Social Media for Writers #2: Twitter

I love Twitter. I do. And that is why it is featuring in this, the second in our series on Social Media for Writers. When I started this blog three and a half years ago, I joined Twitter almost immediately. I’d been told it was a great way to meet other bloggers and get my posts ‘out there’.

So I signed up, opened it up and… ran screaming from the room. How was I ever supposed to do this? Who should I follow? How would I get anyone to talk to me? I ended up following a whole lot of celebs, most of whom tweeted inane things at me, and nobody wanted to talk to me.

So I left.

A few months later, under pressure from friends who know about these things, I went back in there. This time, I looked for people whose blogs I’d been reading. Then I looked to see who they were following and followed them. I followed people who tweeted great links about writing. I followed writers. And I, timidly at first, got involved in their conversations. I learned the lingo and I learned to love hashtags. I still love hashtags. Hashtags are a fine art.

One of the people I met on Twitter in those (second) early days was Kerri Sackville. I could see straight away that Kerri was good at Twitter. She had a great mix of witty, pithy tweets that could be (and were) retweeted easily, along with conversation, humour and general, well, Kerri-ness. I take great pride in the fact that one of our Tweetversations led to the publishing of her first book (When My Husband Does The Dishes…).

Today, Kerri is writing her third book, along with countless columns, articles and blog posts. She is a lively speaker (we have appeared together on several panels, so I should know…), has been on the tele a lot (Sunrise, Mornings on Channel 9, The Morning Show on 7) and is currently a regular panelist on The Daily Edition (Channel Seven). She also teaches social media courses at the Australian Writers’ Centre.

So, there was no-one better to ask here today to answer some questions about Twitter for Writers.

Will Twitter help me to sell books? How?
Kerri Sackville: “Yes, absolutely. It is HARD to sell books these days. It’s not just enough to have a great book. There are hundreds of great books out there. You need publicity. Every author gets assigned a publicist for about six weeks for every book release (unless you’re a huge name author, in which case your books sell themselves anyway). The more you can do to promote yourself the better. Developing a Twitter following helps to get you name (brand) recognition so that a) people will notice your name in a bookstore and be more likely to pick up your book, and b) people will be aware of your book from Twitter and may take steps to seek it out themselves.”

Do I need huge numbers of followers for it to work?
KS: “Obviously the more followers you have the better. But no, you don’t need huge numbers. Books sell by word of mouth. Even if you have a few hundred followers, they can spread the word to their friends and followers, who will spread it to theirs etc etc. It’s essentially pyramid selling online.”

Top three tips for making the most of Twitter
1. Be funny, interesting, opinionated, or, preferably, all three.
2. Respond to EVERYONE who engages with you.
3. Get chatting to people – break in on conversations, reply to strangers, add to conversations. It’s all about the words!

Biggest mistakes authors can make on Twitter
KS: “The biggest mistake ANYONE can make on Twitter is to try to sell their product before engaging with people. It is fine to give your books a plug, but you can only do this when you already have an engaged audience. So build a loyal following THEN plug your books, not the other way around.”

Five authors you think are doing Twitter well
Kylie Ladd
Anita Heiss
Tara Moss
Kate Forsyth
Caitlin Moran
Fleur McDonald

Kerri Sackville is the author of When My Husband Does The Dishes… and The Little Book of Anxiety. Find Kerri at her blog Life And Other Crises, say hello on Facebook or, of course, on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Social Media for Writers #1: Blogging, and check out my list of 50 of the Best Australian Writers and Authors to follow on Twitter.

Comments 18

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you … I have been on Twitter for awhile but have not idea how to interact with people on it. I might give it another go. I have noticed in the last few weeks that I have 2 more followers, That makes 5 lol. Great post. I follow Kerri’s blog so I know her advice is sound.

  2. I joined twitter four and a half years ago, when studying social media for my VA business. I loved it right away. The instant connection and the fast paced conversation. It has evolved so much since then and although I don’t spend as much time as I’d like to but more than I should it is still my fav social media platform.
    I agree with Kerri, the more followers the better but it is the personal connection that will make it work more than anything.
    Great post ladies!

  3. I’ve always wondered about this question Allison! After having received the “great idea, platform not big enough” feedback to my book proposal last year I’ve always wondered about how important it would be. And yes, I agree with Jodi – nothing beats the personal connection. I’ve been amazed at the relationships I’ve developed with people via Twitter.

  4. I find that I quickly lose interest in people who NEVER reply. Obviously I know that some people have insane amounts of followers, and that probably makes it really hard. But then they should acknowledge that!

  5. Thanks for the great tips! I have been super reluctant to get on Twitter (mostly because I don’t give a rat’s ass what celebrities are doing at each and every moment),but THIS makes more sense. Thank you for opening my eyes to some new possibilities!

  6. Never was a truer word spoken by two more knowledgeable LadyGurus!
    My husband nudged me towards Twitter a couple of months ago when I was planning the start-up of my blog. He was looking into it for our business, and he saw it as a big opportunity for me too.
    I resisted the idea at first. I thought it was way too far into the unknown for me, at a time when I already had so many things to think about. I was wrong. I am so pleased now that I listened to him, and to the rebellious little voice in my head that suggested it might just be a bloody good idea after all.
    When I launched my blog at the beginning of this week I had 650 Twitter followers to promote it to. My WordPress stats show me that my brand new baby blog has been read as far away as Canada and Germany. All thanks to the power of Twitter.
    Yes, it takes time and effort to understand the mechanics of the medium … but it is unquestionably worth it. The results speak for themselves.
    Thanks for a great post ladies.
    Jo @BabbleOnCity

    1. Well done for starting before you start (if you know what I mean). It takes time to work out any social media platform, so it’s best to give yourself a headstart!

  7. I’ve never been big on twitter, but the simple tips outlined above have given me inspiration to give it another go. My favourite social media tool is pinterest so I’m eagerly waiting to hear what you have to say about that 🙂

  8. Thanks Allison. Great information. I still feel overwhelmed by Twitter, even after a few years of messing around on it. I always call it Facebook on crack. And I just can’t seem to keep that many people straight. Frankly, the fact that you have a list of 50 authors to follow is staggering to me.

  9. Oh gawd, each day I wake up and say to myself, “I’m going to do better at Twitter today”, sometimes I am like a mad woman possessed for 15 minute blocks spread out through the day. Other times, I’m as silent as a sullen teen. My problem is I have accidentally, in fits of early enthusiasm, followed all these people who aren’t of interest to me any longer and now I need to find the time to cull and start again. And whoever has that kind of spare time. Still, today is a new day….Thanks as always ladies x

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