Sunday, January 10, 2010

Twitter from one author's point of view

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!!

46 comments:

  1. Great post!! Twitter is awesome indeed. I'll keep it in mind for one day when I'll finally publish something ha!

    XoX
    Sab

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  2. Well said Lisa...I really think this is an inexpensive but effective way to have a presence. And congrats on your book release! :-)

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  3. Such an awesome post, Lisa! And you brought up an excellent point about not talking about your book TOO much (even though you certainly should do that from time to time!) But I find I'm more apt to read a book that someone ELSE is talking about. Good stuff!
    Congrats on the book release! :-)

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  4. Thanks for the tip on bit.ly. I've been using tiny.url but it doesn't have the counter feature, so I'm switching! Also, I've used Tweetchat and I like it a lot. Especially since I tend to forget to add hashtags. It will do that automatically for you during a chat.

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  5. Oh, I forgot to mention that Tweetdeck automatically shortens the URL's for you. So I like posting from there.

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  6. Great post, Lisa. Well done. Thanks for sharing your point of view and being made from much awesome.

    xoxo-
    G

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  7. This is so true. My first day on twitter felt like my first day of high school. #hashtags seemed like secret clubs I couldn't get into and some super tweeters overwhelmed me, but the longer you stand your ground and practice bravery, the better it gets. Now I'm a certifiable addict.

    You had some great suggestions, and I for one, will be retweeting this blog!

    Cheers,
    Liz

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  8. I agree! - Its a great tool! Ill add this in my marketing round up next fri :)

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  9. Thanks, Lisa,
    You've done a nice job of summarizing some cool and useful things.

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  10. Awesome post, Lisa! I know that I tend to be the person at the party who doesn't go up to groups of people I don't know - but, I'm working on getting over that kind of mentality. You've got a lot of good info here - thanks!

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  11. Thanks. I'm brand new to Twitter (admittedly dragged in kicking and screaming), and trying to figure out how to use it.

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  12. Well, that about spells it out as clear as can be. Nice write-up, Lisa!

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  13. I'm an absolute twitter addict, so I may be biased here, but I loved your reasoning. I think the greatest thing about twitter (for me, at least) is connecting with other writers. Living in So Cal, I don't get as many opportunities to meet my favorite authors as I would if I lived in, say, New York. But now I can follow them on Twitter and hear what they have going on, occasionally get responses from them, and it's amazing. And I have found some of my new favorite writers because of Twitter, so I can personally testify to the fact that it works.

    Great post Lisa!

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  14. You know I agree :-) I particularly agree about making having conversations and being a "real" person on Twitter. It's an incredible tool for connection.

    And for those interested in the chats, Debbie Ridpath Ohi @inkyelbows on Twitter has written a great post about writer chats on Twitter. I'm biased perhaps (Bonnie Adamson and I co-host #kidlitchat), but the chats really are a great way to meet smart, fun people who are allies, supporters, fans, and friends.

    Oh... and congrats on the CHASING BROOKLYN launch!

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  15. Thank you for making the argument so convincingly.

    Recommending Twitter, I sometimes feel like the boring friend who's discovered a new reastaurant and insists in dragging you there, even though you keep saying you have no interest in trying sushi. I plan on sending the link to this post to those nonbelievers still rolling their eyes at me.:-)

    BTW, I heartily endorse both TweetChat for following chats, and TweetDeck for organizing the regular traffic.

    Happy tweeting, and much continued success with the launch!

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  16. As the host of the newest writer chat on Twitter I have to say I LOVE Twitter, though six months ago I was confused by it and not sure what use it could be to me as a writer. How wrong I was! The chats are a major help to me. I host #scribechat on Thursdays at 6pm PT/9 pm ET, sure, but I also visit as many other chats as I can and would like to also put a word in for #writechat on Sundays (12 noon-3 pm PT). One of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. :)

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  17. Wonderfully written, Lisa. And congrats on the book launch!

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  18. Lisa -

    With your permission, I'd like to put this post on my reference sheet handout for the SCBWI NY conference. You're preaching my kind of sermon.

    BTW - Really enjoyed I Love You, You Haunt Me. And congrats on the new book release.

    Jenn Bailey

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  19. I just read the book TWITTER POWER by Joel Comm. It has some good tips for tweeting as part of your business, and different kinds of tweets you can send out if you ever get writer's block in the Twitter world. :)

    Margo
    http://margodill.com/blog/

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  20. Well said, Lisa. And hooray on your big week career wise!

