I remember when I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME came out two years ago. So many of my blogging friends posted release day messages with the cover of my novel on their blogs. I was blown away by the support. It was amazing.
Fast forward two years and it's now almost impossible to do that because all around us, there are blogging friends releasing books practically every week! This is very good news, of course! More dreams coming true. And more books for us to read - hooray!!
This year, twitter proved itself to be THE place where people could quickly congratulate authors with books coming out and share their excitement for their favorites. Until this week, I'm not sure I *really* understood the true power of twitter.
On release day, hundreds of #bookbday messages went out on my behalf, thanks to @mitaliperkins and the @bookbday concept she's created. And everyday, I get messages on twitter letting me know someone has bought one of my books or is reading one of my books or has read one of my books, and they share their book love with me. And then there are the contests bloggers have! Contests are posted and retweeted and retweeted some more, and suddenly, many more people know about me and my books than knew about them before. The really great thing is that twitter is fast and easy, so any tweets sent to me or tweets about my book, I can easily respond back with a quick tweet.
6 months ago, if someone had asked me, I probably would have told them twitter is optional for an author. Today, I would say, if you are going to do one thing beyond a web site, I would say, establish a presence on twitter.
So, to help you make the most out of twitter, I'll share some things I've learned over the past six months, as I've went from 100 to almost 1,000 followers:
1) The more you can point people to helpful articles and information on the web, the more people will be interested in what you have to say. Retweets are the best way to get new followers, and retweets happen when you SHARE interesting, helpful information.So as much as possible, use twitter as a way to help others.
2) To that end, the web site http://bit.ly should become a companion to twitter. This web site allows you to shorten long URLs, but along with that, it saves your abbreviated links to retrieve again if you need to AND it tracks for you how many people clicked on the link!
3) As far as content on twitter, just like anywhere else, people will be turned off if you talk too much about your books. It's hard, because of course we want to talk about our books, we are excited about our books!
But we have to constantly check that excitement and remember that talking about our books isn't really going to sell books. We all know those waves of desperation that wash over us, as we worry, is anyone buying my books? Desperation does NOT sell books! What does sell books? OTHER people talking about your books. So, when that happens, stand back and let the buzz do its magic. I don't know that there is a lot we can do, from an author's standpoint, to make buzz happen, other than writing the very best book we can, and making sure we get our books into some readers' hands, through ARCs or contests or whatever. So yes, do the necessary leg work, and then at some point, you have to stand back and let go.
4) Save your book talk on twitter for when you have something REALLY great to share - a good review, a book trailer to point people to, an amazing contest, etc. As with so many other things in life, quality trumps quantity when it comes to twitter.
5) If you are Sarah Dessen, you don't have to work very hard to get followers or to have people tweet messages to you. She follows only a few author friends, and tweets interesting tidbits about her life and book related news for her 8,000+ followers to read. But most of us are not at the level Sarah is. So I say, if you can, spend time every week tweeting back and forth with some of your followers and who you've followed back. Talk about things you have in common - books you're reading, movies you've watched, pets, kids - whatever comes about organically by hanging out and seeing what topics people are talking about.
Some people don't like the big chat room like feel that twitter has, and I get that. It can be overwhelming. And it's hard to know how to jump in and be a part of a conversation. But really, it is just jumping in, like you would at a party, and walking up to a small group who are talking about something. You hit reply to the people you want to talk with, and give your take on the topic.
6) Twitter gives people the opportunity to be up close and personal with authors in a way they haven't been able to before. I truly believe it's this personal connection, when done well and not overdone where you are over-sharing, that will ultimately help an author to sell books. They get to know you, they like you, and as an extension of you, they want to read your books.
7) Finally, the search feature on twitter can be one of those obsessive things we have to be careful of. If I want to know how much people are tweeting about CHASING BROOKLYN, guess what? I can do a search on the title CHASING BROOKLYN. I think it's fine if you're curious and want to check from time to time. But if you do it, then panic because the results aren't what you hope for, and go on a tweeting rampage about your book and irritate people, it's going to hurt you, not help you. So use the search feature wisely.
8) I would be remiss if I didn't mention the chats that happen every week for authors of kids and teens. Tuesday nights, you can log in and follow #kidlitchat (9 pm eastern). Wednesday nights you can log in and follow #yalitchat (9 pm eastern). I haven't done it yet, but I hear downloading tweetchat makes tweet chats much easier. Agents and editors and lots of authors are a part of these chats and give great information, so here is another way twitter can really be an extremely helpful tool.
I'm still learning about the power of twitter. Everyday, I log in and watch people, and see how other people are using it. If twitter scares you, don't be afraid. You will eventually get the hang of it! And you too can learn a lot by watching others, and simply tweeting helpful tweets from time to time.
Hey, you can even tweet about this post, if you want to! I'm @lisa_schroeder on twitter. :) Happy tweeting!!