Marketing your Self Published Novel – Part I (Twitter)

Your whole life you have been a writer. Now, finally, after blood, sweat and tears, you have a completed manuscript. Or, maybe, you are still in the blood, sweat and tears stage of completing your masterpiece. Either way, marketing your book can begin now. Yes, that’s right; there is no need to wait until the book is available to begin marketing your writing.

Through a series of articles, I intend to introduce you to the somewhat confusing and scary world of social media and help you overcome any fears you may have.

With Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and many other sites, marketing has actually become easier for writers. So, where do you begin? Let’s begin with Twitter.

Twitter is, by far, one of the best ways to get yourself out there and generate a strong following and is the place I suggest you start first. If you don’t already have an account, sign up using your writing name, whether it be your real name or pen name. Avoid using names such as “AspiringWriting01″ and the like. The more personable you make your account; the more likely people will follow you. Also, if you can, upload a photo and stick with it.

I recommend using an actual photo of you, but I know some authors prefer to keep their identity more private. So, if you insist on not using a photo of yourself use your book cover if you already have one. You will notice I said to pick a photo and stick with it. I see many tweeps (aka people who use twitter) constantly changing their profile pic. A change now and again is okay, but changing it too often can make it hard for people to really feel connected with you, because they haven’t really had the opportunity to “get to know you” yet. (*ahem* and I am the worst person about this, I change mine constantly – so what’s the saying: Do as I say, not as I do).

Next is your bio. Another mistake I often notice, is that tweeps have little or nothing identifying who they are in their profile. If you are a writer, sell it! It doesn’t have to be fancy, something as simple as: “Jane Doe, author of debut novel, The Book, available whenever” will suffice. Of course, if you are able to come up with something catchy, use it!

Why is this bio important? Well, later on we are going to talk about searching for others who are like you and following them. The hope is that others will do the same to you. It makes it much easier to follow a “writer” when it says they are a “writer” in their bio. With all this said, don’t get too wordy either. You want it to be simple and to the point. If you were to look at your bio for just a brief second, would you be able to pick up on the essence of what you are about? If so, bravo your bio is complete.

The last step in setting up your profile is adding a link to your website or blog. If you don’t have one yet, don’t worry, you can always go back and add the link later. In a future article we will explore personal websites and blogging and how to integrate them into your tweets.

Once your profile is a go, you are ready to start tweeting! Uh oh, but you don’t have any followers!

Okay, do a little search under the hashtag, #amwriting. You are going to find a whole bunch of tweeps who are interested in the same thing you are – writing. Look at some of their profiles and if they seem interesting to you, start following them. You might want to even send them a Direct Message (DM), or a tweet introducing yourself. Keep doing this everyday to continue to grow your following.

As you are followed by more and more people, you will start getting Listed and hopefully you will be Listed as a Writer or Author. This will make you more visible to others and help generate more followers.  The general rule of thumb here is your Listed should equal about 10% of your following.  If it does not, you may need to explore the quality of your following.  More than likely you have a lot of spambots.  While it is not completely possible to avoid picking up spambots, your stream will be better if you can try to eliminate them and unfollow as many as possible.  Real people will actually retweet you, not spammers.

Now onto tweeting. Some people may tell you to keep your chatting to a minimum. I somewhat disagree with this tactic. While I understand that you don’t want to appear to be chatting with the same three people over and over and avoiding your other followers, you also really do need to connect with your followers. So I say chat away, but be cautious not to always chat with the same folks; branch out and try to connect with others.

Another key ingredient to being successful on Twitter, is making sure you remember it isn’t all about you. Help your peers. When you see a fellow writer share a blog post or snippet, retweet it to your followers. This will not go unnoticed and your followers will remember this the next time you post a snippet or link.

Participate actively in #MentionMonday (#MM), #WriterWednesday (#WW) and #FollowFriday (#FF). The more exposure you give to others, the more they will expose you.

So does this really work? The short answer: Yes. After less than a year on Twitter, I have generated close to 4,300 followers and my book hasn’t even been released yet.

So how did you get so many followers and keep them? Simple, I am consistent. My followers have come to count on me being around to answer questions about writing or to provide blog posts. This isn’t to say that once you join you can’t ever go on vacation, but you do want to be consistent with your tweeting. Stay connected with the masses and treat them like you would your close friends. If you aren’t going to be around, let them know or use a 3 rd party Twitter Management program to schedule some tweets. We will talk about some of the different programs available in another article.

Don’t just send out link after link of your blog posts or book links, generate a chat with other writers, answer questions posted by others, or offer encouragement to others. The more solid your connections, the better reputation you will gain and the more followers you will get.

Another thing I don’t see writers doing enough of is providing samples of their writing. If you are at your computer typing away on your WIP, take a catchy sentence and put it on twitter and follow it with the #amwriting tag. This will help debut your writing style and catch the attention of others. I can’t tell you how many times just tweeting a sentence of my work has generated questions about my book and me in general.

Above all, have fun with it!

Stay tuned next week for Part II, Exploring the Many Ups and Downs of Facebook.

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18 thoughts on “Marketing your Self Published Novel – Part I (Twitter)

  1. Great post, Andrew.

    I am particularly passionate about the choice of user IDs on Twitter, and not using IDs such as AspiringWriter01, as you mentioned.

    I try very hard to know who the people are on Twitter that I follow. The more followers I get, the more difficult that is, but true followers are real people, not numbers.

    It’s difficult enough to remember all of those names, but when I have to remember that @AspiringWriter01 is Jane Doe and that @CrazyScribe11 is John Doe, that’s not good. Not only can I not remember double names for everyone, it’s a shame when someone with fabulous, engaging tweets is not being remembered as easily as he/she could be b/c of a confusing user ID.

