Book Marketing on Twitter – Misconceptions and the Truth

twitterHere’s an email I got from a book author:

I’m going to look into Twitter but I don’t have a Blackberry or anything mobile I can portably communicate with, other than my laptop — it seems like a good way to broadcast events, readings or online chats or something, but right now I have nothing like that to announce. It seems like it would be more of a constant annoyance than something I’d like, but I could be wrong.

There are several misconceptions in the above email, and I’d like to explain the errors first, then follow with the benefits for book authors being on Twitter.

Correcting the above misconceptions:

1. I do my tweeting from my computer.

You do NOT need a Blackberry or any mobile phone to participate in Twitter, although there are Twitter applications for mobile phones. In fact, Twitter is so popular that there are tons of third-party applications, a couple of which I do use.

2. A book author should NOT get onto Twitter with the plan to “broadcast events.”

In fact, if you continually tweet about your book signings, etc., you probably will discourage people from following you. (Follow is the term on Twitter as opposed to friend on Facebook.)

3. If used correctly, Twitter is NOT a “constant annoyance.”

In fact, it can be quite an enjoyable daily experience and a tremendous learning opportunity.

Presenting the truth about Twitter for book authors:

Twitter provides book authors with several benefits. First, though, let’s go through a few basic points about Twitter. And I mean only a few, because I could go on for pages on just the most important Twitter info.

Step 1
Decide on how you want to present yourself on Twitter.

You can have, for example, as a username (seen next to your photo each time you tweet) your real name, your book title or your series title.

Because Twitter is a very effective branding tool when used correctly, this is an important decision. If you decide to go with a book title or series title, be sure to also get a Twitter account with your real name to protect your identity. You can do this by using a different email address to sign up for a second email account. Then you tweet only with the first username.

Step 2
Twitter has very few options to make decisions about, as opposed to Facebook’s complicated menus of choices regarding privacy, etc.

On the tool bar of Twitter click SETTINGS. Then on the account page is where you put your real name in the first box. (Your username shows up automatically when you tweet.)

You only get to put in one URL, so if you have more than one URL, choose the URL that goes with the book or series you are “promoting” on Twitter.

The one-line bio is only 160 characters, so again you have to strategize about what you want to say about you as an author and about your book(s). You might want to check out other authors’ Twitter bios to get ideas of how you might want to write yours.

And most important, upload a photo immediately before you start following anyone. Many people, me included, are reluctant to follow anyone who doesn’t have a photo, doesn’t include his/her real name, and doesn’t have any bio info.

Also, do a couple of interesting tweets before you start following people, so that when people look at your page to see if they want to follow you back, they get a decent “picture” of who you are.

You could talk about your book in one of those tweets. In another tweet, though, I recommend you share a link to book marketing info that isn’t your own or share a link to someone else’s info on the subject of your book. Sharing info of others is a very valuable strategy on Twitter.

Step 3
You’re brand new to Twitter. Who do you start following and who do you hope starts following you?

First, if you follow someone, that person will probably check you out and possibly start following you. So that’s one way of getting followers.

Another way is to ask for followers. You can put in a blog post or anywhere else your Twitter URL – – and ask people to follow you.

But what about who you should follow? Decide on the kinds of people you want to follow depending on your book and the conversation topics you might want to follow.

Then go to the search button at the bottom of your Twitter home page. Put keywords in the box to find conversations about these words. Then check out the people whose tweets come up.

Step 4
Of the many third-party applications for Twitter, if you have a blog check out, which you can use to automatically bring in the post feeds from your blogs.

There are some people who advocate NOT doing this and instead tweeting about your most recent blog post with the link to the post. Others, especially people with more than one blog, prefer to have the feeds done automatically.

Okay, now we’ve covered some of the most important basics of Twitter, although remember my earlier disclaimer – I could go on for pages and pages about the basics of Twitter.

Book marketing “campaigns”:

Twitter is, in my opinion, the absolute best social networking platform at the moment for establishing online relationships (and people buy books online), including the 140-character limit plus everything is public (no having to open emails to discover they go on and on). By public I mean you have a stream of tweets of the people you have chosen to follow.

The second is that there’s a general “rule” for people who know how to use Twitter effectively: It’s not only about you – the best Twitter users share valuable information (connected to who they are) with their followers. This opportunity to learn is what I especially appreciate on Twitter.

For example, by following other book authors, book agents, book editors, publishers, I have an automatic assistant who screens for me the best book marketing/book publishing info out there on a daily basis. Yes, I have blog feeds that go into my Google reader, but I never look at the reader because I have no time.

Twitter is my personal reader. I simply skim my Twitter stream to see if any of the book people I’m following have recommended a blog post. (The post can be theirs or someone else’s.) And I look at the topic covered in the tweet. If it looks as if I can learn from that post, I’ll quickly click through and see if I think the post is worth my limited time to read it.

If you want to be known as someone worth following in the book world, it behooves you to share worthwhile links with people. Here’s one that I’ve been sharing recently. It’s an ebook by @BookMarketer on how to sell books to libraries — I bought the ebook, read it, and was very impressed. So I tweeted about the report and included the link.

Tweeting about your book:

Yes, you can tweet about your book when it’s appropriate. And you can do such marketing strategies as what I did with my MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL. I offered a signed copy for each of the top five donors to a fundraising campaign for deployed U.S. soldiers. This offer got extensive publicity for the book without my “broadcasting” promo news about it.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a National Internet Business Examiner as well as the author of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL, and her company provides internet marketing information with easy-to-implement solutions to promote your brand, book or business.  On July 1st Miller Mosaic will launch the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program to help book authors and newcomers to internet marketing.