Actual Writing Advice: Online Presence, Twitter

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I have an acronym to sum up my feelings about Twitter: WtH?

I chose to try out Twitter first under my pen name because I had a novel coming out. Maybe I could get some sales from there. The first day I signed up, I got several follows. Really? Were people just chomping at the bit waiting for my pen name that only had a novella out that no one was buying to arrive on Twitter?


I was being followed by people I lovingly call follow whores: people who follow you for the soul purpose of you following them back. They don’t have any interest in your tweets. They want to grow their own number of followers.

Because I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t follow back right away. I followed people I knew like Holly, my publisher, short story ezines, etc. Within 24 hours of not following the follow whores, I lost half my followers because they unfollowed me and moved on. Hmm.

There are several articles written about Facebook making moms depressed because they get on and see all of their friends with gifted/talented children never throwing tantrums. That never bothered me. But on twitter there are TONS of indie authors with 10k plus followers touting their super amazing award winning best selling book. THAT made me depressed. So I became a follow whore.

Wrong decision.

Sort of.

Don’t be an indiscriminate follow whore. It fills your entire Twitter feed with people advertising their book two to three times an hour. It completely hides all your Tweets from friends who are actually saying something interesting. And, most importantly, the people advertising their books several times an hour are not interested in reading your book.

Which brings me to the rat bastard follower. These people follow you, and when you follow them back, they drop you hoping you won’t notice. It makes them have thousands of followers, but they are only following a few people like they’re a rock star or a billionaire or someone equally famous.

So how do you use Twitter to your advantage?

It’s hard. There are writers out there who do have interesting posts, even if they are posting several times a day. To find them, click people’s profiles when they follow you before you follow back. You can tell from their homepage if they are going to be someone interesting.

Twitter is constantly giving suggestions of who to follow next. Do the same thing with their suggestions: click on the profiles to see their posting history.

Figure out what hashtags to use. If you are talking about anything related to writing be sure to tag it #amwriting. A lot of writers search that tag. I’ve gotten new followers and likes that way. #coffee is another popular hashtag to search.

Follow readers! The best advice I ever received about Twitter was from a post on the Absolute Writer forum. Somebody suggested to follow followers of authors who write similar books as you do. If they follow you back, maybe they’d be interested in reading your stuff. Honestly, I think that is the only way I’ve made sales on Twitter. Finding readers is hard, but there are tons of readers following their favorite authors. I think it’s a ready made cold calling list.

Some people have a lot of etiquette rules about Twitter: don’t send private messages about your books, don’t talk about your books, don’t ask for reviews, don’t don’t don’t. And then there are tons of people obviously breaking the arbitrary rules. Just be polite. If someone has followed me, I don’t see the problem in sending a private message. I don’t have a problem receiving someone elses private message either. If it’s another author asking me to check out their book, I usually take a look at it. Sometimes I even agree to trading free copies. Other times I don’t respond because it’s not something I’m interested in. But I don’t hate the person for trying. And I can always unfollow if someone is constantly sending private messages like spam.

Twitter is overwhelming. The feed goes by lightning quick. I open up my Twitter page and within 5 minutes I have thirty new Tweets to read. I can’t keep up with that. But I have gotten a few sales and a few reviews from it, so I think it’s worth having a Twitter presence. Just be discerning.

Anyone out there have something further to add? Please do!

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