Judging by the e-mail I receive, there are a lot of authors who want to start using Twitter but don’t quite know how to get started.
So . . . if you’re up and running on Twitter, move along, move along. There’s nothing for you to see here.
If you could benefit from a short course on Twitter basics, keep reading.
Resources for getting started
I’m posting this article as a resource that I can send people to in the future, as I get requests for information and help. (And please, if you know someone who’s struggling with the Twitter set-up process, send them the link to this article.)
There’s a lot of helpful information online. Here are links to tutorials that can help get you up and running:
- Getting started with Twitter, a resource from Twitter.com
- The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter from Mashable
- Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s “Twitter Guide for Authors & Illustrators“
- Mashable’s list of its Twitter how-to articles
- “The Twitter Hashtag: What Is It and How Do You Use It” on Tech for Luddites
You’ll find these two helpful articles on this site:
- How to find your book’s target market with Twitter advanced search
- How one best-selling novelist uses Twitter to promote her book
A few more tips for authors
Many times, authors open a free Twitter account simply because they keep hearing, “You have to be on Twitter!” Taking this advice, they set up a profile, then say, “Now what?” (Here’s a tip: Don’t check your bank account for massive electronic deposits generated by book sales you can credit to Twitter.)
Here’s the deal with Twitter: You should be using Twitter for book promotion purposes only if your book’s target audience is using Twitter. If the people you wrote the book for don’t use Twitter, don’t use it for book promotion.
If your book’s readers are using Twitter, here are a few basic tips you’ll find helpful:
- Don’t use your book cover for your profile image. Use your head shot. People use social networks to connect with people, not products or logos.
- Do some tweeting before you start following people. That’s because once you follow somebody, they’re likely to look at your Twitter page to see if they want to follow you back. If you don’t have any Tweets on your Twitter page, people won’t know what to expect from and will be less inclined to follow you.
- To find people to follow, look up authors in your genre on Twitter. (Often, all you have to do is type Twitter.com/authorname into your browser to find them.) Then follow some of the people who follow that author. Some will follow you back; that will help you build your list of followers.
- Don’t be overly self-promotional. Instead, offer links to information that you think your followers (or the people you want to follow you) will find helpful. Make 80 percent of your tweets helpful or interesting information and 20 percent related specifically to your book.
Finally, manage your expectations about Twitter. I find it more valuable for professional development than for anything else. I learn a great deal from the links to articles and blog posts that people I follow share. I’m not sure I could stay current on the ever-changing book industry without it.
If you go into it expecting to see instant sales, you’ll be disappointed. But if you use it to connect with people you can learn from, you’ll be more than satisifed.
What questions do you have about Twitter basics that aren’t answered at any of the links offered above?