Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Promoting Yourself on Twitter

As an “Indie” author, I can say that getting your name out there can be frustrating—especially if you are intent on getting recognized.  I’ve always somewhat shied away from the limelight, only because I don’t want that type of complication in my life.  Yes, I’d love to sell more books (who wouldn’t?), but that’s not why I write.  I write because I love telling stories.  If I suddenly became a world-famous author, I wouldn’t complain, but that’s not my ultimate goal.

Yes, I’ve submitted dozens of query letters to agents.  It’s amusing to me how some will be courteous enough to send you a rejection letter while others won’t even acknowledge you sent them your work.  I know that if I ever became a literary agent, I would at least respect the people who took the time to send submissions to me.  But the literary world is also changing, and ebooks are all the rage now.  You don’t need an agent to publish your book today with tools like Amazon KDP and Smashwords.  Promoting your book, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether.

Obviously I’m not an expert on promoting books.  Otherwise I’d be popping up on best seller’s lists.  But I have humbly amassed a moderately-sized Twitter following just by being a writer and following other writers.  It hasn’t been too terribly difficult to do, either.  For a while when I started I would add followers and then delete those who didn’t follow back.  And I would interact with those people who followed me by conversing and retweeting.  I did this for several months—long enough to get past the pesky 2000 following threshold, and now I have well over 6000 followers.  I don’t really follow people first now either.  Every day I’ll get ten to fifteen followers, and I’ll choose the real people (not bots and spammers), interact with them, and follow them back.  And it seems to work well.

Why is this important?  Well, when I would tweet a promotion for one of my books or a blog post prior to amassing the followers I have now, I would receive maybe 10 hits.  Now when I do it, I get between 50 and 100.  Bumping up your number of Twitter followers has its advantages, and so for anyone just starting out, I’d suggest you invest some time in Twitter.

After all, all of these SEO and book marketing people do the same thing.  They follow people in droves, then unfollow those who haven’t followed back, then try to get money from you to promote your work to all the followers they’ve amassed.  Why pay money to those people when you can just do that yourself?

One mistake I see people make all the time is that they’ll hit that 2000 following limit, then go in and indiscriminately unfollow a bunch of people so that they are only following a few hundred.  This is absolutely one of the worst Twitter moves you can do if you want to amass a ton of followers.  First of all, for those who do follow you, it’s annoying.  I took the time and effort (really just a second and a click--why am I complaining?) to follow you, so when you stop following me, that means to me that you aren’t interested in what I have to say.  I waste no time whatsoever unfollowing those who aren’t following me back.  A few times a week I’ll use one utility or another (Who Unfollowed Me, Twitter Karma when it works) to list the people that aren’t following me back, and I’ll unfollow those people.  I’m always amazed, too, at how many people show up in this list.  Smart Twitter users who actively manage their followings aren’t going to fall for it.  And the second issue with indiscriminately mass unfollowing is that if you attempt to follow more people after you’ve already unfollowed most of your followers, chances are you’ll just be following the same people again—people who are already following you in the first place.  I’ve seen at least a dozen instances of someone following me, me following back, that person then unfollowing me, me unfollowing back, and then that person following again.  Had I not unfollowed them like a smart Tweeter, they would all be wasting their time following me back a second time.  Sure, you may be able to get past that 2000 following limit by doing this, but as people start to unfollow you back, your numbers are going to dive.  Not the way to do it, folks.  Twitter isn't all about you.

If you are following 2000 people and only have 1000 followers, you need to unfollow a lot of folks.  There was a time when I would follow celebs, but that became tedious and boring.  Celebrities just don’t interest me—they are just people like you and me—people with big paychecks and cameras shoved into their faces, but who often have nothing more to offer than a hundred other people you may follow.  And celebs aren’t going to follow you back.  They aren’t going to converse with you.  Why bother?  Subscribe to their Facebook pages or an RSS celeb feed instead, because chances are if some celeb tweeted something interesting or shocking, you’ll read all about it there.

Keep your following/followers numbers roughly the same, and you’ll have no problem bypassing that 2000 following limit.  Oh, and take advantage of the bots and fake people who follow you.  Many people will report those accounts as spam, but I don’t.  I just don’t follow those accounts back—allowing them to pad my number of followers until they are eventually deleted.  I think Twitter allows you to follow only 10% more people than are following you after you reach 2000, so as long as you have over 1800 followers, you can keep on following.  Just make sure you always unfollow those who aren’t following you back.

It takes time.  I’ve been working at it for several years now.  Every day it grows a little bigger, and every day the hits to my blog and book sites go up a bit more.  Just keep at it.  Keep following back, unfollowing those who aren’t following you back, and tweeting, retweeting, and conversing with others.  The more you do, the more success you’ll see.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep writing!  For a while there I think I spent more time each evening on Twitter than I did actually writing.  Managing your Twitter followers should only take ten or fifteen minutes per day at the most.

Hope that helps!

No comments:

Post a Comment