Monday, July 9, 2012

Twitter Tips for Writers Who Hate Social Media

One of the best uses for Twitter is connecting with potential readers.*

If you're a non-fiction writer, you simply use the Twitter search box to search for the topic of your book and start following influential people: recognized authorities, people with lots of followers, etc. You can also start tweeting using hashtags related to your topic. (More on this below)

For fiction writers, you'll want to search for readers who follow your genre. If your book, like mine doesn't have a well-defined genre, consider your subtopics or themes. My novel-in-progress is about a never-married hypochondriac who takes a trip around the world looking to change his luck with love. So, my novel has at least two subtopics: travel and relationships.

Tools to Manage the Twitter Mess
- You'll want to use a Twitter management tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. I've been using Hootsuite and I'm happy with it (More on "Managing the Mess" next week.)
- Within Twitter, use the List feature to organize people you're following by topic. For example, I have a list for Travel and here's how I added a popular author named Rolf Potts. (single-click to enlarge the image)

Figure 1: Clicking the little silhouette in the upper right-hand corner produces options for adding someone to one of your lists.

Find Your Audience

1) Follow influential people in your subtopic
For me, I searched for travel writers I like, and then looked at who they were following. I also clicked the "Similar to..." button to find other people to consider following.

(Note: With Twitter, you don't want to follow hundreds more people than you have following you. For example: following 500 people and having 5 followers makes you look like a loser. Instead of following, add people to your lists. You'll still see their tweets. As you add more followers, follow more people.)

2) Follow influential magazines and Web sites
If you can't find the publication by searching Twitter's search box, go the magazine's Web site to find the Twitter handle. Or simply Google the <name of the publication> and "Twitter." For travel, I Googled: "Lonely Planet Twitter."

3) Find related hashtags, which are essentially forums where people with similar interests hang out and post.
- Start by looking through tweets by influential people to see which hashtags they're using.
- Google "best hastags <insert your topic>. Here are my results for "best hashtags for travel"

*Allegedly: Experts claim Twitter is great for connecting with readers. I've only been pushing on Twitter for the last two months. I'm now adding followers -- albeit slowly, two to five per day -- who are related to my target audience. When I started with Twitter I was following agents, editors and other writers -- people who are probably not going to buy copies of my book. It is better to have fewer, influential followers who care about your genre than thousands of people who are only following you because they want you to follow them so they can have a large number of followers.

For more of my Twitter tips, see:
- The First Frustrating Days with Twitter
- Basics on Following on Twitter
- Bad Advice for Writers

Begging and Pleading

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