3 Basic but Essential Tips on Benefiting from Twitter for Busy Authors

Social Media, including Twitter, have become one of the most powerful tools an author can use to gain a stronger online platform in today’s marketplace. There are millions of users worldwide, and a large number of established book/author/reader communities to make the most of. If you are new at Twitter, or are struggling to find your feet, here are some essential basic tips that may help.

1. Setting up your profile You may think this is one of the easiest steps to get through, however it is at this point that many authors make mistakes which may cost them interest in the long term. If you’re new to Twitter, taking time over your profile can make it more attractive, and therefore you will gain more followers. If you’re already using Twitter and not getting anywhere with it, you may want to look back at your profile and ensure it’s beneficial to you as an author, or simply update it.

Ensure your username and handle (e.g @CarolEWyer) is your author name. This is how many Twitter users will search for you, so you need to ensure they are able to find your account easily, and they will be searching for a person, not a book.. You may be tempted to use your book title, but this will limit your account to one book. If you are planning on writing more than one book, using your author name makes better sense and enables you to reach your existing readership when the next book is released. If your name isn’t available or is already being used, add something to it such as ‘@carolewyerauthor’ or ‘@carolewyerwriter’.

You will also need to write a short biography. Try and keep this light-hearted and informal in order to attract more followers. Think of it as your blurb. It’s there to catch attention. You only have a short space, so try to include information that will attract your target audience. You can include the title of your latest book here too, so it is easily visible to those looking for you. Ensure you include your website address (separate to the biography).

Using a friendly photo of yourself as your profile picture is ideal – it creates a connection between you and possible readers as well as other Twitter users. You can use a book promotion image as your Header Image so that readers of your work can immediately see your latest work. It also creates a sense of legitimacy, professionalism and familiarity. Below is an example. SKININ THE GAMETWITTER 2. To Tweet or not to Tweet. Once you have setup your account, it can be daunting to know what to write, what to say and who you’re saying it to. Firstly, the majority of Twitter accounts are public, which is why and how people follow you. If people read your tweets and find them interesting, this is the best and most genuine way to gain followers.

A huge amount of authors are told that Twitter is a selling tool. It isn’t. Twitter is a sociable promotional tool, and so much more. It contains communities of writers and authors for support and encouragement, industry professionals for advice and tips, and of course readers and reviewers. However if you set out simply believing you can shout ‘buy my book‘, you will more than likely end up very disappointed. Although it is more than acceptable to talk about your book on Twitter, there is a subtle etiquette that you will need to learn.

Generally I advise that every fourth or fifth tweet should be book orientated. This can be very subtle, perhaps a link to a review, competition, media coverage, interview or blog tour, rather than a straight forward ‘BUY MY NEW BOOK HERE!’. Tweets such as this can be very off putting and you may find that followers quickly delete you if you over do it. Promoting the success of your book on the other hand demonstrates what a good read it is without you having to ‘shamelessly‘ brag! Ultimately, the rule is to keep it professional and confident.

You will also need to make yourself interesting as an author. If users see a neglected account, they will immediately be uninterested. You can talk about your writing journey, what research you may be doing for your work in progress, link to blog posts and competitions and generally interact with readers and authors on all sorts of topics. By making yourself interesting, you will indirectly be tempting your followers to investigate your work, and this means potential sales.

3. Build on Your Twitter Relationships. Once you have some followers, you will need to build relationships. The only way to do this is to interact, and that doesn’t simply mean thanking someone for following you, or retweeting something someone has posted. Starting, or joining in a conversation is a great way to begin, and eventually you will have a following that you can come back to on a daily basis. A great place to start with this, is other writers. Remember that most writers are also readers, so although they may eventually take an interest in your work, support you through publication and recommend your books, do not ‘sell’. Using the rules in the point above will mean they will take a genuine interest.

There is so much more to Twitter than this, but these basics are essential to get right in order to make the most of what is a global piece of promotion. If you have any questions, you can email me at contact@authordesignstudio.com or Tweet me on @authordesigner.

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Website vs Blog – What’s the difference?

Many authors will use a blog in one form or another during their career, whether it be as an online base, through book tours or guest interviews. Blogs build valuable social circles and can offer exposure to authors trying to reach a wider audience. Being a guest on a blog and giving an interview, for example, reaches out to a much wider audience than an author could ever hope to achieve in isolation.

