Twitter – does it help book sales? I’m on the fence…

twitterLet’s talk twitter. I’ve been told that in order for twitter to be effective, you need to post often. You need to be specific about your posts, the links, the #hashtags, you need to create conversations, you need to gain followers, you need to respond to questions, you need to provide relevant content and direction. But at the end of the day, all authors want to know is… will twitter help me effectively sell books?

I’m undecided on this. I’ve been steadily building my twitter platform and now have over 16K followers. What that means is that at any given moment, if any of my tweeps (my affectionate term for followers) are actively on twitter at that time, they’ll see a tweet I’ve posted AT THAT TIME. It’s just a momentary snapshot. If everyone has thousands of twitter followers, how in the world is my little tweet effective for anything?

That said, I regularly tweet authors, book promoters, reviewers and any other relevant content that catches my eye that I think other people will be interested in hearing about. I try to join in conversations and as a result, when I do have an announcement about a book, I see my tweets “retweeted” into the hundreds of thousands. Sort of a “thank you” from other folks for helping them out as well. Ten years ago, this type of “helping and sharing” on social media, from virtual strangers, just wasn’t heard of, so to me, what a great way to reach a massive amount of people I never would have “met” in my current circles. (and it wasn’t heard of, because twitter hadn’t even been invented yet, having only come on board in 2006).

So you’d think I’d get more sales from all these tweets and retweets, right? Again, I’m undecided. And because I don’t necessarily, at least right now, think Twitter helps with book sales, I use twitter differently. For me, it’s a “means to an ends.” I search and voyeur twitter voraciously. I find people who are book reviewers in my category, and then I go to their web pages and query them to see if they’d like to review my books. One of my novels has a deaf main lead, so I go to deaf sites, then find their Facebook pages, like them on FB, then post on their page and THEN I look to see what other relevant companies I should also be following. I go back and forth and it can take an enormous amount of time. But, it’s opened up a lot of avenues for me. Using this technique, my books promotionally are on other people’s blogs that I never would have gotten on before, I’ve gotten interviewed by bloggers I never would have met, been included on various websites, and I’ve gotten followers interested in my work. I use twitter to help me find other avenues of promotion, not just to tweet. That’s almost secondary. (which is a strange thing to say… tweeting is secondary…hmmm)

One thing to note. I find myself caught up in social media so much that it can take hours out of my day. And those hours are cutting into my writing time. My hope is that by steadily building up my marketing platform while I’m getting new books out into market, that eventually this “means to an ends” will become a “sales to an end.”

We’ll see about that. But, in the meantime, if you’d like to follow me on twitter, please come on over at And, send me a tweet and let me know you saw me here – I’ll definitely respond! 🙂

27 thoughts on “Twitter – does it help book sales? I’m on the fence…

  1. I can’t speak with regard to sales but I’ve noticed a definite jump in traffic to my website once I started being a presence on Twitter. It is good for getting your name out there.

  2. I’m fairly new to Twitter, so I’m living in hope. My webstats however tell me that 80% of hits on my site are still generated from my Facebook presence. I’m not giving up on Twitter just yet, but my time and my patience are limited.

    • Isn’t that interesting looking at analytics of where the traffic is driven from? I find that I get most of my blog followers via Twitter. So I know twitter helps with awareness and traffic. Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. I am on twitter for a number of reasons. Book sales, of course, would be great but I am also on twitter to connect with people. Writing can be an isolating existence and when I am on twitter regularly I feel more connected to the world. I also do notice much more traffic to my website when I am on twitter (I have had illness stop me for some weeks but back on now) and as one of my goals is to reach people with what I have to say in my blogs or on my website, I find twitter to be invaluable and it tends to be one of my primary news sources. I fought it for a long time but once my website was up I finally realized that I had to join. I have enjoyed it more than I thought but it does take commitment (I usually try to give it an hour a day). I also like re-tweeting other people tweets when I find them interesting. So – book sales, maybe not but connection, definitely.

    • I so agree Susan, connections are key. I can say I’ve had such great conversations with people and found out some great information using twitter alone. It definitely has its place. Thanks so much for commenting!

