweets; use as another tool to reach out (

Use 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.

To share this post on Twitter, here’s our suggested tweet:

“Can #Twitter really help you sell your books? Yes! Compelling evidence from @JJToner_YA via @IndieAuthorALLi: :”

, , , , , , ,

59 Responses to Reaching Readers – How to Sell Self-published Books on Twitter

  1. happyluke th August 6, 2016 at 1:22 am #

    The animations are very polished, players battle each other more convincingly and there does seem to be a greater variation. Baggio Magical
    Freekicks is named after Italian forward Roberto Baggio and
    the game demands that you score from a variety of positions around the goal area.
    The most common formation is the standard 4-4-2 formation.

  2. Brandon Used Car March 25, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow, wonderfu weblog format! How lengthy havee you bee blogging for?

    you make blogging glance easy. Thee totl glance off your website is excellent,
    as smartly as the content!

  3. March 25, 2016 at 6:54 am #

    I just couldn’t go away your site before suggesting that I extremely loved
    the standard info a person provide for your visitors?
    Is going to be again ceaselessly to check up on new posts

  4. Super C Shield Supplement March 22, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

    Howdy I am so happy I found your weblog, I really found you by
    mistake, while I was searching on Google for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say
    many thanks for a marvelous post and a all round exzciting
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the
    moment but I have book-marked it andd also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I wiill be back
    to ead much more, Please do keep up the awesome b.

  5. Bradford March 18, 2016 at 3:27 am #

    At this time it looks like Expression Engine is the top blogging
    platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using
    on your blog?

  6. Countdowntoprofits.Org March 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    WOW just wbat I was searching for. Came here
    by searching ffor self-published books

  7. Kiera March 5, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi my family member! I wish to sayy that this post is
    amazing, nice written and come with approximately all important infos.
    I would like to see extra posets like this .

  8. designing your own shirt January 31, 2016 at 3:56 am #

    What’s up it’s me, I am also visiting this web site regularly, this web site is really pleasant and the people
    are actually sharing good thoughts.

  9. neuologydoctors natural January 27, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    It’s remarkable in favor of me tto have a website,which is beneficial for
    mmy knowledge. thanks admin

  10. Inna Victoria Trial January 14, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

    If some one wants expert view on the topic of running a blog after
    that i recommend him/her to pay a quick visit this webpage, Keep up
    the nice work.

  11. Thailand 2557 information January 5, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    Thank you, I’ve just been searching for info about this topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far.
    However, what in regards to the bottom line?
    Are you certain about the supply?

  12. gymnastics October 20, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    Hello all, here every one is sharing such know-how, so it’s nice to read this weblog, and I used to visit this webpage all the time.

  13. Derma Nova Creme July 14, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS.

    I don’t understand the reason why I can’t join it.
    Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues?
    Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  14. July 8, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    SEO has changed a lot recently, because the work is very technical it is best suited for
    people who have learnt the business and have practical experience, this can be quite
    rare with modern marketers though
    Shared this to my Facebook, very useful

  15. deals June 23, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    The lens will end up tinted if it is subjected to strong lights for example it will become tinted as soon as you walk out to the sunshine.
    To fit your own hair, you should also look closely at the colorings of the hair as well as your glass.

  16. come fare soldi June 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  17. planters June 19, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    Appreciation to my father who informed me concerning this web site, this webpage is
    really awesome.

  18. vale tudo June 1, 2015 at 12:48 am #

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do think that you ought to publish more
    about this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not speak about these subjects.
    To the next! Cheers!!

  19. vigfx trial May 31, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    Pure male sexual enhancement drugs Sex Enhancement Pills makes your
    sexual life utterly glad and fulfilling.

  20. shirt maker May 29, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Hi, after reading this remarkable article i am too delighted to share my know-how here with

  21. internet success coach May 19, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a entertainment account it.

    Glance complex to far introduced agreeable from you!
    However, how can we keep in touch?

  22. motorbike hire Perth May 7, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your
    website by accident, and I’m surprised why this twist of
    fate didn’t came about earlier! I bookmarked it.

  23. Marilyn May 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after
    checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and
    I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  24. dermajuvenate cream April 23, 2015 at 1:12 am #

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I to find
    It really helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to provide something again and help others such as
    you aided me.

  25. Alpha Recovery Supplement April 22, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your site on my
    iphone during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I
    get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, amazing site!

  26. Gta 5 Serial Key Generator April 19, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    I’ve been browsing online greater than 3 hours these days, but I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours.
    It is pretty value enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the net can be a lot more useful
    than ever before.

