Only a year ago I had no knowledge whatsoever of Twitter, other than I had heard that some people are addicted to it. I was sure that there was no way in heck that I would be caught dead checking my phone for tweets in a restaurant, or any public place. That sort of behaviour seemed very rude to me then and it still does! Nevertheless, my phone chirps, and like Pavlov’s Dog I respond by looking at my phone screen.
What has changed me into a twittering idiot?
Marketing. When an author does not have the power and money of a publisher of the magnitude of, say, Tor Books behind them, they have to do much of their own marketing. Twitter and other social media are critical in that effort. Through twitter you meet other indie authors and they are always willing to share their wisdom on marketing and will even help you get your name out there. It is up to me to use social media to my own advantage.
One of the reasons that The Last Good Knight has been steadily gaining sales each month has to do with the fact that on a daily basis I spend a few minutes tweeting. It is not complicated to set up a twitter account, and once it is up, nurturing it is just a matter of following OTHER people, and frequently Re-TWEETING other people’s tweets! Tweet frequently about others and they will tweet and re-tweet about YOU!
The first thing to do is to establish your twitter account with the right name or ‘handle’. That always begins with the @ sign. I use my artist name: cjjasp. My twitter handle is @cjjasp.
Once you know who you want to BE on twitter, you need to decide what you want to LOOK like. I use the cover of my book, The Last Good Knight as my twitter avatar, because THAT is what I am selling. At first, just go with the generic look to your twitter page; you can customize it later.
A tweet can consist of ONLY 140 characters, including spaces. This is the longest tweet you can make without one of the tweet-extender gimmicks that are available on the iNet. This is a 140 character tweet:
A long tweet would run something about this length. I would not be able to write a book here. @homies @friends #wordninjas #ff #helpmeendit
That is not a very large space with which to sell your book!
So what are these words that are preceded by the # symbol? Those are called ‘hashtags’ and they are crucial to maximizing your tweets. Hashtags can be clicked on they will lead you to a list of other tweets that mention that hashtag.
People like me who look for cheap kindle books will click on this amazon link because they want a fantasy read, either for free or for very cheap. At this point Twitter has done its job! Once they see her cover (as pictured above) and read the description of her book, the OTHER sales tactics that our publisher has put in place will kick in!
For another example of how I use social media, Twitter is how we spread the word about new trends, such as the fact that you can lend your Kindle version of any book you own to anyone with a Kindle or Kindle App in exactly the same way as if it were a book! Even better for a voracious reader like me, the Amazon Prime program is a fabulous way to download and read e-books as if they were library books. For a small annual fee I have access to the entire Amazon library of E-books – as many as I want, as often as I want them! As a longtime Kindle believer I had to share THAT news and twitter was my venue!
Fridays are a big twitter day. Some people with a lot of followers will really go out of their way to help you gain followers when you tweet their handle with the hashtag #FF on a friday (it means follow friday).
Mondays is #MM (music monday). I am always promoting my daughter’s music and that is why I have a large hip-hop contingent in my followers. They tweet and retweet regularly, and they are always interested in doing the music for book trailers.
So how much time do I really put into this? Not a whole lot, actually! I decide what my tweets are going to be and put them on a word document that I can copy and paste from, and periodically I log into twitter from my computer and tweet one of them. At the same time, I look for interesting tweets to retweet. It is part of my workday and at 5 minutes a time, it takes perhaps 20 minutes out of my whole day.
And I make it my business to never tweet when in a restaurant, no matter how often my phone chirps at me!