Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, November 21, 2008

Guest Blogger: Tracy Marchini on 21 Things an Author Can Do With Twitter

According to Wikipedia, internationally there were 111 Twitter-like micro-blogging sites in May 2007. Twitter itself has become so popular it's spawned everything from tweet-managing platforms (Tweetdeck) to Twitter slang - "That's a fail whale."

So what can authors do with Twitter?

1.) Tweet your book release dates. Especially on the day of release.
2.) Tweet your tour dates.
3.) Tweet changes in your tour dates.
4.) Tweet your progress on a much-awaited sequel.
5.) Tweet your readers for feedback - do they like your new (fill in the blank?)
6.) Tweet your readers links to your website when it's updated.
7.) Tweet the links to specific posts in your blog.
8.) Tweet some micro-fiction. (It's harder than it looks!)
9.) Tweet some encouragement to a fellow writer (keep good company!)
10.) Tweet your followers with a special promotion. (Twitter followers get a code to unlock a special part of your site?)
11.) Tweet when your book wins an award.
12.) Tweet when your book gets a good review.
13.) Tweet when your book goes into paperback.
14.) Tweet when you made a fantastic dinner (especially if you write cookbooks) or if you found an old record (especially if you're a musicologist), etc.
15.) Tweet about what you would like your readers to know about you right now, at this very second.
16.) Tweet when you need to hear some encouragement from a reader.
17.) Tweet when your next pub date is announced.

But also, authors can read:

1.) What their readers are tweeting about.
2.) If their readers had a good or bad time at their last author event.
(They could be tweeting from their cell phone right next to you! Awk-ward.)
3.) What other books their readers are talking about.

Finally, one of the best tips I've ever read for using Twitter was to sign up to the rss feed of a search term. So, get your Twitter account, search for your name and/or your books among the twit-o-sphere, and sign up for the rss feed.

Happy Tweeting!


Anonymous said...

I'll look into tweeting. Sounds kind of like facebook. How do they differ?


M Clement Hall said...

I think twitter/tweeting was specifically invented to separate the generations.

RW said...

You can tweet what you're reading. The promotion of other books will build up your good karma account.

Josephine Damian said...

M Clement: Not so. Lots of boomers are there (like me).

Tracy: NOTHING turns me off to a writer than BSP - especially on twitter. The last thing I want to hear about is someone's latest review, or upcoming release date.

Twitter at its best is social, not commercial - think of it as a personal micro-blog.

It's basically like instant messaging: you exchange messages with the people you choose to follow (as opposed to friend like on MySpace) who also follow you.

I'm on twitter for conversation - not obvious promotion - myself or anyone else. Come across on twitter as interesting, informed, and funny, and people will become interested in you, and by extension, interested in your book/s.

Anonymous said...

M Clement Hall - that made me laugh out loud, thank you!


Gottawrite Girl said...

Ugh. Twitter and pod casts. Still have no idea. : )

Ryan Field said...

Thanks for this post. I just signed up this week because my publisher and agent are there and I'm not totally sure what I'm doing.

Jeanie W said...

I suppose I'll have to check out Twitter, so at least I'll know what people are talking about. I've been on Facebook for two years, and I barely use it. Following all these blogs is eating up enough of my novel-writing time as it is.

M Clement - Remember letters? Penpals? I used to be a big letter writer. Now I don't even own stationery.

bryan russell said...

Twitter? Tweet?

That makes me feel like Sylvester.

exhausted blogger said...

Ack! I already have a main blog at Wordpress, as well as a Livejournal and a Tumblr. And my friends keep bugging me about Facebook, so I'm finally gonna have to come clean that I have an account there and start adding them. Must I Twitter, too?

I have a mildly addiction-prone personality, which is sometimes a good thing as it keeps me obsessed with making my fiction the best it can be, but it also traps me into fiddling around on the Internet for hours at a time. Sometimes I feel like the proliferation of social networking sites is a conspiracy to keep me from finishing my (requested!) revisions.

And yet... not only is there pressure for authors under contract to have a big Internet presence these days, I feel like there's an unspoken maxim among unpubbed writers that you should have your journey to publication chronicled for all to see. I see this a lot among YA writers, especially -- everybody's got an LJ or a Blogspot where they narrate the ups and downs from first query to "the call." There's certainly nothing insidious about this, but I feel like those who *don't* do this are in the minority. It adds an extra level of pressure to the whole process -- you've gotta write a narrative in novel form, but you've also gotta keep that life narrative updated and interesting.

I sound kind of obsessive now. Sorry.

Amy Nathan said...

I've been using Twitter *well* for almost 2 weeks now. Yes, before that I didn't quite know what to do with it. And, I've been helping friends and other writers do the same.

