I confess that for the first 4+ years of Twitter, I didn’t get it. To me, Twitter was a narcissistic wasteland of people letting each other know what they had for breakfast.
And yes, there is plenty of that on Twitter.
It’s everything else that’s invaluable when it comes time to publish your book and, you know, actually sell it. I suppose you could write the Great American Novel and wait to win the Pulitzer Prize. No need to worry about marketing — you’re famous now! But it’s an approach I wouldn’t recommend.
If you are writing a book and you want anyone to read it, you have learn how to market it. It may not sound fun — and to most of us it’s not — but it’s non-negotiable if you want to have any shot at success. You have to reach the people who might be interested in buying your book.
On March 28, I joined Twitter. I had no idea what I was doing. After nine days, I had about 100 followers on April 5. Not bad but not great. It wasn’t going to get me to a number that might make an impact when “Signs and Wonders” publishes in early August.
And there is no magic number. Amanda Hocking has 6,264 followers on Twitter. (I know, you would think it would be a lot more for someone who has sold 1 million ebooks.) John Locke, aka @donovancreed, has 20,609 followers. (He made $126,000 during the month of March, by the way, selling at 99 cents an ebook.) Generally, more is better but you want to have quality followers — otherwise known as the target audience for your book. And that brings us to …
@AmazonKindle! @nookBN! Check out the followers for those two accounts — here’s a total of 43,000 people on Twitter who can buy your ebook! Many of them will be fans of your genre. There are also other Kindle and ebook related Twitter accounts that have sizable followings. Plus don’t forget the Tweets themselves. A search of Tweets with both the words “Kindle” and “finished” will turn up people who are Kindle users — and the fact they are Tweeting about it makes it more likely they are heavy users of the Kindle.
Looking through other author’s followers can be helpful if: (1) they write in a genre similar to yours and (2) they only sell ebooks. The audience for a print-only author is likely to have a lot fewer Kindle or Nook users than someone like John Locke, who does 99 percent of his business in ebooks.
Once I figured out how to think like a marketer, I started having more success with Twitter. I follow a few dozen folks at the end of each night, then
in the morning 24 hours later use Tweeter Karma to find the people that I am following but have not followed back. Tweeter Karma lets you sort them by when they last Tweeted. If it’s been 24 hours and someone has Tweeted multiple times that day, odds are they don’t have Twitter set up to email them each time someone follows them. I unfollow these people because the odds are not good they are going to follow you back — they aren’t active in keeping their account current. (Don’t feel bad about this — they probably had no idea you followed them in the first place!)
I try to keep my following to follower ratio at no more than 1.5. There are some people who recommend a lower ratio, but this seems to be working for me. Most days I add 20 to 25 followers but I’ve also had days when I’ve added 45 and 47. (I have a hunch that not a lot of writing got done on those days.) I might cross 700 sometime today and should have 800 by the end of my first 30 days. I think 1,000 is achievable in a month and that would put me at 4,000 or so by mid-August.
How many books will that help me sell? Hard to say. But at least I now have a chance to connect with people who might enjoy my novel instead of waiting to win the Pulitzer Prize and getting an invite to the “Today” show.