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Using Twitter Effectively (or, Don’t Tweet Like Nicholas Sparks)

How Aspiring Authors Should Use Twitter – And How They Shouldn’t

By:Shovelling SonTwitter can be a powerful tool for aspiring authors, no matter their genre. It gives them the chance to reach out to their current fans, add new ones, and build a community in a way that was impossible (without major marketing bucks) just a few years ago. Most of us aren’t @JK_Rowling (who garnered over 100,000 followers with only a handful of tweets), so we have to make sure we use Twitter effectively to make it worth our time and effort. Here are a few tips and real-life author examples to help us along the way:

  1. Engage your followers. Check out what people are discussing and join the conversation! The real-time, linear nature of Twitter gives you freedom to hop in and out of conversations as you see fit. Authors who get it: @HarlanCoben, @jamie_oliver, and @jodipicoult. If you visit their pages, you’ll find not just their thoughts, ramblings, links and news but also lengthy conversations with fans. Something as simple as a “Thank you!” for a compliment can turn a casual reader into a lifelong fan.
  2. Don’t make it all about you. Think about what you’re posting and ensure it has some sort of use. While you shouldn’t obsess over every tweet, at least pause for a moment a think if your tweet would be worth reading coming from someone else. Author who doesn’t get it: @SparksNicholas. Although he’s popular enough it probably doesn’t matter, he uses his Twitter as a personal trivia contest and little else.
  3. Fit tweeting into your schedule. It’s impossible to keep up with the flow of conversation with Twitter, and trying to do so can quickly overtake your life. Schedule time for catching up with the conversation, and stick to it. The last thing you want to do is get burned out and end up as the user who hasn’t updated their account in years. Author who gets it: @jodipicoult. She’s very involved and engaging on Twitter when she has the time, but can also go days without posting at all.
  4. Have something to say. Discover your Twitter “voice.” Whether it’s posting links, crafting stories, discussing your process or sharing agent horror stories, discover what you enjoy discussing with others and what your followers seem to respond to. Just don’t be afraid to step outside of the box every now and again – keep things interesting. Author who kind of gets it: @JEvanovich. She uses her Twitter account simply to post quotes from her books. They’re quite amusing and strike a chord with her readers, but perhaps mixing in a personal message every now and again would help her strategy?
  5. Be yourself. No one wants robotic automatic direct messages and auto-followers. Don’t just be concerned with that follower count — one quality, engaged follower is worth a hundred spammers, and that can only be gained by posting unique, personal commentary worth following.

Have you gained a new reader through Twitter? Which authors have earned your follow? Share your experiences and stories in the comments!