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Social Media Tips for Writers (updated)

It’s no secret that I am a Twitter-addict. I have met some wonderful friends that way, and I have learned a lot about writing, editing, and promotion as well.

I’ve been on Twitter for 5 years. During that time I built up a twitter following of over 3000 for Cook Local. Given that Cook Local was only a Seattle focused account, I feel quite proud of that number. I consider myself… not an expert, but certainly someone who understands social media, the trends, the dos and don’ts, and how to be effective. So here are some tips and tricks that I wish everyone on social media would learn.

Be Smart

If you’re on social media to promote, be smart about it. What’s smart? Tweeting a link to your book on Amazon (or Smashwords, or wherever you sell) at regular intervals. But don’t just tweet the link. Tell us why we should buy your book. Here’s a good example.

Kendra C. Highley @KendraHighley

Love monsters? #PercyJackson fan Check out #MattArcher Blade’s Edge’ on #BookBuzzr– bit.ly/WHzqYj

Why is this good? Because there’s context. If you know the story of Percy Jackson, you might like Matt Archer. There’s also a link, hashtags, and some text.

What’s a bad example? Well, I don’t want to call anyone out. But just a title and a link? That’s a bad example.

Don’t be *that person* who can’t stop talking about themselves

Authors are… well, we’re an odd sort. Particularly indie authors who don’t have a publishing house doing their promotion for them. We have to be self-promoting. That’s part of our job if we want to be successful. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Do RT (retweet for Twitter newbies) the occasional positive review. Do NOT RT every positive review you’ve ever gotten over the course of 24 hours. Don’t let your entire twitter stream be nothing but shameless self-promotion.

If you’re tweeting more than two or three self-promotional tweets a day, you’re probably doing too much. If you’re tweeting two or three an hour, you’re DEFINITELY doing too much and are probably annoying your followers. Learn to schedule your tweets. Have a promotional tweet go out in the morning and another in the evening. Not all of your followers will be in the same time zone as you are and you could miss the opportunity for a lot of influence if you only tweet between 8 and 9 am. But don’t tweet the same thing every day. Mix things up a little. One day tweet a link to your blog post. The next day tweet a link to your book. The next day, take a day off from self-promotion and talk about your writing process, or your favorite chocolate bar or something that helps folks know you.

For reference: TweetDeck is a free client that can schedule tweets. It’s very easy.

Be honest

There’s a social media person or group in my geographical area who is creating accounts that say “[BusinessName]Fans”. These accounts (and there are legion) purport to be started by “Fans of [BusinessName]” and have discounts, specials, marketing material related to [BusinessName]. I’m not buying it. These aren’t fan accounts. Not with direct links to newsletters and discounts. If you are going to create a twitter account, be honest.

The one exception to this is creating a twitter account for your characters. This can be fun and entertaining for your fans and if it’s done well, can be a great way to market your book.

Interact

Interact, but be smart about it. DO NOT send an automatic DM to every new follower with a link to buy your book. Put the link in your profile. Send a marketing tweet out here and there (see above). But if someone’s going to follow you, they probably have seen your profile. They don’t need a spammy direct message. DO respond to questions. You don’t have to respond to every @. But try to interact with your followers.

Separate Twitter and Facebook

Nothing can annoy your followers more than hooking up your Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is one platform and Facebook is another. It’s fine to once in a while tweet a link to Facebook or to your Facebook profile. But if you link the two so that every time you update Facebook it tweets a link to that update? That’s ridiculous. Why? Because in order to read the update, your followers have to go to Facebook. Every single time. Plus, the update on Facebook only shows the first three or four words of the Facebook post. If I have to click a link on every single one of your tweets, I’m going to unfollow you very quickly.

I’ve seen many indie authors link their Twitter and Facebook. I don’t know why it’s so common with the author crowd, but it creates totally pointless tweets like this (names changed to protect the guilty).

[Twitter Name] Well? [link to FB]

How am I supposed to know what that tweet is in reference to? When you post a link on Facebook, you get a preview. So your followers know what you’re talking about. But on Twitter? You get a link and nothing more.

Then, when you do decide you want to tweet a blog post (and also put it on Facebook), you end up with two tweets in rapid succession with the same exact content.

Please, authors. Don’t do it. Unlink Twitter and Facebook. Put different content on both. Your followers will thank you for it.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful.

You can find me on Twitter: @patricia_eddy.

7 Comments

  • Ravven Posted March 7, 2013 11:24 am

    Very good post! You hit all of my personal pet peeves. I always follow authors back because I want to work with new people, I want to keep up to date on authors that I’ve worked with, and many of them become friends and I genuinely want to keep in touch. But things such as auto-DMs are an immediate unfollow, as is tweeting about your book every few hours. I always say that authors should be a person first, and a salesperson second. Don’t just push your books…tell me about your life, tell me funny things. Chuck Wendig, John Scalzi and Joe Hill are some of my personal favourites currently.

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