How Authors Can (And Should) Use Twitter

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about author marketing strategies and one particular method that keeps popping up is how authors can use twitter to increase their books sales. John Locke himself said in his latest book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! that Twitter was a major part of his marketing strategy.

So how can we use Twitter ourselves to effectively market our books to the masses? Is Twitter really a viable strategy?

It can be – but only if used correctly.

Coming from a marketing background, I know the right (and wrong) ways to use Twitter having used it successfully myself. In this blog post I’ll give you some tips and facts so that you can get your message out, build a fan base and still use Twitter etiquette.

Your Name Is Your Brand

The first thing that people see about you on Twitter is your name. Most people use their real names as their twitter profile and with good reason – when you are an author, your name is your brand. People generally don’t follow someone named WriterMom345 but will follow Dean Wesley Smith because he has created a brand out of his name.

Even if you use pen names it’s a good idea to use a real name rather than a cutesy slogan as your Twitter profile. I use my real name @traceyedwards as I’m the brand for my books.

Your Profile Picture

The best author profile pics are usually a headshot of you with a plain background so that your face is easily recognisable. Don’t put a full length picture of you at the beach because when it’s shrunk down to mini size it can be difficult to make out. Likewise don’t use a logo or avatar. Only businesses would use logo’s as their Twitter pic, not people. And don’t use the default egg icon either. No-one follows egg icons.

I use a similar picture across nearly all of my marketing platforms to have a consistent image. This is my pic.

Your Profile Bio

Twitter allows you to create a few lines about who you are and lets you add your website/blog address here as well. This is a chance for people to find out more info on you so you need to create something compelling about yourself and what you do.

Try and keep it light and fun. I tell people I’m an author, but also add a little something extra – that I like Tim Tams (it’s a chocolate biscuit in Australia for those that don’t know). It just makes me seem more real and likeable (because EVERYONE likes Tim Tams don’t they?).

I’ve got a few different websites, so I usually change the web address to whatever I’m working on or promoting at the time. Right now that’s this writer blog as I work to build up a following here.

Automated Direct Messaging

Many Twitter programs will allow you to set up an auto DM so that as soon as someone follows you, you can send them an automated cheery greeting to say thanks for the follow and perhaps send them a link as well.

Please don’t do this. Most people view it as spammy and rude. You need to build up a relationship with your follows before you should market to them. People (me included) will unfollow you immediately if you auto DM us with your links.

Take the time to get to know someone first before trying to sell them something.

Sending Sales Messages

Obviously you are on Twitter because you want to market to your followers however you need to be very careful about this and not come across as too promotional. Generally most marketers follow the 90/10 rule.

That means 90% of your time you should be interacting with people, tweeting (or retweeting) interesting articles that you think your followers would find interesting or just writing down things that happen during your day.

Obviously you don’t want every tweet to be about how your cat just puked up a hairball, but adding a few human elements into your tweets makes you more likeable.

The majority of your time should be building relationships with people, so if someone responds to one of your tweets definitely tweet back to them and so on.

Only 10% of your tweets should be sales related. That’s right ONLY 10% (or even less). If you come across as too salesy then people will start to unfollow you or ignore you so you need to create that magic balance of being fun and interactive while only occasionally throwing in a ‘buy my book’ link.

In fact often it’s better not to even say ‘buy my book’ (unless it’s brand new on Amazon and you want people to go check it out) but rather just talk about it generally like “Just saw I had a great review on Amazon for my book, thanks @randomperson”.

More Soon

I’m running out of writing time (yes I write to a time limit – sorry about that) so I’m going to finish up here but there is still more to tell you about marketing on twitter including how to find your audience, choosing who to follow, your twitter background image, integrating twitter with your blog and much more.

So next week, I’ll write the 2nd half to this blog post.

Stay tuned!