  27. Janna April 16, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    Saari tiistainen laakkonen haukiputaa työnjako keskisuomalainen sitä vastoin pohjois liikenneonnettomuus, joukkomurha rikkaus nordbankenin suhdanne persoonallisuus eura valtio huima suistua treenata kuvastaa

  28. bio lift eye cream April 15, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    I think that what you posted made a great deal of sense.
    However, think on this, what if you wrote a catchier post title?
    I am not saying your content is not solid., however suppose you
    added a post title that grabbed a person’s attention? I
    mean How Twitter really does sell books | Advice for Authors Who Self-Publish is kinda boring.
    You ought to peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create news headlines to grab people to open the links.
    You might try adding a video or a related picture or two
    to get readers excited about everything’ve written. Just my opinion, it would make
    your blog a little livelier.

  29. Angst und Schrecken in Las Vegas April 14, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    I like what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and coverage!

    Keep up the superb works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to our blogroll.

  30. Call or text 417-844-2661 to see HOME FOR SALE: See this newly remodeled two
    bedroom, one bath frame house located at 644 S. WARREN AVE., SPRINGFIELD,
    MO. 65802. A great buy in West central Springfield.

    The attention to details on this remodel will amaze you.

    This talented builder makes the home like new in an established quiet neighborhood.
    The list of improvements is long and includes: new windows, new wiring,
    new plumbing, new kitchen appliances, new flooring, new paint
    with textured walls and ceiling, new bath fixtures, and new HVAC.
    The house has great storage.
    The exterior has new paint and new landscaping.

    The detached garage is oversized for one (1) car and has storage space with a
    new garage door opener. The long driveway will park four (4) cars if needed.

    The level yard is new privacy fenced with a drive through gate and a walk through from the
    garage to the back door.

    644 S. WARREN AVE., SPRINGFIELD, MO. 65802 is close to
    all city conveniences and the main streets in this area are easily accessible
    for movement around Springfield. The quiet neighborhood is being reinvigorated with updates by other homeowners.

    If you like quiet and convenient at a reasonable price,
    call or text Ed at 417-844-2661 for a showing.

  31. Yukiko April 13, 2015 at 12:35 am #

    Since their discovery almost 100 ago, they have become more efficient and diverse
    in their application. The researchers searched
    information such as how often individuals were likely to see a physician, and compared
    the incidence of a common infectious illness,
    upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), in individuals
    treated with antibiotics for acne and those whose acne was not treated
    with these medications. So, just look for those magic words on the pack and put on some makeup.

  32. Idrotherapy Serum April 11, 2015 at 3:30 am #

    Hello to every , as I am actually eager of reading this blog’s post
    to be updated daily. It contains pleasant data.

  33. GTA V Download PC April 3, 2015 at 1:05 am #

    I have read so many articles or reviews about the blogger lovers however this post is genuinely a nice post, keep it up.

  34. ich brauche dringend geld March 24, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will often come back very soon. I
    want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have a nice

  35. jual rumah murah jakarta selatan March 21, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    What’s up to every one, the contents existing at this
    website are actually amazing for people knowledge, well, keep up the
    good work fellows.

  36. psoriasis March 21, 2015 at 5:33 am #

    Great blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing
    like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people
    like you! Take care!!

  37. Rock hard Enhancement March 19, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    Hi, yes this article is in fact pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging.


  38. Michelle Arsenault November 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    Great advice! Definitely some new tips and also, I noted the things that I was already doing (and secretly patted myself on the back for;-) so I thank you for that as well! Thanks again!

  39. Pinky Poinker September 16, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    As a non-author I consider myself a standard, run of the mill customer. I buy books from tweeps who interact with me, interest me as people and write books I think I may be interested in. I think if authors promote their personalities it makes their book/books much more attractive. That’s an opinion from your average Joe 🙂

    • Debbie Young September 17, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks for that input, that’s really helpful – and after all, you, the reader, are the most important person for every writer!

      • sonu singh December 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

        Please help me my account is not sucessfully add and not publish my post in twitter

  40. buy twitter followers scam September 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s challenging to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and appearance.
    I must say you have done a very good job with this.
    In addition, the blog loads super fast for me on Firefox.
    Exceptional Blog!

  41. Mary Lynn Roddy July 27, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Could use all the help I can get. Trying not to aggravate
    anyone on twitter, as I don’t know the ropes and how
    much is too much.

    You say twice a day and one retweet, so I will try that.
    My novel, The Real Dad, (Suspense) is #FREE this week–end,
    the 26th and 27th.

    Thanks so much for your help!

  42. Kristen Steele July 10, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    The key to success on Twitter is to publish a mix of different types of posts. Promotional posts are important, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you tweet. Social media is a great place to showcase your personality and network.

  43. important site July 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    My partner and I stumbled over here by a different page
    and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking into your web
    page repeatedly.

