Twitter Authors

Today during an idle hour spent on Twitter, I noted that a higher percentage than ever of my Twitter feed consisted of book promotion Tweets.  As an author myself this comes as no real surprise, as many authors follow me and vice versa.  But the question must be asked, is it really effective in a congested market place to be sending out blanket promotional book Tweets, especially if those Tweets are only being read, if at all, by other authors.  I have already devoted previous posts to how authors use Twitter, but today I’ll be making generalisations about the actual composition of the Tweets and commenting on their effectiveness.

Of course there are famous authors who have embraced Twitter, Brett Easton Ellis being a prominent example.  These authors can Tweet about anything, even their choice of sandwich filling at lunch, as whatever they Tweet their Twitter disciples will lap up eagerly.  Some of these followers may even find themselves wondering if the sandwich filling related Tweet is perhaps a comment about post-modernism or global warming.  And then there are the rest of us authors, myself included, struggling for visibility in the book promotion saturated world that is Twitter.

TwitterBird

The following is a simple breakdown of the types of Tweets that authors use to promote their book/s, along with some commentary on how effective I perceive the given method to be.

Repetitive Repetition – The practice of sending out book promotion Tweets 24/7, 7 days a week.  In severe instances several hundred times per day.  The rationale being that if you drive the message home and do it often enough, people will buy your books.

Comment: There may be instances where this method has worked, but more often than not it appears to be akin to a dog chasing its own tail – just because it keeps doing it doesn’t mean it will ever catch it.

The Spin Dryer – An author sends out their book promotion Tweet/s along with Tweets promoting other authors’ books.  This in turn leads to those authors RT’ing that author’s book promotion Tweet and so the cycle continues, with the book promotion Tweet getting exposure to a wider and wider audience, as it continues to be RT’d.

Comment: As one requires exposure to become well known, it is evident that this method is a logical way of putting your product in front of as many of Twitter’s 140m users as possible.  However in the majority of cases these book promotion Tweets appear to be RT’d by other authors, whose Followers also consist largely of authors, not the target readership for the given book.  Another case of the dog chasing its own tail perhaps.

The Sandwich – This is the method in which an author sandwiches their promotional Tweet/s between non-promotional Tweets (i.e. quotes/links etc) as if it were a slice of cheese or ham.

Comment: If new/non-famous authors are to be welcomed in the Twitter sphere they need to be accepted as communicative/interesting people and not merely narcissists, who discuss only their own work.  Thus the sandwiching method is embraced by nearly all authors on Twitter though there are some exceptions.

Quill

The Snippet – This is a much practiced method in which authors utilise the 140 character limit to insert quotes from their books.

Comment: These can be memorable and in some instances amusing, but there are many examples where they are not.  Here is a slightly altered one that I read last month – ‘… and he reached into the drawer, took out a red pen, took off the top and begun writing on the piece of paper on the desk.’  And one is left asking, Why?

I also use this method to promote my book, Charles Middleworth, a humorous tale of the unexpected.  Here are two examples from Charles Middleworth:

‘Well if being related by internet marriage is family, I suppose we are.’

And

‘…her skills more akin to the baking of macaroons than solving the complexities of the universe.’

Click here to read part 2.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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What happens when Adrian, an actuary, has his banal and predictable existence turned upside down by sinister forces that he can neither understand nor control?  How will he react to a revelation that leaves his life in turmoil?  Will he surrender or strive for redemption in an altered world, where rationality, scientific logic and algorithms no longer provide the answers?

‘An insightful and humorous tale of the unexpected’ – Reader

‘A sardonic delight.  If Thackeray had lived in the 21st century, then he might have written Charles Middleworth.’  – Reader

Charles Middleworth is available through most regional Amazons on Kindle (£1.96/$3.17) and in paperback.

United Kingdom – www.amazon.co.uk

USA – www.amazon.com

21 Comments

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  • Thanks for sharing Guy. You seem most impressed with ‘the Snippet’, but the problem here is that it doesn’t really work for non-fiction books where most sentences don’t mean much when taken out of context.

    • I am indeed most impressed with ‘the Snippet’, particularly my Charles Middleworth ‘Snippets’, though I don’t think I’ve sold any books because of a ‘Snippet’. Perhaps interesting facts or pieces of statistical data might work for non-fiction ‘Snippets’.

  • Interesting and appropriate terminologies. Some tweeters also tweet tweet length novels. I wonder what they are called?

    • It sounds like you’ve been enjoying your Twitter experiences Mary. I am also very intrigued by other writer’s Tweets. Thanks for the comment and hope all is going well with ‘Escape to Big Fort Lake’.

  • I enjoyed reading your post! Looking over your list I guess I’m a sandwich kind of tweeter. But lately I find myself interacting with an ever growing group of people who have a passion for the things I love, like Tolkien fans, Doctor Who fans and such. Following the recent events (Boston bombing/Texas explosion) on twitter has been a real eye opener. I’m now, spreading out to tweet about much more that just book promotion.

    • It sounds like you’ve been enjoying your Twitter experiences. Twitter is indeed great for breaking news though it’s unfortunate that it’s more often than not bad news such as the Boston Bombing and the Texas explosion. Thank you for the comment. Guy

  • I was glad to have found this as I have contemplated this same thing. As a non-writer on twitter for a year or so I would unfollow anyone who spammed up my feed. Now as a writer, I remember that and try not to overtweet my books. This article just confirms what I already suspected about the effectiveness of promoting on twitter. I would say out of my followers, less than half are my actual readers.

    • Hi Lisa, I suspect you are right about the percentage of your Followers that are potentially readers. This is something I am in the process of calculating myself and it looks like more than half of my Followers are fellow authors, which is good in many ways as I like communicating with them and making new friends, but obviously not ideal for selling books. You now have another author Follower on Twitter, me. Thank you for the comment.

    • Hi Teresa,
      The ways in which one uses Twitter is obviously a personal choice, but as a general rule it is apparent that one needs to actually converse with people (i.e. be part of conversations) + Tweet info that interests people and has some connection to your work, (i.e. book related facts, information, stuff about authors and interesting/fun facts, links & quotes). Personally I don’t think there is any point going overboard with these, but look to keep some sort of presence on Twitter everyday. Above all as I understand it Twitter is a long term thing and may well reap benefits for you one day in the future. In the interim have fun with it and don’t expect Twitter to be the be all and end all of your marketing strategy.

  • Really enjoyed your post! You alerted it to me in my guise as Boomer Lit (I founded the Goodreads Group discussing Boomer Lit as you probably know and I’m running both the Twitter account for Boomer Lit and the Facebook Page, a tall order!) It’s so refreshing to come across an author like you who tells the truth exactly as it is! Really, so much of that “buy my book” class of tweets is little more than spam and can become very annoying…I know I’m annoyed. I do systematically retweet the #boomerlit and I’m very happy to do so when I know that the book is good (which with Boomer Lit is, thank God, often the case!) But I resist retweeting when I happen to know that the book is not a good read…and by that I mean only that it is poorly edited because, after all, we all have different tastes and what I don’t like, someone else might love!

    • Hi Claude,
      You must indeed be busy running both the Twitter account and Facebook page for Boomer Lit. I hope you are enjoying it. It sounds like you have an effective Tweeting strategy. I will check out Boomer Lit on Goodreads. Thank you for reading my post.
      Guy

  • If you want science and politics or music, you have to hashtag those subjects and follow scientists etc. I am sure scientists complain cuz no strippers show up in their tweets.
    I don’t hawk the book so much unless it is a freebie or I am desperate, put I tweet every blog post and other’s blog posts also. I also try to retweet others promos.

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