Twitter for authors (Intermediary)

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of Twitter, this post will give you some pointers for taking it to the next stage. And please persevere, if used to its potential Twitter is your number one tool for connecting with readers, influencers, support from the author community and it'll keep you up-to-date with news and views.

Create an engaging Twitter timeline

So, this is the most important key to success on Twitter – namely your story, your voice, why people want to follow and connect with you.

1. Your voice

Your Twitter voice represents you, your passions, your interests and views. Tweet about the things you’re interested in, books, of course, but also music, news, politics, TV, hobbies etc I would encourage you to be positive more than negative. Trying to create a persona is far too hard work, so be authentic you.

2. Stimulate conversation and add value  

Work with other authors, bloggers or similar and have discussions and encourage others to get involved. This could be Crime Fiction Hour or Writing tips or Parenting tips or whatever interests you. #UKYAChat is a great example – a regular discussion about young adult fiction, ran by YA blogger and authors @LucyTheReader. A great way of pulling YA readers together. So, by creating discussions and collaborating you start building something, being known as an authority on that topic and attracting new followers to you.

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3. Use images and videos

Adding images, videos and gifs to your tweets is fun, will liven up your Twitter feed but will also increase engagement. Creating short and engaging videos is incredibly easy using your phone. I have explained how to add an image to your tweets in my beginners post. Twitter offers a selection of gifs to use in different categories and it's very easy to add them. Compose a tweet, click GIF and pick one you fancy that relates to your tweet.

4. Twitter stories

Using your Twitter feed to tell stories can work really well. Author, Joanne Harris does this brilliantly, she regularly tweets a short story over a couple of Tweets using #storytime hashtag.

5. Tips and lists

Tweeting tips and lists can work really well, @mathaig1 is absolutely brilliant at this. I tweeted   tips on writing CVs and cover letters for those applying for jobs, I used hashtag #CVLetterTIps

6. Threads

This is a fairly new thing, it means you can link several tweets together. This could be used when you can't fit your tweet into 280 characters or because you have a longer topic to discuss. Again, used sparingly this can be very effective. Example below.

How to find more great tweeters to follow

In the previous blog, I recommended you checked out #essentialbooktweeps to find folks across the book business. Hopefully you’ve started following and engaging with some of them.

There are other ways to find relevant and interesting people

-          Using hashtags

Eg if you write children's books, check out the #kidlit hashtag for topics of discussion and tweeters to follow. 

-          Look at authors with similar readers to you

I’m sure you have a good idea of who these authors are. Check out who they follow and who follows them, spend some time checking these tweeters out and follow a selection of them.

-          Find local Twitter accounts

If you want to connect with local readers, then find your local bookshop and/or library on Twitter and see who follows them. (You'll need to search for them).

-          Look at relevant Twitter accounts

If you are a romance author, find organisations like the Romantic Novelists Association  and see who they follow and who follows them. Ditto, check out who follows the likes of  Mills & Boon  – clearly their followers will be mostly romance fans.

-          Search

If you are a crime author, for example, a search on 'crime' or '#crimefiction' or 'crime blogger' and you'll find lots of interesting and relevant tweeters to follow.

-          Influencers

Influencers are people or organisations that have a value and a trusted voice within a community. These may be journalists, reviewers, bloggers, booksellers or indeed other authors. They don't necessarily have millions of followers, they may just influence a niche audience. The more you tweet, the more you will start seeing influencers that are of interest to you. Start engaging  with them in an authentic way. And don’t forget, you’re passionate about books and so are they.

-          Real life

I have met lots of tweeters in real life at London Book Fair, tweetups, networking events and conferences. I HIGHLY recommend you do this. Meeting people face-to-face takes your relationship to the next level. I have met and made MANY friends through Twitter. And when I was at The Bookseller I connected with so many people from across the book business primarily using Twitter as the starting point for those relationships.

Organise your own tweetups – they could be for local tweeters you interact with or other authors. Be proactive and start connecting in real life

-          How often to tweet

Again, no hard and fast rules here. I would recommend you tweet a minimum of 5 times per day. Some days you have more to say? You should also mix up your tweets every day with tweets from you, @replies and RTs of others. Sharing others regularly is very important in terms of etiquette and Twitter mutual generosity.


Following/follower ratio

There are no hard and fast rules, but in general you should aim to have more followers than people you are following. If at all possible I’d aim for 2 or 3 followers for every one you follow.

How do you do this?

When I started on Twitter, I looked at every tweeter who followed me and if they had any connection with books at all, I followed them back. This is definitely a decent way to start. After a while this takes up too much time, so you may need to use apps or have a more rigorous approach.

