Getting the most from Twitter with an underwear model

seeing eye people crop

 

One constant problem for authors trying to promote their books is to work out what is effective. You have only so much time in which to write, promote your work, and to live whatever passes as your normal life. This time has to be managed properly to get the most out of it.

So how does Twitter fit within your timetable?

I have no hard figures, but I’ve put together some observations which I can back with some numbers. Firstly Twitter is not some magic wand. Just having more people seeing tweets about your book doesn’t necessarily increase your chance of selling.

A couple of years back, purely by chance, one of my books managed to trigger some sort of ‘bot-alert’ and was picked up by five people who tweeted to their followers to buy it. Checking up on those five people they were all Americans, and if their photographs were anything to go by, they were people my late Mother might have described as ‘underwear models.’ Interspersed amongst their tweets about their lives, things they’d heard etc were tweets suggesting their followers might find a particular thing worth buying on Amazon. Anybody clicking on the link and buying would of course buy through an Amazon affiliate link.

Over a period of a couple of days my book was tweeted a couple of times to 250,000 people in the USA. In that week and the week that followed I sold one book in the USA. Sheer volume of followers is meaningless.

Over the last few years I’ve come across a number of businesses who claim to help you promote your book. This they do by tweeting about it to their many followers, claimed to be enthusiastic readers.

I’ve never used their services but I’ve monitored their effectiveness by watching the books they’re promoting on Twitter. Each book on Amazon that has any sales has an ‘Amazon Bestsellers Rank’. Crudely put, when somebody buys a copy the book goes up in Rank, (say from 300,000 to 200,000) and when nobody is buying copies the book slips slowly back down the ranking again. So I watched the Amazon Bestsellers Rank of books these companies were promoting, and used my own books as a control. Frankly their much vaunted Twitter promotion had no meaningful effect, the books being promoted slipped slowly down the rankings at the same speed as mine did when I wasn’t promoting.

Then look at your own Twitter page, examine your followers carefully. One thing Twitter does is suggest people who appear to be similar to you and who it suggests you might like to follow. Unfortunately for aspiring authors with books to promote, the people Twitter most commonly suggests appear to be aspiring authors with books to promote. Whilst writers do read, my experience is that writing eats into their reading time and they’re hardly the best market.

 

So how do you promote on Twitter?

I have talked to a number of people who have no interest in promoting books but who have vibrant Twitter pages and up to a thousand followers.

  • The first thing they do is post almost constantly. During every waking hour they’ll send at least one tweet, something funny, witty, or at least something that is interesting. Effectively they almost live on the phone, checking it regularly. Given that I only ever access my Twitter account on this desktop machine, by the time I think to look at it, an endless stream of babble has scrolled past since the last time I looked at it. Fourteen tweets I’ve not looked at since I started this article.
  • The second thing these people do is to ostentatiously not sell things. One commented that when she did send out a couple of tweets about a friend’s new book, she lost two hundred followers. We might have joined Twitter to sell, but very few people join Twitter to be sold to.

 

So how do we do it then?

Like all social media, you can only get out of it what you put into it. You have to create a community around you that you can talk to. But you’ve got to listen and respond to people who respond to your tweets.

 

  • Do the simple things first. If you have a blog or a Facebook page you can set up the systems to that they automatically post to Twitter whenever you post anything on them. Hopefully this allows you to get interesting content out there and people are drawn to you. All without having to waste time doing something.

 

  • Live on your phone. If something happens, somebody says something, tweet it. I wouldn’t recommend you sink to the level of tweeting photographs of your meals, unless there is something newsworthy about them, but if the barista cracked a joke as they served you coffee, tweet it. The aim is to get people following and enjoying your tweets. Then when you slip in one along the lines of, “Really chuffed, got a new review for my latest book” with an Amazon link, it’s a natural thing.

 

  • Respond to your followers. Engage them in banter. If one of your followers says something witty, profound, or newsworthy, like it and retweet it. Don’t be afraid of promoting somebody else. It helps people realise you’re not some self-absorbed ego-manic, but a real person who is happy to help somebody else.

 

All this can be done without knowing anything about the mystery that is hashtags, taking part in wider discussions and getting involved in the trending debates. I openly confess to being in two minds about these. Yes posting a tweet in a discussion which ten or twenty thousand people are following might get you some more followers who fall under the enchantment of your wit. On the other hand it could get you involved in a flame-war or lose you some of your existing followers who never realised that you were a misguided idiot who held bizarre opinions on the EU referendum.

 

Finally, remember people follow you because it’s fun. They have fun reading your posts. Ideally you will have fun posting your posts. You’re trying to create an atmosphere where these people think of you as fun and interesting and might well feel that your books could also be fun and interesting. If you’re not enjoying doing it, frankly, don’t do it. Life is too short.

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18 thoughts on “Getting the most from Twitter with an underwear model

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm Reply

    A big fat book takes a while to read, uninterrupted. That might be inconsistent with posting ‘once an hour’ and certainly with reading the 14 tweets that accumulated while you were starting the post. Possibly this makes the set of ‘people who use Twitter regularly’ incompatible with the set of ‘people who might enjoy Pride’s Children.’