It's an amazing marketing tool, if you can get past finding out what everyone is having for lunch! ;)

I think I'll Tweet your post...I love sending good writer info. into the Tweetosphere!

LitPark said...

See, now I didn't even know about this blog until Amy tweeted it.

Great post!

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Great post. I love that more and more writers and authors are showing up on Twitter. Yay!!

I love your point about offering encouragement to another writer. And, along the same lines, I would suggest to those who use social media sites like Twitter, is to remember that conversation is not just one way. Sure, it's great to tweet about everyday things going on in your life and promoting your new book, but social media is all about give and take. It's not just about you. If you tweet too much about yourself no matter what business you are in, other people will see that as spam.

I can't speak as a published author yet, but I have bought books from new authors on Twitter :-)
Another tip, be careful; Twitter can be addictive for some, so set a timer or something lol.

CJ Harley said...

I have been using Twitter for less than a month now. I use it to update my friends and followers on my NaNo progress and to interact with other NaNo'ers, authors, and aspiring writers like myself.

Allen Taylor said...

If your blog is on WordPress and you have a Facebook account, there are a couple of other things you can do as well.

Lady Glamis said...

I'm lost to the whole Twitter thing. Must go check into it, I guess...

Elyssa Papa said...

Tweeting can be lots of fun. I don't use it as much, because I tend to rely on Facebook more. But I absolutely loved this post.

Susan said...

Good stuff about Twitter here:

and here:
Don't miss the TwiTip archive.

Other Lisa said...

I love Twitter. I've found a few folks from this blog there too. I use it as a mix of social and informational, as do my connections. I've gotten some really useful links, and it's a great social tool too. I'm there as otherlisa, not my "author" name, but if/when I'm published, I'll use Twitter for a reasonable amount of self-promotion.

sharla said...

I'm so confused. I just recently learned about "blogging" and I'm all proud of myself for getting one. And I'm probably the only person that reads it so I don't even know what good it does! :)) Now there's twittering? What on earth??

nancydrew212 said...

i'm with Sharla - I just learned about blogging and find i spend a good part of every morning rolling through i don't know how many blogs to see what's new... i just can't twitter too... :) it's unruly how many sites there are and they don't encourage competition because they all offer very similar services... so like all industries with that issue, there will likely be major consolidation soon. facebook buying flickr, maybe myspace buying twitter.. who knows. i'm sure google is thinking about how to get in on the action!

Ulysses said...

Hmm. Web promotion:
Facebook / MySpace ( = "MyFace?").
Web Site.

What other web tools do people use?

Other Lisa said...

@nancy drew - Google already IS in on the action - they own Blogger/blogspot.

serenity said...

With twitter, I like the challenge of trying to be interesting in only a few words. And as long as someone is interesting usually, I don't mind their being promotional now and then. All of these things can just be giant time-suckers, but I think they can be used wisely and work for you too.

lotusloq said...

I'm going to have to check it out. Thanks for taking care of us today.

Scott said...

So Tracy drew the short straw and got us for two days. Traci's my new favorite sitter! /fickle

If and when I get representation and published, I'm going to be hitting all of these networking communities and maybe make up a few of my own as I go.

In the interim, I'm sure my own blog is more than enough to handle the glut of good news I'm getting.

Thanks, Tracy.

nancydrew212 said...

@other lisa -- THANKS! figures they're already in it... it's just so much.... if you're a writer and need to keep up on all these blogs etc -- when would u have time to write? crazy...

DeadlyAccurate said...

Gotta agree with Josephine. Tweets from people that are nothing but advertising are a real turn-off. I don't follow anyone whose only purpose in Twitter is to advertise. The occasional message is fine, of course, but I want social interaction. I'm more likely to follow someone who's interesting, and end up buying their book for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Okay, someone needs to be a wet blanket. I think this was an awful post. Twitter is appropriately named. It's noise. Chatter, gibberish, interference with reflection and thought. Twitter is self-obsession... hmm, maybe self-absorption is closer. It's all about self-promotion and personal marketing. Just like the rest of the world out there. Ask yourself: what do you value in life? What do you want to fill your life with as a writer? A million voices gabbling away, desperately seeking me? Or a few people with whom you can exchange deeply held views about human experience? Your choice.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

It's funny that some here brought up blogging. I keep hearing that blogging is already on the way out. (Not sure if I agree, or maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.) A recent article in Wired claims that sites such as Twitter and Flickr will replace blogging.

Also, have any of you heard of vlogging? Or have used it to promote?
Or, maybe that's already on its way out. I sure as heck hope so because I so do NOT want to have film myself too lol.

Now perhaps all this social media will be a thing of the past by the time I get published, and I won't have to worry about it :-)

In the meantime, I'll keep my foot in and continue playing with blogging (linked to my Twitter account). And try not to spend *too* much time on it.

Caroline said...

