Every indie author needs a Twitter account. It’s a vital tool for promoting your books. When you first use it though it seems a little pointless. Many people start an account and then drift away because they just don’t know what’s going on. I wrote this author’s guide to Twitter as part of my book ‘A Guide to Getting Published’.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is like mini-blogging. In a blog you are not limited in length. On Twitter you are allowed just 140 characters – including spaces and punctuation. You need to build a Twitter following. When you start using Twitter it will invite you to add those people who have Twitter accounts on your email contact list and those on your friend list at other social media sites. It will also invite you to follow the accounts of celebrities. You don’t have to know the ‘Tweep’ as they are called. Just start with your email and other ‘friends’ and see what they are posting on Twitter.
The image above shows a typical tweet. The original tweet has been re-tweeted twice. As far as authors are concerned this is the power of Twitter. A post can be tweeted and quickly go viral if it strikes the right chord.
You can get Twitter account at http://twitter.com. It’s possible to sign up for more than one account but you will need a unique email address for each. There’s also an app available for smartphones, Android tablets (including the Kindle Fire HD) and iPads. These apps are free.
So how does one start? The answer is first to build up a following. There’s a useful application which will help you do this – Crowdfire (formerly JustUnfollow). Find it at https://www.crowdfireapp.com/. Although its old name suggests it is a tool for getting rid of followers, it’s far more useful for finding new people to follow. Crowdfire has a web page that you can use with a desktop computer but also has a mobile app which can be put on a smartphone or Android tablet from the Google Play Store. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available at the Amazon App Store.
Don’t get suckered into buying followers! A word of warning – there are many webpages which claim you can buy followers by the thousand. Doing this is against Twitter’s user policy and most of these ‘followers’ will be useless to you.
Who not to follow
I suggest you don’t follow:
· People who have not tweeted for more than two months.
· People who only tweet quotes.
· People who never re-tweet others.
· People who only tweet links to things to buy.
· People who post only pictures.
· People who never respond to others – look for tweets starting @….
· People who don’t have a profile picture.
· People whose tweets always start with “I….”
· People who don’t appear to speak your language.
· People who follow very few people compared with their number of followers. Follow these only if they interest you. There is a sneaky trick you can use here though.
Note – for every one of these guidelines there is an exception that says ‘…unless they are really interesting.’
Who to follow
Look for people who are active on Twitter. Try to gather followers interested in what your book is about. Find people who read and especially people who review the books they have read.
By all means follow me – @JChapmanAuthor but I suggest you don’t until you follow at least 200-400 other people. I tweet an awful lot and don’t want to monopolise your Twitter feed
If you follow John Locke’s promotion system beware of acquiring a following which consists purely of authors. Try to get a varied audience. Authors do buy books though and they will help you by re-tweeting your posts and coming up with good ideas. Help them back! It pays.
A process I’ve found useful in finding Tweeps (The name of Twitter users) is to look at the ‘follower’ list of others. You can do that using an application such as JustUnfollow or do it directly by selecting the followers of someone from their profile page. To get to someone’s profile page just click their Twitter handle – the bit starting @…. At the top left you’ll find a link ‘Followers’. Click that to get a list of them. In the image below I show doing that with one of the people I follow – Karin Cox (@Authorandeditor). Karin’s tweets show she thinks in the same way as I do and I’m pretty sure that people who follow her will be worth investigating.
You can also check the list of people a Twitter friend follows. That’s not possible in JustUnfollow though.
Whichever system you use I suggest you don’t try to follow more than 125 people in one go. Even then it’s wise to spread that over several hours. Twitter may think you are spamming and freeze your account for a while.