    On #MM, #WW, and #FF, while I keep some lists of those I want to mention, tweeps who use their real names are often the easiest to remember in my shout-outs.

    As for samples of work, let’s not forget #SampleSunday is a great way to provide a link to your work.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    • Thanks Lisette! This was actually my post, Andrew’s was just before this (and it was one great post I must add). Thanks for mentioning #SampleSunday, I always forget about that one!!

  2. Awesome post Lisa! I look forward to more info in the future. The best advise I got about my twitter profile was to make sure that my intention with twitter was expressed. It wasn’t enough to mention that I was a writer when I also have a book published and am looking for an agent to represent me. So I had to come up with a clever, not-too-aggressive way of saying this. And I did :)

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom Ms. Queen of Marketing!

  3. I agree on nearly all points. The only one I’d take issue with is the #FF #WW etc.

    When I first started on twitter, I used those hashtags religiously, listing all my great peeps frequently. But then I started noticing that #1 I never followed anyone else that I saw on others #FF or #WW lists (after the first month when I didn’t know who to follow) but #2 on those days when some of my friends would put out lists 20 tweets long of people they wanted you to follow, it annoyed me, because it would spam up my timeline and I couldn’t see the actually “content” tweets I wanted to.

    Your points on the bio are spot on. When someone follows me, I look at their bio and recent timeline to decide if I want to follow them back. If their timeline shows they don’t interact or retweet (no @ replies in their most recent 20 tweets), then I don’t follow. If their bio contains the word ‘guru’ or ‘marketing’ or ‘expert’ or some other topic I’m not interested in, I don’t follow back.

    In fact, seeing that this comment has gotten so long, you’ve inspired me to blog about a slightly different aspect on my own blog today. Check it out, if you like. =)

    • India, I couldn’t agree more about the #WW, #FF long lists filling up your stream. What I have tried to start implementing is listing less, but making the mentions personalized and debuting a few different folks each week. I feel like the more personalized shoutouts get more attention.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

  4. Pingback: Loving Twitter vs Using Twitter | India Drummond

  5. Hi Lisa

    Great advice! Thanks

    I started wading into the twitter waters, but don’t really feel as if I have found my feet yet. Your post will help!

    I subscribed so I can keep reading what promises to be a great series :)


    • Thank you so much Dom! And if you ever have any questions, feel free to hit me up. I LOVE talking shop (and I’m addicted to Twitter so….) :p

  6. Thank you Lisa for another really helpful post. I kinda consider you one of the High Priestesses of Twitter…now I understand the reasons why. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

    • Thanks for always reading and commenting, Al! I remember signing on to Twitter last year and thinking “Oh lord, what do I do with this?!” Now, I can’t seem to pull myself away.

  7. Really great article Lisa which def falls into the category of must read for any writer wanting to get their head around a social networking platform for themselves.

    For the longest time I really didn’t know what I was doing with Twitter and even when I was published, I was kinda scared of it b/c I didn’t want to seem as though I was promoting my novel like some sort of snake oil salesman.

    Recently I have started to see much more of a community in Twitter or groups of communities and I have gotten much better in joining in on the trends that I enjoy and those that I think are valuable to me as a writer. I think the most important thing I can do is help other writers. And it just feels good too.

  8. I’m finding Twitter to be very stressful. I’d like to get to know and promote people, but at the moment I’m follow 200+ people, many of who I have nothing in common with, other than being a writer. If I tried to interact with all of them, I’d be doing nothing but hanging out on Twitter all day.

    I’ve put the people I’ve had personal interactions with on a separate list so I can keep up with them, but I feel like I’m letting everyone else down and I’ll never get a handle on using Twitter effectively. I guess it would have been better if I’d built my list slowly, but I added everyone from the writing crusade and the Facebook Fellow Authors list.

    I have to agree with India about the #FF an #WW. I haven’t followed anybody because of that. Instead, I look at the followers of people I know and respect, read their bios, and chose who to follow.

    I really appreciate your advice. Most of it was easy to understand, but I wasn’t sure what you meant by being Listed and having your Listed be 10% of your following.

    • *waves* Hi Lisa! So glad you stopped by and read my post.

      Great idea about putting peeps that you interact most with on a list. Lists are a great way to keep your stream organized. I use a 3rd party app, Formulist to help me with this. I try to keep writers sep out by genre and then have lists for book reviewers, etc. They have come in handy when searching for people in a particular genre :)

      Re #WW/#FF – I do actually pick up a fair amount of followers from #FF and #WW. I try to pay particular attention to those recommendations received by fellow writers whose judgment I really trust.

      Re: Listing percentages. I will use my profile as an example. If you look at mine it says my Followers are 4455. The general rule of thumb is your “Listed” total should equal at least 10% of your followers. So, I should try to make sure I am always around 445. My listed total is 524. So I am meeting that minimum. The thinking behind this formula is that a lot of “actual” people are going to add you to lists, while spammers will not. I have seen a lot of peeps with a high following (6,000+ and only 100 listings). If you peruse their following you’ll see a lot of spambots. The lesson is here just because you have high numbers doesn’t necessarily mean your reach is where it needs to be. Use those numbers to help monitor the the quality of your stream and weed out spammers when you can.

      Hope this makes sense! Feel free to DM me or email me if it doesn’t! :D

      • Thanks for the clarification. I finally figured out that by “Listed” you just meant that someone had added you to a list. I guess I was trying to make it more difficult than it actually is. :)

        I don’t think I have any spambots so far, and my listed is higher than 10%. I do have some folks who are only there to sell something, though, and don’t do “real” tweets.

  9. Pingback: Marketing your Self Published Novel – Part II (Facebook) «

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