@anonymous Ask yourself this: what would you rather fill your life with, every last drop of experience, shared and multiplied and refracted through everyone you meet, or a series of zero-sum games where everything is a false binary? Twitter being bad doesn't make the post bad. The post was about ways to advertise. Twitter reaches the a lot of people. Wouldn't an author want their book to do the same?

PS Nathan, do you tweet?

Adam Heine said...

There are ways to combine these things so technology does not overwhelm you. E.g. Your website is your blog (plus a couple of static pages for your book, your bio, etc.). Facebook can import blog posts from any RSS feed. Apps like can update all your social sites at once. Use something like Google Reader to stay up to date on a bunch of blogs without having to visit each site every few minutes or actually read every post.

Also, don't use a technology solely for self-promotion or because people tell you to. Use it because you want to use it, then in addition you can self-promote, but now it comes out as natural instead of spam. I blog because I have stuff I want to write. I'm on Facebook because my family and friends are. Those are the places I'll promote when the time comes, and readers will be more likely to actually listen because they already know me.

Polenth said...

People like to hear what you're up to, what you're thinking, what you think about what they're thinking (reply to other people). If you're interesting, linking to your blog posts and reminding people on book release day isn't a big deal. It's diluted in the rest of your tweets.

But if all you tweet about is your book, your blog and other promotional things all about you, people will stop following.

Avily Jerome said...

Howdy Nathan!
First time on your blog- Enjoying it so far! I'm loving the humor of your guest bloggers!

Thanks for allowing me to stop by- hope to see you again soon!

Other Lisa said...

Also, you can Tweet from Twitter to your blog, and have a button on your blog so people who read your blog can follow you on Twitter.

I tweet maybe once a day. Sometimes twice, but that's pretty much it. I like that tweeting also provides fresh content for my blog when I don't have time to post, and seriously, the informational stuff you get on Twitter can be really really good. NPR puts up great links, for example, and if you have a special interest, you will almost certainly find people/orgs tweeting there.

Jeanne said...

I can relate with both sides of this discussion. This post is awesome in that it explains Twitter's usefulness to those of us who aren't "there" yet. And, for those who are very busy working and living full, hectic lives, it's also very stressful to be encouraged to participate in yet another thing.

I JUST began my blog this fall and have discovered the good and the bad of putting my thoughts, and life, out in the public domain. (I've mentioned my little stalker problem before.) And I've learned the darker side of Myspace and Facebook via my three teens. There are a lot of weirdo's in sheeps clothing lurking those places.

But, these are the times we live in. We've got to know how to use new technology or we're going to be left behind. Even my old fashioned Episcopal Church has begun to use Facebook as a means to find a Youth Minister because finding someone hip and qualified is impossible via old methods alone.

So- thanks for the post. Each person should do what they feel is right for them. And in the end, if you are very good at what you do, you're going to succeed. And if you aren't- you can Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Blog- your day away and get nowhere. Work it all, or some of it- to your advantage- and see how the chips fall.

Gwen said...

I haven't a clue what Twitter is.

Erik said...

Twitter is not a primary promotion platform. For one thing, people only read content they choose to. For another, it's only 140 chars long.

Twitter requires you to build a fan base FIRST, which takes a lot of effort. Then, you can use Twitter to build excitement for whatever you are promoting - and give links to something longer.

It's very easy to over-state its value, and thus over-use it. It's not a huge deal, and it's frankly not all that different from BITnet chat in the 80s.

M Clement Hall said...

For those who feel they need to be "more connected."

Kathleen said...

All excellent suggestions. I would also add that tweeting about articles and resources you find that may be of interest to others is a great way to engage people.

Last evening, for instance, I sent a tweet about an article I found interesting in PW. This morning, I'll likely add a tweet (at encouraging others to check out this post. I also found this blog via another writer's twitter stream and I appreciated the fact that they took the time to link to something useful - enough so that I decided to start following them on Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Twitter? I think that's something my bird does...especially when he's hungry.

Anonymous said...

My wife ever found out I tweeted somebody my life would be over.

Christine Rose said...

I've been tweeting my Holiday Contests. I also tweet from events and send in real-time twitpics!


Christine Rose said...

OH! That's right - put up a blog of my top 10 Twitter Resources and my top 10 Twitter Top 10s! I just included a link to this blog at the bottom.

Twitter Top 10s

@DiretStraits94 said...

I'll second the benefits of Twitter. Like Amy, I might not have know about this post. PLUS, I am seeing a lot of folks whom I might want to get to know.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I think Twitter is just one too many things to do online. I already have blogs, website, forums, plus my day job. Oh, yeah... and writig.

If I add one more thing, I think I'll explode.

Grrr. I might have to join Facebook just to keep up with my siblings' activities. They never call!

Nicole said...

Thank you for this post! :D I find it incredibly useful!

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