Twitter: Why it Does More Than Simply Sell Books

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Today’s blog is about the power of twitter. Many writer’s only media platforms include using Twitter and Facebook to promote their books. I never see them talking to people, just at people, and I think that’s a huge mistake and missed opportunity. These same authors get frustrated when they don’t get a lot of sales with this strategy and they come to the conclusion that “twitter really doesn’t help with book sales, at all.” I tend to agree, to a point. I believe twitter offers writers amazing exposure and I believe it holds the key to so much more that they haven’t even explored yet. Here’s some interesting things I do with twitter that have nothing to do with me just posting a “read my book” link.

#1) WRITING GAMES: On Fridays there is this awesome cool hashtag called #FP, which stands for Friday Phrases. What you do is simply type that hashtag in the tweet and WRITE a short story all in that same tweet. It is so much fun and offers a lovely way to get the creative juices flowing. And you’ll read other great entries and you can comment on them, building some cool relationships. Authors love nothing more than feedback and they appreciate it so much when you comment. Here are the two I offered this week:

#FP The child pulled her Grandpa along. “Just a little further Papa.” She led him to an open grave. He shook at her next words. “We’re home.”

“What’re you chewing?” I asked my 3 yr old.” “Orange gummies.” He licked his lips. “Mommy!” My 10 yr old cried. “Where’s my goldfish?” #FP

What’s great is that if people following the thread like it, they comment, you get retweeted and you might gain some new followers, too! Super fun. If you’d like to learn more about Friday Phrases, click here: http://fridayphrases.com/

#2) REVIEWS: This is harder, and more time consuming, but I look at all the threads and see the reviews that bloggers do. If I think they tend to review books like mine, I’ll start my research. I will follow them, then go to their webpages and start the process of writing them an email to see if they’d like to review one of my books. While time-consuming, it’s a great way to reach people I never would have met before and get an honest review from someone validated.

#3) FOOD: I love to talk about food. I wanted to do something different once for the holidays and the most amazing thing happened when I posted “Help, I need suggestions.” There are people from ALL OVER THE GLOBE on twitter and one woman told me her grandma’s recipe for a holiday dish called “Lobio,” which is Georgian Green Beans in Walnut Sauce. I made it for Passover and it was SO GOOD. Here’s the recipe to serve 6:

Ingredients

2 pounds fresh green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 pound light-skinned walnuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 cup vegetable stock
salt

Directions

1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the green beans, return to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to set the color and stop the cooking. Reserve.
2. Place the walnuts and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and puree to a paste. Transfer to a medium-size bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, and vegetable stock and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Reserve.
3. Arrange the green beans on a serving platter. Drizzle decoratively with the walnut sauce and garnish with additional paprika for color.

#4) SLANG: In one of my books, there is an older gentlemen from the UK. I have been researching British slang and including it in the book. I then appealed to my #UK tweeps and started asking questions such as “Can my character say Gawd Blimey and Bloody Hell?” Or “What does Stone the Crows” mean? I can’t tell you how many people chimed in with what are BETTER ways to say what I’m trying to get across. How some of my phrases were just regional or simply not used any longer. What an amazing resource these people were and I never would have gotten these honest answers in a quicker fashion. I can read as many internet British Slang sites as I want, but when I have someone living there, right now, telling me “how it really is” – that is invaluable.

#5) INTERVIEWS: I had an author interview right on twitter! How crazy is that? #writerskaboodle will help you do an author interview and for 1/2 hour straight people come on, along with the moderator, and ask questions about you and your books. What a great way to answer your reader’s questions, live, via tweets.

#6) COMMUNITY: That’s right. Community – this wonderful world is all about people engaging with each other. This morning I posted about how I had no idea what to post for my blog today. Within minutes, people from all over the globe offered suggestions and I realized, “OMG, twitter really isn’t all about selling my books,” it’s about building a community of like-minded friends who can all engage and help each other.

So, my advice to writers is get out of the mindset that you are only using twitter to hustle your books. Have fun with it. Engage your followers. Ask questions that you really want the answers to. You will be surprised at how much more you get out of this wonderful resource.

