On Marketing for Authors: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

When it comes right down to it for me I’d rather be writing than marketing. As a self published author though, marketing is a necessary evil if I want to sell books.  I hate that it takes time away from writing but, since my objective is to sell my work and make a modest second income at it, putting on my sales hat from time to time is a must.

I’ve been learning shoestring marketing by the seat of my pants. The gist of every single thing I’ve read or heard is this; if you’re an author selling your work in any forum – whether in brick and mortar stores or digitally – social media is the be all, end all place you must make a strong showing to gain fans and turn them into book buyers. Figuring out where…what specific sites I need to be on, is the burning question that I’ve had all along and, I can be sure with better than 90% certainty, that I’m not alone among struggling indie authors. Here’s the problem; every ‘expert’ I’ve noted on the topic has an opinion on just where you must be but few of them agree with each other.

Here’s what I’ve learned to be absolutely true so far, to date:

  1. You must have an author website and, preferably, a blog like this one. Some say it should have it’s own URL, etc. while others say a free site or blog (like this one currently is) is fine. You need a site and or blog to connect with your potential readers and to give readers, other bloggers, reporters, etc. ways to contact you. Those are all important people in the book world so it’s a given that having a site on the web to address them is important.

  2. You must have either a Facebook personal profile or a fan page for yourself as an author or for your book. From this page you must be personable and interact with your fans and your potential fans. What you must not do is overtly market your stuff in your posts. You can pin your blog posts. You can show off your cover creative. You can let people know when your book(s) are on free promo but you cannot ever say “BUY THIS BOOK.” Apparently, direct marketing by an author, on his her own fan page, about his or her own work, to people who have liked the page because they like that authors work is a big no-no! Who knew?

Beyond those two things, most websites and books on marketing tout being active on Twitter as the next best thing you can do for yourself as an author from a social media standpoint. I’m not so sure about that! Let me tell you about my experience so far with Twitter:

*As of January 18th, I had 340 ‘followers’. Of those, I’d say well over half are other authors. Are authors readers? Of course they are! However my personal observations have shown me that the great bulk of what the majority of the authors connected to me tweet is 90-100% about their books. They’re using Twitter to aggressively market only. BORING!

  • Of the remaining 100+, 65 are followers that want to help me tweet out my eBook. I have a public list of these. Here it is. Some charge for the service. Some do not. Many, many of them tweet dozens or hundreds of times per day to their lists. Again, BORING! And the sad part? When my book was free for a couple of days and I actively tweeted about it and sought retweets from some of these 65 that will tweet about free books, no one bothered to help me out. Not one. I guess they were already full up pounding the cloud with stuff. If all of this marketing bothers me as a fellow author looking to market too, I can only imagine what a frustration it is to the millions of non-authors that are on the receiving end of all of this aggressive marketing.

I’m not going to tweet about my current single book anymore. When I release additional books, they’ll get a mention on release day and I’ll change my banner on Twitter. Other than that, there won’t be any aggressive marketing there from me. Might I miss out on a few sales? Possibly. To that I say, oh well. I’m tired of marketing being rammed down my throat so I’m not going to be a purveyor of the same type of crap.

For my own Twitter sanity, I’ve actually made a private, personal list of my followers, many of them authors but some not, who tweet about things of interest besides their books or anything else they may be pushing to sell. Right now, I have 39 people on it out of 340 followers. That’s not even 12% but, frankly, I’m surprised it’s over 10%. These people actually share things that are worth reading and passing along. No one makes my personal, private list, if most of what they tweet isn’t worth reading or marking as a favorite or re-tweeting…or all three.

About Anne Hagan

I'm an East Central Ohio based government employee by day and a fiction author by night. I specialize in mystery fiction featuring lesbian sleuths and cozy fiction featuring women sleuths. I also dabble in romance especially romantic lesfic. I live with my wife and our dogs in a tiny town that’s even smaller than the Morelville of my first fiction series and we wouldn't have it any other way. My wife grew up here and she has always called this little village home. Though it’s an ultra-conservative rural community, we're surrounded here by family, longtime friends and many other wonderful people with open hearts and minds. My wife and I are the co-owners of a commercial haunted house: Hagan's House of Horrors. Much as my dream has always been to write fiction, hers has been to create it through the medium of horror. We went full commercial in 2015. Watch us as we grow!
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4 Responses to On Marketing for Authors: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

  1. Pingback: Why Goodreads is Important for New Authors | Anne Hagan

  2. AR Fiano says:

    Agreed. I have had fluxes in time with being able to handle social media as a one-man-band author, but I don’t like the use of Twitter to repeatedly hawk a book (over and over over). It does not come across well. Using Twitter to notify about releases, free downloads, etc., that’s different. Otherwise, an author needs to figure out how to make Twitter interesting to followers. I’m still working on that. I don’t see Twitter or Facebook as a means of selling books right now, but as a means of keeping a presence for readers and potential readers, and letting them know what you’re about. –AR

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    • Anne Hagan says:

      Another author friend of mine, Jack Knapp, writes books that, like yours, don’t fit into one particular Amazon genre pigeonhole. He too agrees that social media has been very ineffective in his quest to reach out to readers and sell books. He’ll actually go on record as saying that it’s even been very ineffective at building any sort of rapport with readers at all when you look at the numbers that connect with you on social media versus what you need to find and connect with to make a full time living writing the stories in your head and selling them.

      Unlike you and I who have other means of support, being an author is Jack’s full time job. As such, he’s been on a one man quest to market his books effectively and get them sold. He’s a no nonsense kind of guy who’s been documenting his paid promotion efforts in the Goodreads Author Feedback Group under the topic “Best Bang for Your Buck Book Promos”. Facebook gets a big no, even for paid promos from him and from all of the authors who have joined in that discussion. I haven’t personally done any paid promotion myself – yet – because I have only one book released. It doesn’t pay to promote without a back of at least a couple of other titles but I’m following the discussion to see what does work for people for when I am ready to do it. So far the consensus is that social media does not work.

      In the interest of fairness, I did find one author, out of thousands, that wrote a detailed article – that I can’t find now – about how many books he was selling when he was pounding the twit stream daily with his book promos and how few he sold when he wasn’t. That would seem to indicate that it’s effective after all but, as I recall it, his essay was written in late 2010 or early 2011. I somehow doubt that he’d get the same results today with so many authors doing exactly that – just pounding out book promos.

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  3. Pingback: On Self Publishing: Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned…So Far | Anne Hagan

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