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  21. awesome post! I 'discovered' it on stumbled upon.

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  22. Thanks all - glad you found it helpful.

    Jenn and anyone else - linking and sharing is perfectly fine, with appropriate credit, as is the norm!

    Thanks!!

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  23. Awesomeness as usual, Lisa! :)

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  24. Hi Lisa :)
    Thank you for an excellent post.
    I have discovered so many great authors and their books through Twitter that I would not have heard of without it. Even established authors will benefit from Twitter when they can let their fans know about signings, convention appearances, new releases, etc. I proletyze Twitter to writers and readers all the time.
    :)
    Here's to a wonderful 2010!
    RKCharron

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  25. Fantastic post, and thanks especially for the bit.ly info, I didn't know that!

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  26. I've had to explain twitter to so many people (I've been on it well over a year which is pretty long in the grand scope of tweeting). The thing about twitter is you don't understand it to you start tweeting yourself. It's the most useful tool in the world for connecting with different people who have similar interests.

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  28. I can't say enough about Twitter. I resisted it for a long time and then went kicking and screaming into heaven. If it weren't for Twitter, I might not have an agent now. Here's my post on that if anyone's interested: http://debralschubert.blogspot.com/2009/11/did-i-mention-ive-got.html

    Also, I co-hosted #YALITCHAT last week, which was lots of fun. It and #kidlitchat are indeed great chats if you write kid's/YA lit.

    I'm so glad I found your blog via Lisa Katzenberger on, what else? TWITTER! I'll be following you from now on (blog & Twitter). ;-)

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  29. My agent suggested I get on Twitter. I said "Sure, no problem!" then hung up and screamed a little. Okay, a lot.

    A month later, I'm getting acclimated AND finding FREAKING AWESOME new books/authors. BTW, Hank Green's 15 hour Target adventure? Naaaiiice!

    Thanks to you, now I have lots more info on just how cool this Twitter-sphere is for writers.
    :D
    MJ Diem

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  30. Thanks for such an informative post! I have a twitter account but have been so resistant to spending time with it and figuring out the Twitter world, but your post is swaying me to reconsider. My #1 concern though is that it will be a huge time suck. I struggle with the feeling that social networking can get out of control so quickly if you let it. I love the blogging world and Facebook, and I have no doubt that I'd come to love Twitter too, but then I feel like I have to draw a line somewhere. If you're willing to share, I would love to hear tips on how you manage to stay on top of everything you do online along with making time for your writing and all your other life commitments?

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  31. I go back and forth on twitter. Sometimes I like, other times I don't. But I do agree you just have to jump in there. Sometimes you can chat with people, other times it's just a quick message that they'll see later. But it's a great way to connect with people. I'll have to check out the chats!

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  32. Jenn, I will plan a post in the future that talks about juggling the social networking stuff. This month is dedicated to my dream big posts, but I'll do something in Feb. for sure. Thanks for reading!!

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  33. This is a great post. Thanks. I am still fairly new to Twitter and any help I can get to use it effectively is very useful.

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  34. That would be wonderful! Thanks!

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  35. Thanks Lisa! I'll get brave enough soon!

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  36. One of the best "How To..." guides for Twitter I have seen in a long time. Thank you for posting. :)

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  37. This is very helpful, Lisa. I am new to Twitter and am just discovering the benefits of being there. My new Book Rich People Shop Here is just publishing right now (www.RichPeopleShopHere.com) and I'm amazed at how much conversation has been generated. Your note has convinced me to limit my talk about my book. This all makes a lot of sense...

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  38. A very interesting read--with some very thoughtful responses on how to use twitter to promote and connect. I really enjoyed this!

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  39. PS-There's a URL shortener that's wi.nr that also tracks stats, but you can win a prize when you shorten URLs with it (and so can the people who click on your links!). It's fun.

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  40. Thanks for your post on Twitter, Lisa. I haven't ventured there yet, but think I might give it a try.
    Congrats on your 2010 books coming out!

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  41. This is a supper post. I'm still finding my feet on Twitter so any help I can get is very useful.

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  42. I know I'm coming onto this post a wee bit late, but it is very good info. I really appreciate #8. Will have to see if they still do that. As a side note, I found you through Twitter because you commented on Sara Crowe's account. Enjoying reading your blog. I'm a hopeful author who right now is content to be writing for my kids, but just brave enough to start researching publishing. Will enjoy following you. All the best.

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