Sunday, 30 June 2013

Should an Author become a Twitter Fiend?

This is an interesting question. Technology has advanced to such an extent that our lives now appear to be dominated, and in some cases even ruled, by social networking. There are tales of families who sit in a line on the sofa at home, each person glued to a different device. One might be using Facebook on a tablet computer. Another might be playing social games on an Ipod. A third sibling will be on Twitter or a social messenger app on their mobile phone. Crazy times!

Personally I consider myself fairly well versed in social networks. Yes, I am still only familiar with the most popular ones, namely Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. I haven’t found the time to explore all the other networks, what with raising a young family, writing my novels, and maintaining two blogs alongside any freelance non-fiction work projects I pick up. But as an Indie author, I have been schooled in the necessity for social networking to sell my books. I have no budget for marketing. I cannot currently afford to pay a publicist to do everything for me. It is down to me, all by myself, to tell people about my books and encourage them to buy.

There is the challenge! I spent a lot of time in 2012 studying Twitter, reading a series of helpful blogs written by social media experts, and learning the techniques for using hash tags and keywords effectively. I modified my profile information across all my networks every time I learned something new. I changed my profile photograph and made them all the same, so that my image might better show up in search engines. And then I got into the Hootsuite revolution. I had toyed with Tweetdeck for a while, having had it recommended by some fellow authors. I just don’t get along very well with this application. It doesn’t seem to do what I want, and is often more cumbersome than helpful.

Hootsuite, on the other hand, has become an addiction. I’m not sure that I should be admitting to this, or even if I should perhaps be taking a break. But there we are. I decided to join Hootsuite and try it out as a method for scheduling tweets about my books and those of my fellow Indie authors. According to the advice I have gleaned from my online studies, an author should adopt an 80/20 ratio of promotion. This means that we should use 80% of our social network feeds to promote other authors, books and related activities, and we should use 20% of our feed to promote our own books. The idea is that we join social groups where authors do the work for each other. We share our details across several accounts, therefore giving us the best possible exposure.

But is it too much? I have recently become involved with another author group via Facebook, where we tweet for each other. Some of the authors are very aggressive in their tweeting tactics, and it does seem to work for them. Others are a little more hesitant, and perhaps struggle to fit it all in. I suppose I might better fit the ‘aggressive Tweeter’ label. I’m not sure I am comfortable with that, but there it is. I have found that when I don’t partake in the group tweets for a day or two, my book sales do slump. But I also haven’t yet hit the bestseller lists as a result of my efforts. Perhaps I need to give it more time. Perhaps I need another marketing plan.

What advice can you give to this confused and frustrated author? All comments and personal experiences welcome…

*Images courtesy of Pinterest; Frustrated Author and Social Networker


  1. I read one marketing post - not from an author - which said research had shown that for the best impact you should 80:20 tweet at least every 12 minutes 24/7. That makes some kind of auto-tweeter essential.

    1. Yes, I read that somewhere too, so I try to stick to it. I was just a little concerned that I had gone too far the other way and was just RTing for everyone else at the expense of my own promotions. I suppose it is a fine line to balance. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Most writers I know have a hard time marketing themselves. Some of it is lack of knowledge/experience, but a lot of it is because creativity and marketing feel like they are at odds with each other. Creativity is about passion and honesty, marketing is about manipulation and the bottom line.

    But this doesn't need to be the case at all. We just need to approach marketing as a creative activity. Marketing doesn't need to be a necessary evil.

    All that being said, I'm generally so scared of spamming everyone that I don't do enough marketing. Finding that balance is really hard.

    1. Too true! I have had to be tough on myself and remember that if I don't tell people about my books, they'll never find them. We writers are too modest and shy for our own good I think, and the modern trend for social networking might actually be a good exercise in self promotion... Thanks for commenting.

  3. Excellent post, with excellent questions. I have 3 blogs and I feel like I do a lot of work trying to figure out social media and promote, and let's face it, it's a wee bit discouraging to see folks just get follows and likes b/c it looks good and nothing really else.

    I think Angeline brings up a good point. This is a new and exciting age for authors and we need to learn to self-promote selflessly. I think it can be done - I'm trying to do it w/ integrity so spamming is out.

    Advice? Sigh. Create your own schedule/mix/recipe of what works for you. There is so much advice and then that advice is thrown out the window (double meaning there). Social media balancing is like exercise and diet - what works for me might not work for you.

    Good luck. I need it too :P

    1. Thank you! I feel better for knowing that other people are trying similar methods and that I am not totally clueless about the whole thing. Like you say, we just have to do what works for us as individuals. Good luck to you too!