If any of you use twitter differently, I’d love to know! And please come on over and follow me at http://www.twitter.com/elysesalpeter

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34 thoughts on “Twitter: Why it Does More Than Simply Sell Books

  1. Really great post, Elyse! Some wonderful ideas. I for one definitely don’t use Twitter as I should. Think you may have lit the fire! Thank you!!

  2. Yes, community is brilliant; I find it’s pretty much the core of my social life these days. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet up with folks I met on Twitter in real life; stayed with several, had lunch and drinks with plenty, took some on a ghost walk in our nearest city, and collaborated on various projects with others.
    It gives a real forum to meet kindred spirits and make real friends.
    (and yes it does sell books. I’ve bought quite a few I’ve seen tweeted, and I know a goodly number of my own sales have come via Twitter)

    • Wow! I have yet to meet folks from twitter in person, but I have done that from FB groups I’ve been involved in. Really happy for you! I think an author can sell books as well, but they must interweave some of themselves into this whole mix, don’t you think? Thanks so much for commenting – really appreciate it. 🙂

      • Oh very much so. There is a rough formula, apparently, suggesting *correct* proportions between personal content, promotional tweets, sharing links and retweeting, but I can’t for the life of me remember what that formula is.
        I started on Twitter in November 2008, long before I had any books to sell and it took me a long while to figure out why I was there. Making friends and interesting connections is prime. One such connection is a wonderful archaeologist called Dr Mike Williams, who delves into prehistory combining scholarship and also his own involvement in shamanic and druidic spirituality. I put his most recent book on my birthday list and am enjoying reading it; but even more remarkable, our conversation today revealed another connection. The Welsh National folk museum he visits often contains many original buildings moved there; his favourite of these turns out to be that of my great great grandparents.
        So connections beyond imagining exist; the theory is that only six or less links exist between each person on this earth. Twitter helps us find some of those links.

  3. You are so right, Elyse. Twitter is a huge community for sharing ideas, learning something new and meeting fascinating people. I miss my friends on twitter when I have been too busy to “chat” or even just read their timeline to catch up.

    • I do too – there’s this fine line – you want to help other authors, and yourself by providing links – but if I go to someone’s page and it’s only link, after link, after link, with no talking, there’s a problem. We need to mix it up.

  4. Oh 1000 times YES! Book spam is irritating and I can’t imagine it inspiring more than a few sales at most. The magic of Twitter and all social media is live engagement, not automated broadcasts.

    • I hear you Bill – it’s hard navigating what is too much and too little – I’m attempting to do both and use this medium for more than just that. Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. Thanks for these very specific tips. I’ve read so much lately on how to use social media, particularly Twitter, to “engage” an audience, but so far no one has given examples on how exactly to do it.

    • I’m glad this helped – I always find it especially useful when someone offers a tip but then is specific about what they do with that tip. I could have gone on even more with this post about the things I do – I might do a Part 2 next week actually. 🙂 Glad it helped!

  6. Great post, Elyse, and I couldn’t agree more about all of it! I get so fed up with Twitter critics who think it’s all daft trivia, or writers who say they ‘hate the promotional side’ when all they do is ‘buy my book’ tweets! I think it’s marvellous – I love Monday blogs, and I discovered #FP last week! I love the hashtag games, I often enter into them. I’ve made so many online friends, and there is just so much interesting stuff to read, all the time. If I want to know about something very current, like a TV programme that’s been changed, or a bit of news, I look on Twitter, not google! As a writer, though, the resources are endless. Oh – and yes, no-one says ‘stone the crows’, and ‘gawd blimey’ comes out of 1950s films – do feel free to ask me about any UK slang!!!

  7. …. and ps, it DOES sell books – I’d say that 80% of my regular readers have started reading me via Twitter. The ones for which it doesn’t work are those who only post links to their books, never comment on anything and never post anything other than book-orientated stuff . It’s about communication.

  8. Great post, very helpful! I don’t really speak the twitter language and I have no idea if I ever will as I don’t get half of the posts, but I love reading them and getting in touch with people. Once I’ve finished my book I’m going to take your advice for sure.

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