You'll start to see accounts where people don't tweet, don't have an avatar image or you're not keen on their description, simply don't follow them back. As you progress you may noticed people who tweet too much or about things you're not interested in, I'd recommend you unfollow them. You can also use apps to find people who don't tweet at all. Crowdfire app (& others) can hep you with this. Be brutal, if they don't tweet, unfollow them and if they're of no value to you. 

I follow new tweeters on a daily basis (using the above ways) as I like to keep refreshing my timeline to ensure it is as most interesting and valuable as possible. Twitter is only as valuable, fun and engaging as the tweeters you follow.


Creating lists and why to use them

Using lists a great way to group tweeters together by some common interest, this becomes particularly useful as you follow more and more tweeters. As you can see from my account I follow over 13,000, so my timeline includes all kinds of things I’m interested in and updates very rapidly. I use Twitter lists to segment some of them so I can keep up with smaller groups. Group tweeters together in lists that are valuable or interesting to you - librarians, booksellers or your favourite tweeters.

How to: Click on your avatar image top right and go to lists. Then on the right hand side, you’ll see this.  Click on Create New List button. Call the list whatever makes sense for you, 'UK librarians' in this example. Choose whether you'd like a public or private list (whether you want everyone to be able to see your list or one just for you).

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Press 'Save list' and it will then ask you to 'Find people to add to your list' you can then search for librarians and see who is returned. As you can see you will then be given a list of librarians, you can then follow and add them to your list. Click on the 3 dots then press Add or remove from lists and then your list options will pop up. Then click on your Librarian list. 

You can follow and add to your list. You can add (or remove) anyone from a list at any time.

Lists that you might find useful to create

  • Booksellers

  • Reviewers

  • Bloggers

  • Friends

  • Local news

  • Other authors

  • Influencers

  • Tweeters interested in a genre

What are Twitter trends?

I very rarely look at Trends as I assume they mostly relate to Kim Kardashian or Xfactor or similar. However, it is possible to create a hashtag that is used significantly over a short period of time and get it trending, that’s certainly worth doing. (Ex #AuthorDay)

Using social media tools

Social media tools will help you manage your activity, consider them if:-

  • You have multiple accounts

  • You want to schedule tweets

  • You want to connect all of your social media into a dashboard

  • You want deeper analytics

  • You want tweets in other languages translated into your feed

I use Crowdfire which is very cheap and gives you the ability to schedule updates across several social channels. There are many other tools that will give you a lot more functionality.

Twitter analytics

If you are interested in looking at how you are doing on Twitter, there is an analytics tool built in. You can access it by clicking on your avatar. This will take you to a dashboard with all kinds of interesting stats about your followers.

It is no surprise that my followers love books and respond to my tweets (engagement %) about books and the book business (& my puppy). 

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The analytics tool is a good way of confirming you are communicating with the right people and that you are in tune with your followers. 

Things to avoid on Twitter

  • Automatically linking updates on Facebook and other social media to Twitter what works on Facebook will not necessarily work on twitter and vice versa. Also, this puts your followers off.

  • Tweeting too often asking people to buy your book.

  • Tweeting whilst drunk (although I have been guilty of tweeting #hic a few times in the past).

  • Automated DMs – this is where as soon as someone follows you they get an automated message (everyone HATES this).

  • Avoid Twitter trolls and twitter shit-storms – in my experience there is NOTHING to gain from responding to people like Katie Hopkins, they deserve none of our energy. Also, you will start seeing that Twitter shit-storms happen on a fairly regular basis – this is often when someone tweets something inflammatory and it goes viral – again do not engage with this – leave it to others.

  • DMing people you don’t really know.

  • Hijacking hashtag to try to promote your book or similar - ex definitely get involved with the YA conversation by using the #UKYAChat but do not simply use the hashtag and say 'Buy my book'.

  • Asking individual tweeters to RT your tweets or check your book out.

  • Try not to subtweet – this is tweeting about someone without using their @ name – the equivalent of whispering about someone in the same room as you.

  • Overuse of hashtags eg I #love #romance #books, especially #historical #romance #books (yes, people do this).

Don’t forget, these are my personal opinions of what works on Twitter. Feel free to cherry pick those that work for you. Also, follow these 15 authors to understand the potential of the platform.

Please persevere for at least 3 to 6 months on Twitter even if it doesn’t make sense or you are getting little engagement. Keep at it. It WILL pay off in many, many ways. I promise. Happy Tweeting.

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