Promoting a book on Twitter seems like a good way to improve your writer’s profile. After all, self-published authors don’t have the luxury of a dedicated marketing team behind the launch of their book.
We will need to take all the help we can get.
However, new self-published authors face a plethora of pitfalls in the maze of marketing. And the biggest one I have found is promoting a book on social media. Specifically, Twitter.
When you first start promoting your book, you could end up wasting a lot of time and effort working on social media marketing strategies. This can often be time consuming and laborious, but if you’re patient, and use the platform properly, you could sell a few books.
However, most new writers think Twitter will help them strike it rich. In their haste, they usually do the following:
- Releases a novel.
- Take to Twitter (or other platforms) and begin following anyone in the #WRITINGCOMMUNITY or #AMWRITING groups. Even random people just to get a follow back.
- They post and share their links and wait for readers to buy and leave a book review.
- Sit back and monitor their sales report.
- Then, they wait some more and share some more.
This approach can be extremely demoralising because all it does highlight that only you want to sell your book. You are the only person championing your novel in an ocean of writers who are championing their books.
Social media platforms are great tools to connect with people, but you must remember, they are not book shops.
Social media is for social networking
The name says it all.
Social media platforms are primarily used for engaging with other people – making friends and being social with people from around the world.
For authors, it should be used to engage with readers and let them get to know you.
Although it’s perfectly acceptable to promote your book on Twitter, you must be clever with your posts.
If you find the right balance, you’ll meet new people who share your interests, and be happy to share your posts. If done well, you could make a few book sales.
But if you overshoot the marketing target, you could find yourself being ignored, or worse, being unfollowed and blocked.
As a new author, you should’ve been using social media long before the release of your book.
You should’ve been cultivating friendships with other writers, book bloggers, readers, and even following professionals (editors, publishers, etc.).
This will help you get an understanding of how and when it’s appropriate to post your work. It will also help you understand the difference between sharing and spamming the feed.
However, if your book is already published and you have just started a Twitter account to help with book sales, you face months of building a followership that could lead to a handful of sales if you are lucky.
Promoting a book on Twitter is not a silver bullet.
Instead, use it for what it is. A great way to meet new people and share your experiences.
Follow the right people
I encourage you to follow plenty of writers. But be mindful that writers are not your target audience.
Your target audience are people who read your genre. If you only follow and engage with other writers, it’s akin to a baker trying to sell bread to another baker.
Instead, you should reach out to readers and book bloggers/reviewers. But again, be smart and get to know those people. It makes no sense to push a Fantasy novel to Romance readers, etc.
Find your target audience and give them a chance to get to know you.
Posting interesting titbits about yourself and about your novel can stimulate interest in you as a person.
If readers or bloggers follow you back, they might enjoy your Tweets which could lead them to reading your work.
And if they engage with you regularly and you find a connection growing, only then should you ask if they’d mind reading you work and leaving a book review.
A word of warning.
No one likes to be pestered.
Just because someone smiles at you in a bar, it doesn’t mean “come over and have a drink with me.”
The same thing can be said for Twitter. Just because someone engages with you by liking or commenting on your post, it doesn’t mean you should send a direct message with the details of your novel.
It can be quite off-putting.
How should you behave when promoting a book on Twitter?
Twitter might not turn you into an overnight success, but it can burn your reputation in a heartbeat if you misuse it.
You should have a personal account and a separate author account. And the two should never meet.
Your author account is your business account. It should only be used to promote your book and yourself as a writer.
You should be professional and courteous at all times. Be considerate, and put your best foot forward.
Now, I’m not suggesting you pretend to be someone you’re not. Of course not. Be yourself. But remember, you are representing your book as a business.
One day, you could be public figure.
Yes, J.K.Rowling posts her opinion online and she ruffles feathers. But she has tens of millions of fans and has made hundreds of millions of pounds. If a percentage of people disagree with her, she will still have tens of millions of fans who will support her.
A new self-published author does not have this kind of support. If you don’t agree with someone’s point of view, simply scroll on.
Above all, be helpful, be kind, and be a professional author who represents the good things about their #writingcommunity.
What to share
Being helpful is always good.
If you have read a good article that could help other writers, share it on Twitter.
If you recently read and enjoyed a book, share it on Twitter.
And if you made a mistake and think your experience could help others avoid doing the same thing, share it on Twitter.
Doing this will show others that you are someone worth following.
This kind of behaviour creates an organic growth to your followership. In turn, you will be able to establish yourself as a trustworthy person.
If people like and trust you because you’ve been posting good content, then maybe they’ll take a chance on your book. Hopefully, they’ll even leave a book review, or recommend your book to others.
Some say there is a ratio of 4:1 (4x helpful content: 1x your content). It might be true. But don’t count on this as a hard and fast rule.
Share what you think is helpful when you think it will help. And share your own work when it feels appropriate.
I often see one particular Twitter user who has never posted anything other than their book link. This link turns up on all kinds of threads. But despite this extremely aggressive marketing strategy, their review count has remained in single figures for more than six months.
This article has been written to help manage the expectations of new authors.
Many people think that a promoting a book on Twitter will net them hundreds of sales. But the reality is quite sobering.
Yes, there are some people out there who have excellent sales figures. Many of which can be attributed to Twitter. But for the overwhelming majority, it’s nothing more than a social engagement platform.
When you build a following of people who are interested in you as a person and as a writer, you may see a slight upswing in sales.
But be prepared for a long wait. And try not to be disappointed if your content is not being shared more than a handful of times.
You are just starting out.
Give it time and some thought, and re-evaluate if it’s not working.