Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Question: book promotion on twitter

Is it my imagination, or is there a point where tweeting about your book tips over from promotion to spam?

It is not your imagination.
The trick is to not tweet about your books more than once  every ten tweets.
(and yes, a score sheet helps)

The other trick is to let OTHER people talk about your book.

And when other people talk about your book, you don't retweet it. You REPLY to the person who tweeted, thanking them.  And if you're super clever, you put a dot in front of their Twitter name:

.@janet_reid

so that your reply to them is seen by all your followers. Subtle promotion is a better strategy for the long haul. And Twitter is long haul promotion.

Those other nine tweets:  that's when YOU talk about other people's books.

Some other Twitter promotion nuances:


(1) Don't sync your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Twitter and Facebook are different audiences, different strategies.

If you want to post a link to your Facebook page on Twitter you write: There's news about the Runner audio edition on my Facebook page (link)

What doesn't work "I reviewed a book: (link)"

(2) Don't treat us to a running commentary on number of followers. Don't run contests to build the number of followers.  Don't talk about this stuff at ALL. No one following you cares how many other people are. They ONLY care that you say something of interest to them.  This is the single biggest mistake people make on Twitter.

(3) Be super super careful what you live tweet. The reason for that is live tweeting by definition is  a LOT of tweets and if you fill up my tweet stream with stuff I'm repeatedly not intersted in, I'll unfollow you (and other people will too)

(4) Cat pictures and local weather pictures are the things that get people's attention for the first time.  Use that info to your advantage.


27 comments:

Joyce Tremel said...

I should send a link to this to every person I unfollow for spamming me.

Oh, and it's entirely Janet's fault I'm addicted to Twitter. Not that it's a bad thing...

Franca Stewart said...

The number of followers thing drives me nuts. I've noticed some using programs to check who's followed or unfollowed them, and tweeting twice-daily updates. One even said "Unfollowers beware!" I took my chances and have lived to tell the tale.

The constant promotional tweets might benefit someone somewhere, but it makes me think the writer's either a bit desperate or a bit insecure. That might not be fair, and promoting a self-published book is hard at the best of times, but losing all your followers isn't going to help.

The Kranky Crow said...

THIS! Thank you! Half my Twitter feed is nothing but a running blur, because I scroll right on past all this noise. Can we make this a mandatory public service announcement?

Jim heskett said...

I've unfollowed many an author for this tactic. Would I watch a TV channel that was nothing but ads?

I must disagree with the statement, "Those other nine tweets: that's when YOU talk about other people's books"

Some of those other 9 tweets should have nothing to do with books. You're a person. Tweet about life. Not just promotion for others.

Melissa said...

Has anyone read Social Media is BS? It talks about why having all the twitter and facebook followers in the world doesn't translate to actual sells. It's about businesses, but I'm curious if it applies to books and if it's helpful.

The Magic Violinist said...

I think the best promotion and networking and connections are the ones that come naturally. Don't say, "Hmm, I think I'm going to network now." Just DO it without it. Leave comments on blogs, follow people who follow you, make some friends. If you have a few faithful readers and friends versus a hundred flaky followers, that's fantastic. Make connections that will last. THAT'S who you want promoting your book.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

The heck with all your social network thingamajigs; I got my carbon paper, my mimeograph machine and my Keds. I’ll type up an ad on my Sears Selectric Electric, make copies, fold it in thirds and stick one under each and every windshield wiper I can find. When I get arrested for soliciting in parking lots, which do not allow such behavior, I will claim that all I was trying to do was promote my humble writings by methods best understood by members of my generation. When the (so young he has acne) judge calls me a behind the times old lady with pipe dreams rivaling the enormity of the empty promises of our government I will cry foul, and tweet, “I’m just a boomer promoting my novel to supplement my SS income.”
It will go viral, everybody will buy my book and I will be able to purchase a phone which is smaller than my I-brick.

Becky Mushko said...

#4 says it all! I rarely review a book on my blog without including a picture of one of my cats reading the book. Heck, I rarely do a blog post about anything that doesn't include at least one cat picture.

Wendy Qualls said...

It really drives me nuts when authors retweet every single mention of themselves, their book, and their interviews (blog or otherwise). Chances are, I saw that you did an interview on XYZ blog the first time you tweeted a link. I don't need a RT of XYZ blog saying you're there, then a reader saying they loved your interview, then another reader saying the interview made you buy their book, then you thanking the reader for saying they bought your book . . . I just want one link and I can read the interview if I darn well feel like it!

Loretta Ross said...

Thanks for the tips! I have another question. Is it considered good Twitter etiquette to thank everyone who follows or retweeets you? I've seen one or two people do that. (If so, I've been terribly remiss!)

I'm addicted to Twitter now, too, I'm afraid. Especially George Takei's funny pictures and the cute baby elephants.

Janet Reid said...

Loretta, you don't need to do that. It fills up your twitter stream with noise, not news. Just be interesting and funny, that's all the thanks people need.

Also, more baby sloth pics, but that's just me.

Thomas Pluck said...

Solid advice. Another thing NEVER to do is direct-message followers to "thank them" or send them a link your book or your website, or say "hey, like me on Facebook, too!" or anything, really. It is rude and nobody likes it, and a huge percentage of Twitter users unfollow or block people who do this.
Sometimes I DM private conversations so I don't swamp my feed with it, but that's about it.

keithsnyder said...

I think one in ten is WAY too many. If it's more than one or two a day at the time of publication, and one or two a week after that, I'm unfollowing.

(And that includes putting a dot in front of a username before you RT testimonials.)

It's social media, not selling media. Be social first. Happen to be a writer second.

Debbie Bennett said...

