Twitter and the Self-Published Author

twitterTwitter has become so widely used and relied on that we, as writers, should not take the revolutionary media for granted.

What began in 2006 as an internal service for a podcasting company has, in the past decade, expanded to be representative of culture, a sort of agora of the twenty-first century. It’s been the starting point of a revolution, it’s broken news before traditional news outlets, and it’s reshaped political reporting. That being said, why not use this powerful and transformative media outlet to promote yourself and your self-published writing? If Twitter can start a revolution, it can, without a doubt, increase your sales.

If you’ve never been on Twitter before, it’s a relatively simple concept: it is an online news and social media site where users can share and read 140-character limit updates, called tweets. You can follow other users, “retweet” what they’ve posted, and reply to them. Twitter is an excellent place to receive news, updates, and, if you’re a writer, check in on some of your favorite authors.

Twitter has an incredibly large and supportive writing community that spans from professional, traditionally published authors to those just beginning. The community is one that, if utilized correctly, can lead to a devoted following and interest in your writing. Twitter is especially important for the self-published author, because unlike traditionally published writers, you don’t have a marketing team at your disposal.

Of course, the 140 character limit can be quite stressful for writers, but once you get passed that (verbosity isn’t always best, just ask Hemingway), Twitter can be an excellent way to bolster your sales and fan base.

First and foremost, you have to make sure you’re following the right people. Search hashtags to find people who share similar interests as you—such as #Writer, #Author, #Fiction, etc. Don’t be afraid to get specific, too. If you’re a Sci-Fi writer, try to find Sci-Fi groups to join or lists to follow. If you’re a romance writer, search for prominent names in romance and follow them and whoever is on their list of followers. Most of these people, upon seeing your profile and interests, will follow you in return.

Speaking of profile, make sure yours is working hard to represent you and your work. Make sure your profile photo is of you—you want your profile to be personal, and people are more likely to follow a profile that has a face to it. Put your best foot forward in your bio. Tell your followers who you are, what your writing is about, and, of course, where they can find your work. Put any and all links to your work on your profile, that way it’s easy for people to read what you’ve published.

Once you have a solid list of followers, interact with them. Twitter makes it very easy to engage with the people on your timeline. If someone tweets a link to a story they just got published, retweet it. That way, when the time comes that you have something published or wish to sell more of your self-published books, your followers will remember how you supported them, and they’ll follow suit.

It’s important that once you gain a spot in the writing community, you maintain it. It’s not enough to simply follow the writing community: you must be active in it. Use the hashtags the community uses, such as #AmWriting, #AmReading, #WriterWednesday, #FollowFriday, etc. Update your followers on your writing process. Tweet links to buy your self-published work. Use the platform to brag about your work—be proud!

You may be asking yourself, “Can Twitter really sell my books?” Of course, the success of the social media site will vary from author to author, depending entirely upon skill and circumstance, but according to Swedish novelist Anna Belfrage, her sales went up once she began using Twitter to promote her books – by 50 to 70 copies a month. Here’s her advice:

This leads me to conclude there is something to be said for Twitter promotion – but it has to be done with care… there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Yes, Twitter can help you sell books, but be prepared to invest the required hours. In my case, around 30 hours per month for 100–140 sold books.

If you’re prepared to put in the time and the effort, Twitter can be an extremely effective way to increase your sales and your following. Plus, it’s fun and a good resource to get all the latest updates on writing, self-publishing, and books! Now, sit back, relax, and get tweeting.