A Writer’s Guide to Twitter

There is absolutely, positively no doubt that writers need to use social media to get the word about their writing out there. Personally, the idea of having several social media accounts made me sigh and roll my eyes. I’d tried to use social media for my business before (a Bed & Breakfast) but I hadn’t seen much success even though it was a bucket-load of work. Following the advice of every, single article I read on being a successful indie writer, I decided I needed to take the plunge.

It’s important to not only take the plunge but not to dive headfirst into the shallow end. Because there’s more to establishing an author platform than just joining every social media sight. So, here it is, Dena’s no-holds barred rules on how to use twitter and not look like a tweet.

1) Fill out your account in its entirety. You need to go all out. A profile picture, description and background are mandatory. Would you buy a book from a writer that uses a generic Twitter egg as her profile picture? I wouldn’t. 

2) Only sign-up for Twitter if you’re going to use it. So, you bit the bullet and added a profile picture, a funny description and even added a background with pictures of your books. And then you stop. You do nothing with Twitter. Um, how the heck is being on Twitter going to help sell books if you don’t do anything with it?

3) Show some love to bloggers who promote your book. I have a blog, Readsalot, where I promote indie writers with book reviews, blog tour stops, etc. I always, always tweet about these posts. But I can count on one hand the amount of re-tweets from authors I’ve gotten. If a blogger takes the time to promote your book, re-tweet it! Not only to show your appreciation but also to spread the word. Isn’t that what social media is all about – spreading the word about your book?

4) Be very, very cautious with using tweet services. Tweet services are paid author promotion services in which your book is tweeted by several accounts to get noticed. The problem is this: Who are the followers? Are they genuine followers interested in reading or followers the service has bought? Check testimonials from previous clients before you hit the ‘buy now’ button. Otherwise, you might as well throw your money away.

5) Don’t be a bore. It’s not all about your book, blog or writing. We all know that the vast majority of authors on twitter are there to promote their books or blog. We get it. But don’t shove it in our faces. It’s okay to tweet about your new book, a sale, etc. But don’t go overboard. Make sure you are also tweeting about other things. I often tweet newspaper articles I read that I find interesting. I do try to add a bit of my own personality instead of just hitting the ‘tweet me’ button on the article.

6) If you join an author tweet help team, try to be original. What’s an author tweet help team? Okay, I totally made up that name but here’s what I mean. There are several groups on Facebook, Twitter, you name it, you can join to help get the word about your writing out there and in return you need to tweet about fellow authors. The idea is awesome! I’m a member of one of these groups. So what’s the problem? Tweeters often just tweet a list of twitter handles and that’s it. Maybe they’ll add something simple like ‘follow these awesome authors’. Does anyone read these tweets? I sure don’t. I take the time to search a book or review of each one of the authors on my list and tweet them one by one. Sure, it takes more work but in my humble non-expert opinion, it’s worth it because no one’s looking at the other just-a-list-of-names tweets.

7) Establish a twitter presence before your book launch. It’s important to already have an author platform before that all important book launch. If you join Twitter with your book launch, a lot of users are going to roll their eyes and assume you’re one of ‘those’ (meaning you are a twitter user that only pushes her own agenda).

8) Make connections. It’s incredibly tempting to just throw stuff out into the twitterverse and that’s it. Although that may work to a certain degree, it certainly isn’t the best way to go about it. Make sure you connect with followers by responding to tweets or re-tweeting. These are your potential readers. Create a personal relationship and they just may read your book only because they ‘know’ you on Twitter.

9) Use the @ and # with caution. Unless you only want the receiver to read the tweet, don’t start a tweet with @(twitter handle) as the tweet will not show up on your general feed. The hashtag is a great way for tweeters to perform a search but don’t go overboard. It’s incredibly difficult to read a tweet that is just hashtag after hashtag.

10) Don’t be pushy. It’s okay to market your book but it’s not okay to send tweets to individual followers asking them to buy your book (unless you’ve had personal contact with that person before). Another pet peeve? Sending direct messages begging (it’s not really begging but it sure feels like it) followers to buy your book. Personally, I’m also against these direct messages asking individuals to follow you on Facebook. 

11) Think before you tweet. Being an author, especially an indie author, is a business. You need to handle your twitter account as such. If you want to rant about the president or the 2nd amendment, get a personal twitter account for that. Of course if you write non-fiction, this rule may not apply.  

Any other rules you’d like to add? Let me hear about it in the comments.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but think I’m a European. After spending my senior year of high school in Germany, I developed a bad case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. My flying Dutch husband and I have lived in Ohio, Virginia, the Netherlands, Germany and now Istanbul. We still haven’t decided if we want to settle down somewhere – let alone where. Although I’ve been a military policewoman, a commercial lawyer, and a B&B owner, I think with writing I may have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. That’s assuming I ever grow up, of course. Between tennis, running, traveling, singing off tune, drinking entirely too many adult beverages, and reading books like they are going out of style, I write articles for a local expat magazine and various websites, review other indie authors’ books, write a blog about whatever comes to mind and am working on my sixth book.


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  1. Thanks for hosting me today! Hope everyone enjoys the article

    1. My pleasure. I love Twitter. It's the perfect social media platform for busy writers. Great tips.

  2. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. I enjoyed your post on Twitter and hopefully, I won't look like a tweet on Twitter! LOL Thanks for sharing!

    1. haha Twitter is great fun and perfect for writers. These are good tips to get you started on the right foot.

  4. Thank you for explaining a lot of things about twitter.

  5. What is your favourite book and why?


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