  44. free website url July 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    I recently just like the valuable information people deliver on your posts. I will search for your current blog site and check again the following frequently. My business is reasonably a number of We are informed a good amount of new material correct right here! Good luck for the next!

  45. JJ Toner July 6, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Those twitter tips were helpful. (Not my work, btw). This one needs a caveat:

    “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.”

    This is true, but if you START the tweet with a user’s @ handle, only that user and his/her followers will receive the tweet.


  46. Kathy Steinemann June 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    I unfollow people who do nothing but promote promote promote … As Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank would say, “There has to be a better way.”

  47. Georgia Rose June 30, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Thanks for the post JJ very useful information on what you have found works and backed up by figures. I certainly need to review my Twitter strategy – and all my marketing strategy come to that!!

  48. Alison Morton June 30, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Thank you, JJ, for this excellent article. I have now signed up for Laurence’s BooksGoSocial for my first book. I’ll see how it goes and may sign the others up later. Cautious – that’s me!

    I’ll review my Twitter strategy. At the moment I try to be 70% social and 30% promotional. I can’t bear people just pushing out ‘buy my book’ all the time, but I do like creative tweets and those about their book’s world.

  49. clare weiner June 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    Some good ideas here, how to vary posts and not get boring! As omeone else said, I’ve always found those who constantly tweet variations of ‘buy my book’ in 140 characters are rather a turn-off, so have tried not to do that.

  50. Kathryn Guare June 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m interested in signing up for this, but I’m a little confused. It looks like I’m submitting payment via Paypal (which is no problem, I have an account) without having provided any information about me or the book? Did I miss a step somewhere?

  51. Laurence O'Bryan June 29, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    If I may add a comment. I believe the number of Twitter followers you have, who are interested in reading, has a real impact.

    Our numbers are just touching 250,000 now. These are not fake either. I have been active on Twitter since 2010. That is sustained daily activity, answering all mentions, engaging, helping, providing value since then.

    This is a huge personal investment.

    Part of this growth also happened as a result of promotions by Harper Collins when they published 3 novels for me and invested in various promotions and competitions to attract followers. I see no reason why these readers/followers should now not be promoted to by indie authors with good books.

    There is also a range of responses to the books we promote. The more popular titles do better, as you might expect with any promotions. Twitter can work. That doesn’t mean it always works in my experience.

  52. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt June 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    I always thought I would be boring on Twitter – if I had to come up with something to say. But you’ve given me the idea of tweeting snippets of Pride’s Children that 1) are short and pithy, and 2) I’m proud of having written (even if you would call them ‘my darlings’ and slate them for execution).

    Sometimes I forget that the reason I’m a writer is because it’s fun to write something – and then say, “I don’t know where that came from, but I like it.”

    The felicitous turn of phrase has to delight the writer – before it can delight anyone else.

    I should have picked up on this already. Every Tuesday, when I put out the new polished scene from PC on my blog, I look through the scene to find something short I can put in the announcement post (if you follow, you are told when the new scene comes out, and provided with a direct link) in the form of a graphic with a quote. – and others – provide the software (free) to take my little quote and make it look visually appealing.

    It is easy and fast and fairly automatic now – finding a quote and creating an image that goes in the post – but the quote could also be an easy tweet if I were marketing. And the work of reading the scene and selecting an appropriate teaser has already been done for many of the scenes when I first put it out.

    Another arrow into the quiver. Thanks!

  53. Fran Pickering June 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Interesting! This runs counter to the usual advice that tweeting constantly about your book turns people off. Can I ask how you built up your 16,000 followers in the first place?

    • JJ Toner July 5, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Fran. It took several (3?) years to build up from zero to 16,500 twitter followers. The main strategy I used was to follow the followers of similar writers and hope they followed me back. I followed followers of Ken Follett and Phillip Kerr and Robert Harris, for example. I also followed followers of some WW2 thriller writers of eBooks. I found out of 100 that I followed, an average 50 followed me back and 10 bought one of my books. Mind you, I used TweetAdder to do most of the heavy lifting, but twitter have put serious shackles on TweetAdder and similar software, now, so it’s much more difficult to do this. It’s still possible, but it takes longer and involves a lot more keyboard time. JJ


  1. Advertising Blogs | justinpete7 - February 7, 2015

    […] […]

  2. Accelerate Your Book Sales | Accelerate Your Book Sales Today! - July 16, 2014

    […] To read JJ’s public blog post about us click here.  […]

  3. 20 writing and marketing lessons any new author needs to learn | 6 months to get a life - book to be published in the autumn - July 1, 2014

    […] one of the e-book selling websites, they will take more notice than they otherwise would have done. JJ Toner, again on the Alli blog, has shared some helpful social media tips. I am @benadamsauthor on twitter […]

Leave a Reply