    I myself am highly distractable; I wouldn’t get any writing done – and thus have nothing to sell – if I spent time on the site. I always appreciate the people who tweet for me, or boost my automatic tweets, but I don’t expect to find my readers there.

    It sounds like fun – but it isn’t me. Or rather, I amn’t it.

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2016 at 3:31 pm Reply

      I am not a twitter person, if somebody contacts me, I’ll reply, but otherwise I let the automatics do it
      But it is an issue isn’t it, with a book like Pride’s Children ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/PRIDES-CHILDREN-PURGATORY-Book-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B017AZLTLG ) which is a big solid book, if you’re engrossed in that are you going to break off and tweet about it? I would hope not

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 28, 2016 at 10:53 pm

        Actually, if they tweet about it once an hour while reading – wouldn’t that be nice?

        I have had people tell me I kept them up all night. Not quite sure what to say to that. ‘Sorry’ doesn’t cover it.

        I usually say, ‘Thanks!’

      • jwebster2 August 29, 2016 at 6:06 am

        yes, it’s nice when people say they couldn’t put the book down.

  2. M T McGuire August 28, 2016 at 9:13 pm Reply

    Great post. Im inclined to agree. I do the auto stuff for WordPress posts and the odd tweet if I see something that’s funny. There are a couple of folks I talk to on Twitter who I have trouble contacting elsewhere so I use it to talk to them. Sometimes I retweet things that interest me. Many of my colleagues on there tweet only about their books. What I try to do at the moment is make any promo I do for my books a joke where the promo is incidental. I have 2,000 followers and I follow most back. I’m trying to organise my feed into lists so I can see the tweets about different subjects that interest me separated out for easy viewing.

    If I had a better phone I’d use it for those mad random thoughts one has … And the crazy stuff McMini comes out with. I probably will use it a lot more as I will need to get a better phone at some stage as theres very little room on the present one.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • jwebster2 August 28, 2016 at 9:17 pm Reply

      Given we have no mobile reception, and my lifestyle isn’t conducive to phone survival anyway I don’t think I’m ever going to be a twitter superstar 🙂

  3. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC September 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm Reply

    Twitter? Fun? Not ancient yet, I am old enough to recall when people had rich and varied lives. Offline. Even once the internet became more widespread. If anyone had described that an always connected one-line back and forth quip “communication” format would replace actual fun, THAT would have been a joke that went viral even without tweeting or texting. 🙂

    No wonder loneliness is becoming the new epidemic, heaven help us all. It’s hard to connect with people when their noses are stuck in a mobile phone, even if you don’t indulge in that kind of “fun” yourself. In bars and restaurants, I see entire tables of people ignoring each other in favor of whatever it is happening on their devices. Truly (and obviously), I don’t get the appeal.

    I’m not surprised that tweets seldom turn into book sales. When would Twit-wits have the time to read? Would many t-fans have the attention span to read beyond a sentence or two? They can barely get through an entire long-form blog post. They apologize for “long” comments of two or three paragraphs. Readers? I don’t think so.

    Why waste your money on a book when you could purchase an ap so you can auto-handle more twitter feeds.

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    • jwebster2 September 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm Reply

      whilst technically I am on twitter, because I just use a desk-top machine and never look at my twitter feed, effectively I’m not.
      But I think your idea that people (and not just those on twitter ) are too busy reading stuff to actually read anything is probably depressingly correct for some of them

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC September 4, 2016 at 6:08 pm

        Most, I fear. The ones who are willing to read anything much longer than a paragraph are probably more like you – intermittent users not likely to see many marketing tweets anyway.
        xx,
        mgh

      • jwebster2 September 4, 2016 at 6:28 pm

        I rather assume most people totally ignore marketing tweets

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC September 4, 2016 at 7:05 pm

        Or emails – I delete them ALL. Blog connections – that’s where readers live.
        xx,
        mgh

      • jwebster2 September 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm

        yes. When I post a new blog twitter is told, and there are some people who share that post, but I have concentrated on my blog. By definition people who read it do read 🙂

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC September 4, 2016 at 7:49 pm

        Interesting how that works. xx, mgh

      • jwebster2 September 4, 2016 at 8:03 pm

        I think it’s slower, but I’m also building up people who think my blog is worth reblogging on a semi-regular basis which is bringing my writing to the attention of people who would otherwise never come into contact with me

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC September 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm

        I don’t reblog, as a rule – first WordPress needs to make it more ADD/EFD friendly – but I support with comments & likes and link to relevant content. xx, mgh

      • jwebster2 September 4, 2016 at 8:31 pm

        I rarely reblog. But there are growing numbers of blogs who now act almost as informal gate-keepers who are worth following because of the people they introduce you to

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC September 4, 2016 at 8:35 pm

        I consider them content curators. I have have been introduced to quite a few great blogs through Kate McClelland’s reblogs for example.
        xx, mgh

      • jwebster2 September 4, 2016 at 8:51 pm

        yes, that is an excellent term for them.

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