Follow
Hello, thanks for following me. Here's a link to my book/webpage/piece of spam
Unfollow

Almost as bad as the people you accept a friendship request from on facebook, who immediately post their book on your page, without even saying hello first. Instant unfriend.

And where are the baby sloth pictures? I want some. Cats are so last year....

Alec Breton said...

If a person is an artist, then they can put up samples of their artwork. This is a form of subtle promotion, but which their followers actually would like. However, they don't need to be hyper about it. They also can point out things they like about art techniques, favorite art tools and supplies, give demos, and complement other's work.

T.D. Hart said...

Fantastic advice.

I've done the live Tweet thing during OK State football games--usually as a reply. Glad to know those tweets didn't go to everyone (and if they did, sorry. I blame the Cowboys coaching staff for my juicy vocabulary.)

LynnRodz said...

I got on Twitter back when it first started, but I've never understood the hype. I honestly thought it would have fallen by the wayside by now. What do I care if someone is going to the store? Or if they're drinking a pint of Guinness at the local pub? Tell me you're going out in a blizzard to buy a bottle of wine and then maybe I'll be interested to see if you made it back home safe and sound.

(I must be missing something here! Hmm, or if I had a book to promote, I may think differently.)

Joyce Tremel said...

Lynn, you should check out Twitter again. If you're following the right people, you won't be reading tweets about going to the store. I follow a lot of writers, agents, editors, etc. It's a valuable tool. I've met some great people there.

donnaeverhart.com said...

I'm sort of in the same boat as LynnRodz. I just don't get it. I've been on Twitter a while now...picked up followers, but I only got on it b/c I heard it would be useful for book promo one day. Having said that, I'm completely turned off by someone doing just that! I would actually not want to say one word about my book, if/when it ever comes out - while on Twitter - blech. For me personally, I've found blogs the best way to connect, so maybe it's just a matter of preference. IDK. I'd be really interested to know what has been the best tool for authors to promo. Between blogging twice a week (at least), which automatically goes out on my Twitter, and visiting blogs to comment, etc, I spend a lot of time connecting (wishful preparation) outside of what I should be doing - which is finishing my book. I wish I could remember where I "hear" all my little facts, but recently I heard/read/saw - who knows - that word of mouth is still the best way for an author to get their book noticed. Somebody telling somebody how good it is...and I realize Twitter is the technical way of doing that, but it's still very, very different than a f2f conversation where the enthusiasm and excitement for a really good read can be shared over a cup of pumpkin chai tea...or scotch.

The Happy Amateur said...

"Another thing NEVER to do is direct-message followers to "thank them" or send them a link to your book or your website."
One rather successful author, a sound voice of Twitter, gave me quite a surprise when he did that. I thought I perhaps overreacted, but I found that direct "thank you" message with a link to a book offensive. Maybe my reaction was justified after all.

Joseph Snoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Snoe said...

I took a fantastic picture of a sloth while in the Amazon I'd love to show you (or any reader ) if you let me know how to get it to you.

Kate McMurry said...

I really enjoyed reading this outstanding blog post and the many great comments. In particular, that's a very valuable tip on how to tweet thanks to someone who posts a compliment or a link to a positive review such that it goes to one's whole list of followers. And I completely agree with the advice on cat pictures. I love them and have tweeted a few myself. I also love pictures of puppies and baby pigs.

FWIW, I can offer to this discussion of authors' using Twitter for self-promo my own perspective as an avid reader who constantly uses Twitter to find new books to read. I am a fan of young adult and new adult fiction, especially contemporary, comic, and paranormal romance (if a book has all three qualities, I'm in heaven). I follow writers, editors, publishers and fellow fans of those genres on Twitter for the express purpose of receiving tweets about books that match my reading tastes, and as a result, Twitter has been a goldmine of terrific recommendations for me. I find them by watching for announcements of new releases, tweets about bargain ebooks (I discovered SweetFreeBooks, ReadCheaply and BookBub through Twitter), and tweets with links to reviews of YA and NA books (smart bloggers make them easy to spot by always including with their link the name of the book, the author's Twitter handle or her/his name if the author is not on Twitter, and the genre of the book reviewed). It is also extremely helpful to me when tweets include hashtags such as #FREE, #YAromance, #NAromance, #romanticcomedy, or #paranormalromance, because I frequently use them to search for ebooks. I also use Twitter as a quick and easy way to contact authors about their books, as well as to write notes of praise to authors and audiobook narrators.

Regarding following and unfollowing: I never follow back people who have no connection to my reading interests. I unfollow for these reasons: an author routinely tweeting almost nothing else but what I consider boring personal details about her daily life, an author or book blogger tweeting status updates on the number of followers she currently has, anyone who tweets or RT's religious, political or sexually oriented messages (other than authors of erotic romance).

tomalanbrosz said...

My Twitter page has a link to my website. So does my ID on comments I make in a lot of places. There's plenty of information about my books there.

Anybody who's curious about me can easily find out about me and my books. Anybody who isn't can just read my comments on Twitter or anywhere else without having book plugs shoved up their noses.

Lance said...

Looks like I need to sign up for Twitter and subscribe to catstockphotos.com. Wow.

Jennifer Perry said...

Oh, so grateful for this! I'm a writer and entertainment publicist. I tell my clients that the tactics you've described here, plus paying some other 'expert' to do it also, is like sitting through a tv channel of repeated, annoying commercials.

Christina Seine said...

One other thing that drives me NUTS: I recently unfollowed a very good author because they kept tweeting the same 5 or 6 things - agin and again and again. Those things were very interesting, certainly ... the FIRST time. I think it's important to assume your followers are seeing your feed, and at most repeating a post once for each time zone - say morning and evening - and that's it. For heaven's sake, if you can't come up with anything, you can always just post gratuitous photos of Hugh Jackman and call it good. ;D