Lists for Writers: 10 Tips for Putting Twitter to Work

by Kendra Bonnett on October 17, 2010

Book Business PaperclipPost #60 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Twitter for memoir writersWhen working with memoir writers, Matilda and I always remind them to start thinking about the business aspects of their book–the sales and marketing–early in the process. In fact, start as early as possible in the process. We recommend that they build their platform using a blog.

But how are you going to reach large numbers of prospective readers and introduce them to your blog and book platform? You can’t just blog and expect your audience to find you. You need to go where the readers are and MAKE your presence known. Twitter is a great tool for this.

Perhaps you’ve heard people complain, “Why would I want to use Twitter? I don’t care to know what someone had for breakfast.” Okay, there is this aspect of Twitter, but it’s changing. More people are using Twitter to share interesting and useful information. But beyond that, a little bit of personal sharing is also good. Not necessarily reports of your eating and sleeping habits, but it is good to go beyond business and connect on a personal level.

Twitter was slow to catch on with users because people had trouble understanding the value of the microblogging concept. That’s changing too. Recently I’ve seen reports that Twitter has as many as 150 million registered users. Probably 50 to 70 million are active users, and 20 to 30 million are aggressive users. I’ve been on Twitter since 2005. My personal account is Pookakoo.

Here’s my advice:

  • Spend 30 minutes every day finding new people with which to connect.
  • You don’t need to follow back everyone who follows you. There are a lot of spammers and off-topic folks out there. I let them follow me, but if I look at their tweets and read their bios and don’t see the relevance, I don’t follow back.
  • Find people with similar interests.
  • Tweet every day. You may not have time to blog every day, but you can surely build time into your schedule to compose 140 characters. Your challenge is to use your writing skills to be as clever as possible…that and cram as much message as possible into 140 characters.
  • Re-tweet other people’s posts. If you don’t have anything of your own to post, at least re-tweet something someone else wrote. It’s one more way to get noticed and connect.
  • Give thought to your Twitter bio. People will read this to determine if they want to follow you.

If you want to follow news, events and product development, here’s a link to the Twitter blog. If you want some help from Twitter on getting started, go here. And you’ll find the “inside baseball” on Twitter and support here: how to use hashtags (#), the @ symbol, mobile Twitter and much more.

Now here are some links that will help you get the most out of Twitter.

So…what can you do with Twitter?

Good question, and DoshDosh has an article entitled 17 Ways You Can Use Twitter: A Guide for Beginners, Marketers and Business Owners to get you started.

Last week, I was talking with a business owner about the power of Twitter. He interrupted me and said, “But what can I do with just 140 characters. I need a blog to put out my message.” That’s true. Even though Twitter is called a microblogging platform, it’s not a replacement for WordPress. But Twitter will help build awareness for you, your blog and your message. Use it in conjunction with other social networking tools for full effect.

The power of apps…

These days we’re getting used to having access to all sorts of apps and add-ons that enable us to do more with with our hardware (e.g., iPhones, Droids, iPads) and software (e.g., Facebook, WordPress, FourSquare, Tumblr). And Twitter. Furthermore, most of these apps are FREE. Third-party developers have created hundreds of Twitter apps that help you build and manage your follower lists, post your Tweets on your blogsite, manage multiple Twitter accounts and send your Tweets. When looking for apps to expand your Twitter power, start with the app directory on Twitdom. Oh, be sure too to check out the Hootsuite app. I rely on this to manage some 11,000 followers on multiple accounts. It’s a great too, and yes, it’s FREE.

A little window dressing and self-promotion…

Have you noticed all those custom backgrounds with head shots of authors, photos of book covers and lists of their social links? Want one? If you have access to a design program and enjoy DIY, you can easily make your own. Here are some specs that will help you create a custom background: Iron Spider and more from Twitip. But here’s something I came across that will generate a custom background…for FREE. It’s called TwitBacks and it’s pretty cool. You won’t have quite as much flexibility, but you CAN add your own links and photos.

