As an author in the digital age, Twitter is probably a part of your online platform. It’s a great way to foster relationships with readers, connect with other authors, and build your personal brand. But there are some common mistakes even the most successful authors make on Twitter.
1. Constantly publish self-promotional tweets
If all of your tweets cycle between links to your Amazon page, your book giveaway, and reviews of your book, you’re probably wasting your time. This spammy behavior will turn away potential fans, since all you’re doing is pushing your own books instead of engaging with others.
Unfortunately, many authors still use Twitter purely to promote their books. But your tweets should give followers insight into your personality and foster a two-way conversation with fellow authors and potential readers.
When in doubt, stick to the 80/20 rule:
- 80 percent of your tweets should drive engagement with interesting, fun, educational, or otherwise helpful content.
- 20 percent of your tweets can be self-promotional. This includes links to your books, blog posts you’ve written, interviews you’re participated in, or retweets of others mentioning your books.
2. Auto-DM links to your books
While we’re on the subject of spam, setting up auto-direct-messages is one of the worst offenses authors regularly commit. There’s no worse way to welcome a new follower to your community than to spam them with a promotional link. Even Twitter discourages sending links in the body of an automated Direct Message, as it indicates spam and malicious activity. But this happens more often than you’d think.
In fact, it’s best not to send auto-DMs at all. They’re annoying, inauthentic, and make you seem like a bot or spammer, so they often lead to automatic unfollows. Optify ran a test a few years ago that showed that the unfollow rate increases 245% when you have automated direct messaging enabled.
3. Ignore fans’ tweets
If you’re a successful author, there may come a day when you feel like you’re too busy to answer all of your fan mail and respond to every tweet. It’s inevitable — there are only so many hours in the day, so you have to prioritize. Writing, edits, interviews, keynote speeches, and other high-impact marketing activities will come first.
But when this day comes, think about how excited you were the first time someone you admired wrote back to you. You were a fan for life, right?
Ignoring your followers’ tweets means you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with a loyal fan. You have the chance to make someone’s day — or to make someone feel miffed. Which emotion would you rather elicit? It’s worth spending 10–15 minutes per day responding to your fans’ tweets. They’ll love you for it.
4. Bash other authors’ work
Treat others on Twitter (and everywhere else) how you want to be treated. If you’re ever tempted to tweet something negative about a fellow author or his or her work, imagine your favorite author tweeting the same thing about you.
Sure, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But publishing your work puts you in the public light. You have a responsibility to be respectful of your peers. And remember: Tweets don’t expire. They can be retweeted, embedded, and shared years down the road. Even if you delete them, people can take screenshots of your tweets and share these images. Don’t tweet things that could haunt you later.
5. Complain about negative reviews
On the flip side, many authors dread reading negative reviews of their own work. And negative reviews hurt badly, especially when they appear on well-read publications or blogs.
It’s best not to read these reviews, but if you must, it’s definitely best not to say anything about them publicly. Book bloggers and reviewers often find out when authors call out their reviews, and they’re quick to confront criticism. This never ends well. Avoid the kerfuffle, and stay silent about your negative reviews.
6. Spend too much time on Twitter
One important question to ask is: Are you getting a high return on investment (ROI) from Twitter? Tweeting might be free, but your time is arguably more valuable than money. That’s time you could have been spending writing your next book, or on book marketing tactics with potential to boost your book up the bestseller lists. Some authors tweet constantly and spend hours trying to amass new followers, without moving the needle on book sales.
One way to avoid this pitfall is to use a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to organize the chaos. Ideally you should be able to manage your presence on Twitter in 10–15 minutes per day. Here are just some of the ways these tools can save you time:
- Save searches for your name or books so you can monitor the conversation or reply to tweets from fans.
- Easily create and manage lists so you can monitor fellow authors, loyal readers, editors, and agents without sifting through your main Twitter feed.
- View multiple streams, search results, and lists in one view.
- Schedule tweets in advance so you don’t constantly have to check in.
7. Spend no time on Twitter
Even if social media isn’t a big part of your book marketing strategy, at the very least you should claim your name on Twitter and tweet a little something each day. This way, readers will be able to find and follow you when they search for you specifically. It will also keep anyone else from claiming your name as their Twitter handle (if they haven’t already), and prevent people from mistaking an impersonator for you. If someone impersonates you, you can report the account here.
Twitter helps you establish a more personal connection between you and your audience, so it’s worth maintaining some kind of presence there.
8. Forget to include a bio
Sometimes authors forget to include a Twitter bio, or use a clever quip in its place. However, leaving this blank or not using the space optimally will make it harder for fans to find you, especially if other people on Twitter share your name.
This is the second profile element people see after your picture, and you have 160 characters to work with. Make sure to include the fact that you’re an author and list a couple of your most recent books. If you have an upcoming release, include the name of your book along with the release date.
9. Use too many hashtags in each tweet
Hashtags are a great way to join relevant conversations on Twitter. You can use the hashtag symbol (#) before a keyword or phrase to allow that word or phrase to show up in Twitter Search. An example hashtag authors commonly use is #amwriting.
However, it’s really easy to misuse hashtags. Too many hashtags will make your tweets confusing to followers, and it makes tweets seem spammy. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per Tweet. Save your hashtags for when it adds value or context to your tweet.
What are the biggest snafus you see authors make on Twitter? What would you add as #10? Let us know in the comments below.
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