  4. Hey Lyse! Another great blog entry. I’m not sure how many sales have come my way as the result of Twitter postings. I’m not that active on Twitter — I tend to concentrate on my blog, and use Twitter and FB and Google + mainly to let people know a new blog post is up. I do feel Twitter is an important cog in the bigger marketing machine, but I can’t quantify that statement further.

    • How you’ve been driving people to your blog is obviously working! You have so many people and that’s amazing! I need to learn google+ more too. I just do a general post. Thanks so much for commenting, really appreciate it. 🙂

  5. Searching out reviewers and using twitter to resources is smart marketing. It’s the difference between a marketer who goes to parties and PARTIES rather than using the time to make connections.

  6. LOL. Thank you oldthingsrnew for showing me the error of my ways. I attempt to connect at parties but usually end up partying instead. Must learn to focus. Elyse – I have found Twitter to be a great media for connections but not as a base for sales. John Locke (the guy who sold a million books on Amazon) suggests making connections and getting a tight fan-base via fb and Twitter only to notify them when your latest new release hits. Keep them advised but don’t spam them constantly. I see that as a fine line to walk… knowing what to say without just babbling. Good lucl.

  7. Since I’m a promotional idiot, or is it, promotionally lazy, I do most of my promo work on twitter. With some of the twitter applications, its easy for someone like me who’d rather be writing, than bugging book bloggers. My books sales are either, the old fashion way (people telling others about my book,) or they stumbled on it on Amazon, or they say a tweet from twitter followers.

    So, to answer you question, Elyse, I don’t know if twitter help sells books or not.

    • Dana, it’s this constant juggle of how much time do we invest in promotion and how much time do we write? I’m finding I’m spending too much time on promotion frankly. I have to get more books out. Simple as that and then maybe this promotion stuff will finally work. Thanks so much for commenting – appreciate it.

  8. I think, for many, Twitter is all about exposure. Most sales are made after the consumer has been exposed to the product—for example, a book—several times. Studies put this number of exposures leading to a sale at 7 to 9. Then in the cyber world of social networking, the author as an artist, has to attract interested readers to his or her work. To do this, we offer free writing through Blogs like this post that attracted my attention. If the posts attract views and some of those people sign up to follow the Blog, some of them will eventually buy one or more books published by that author.

    Twitter offers a way to gain attention. The trust factor comes later. The sale follows even later—on average.

    There’s probably many different ways authors may use Twitter to attract potential readers. I’m still developing my Twitter methods and they are moving in the direction to attract readers to my Blog posts that I know have been crucial in selling my published work.

    Since starting to work Twitter seriously, people who follow my Blogs has exploded and the number of daily views is growing. And when we plant an acorn, the oak tree does not grow overnight. If we want our Blogs to become eighty foot high oak trees, we must be persistent and patient.

    • Lloyd, thank you so much for your comments – I agree with everything you’re saying and I’m hopeful that it’s all going to work exactly as you say. By blogging, getting followers, building a base and utilizing all aspects of social media, I’m hoping eventually it will convert to sales. Also, getting more than 1-2 books out is extremely important. Thanks so much for commenting.

  9. i`m with you on the fence. i would guess that it would help in the sense of instant advertising but i would also say that given the nature of the site, life in 140 characters, it would suggest to me that many of the people it is tweeting to represent the sorts of demographic that may not have the attention span or desire to read, hence their preference for twitter over facebook where more reading is required. Its only a guess and in no way meant to stereotype twitter users but it is suggestive given the very nature of the media

  10. Twitter gives me nothing, so I have decided to channel my energies elsewhere. Facebook is so self indulgent. I find I have alot of connects throgh Good Reads. I find I am still strugglig with being shy about this. I need a lesson on being an agressive sales person. M A Cracknell author of Black Crow. Thank you.

    • I think it really depends on how hard you work a particular network. I’d love to hear more about goodreads. I have about 5K followers, and will do events with them, but that’s about it, besides a book giveaway. What has worked for you best on there?

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