Take a tip from business…

How to Use Twitter for Business Rich Brooks, president of flyte new media, is speaking to entrepreneurs in this article, but there’s plenty here for memoir writers. Keep an open mind and let these ideas stimulate your creativity. For example:

  • “A restaurant tweets their daily specials.” Why don’t you tweet one interesting thought to come out of your day’s writing?
  • “A ticket agency tweets about-to-expire tickets.” Why don’t you tweet about a special price on your older work; maybe you even create a book bundle and price it competitively to make a little profit on your remaindered work.

Let your creativity take flight.

So…what should you do with Twitter?

80 Ways To Use Twitter As A SMB Owner Okay, you’re a writer (memoir or other genre). But if you’re trying to market and sell books, many of these ideas found on Small Business Trends will apply. Just think of yourself as an authorpreneur rather than an entrepreneur. Here are a few ideas that I like:

  • Offer discounts, coupons or special offers to customers who find you via social media
  • Show your human face
  • Talk about what you’re doing
  • Direct traffic to your site
  • Hold contests
  • Promote your latest blog posts and newsletters
  • Promote upcoming speaking engagements
  • Find guestbloggers for your blog
  • Find content that inspires and motivates you

Jane Friedman knows how to use Twitter…

Jane posted the Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 10/8/10) on There Are No Rules. As you’ll see, writers use Twitter to post all sorts of useful information and links to their blogs and other work. Search Twitter for a word like publishing or writing or memoir to keep up with the latest Tweets.

Follow other authors (even some memoir writers) on Twitter…

Literary Tweets: 100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter I found this list posted on Mashable, and it provides Twitter users with a list of authors with which to connect…authors from all genres. Connect with these writers, then go to their follower lists to find more people. There aren’t any memoir writers on this list, but you’ll find a large representation from fiction. So then I did a little search for memoir writers on Mashable and found a few memoir writers for you. And more memoir writers here.

Why should memoir writers use Twitter?

I love Joanna Penn’s answer to this question (on Twitter for Authors) which you’ll find posted on .docstoc. This is not a new article (she reports only 6 million people and counting on Twitter) but her advice is spot on: “If you want to be an author who makes money online, you  need to be where the action is.” Matilda and I agree; we’ve gotten direct business from Twitter and connected with both readers and writers. Joanna also includes some good links for authors.

Some gems and crystals for memoir writers and writers of all genres…

I found several articles about Twitter written especially for authors and I just couldn’t make up my mind which one to include. So here goes:

Twitter for Writers: How to Navigate the Twittersphere (Cheri Lasota’s blog) includes some success stories.

Twitter Tips for Authors This piece on The Fiction Desk includes some excellent advice about how writers should present themselves, craft their bios, get followers, tweet their message and more. Excellent piece.

Twitter for Authors–Part 1: Why? Nicola Morgan, on Help! I Need a Publisher! shares a list of likes and hates; she also shares her thoughts on Twitter style and etiquette.

Social Networking For Authors: Tips For Using Twitter Effectively On her The Creative Penn blog, Joanna Penn provides rich resources and links. Here’s a good tip: “If you want to grow followers, tweet information regularly.” Another important point Joanna makes is really a reminder that applies to all social networking: you are rewarded not for just being there but for the “time and effort put in.”

Top 10 Ways Authors Can Use Twitter Dana Lynn Smith participated in Twitter week at Publetariat. In fact, I suggest you read all their pieces about Twitter. Dana’s list is fresh and worthwhile. My favorite: “Spread good will by helping your peers. Introduce other people in your field or genre, or recommend other related books or products. Re-tweet interesting posts from people that you follow.”

Searching beyond Google...

Recently Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Techonomy conference that every two days we create as much information “as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” That’s massive. And that’s why search tools are invaluable. For several years, Google and Yahoo have helped us find what we’re looking for. Now welcome the new  kid (relatively) on the block…Twitter search. This little video will explain how you can make Twitter part of your search…and why.

If you are on Twitter, I hope these links will help you get more out of this oft-misunderstood tool. If you aren’t yet using Twitter, I hope you’ll be inspired to join us. You’ll find Women’s Memoirs on Twitter. Follow us.

P.S. If you haven’t gone by to visit the all new Story Circle Network blog, Telling HerStories, I encourage you to. Blog manager Amber Starfire has performed yeoman’s work moving all the content over to the platform. I expect great things from this blog.

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