Twitter tips for writers

Twitter is one of those websites you’re likely to investigate if you’re a writer. Some people love it, some hate it, but a presence these days is expected.

I’ve been on there a while, now. Long enough to see writers making some common mistakes that are likely to turn people away from their accounts. Long enough to see writers who do it right. I won’t put my own account forward as an example, rather I’ll share with you what makes an account followers enjoy, or abandon.

The first mistake is to exclusively tweet about the books you have out. Some self-promotion is okay, expected even, but if that’s all you tweet, people will get bored quickly. The frequency of self-promotion is also important. If a follower sees the same content day after day, shared frequently, they will unfollow you.

The next mistake I see most often is accounts filled with retweets. This is almost the polar opposite to exclusive self-promotion, but it’s also a quick way to lose genuine followers. It can be easy to get carried away sharing all the neat posts you encounter on Twitter, but be mindful of how many consecutive posts are retweets. By all means, share the love, but add your own comments to as many as possible, keeping in mind people are following YOU. Keep retweets without added comments to a minimum, and avoid retweeting the same information multiple times. I’ve unfollowed several accounts because they retweeted the same circle of posts. Every. Single. Day.

So how do you promote yourself as a writer without being annoying? The best way to learn is to follow other writers. You will soon notice the annoying accounts, making mistakes such as those I’ve mentioned. You will also soon notice the accounts you enjoy following. Learn from your experiences as a follower to enhance your own account. Have news of your latest release, or upcoming release, in your pinned tweet. If readers are interested in your work, it’s one of the first things they’ll see when they check out your account –  the information is there and easy to find, without you needing to do more than tweet it once and then pin it. Have a link to your website in your bio. Feature book covers in your cover image. Twitter isn’t the marketing gold mine some people will try to tell you it is, but readers do track down authors on there, so making it easy for them to find out more about your titles makes good marketing sense.

Another mistake some users make, that often results in rapid unfollowing, is to send new followers a DM (direct message). Especially if it is marketing oriented, and especially if it is an automatic message. By and large, Twitter users do not like this, and many will unfollow an account if this happens. It is much better to engage with your followers through your content. Occasionally I come across an account that will ask new followers to click a link to confirm they are a real person. There are a lot of bots on Twitter, so I understand it’s to avoid getting those as followers, but I don’t appreciate having to click a link (which could lead anywhere) to prove I’m real. Those accounts lose me as a follower.

One last tip – only follow accounts that interest you. This will make your experience on Twitter far more enjoyable. Plenty of people will encourage you to follow as many people as possible to grow your number of followers, but that’s meaningless. Numbers on Twitter mean nothing if they’re a result of people following each other just to get follow-backs. Look at bios, look at the what the accounts tweet. Don’t automatically follow anyone back, and definitely never buy followers.

Twitter has numerous accounts that share content designed to help and encourage writers. There are regular weekly hashtags you can use to participate in sharing a few lines from your work. It is a potential gold mine for networking and discovering publishers, agents, competitions, and other publishing opportunities. Use it sensibly and it will enhance your writing life, as well as giving your readers an easy point of contact.

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