When people think authors, they think of books hundreds of pages long—not 140-word tweets. Still hundreds of writers have used Twitter successfully to build their platform: Augusten Burroughs has over 40K followers on Twitter; Joyce Carol Oates has over 175K; Jackie Collins over 180K; J.K. Rowling has over 11 million; Paulo Coelho has over 12 million. These writers aren’t just popular on social media because they have popular books—they’re popular because they’re actually saying things on Twitter that people are responding to. Here are seven tips to help break down Twitter for authors and make sure you are tweeting like a bestselling author!
You Are More Than Your Book
Hundreds of millions know J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter, of course, but the last book in the series was published over 10 years ago and since then Rowling has, in many ways, worked to establish herself as more than just a children’s author. She uses Twitter to feed her Potter fans with gossip and news, but she also uses it to voice political opinions and grow her fanbase beyond the children who grew up with her series. Twitter is a place where you can show your fans who you really are; don’t be afraid to shake things up a little. Be funny. Be controversial. Be political—just be personal: be you.
Master the Pen and the Lens
Twitter may be known for words, but photos are certainly allowed. Some authors, such as Paulo Coelho, tend to post lots of photos of their daily lives. But there is a catch: your photos should tell stories. While you might have a few friends who think it’s fascinating that you had coffee at Starbucks before you started writing, the majority of your followers will want something a little more interesting.
When In Doubt, Copy Someone Else
Your fans certainly want to see “you” on Twitter, but part of being “you” is showing your tastes; there is no shame in retweeting someone else, and, in fact, many authors do this well. This is why being social means more than just saying things—it means being aware of what others are saying. Avoid retweets that everyone else is already talking about. Your fans will see them almost as recommendations—tweets screened by someone they admire and respect. Think of it like this: if someone comes up to you and says, “I’m looking for something to read, what do you recommend?” That person is going to be disappointed if you say “Have you ever heard of this guy named Stephen King?” They want something original—something they’ve never heard of before.
Give Your Fans What They Expect
Imagine you just found out your favorite romance author was on Twitter, and you navigated your browser quickly to their feed—then you saw it: hundreds and hundreds of tweets about politics. Being “you” is important, but don’t forget to give your fans what they expect. The voice and tone of your tweets should come close to matching the books that you write.
Self Promotion Is(n’t) Allowed
Twitter is a great place to build your platform and sell more books—but no one wants to read a Twitter feed that is nothing but “buy my book” and “read this review of my book.” In short, nobody likes self promotion. You have a new book coming out? Tell your readers. Is there a discount? They’ll want to know. But remember to keep the focus of your feed away from promotion.
Talk To Your Fans
Finally, talk to your fans! They’ll love you even more for it! It may become time-consuming and even impossible to talk to everyone as you get more popular, but if you reply to even three or four fans a day, it will make their world, and they’ll support you even more. Your fans are your product evangelists, so make them feel special.
It takes time to grow your Twitter following, but Twitter is certainly for authors. Be patient, don’t give up, and be sure to pay attention to your Twitter analytics in order to keep growing.