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Online Book Marketing: Twitter

@JenniferBecton: that's me.

What the heck is Twitter?

I had no idea what it was until last year either, so don’t feel bad. Twitter is the most powerful marketing and outreach tool currently in a writer’s online marketing toolbox. Think of Twitter as text messaging or emailing everyone you know at the same time in public.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? So I send 140 characters out there into the world? So what? The beauty of Twitter comes in its ability to expand your tweet exponentially. Taking it to the extreme, let’s say I tweet my 700 followers. They all retweet (pass along) my tweet to their 700 followers. Suddenly, 490,000 people have had the chance to see my tweet. The tweet that took 30 seconds to compose has the power to market to a lot of people.

I see the power, but what do I do?

  • Set up a Twitter account with your name (or pen name) as the handle. Remember you want people to know who you are.
  • Make your avatar a picture of yourself. Twitter should be primarily about the person, not the product.
  • Write a good description of yourself and include the keywords that will let people know what you are about (Jane Austen, thrillers, dogs, horses). These words will help people find you in a search.
  • Include a link to your personal blog or webpage. Don’t send them to a store. Remember, it’s people, then products.
  • Get a personalized background. When people click on your Twitter page, that’s where they should see book covers and contact info.

Ok, now what?

  • Make friends. Seriously, it’s that simple.

Twitter is not just a place to make announcements or post links designed to draw people to your blog. It’s not a radio station where you shout out to listeners. It’s about interaction. You have to talk to people. Twitter is for building your fan base and finding people who are passionate about your products and about whom you are passionate in return. My rule is 75 percent friendship tweets, 25 percent marketing. Others say 60/40.

Ok, I get it, but how do I find people, and what do I talk about once I find them?

  • Search for people with common interests and follow them. Don’t just limit it to people who might be interested in the product you sell. Search all your interests and follow people who share them because you never know who will become interested in your product as your relationship develops.
  • Say hi to people as they begin following you back.
  • Talk about your common interests.
  • It doesn’t matter what you talk about as long as you are genuine and are yourself.
  • Just make friends. (I cannot overstate that.)

Again, it is vital to talk to people and not just announce things to them. Social media is about spending time with friends. As unlikely as it may sound, these friendships often offer an unbelievable amount of support and marketing power. They will also be more likely to buy your product, leave reviews, and even blog about you.

This is not a one-way street. Twitter and social media hinge on reciprocity. People become your fans and you become their fan. You do the same thing for others in return.


  • If you are using Twitter for marketing, don’t protect your tweets. You want everyone with even a passing interest in your book to be able to find you, get to know you, and eventually interact with you.
  • Remember Anthony Weiner (formerly D-NY). Don’t tweet a picture of your junk or anything else you wouldn’t want seen on the evening news. Remember Twitter is completely public, so act like you’ve got some sense.
  • Do not get into petty squabbles on Twitter. Again, act like you’ve got some sense.
  • Also remember Charlie Sheen and don’t tweet while intoxicated, angry, or otherwise impaired. #winning
  • Use hashtags to help find friends and promote others. As shown above with #winning, people will add hashtags to a tweet to help differentiate topics. You can search hashtags or click on them to find a whole list of people tweeting about a particular subject (#Austen, #horsechat, etc.). Also pay attention to Writer Wednesday (#WW) and Follow Friday (#FF) when you share the names writers and people others should follow. (Thanks, Anne-Mhairi!)
  • Just make friends.

For more information about Twitter and how to use it effectively, read Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm.

4 thoughts on “Online Book Marketing: Twitter

  1. Great advice. Too many people use Twitter as an advertising platform and it irritates me beyond words. Yes, we want to get ourselves noticed, but not as a perpetual advertisement. I’ve made great friends on Twitter and guess what, they already tell their followers that I’ve got a book coming out and when, etc, etc. I didn’t make those friends by constantly tweeting links. I did it by talking to people and getting to know them as people rather than purely as other writers/agents/editors, etc.

    You might also want to mention hashtags as a way of finding people whose interests match your own and for targeting those people with your tweets. As an example, if I mention #fantasy it’s probably going to interest certain people who aren’t bothered if I mention #health.

  2. John Locke the eighth author in the world—and the first self-published author in history—to have sold 1 million eBooks on Kindle, claims Twitter is a big part of his formula.

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