Saturday, December 29, 2012

Twitter 101

One of the main tools I use to gain readers is Twitter. It’s a great resource for writers.

When my book went live on Amazon, I had 17 followers. I now have 7000, a little over a year later.

If you are starting off from scratch, I suggest you use your writer’s name as your twitter username, or your name + author if it’s not available. Go to and build a profile. Be certain to upload a nice headshot or your book cover.

Include a short bio that mentions what your connection is to writing, as well as a link to your blogspot and to your books. Keep this short. It makes it easier for people to recommend you on Twitter. Add a little spice or humor to make it pop. You’re a writer – you can do it.

As an example, here is mine:

Wrestling words and laundry. Author of The Crown Phoenix  series.

The next step is to get a boatload of followers.

I built a following by participating in #WW or #WriterWednesday, and #FF or  #FollowFriday. If you put some of your followers’ names in a tweet and add those hashtags, they will do the same for you. They’ll know you have done that because they will click on the @Mentions, which will bring up all the tweets with their names in them.

At a certain point the following will just start building on its own, especially if you take the time to say thank you to every new follower. Tell them that you’ll check out their links or blogs, if they have one in their profiles, and do so. They’ll check yours out as well.

You can do the same thing in Twitter. Click on @Connect after you have been on for a few days and you’ll see who has mentioned you in a tweet. Tweet them back and say thank you. That gets both of your names out there even more.

That brings us to the magic RT, or retweet. If someone puts up a mention of a book or a blog in a tweet, be certain to retweet it for them. Do it often enough, and you’ll pick up a lot of thank yous. When you put up a blog or book link, people will do the same for you.

While all of this is going on, be certain to tweet about funny thing that happen to you, random thoughts as a writer, snippets from your day – fun things to read. If you go overboard with the marketing and retweets and #FF’s, your tweet list will look like one sea of red links, and you won’t get as many followers. Who wants to get in touch with someone who talks like an infomercial all the time?

If you want to take it to the next level, try to think of something special you can tweet every day, like pirate jokes or silly haikus.

The more time you spend on Twitter, the more followers you will get. Don’t let it take over your life, though. You have books and blogs to write after all. About 20 minutes a day, twice a day, is plenty of time.

Which brings us back to that blog link you put into your profile. Remember how you told new followers that you would check out their links? And how you did? And how you liked some of them enough to follow their blogs so you could read them each week?

Some of your new followers will be doing that to you as well. Through the use of Twitter, you will increase your blog readership. This is how social media will begin bleed over across formats, in a good way.

Not only that, but as you look at your new followers’ blogs and read their tweets, you’ll find new opportunities. There are writers out there looking for guest bloggers and people to interview and books to feature. They might as well feature your book.

You want to keep quality as well as quantity in mind when you start to gather followers. If you randomly follow everyone you see in tweets, then at some point you will be following 2000 people. Twitter caps you at that level, until you have over 2000 followers yourself.

There are ways to get to that level. First, try to keep a balance between people followed and followers. Those numbers should be very close to each other.

(You can purge nonfollowers by going to or to Log in through twitter and those sites will show you who isn’t following you back. You can unfollow them with a click of your mouse.)

With Twitter capping you at 2000, you can’t afford to follow everyone. Make certain that the people you follow are human and not ‘bots (you can tell by looking at their tweets, which come up in their profiles) and that they aren’t just tweeting about their home carpet cleaning business. You need them to participate in your marketing, not just to concentrate on their start up company.

You can follow up to 500 people a day. If you rotate following people who are interested in books, your genre, and publishing, and unfollow an equal number of those who aren’t following back through manageflitter, you’ll notice a sharp increase in your followers.

Now, to the tweet itself. You only have 140 characters to tweet in. You’ll need to shorten some of those long links you want to tweet, such as Amazon and blog links. You can do that at, or at a host of other shortening sites. I like because it stores your shortened links and copies them to your clipboard when you need them again. Plus you can customize your links and track them to see how many people have clicked on them.

If you tweet short links and snippets of information, and if you retweet other followers’ tweets, then your tweets will get retweeted. That’s important, because your info will:

A) go out to a much larger, everwidening audience
B) continue to appear on twitter even after you stop tweeting
C) win you more followers

As a final tip, on #WW (Writer Wednesday) I feature a few select friends, instead of long lists of @writername and @whoosis.  Here’s an example:

#WW @danielleraver - She’s funny, talented, and a tech whiz. Her #fantasy book Brother, Betrayed is at

You can do a recommendation like that right from

A recommendation like the one I wrote about Danielle like that gets a lot of attention -  more than strings of @writernames, and the people I mention in those tweets get a real kick out of it.

The problem with Twitter is that it is very fast-moving. A tweet comes and goes in an instant. Marking a tweet with a hashtag like #MyWANA #Fantasy or #romance puts your tweet in a specialized list that other people will access.

Another way to get around that immediacy is to schedule tweets to appear at regular intervals. You can do that on Hootsuite, right on line, or on Tweetdeck, which you download and install. Both have several amazing features, such as the ability to sort several groups of hashtags at once.

In my opinion, being classy, having a thick skin, and respecting the other authors out there will get you a lot further in the Tweetiverse than any automatic Followback app. But I think that’s true of most of the aspects of being a writer.

One writer, who is publishing the male version of Pride and Prejudice, holds regular "balls" on Friday nights. He tweets to followers under the hashtag #DarcyBall ; they check in and speak Austenese. Once you have enough followers you can do the same kind of thing, tailored for your book.

The sources that taught me the most about Twitter can be found here:

and here:

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