There is however a mistake some authors (and other professionals) have come to make, and that is to use a blog as a website, when it simply cannot function in the same manner. There are some certain blog software’s which enable a more ‘website based’ display of content, but this can be tricky to build and usually requires a professional.

The difference between a blog and website is critical, and when considering your online promotion, you need to be fully aware of ‘what’s what’.

  • A blog could be classed as an online newsletter. It consists of continuous ‘posts’ of new material or articles which keep visitors coming back to see what’s new.
  • A website contains more static content and elements, each page having information that doesn’t change constantly, but that is updated when necessary and most importantly easily navigable and visible at all times.

Each have their own benefits, and should be used in conjunction with eachother  but a blog is not a website and a website is not a blog. Sounds like someone trying to explain cricket rules, doesn’t it?! Let me give you an example:

  • Blog – An author can use their own blog as an interaction tool, much like Twitter or Facebook. It’s a fantastic way of reaching your adoring readers, encouraging conversations and researching what your readers like and want more of. Authors may also use blogs to post news of what they’ve been up to, where they’ve been or the latest news on their work in progress. This can be very captivating, and the constant updating of the latest post keeps it fresh (as well as being search engine friendly), however what happens when a potential reader wants to know the link to buy that book you mentioned a few weeks ago? They would need to search through the blog archive, or spend an age scrolling down and down the page to find it. Realistically, that’s simply asking for them to close the page and look elsewhere. It’s too much hassle, and we all know how impatient internet users can be. Blogs are fantastic additions to a website, but to stand the best chance of making the most of online marketing, you will need a website. Blogs can also be very time consuming, and in order to prove useful, they need to be updated frequently, so before venturing on one, ensure you  have the time to post at least once a week.
  • Website – A website is set out much like like a book. It may have several or hundreds of pages, but they’re all laid out in an easy to navigate menu, where the information relating to each page is kept. For instance many authors will use a combination of these pages: Home, About the Author, Books, News & Reviews, Excerpt, Contact. You see how easy it would be for any potential reader to find what they were looking for? This is the vital difference between a website and a blog, and it’s creating that ease of navigation which will encourage visitors to explore and find what they need, whether that’s more information on the Author (go to the About the Author page) or a new book (go to the Book page). Because the information is static, it’s always there. It can be updated from time to time, but it won’t disappear in a multitude of posts like on a blog, making that important information visible at all times. The nature and frequency a blog is updated however, makes it extremely search engine friendly, and if embedded or linked with your website can increase its popularity even further.

So lets end with a cliche this time, shall we? It’s Quality, not quantity.

Why Authors Need A Website.

The question often arises of exactly why an author needs a website, and there are many reasons to consider. One of the most vital being because agents, publishers and most importantly readers expect you to. So what are you waiting for?! Not explanation enough? Read on…

‘I really wish every author had either a website or Twitter account. Makes me sad they won’t be interacting with readers.’  –          @readingGals

The above was genuinely taken from Twitter, written by a fairly disappointed reader. Whomever the author is that they’re referring to is making a dreadful mistake. Doesn’t it just say it all?

As an author, you are unknowingly losing out on a vast amount of opportunities (not just sales!) if you do not have a website. Readers take more and more time to research authors and their books online in today’s market, and you are losing out on valuable interaction and potential sales by not investing and embracing what is one on the worlds most effective promotional tools.

Displaying your work on other websites, such as your publisher or retailers simply isn’t good enough. The book market is extremely overcrowded and readers are more likely to be distracted by other works or adverts on the websites where more than your books are on offer. Needle. Haystack. Enough said.

Having your own website enables that important element of control, enabling you to brand your design to attract and engage the readers in your genre. It uses the same concept as a cover design, which your publisher or graphic designer has worked so hard to perfect. If the design of your cover isn’t carefully considered, you’re in danger of losing a sale to the book next door. In addition  your own website can be continuously updated, making it the centre of your promotion.

“Here’s a copy of my book, I hope you like it, but you may not. Probably not. Maybe?” – No success ever came from lacking confidence in your own work. If you portray yourself though your website as a professional, that confidence will also reflect on your work. A poorly designed website on the other hand, can immediately give a death sentence to your reader looking any further.

No successful author would forgo a website for the simple reason that they understand the importance of reaching out to their readership in whatever way they can. A website can be hugely successful and exciting to create. Whether you do it yourself or brief a designer, make it professional and ensure it’s worthy of displaying your work.

The process can be daunting to some authors too, but really, you braved the agents and publishers, dipping your toes into the publishing pool, you can do this too…