Monday, May 24, 2021

Marketing Tips for Writers: Twitter Hashtags

I) Why bother with Hashtags

Twitter hashtags are potentially useful for accomplishing the following:

- Expanding your audience: Insert your tweets into existing conversations on topics related to your book or of interest to prospective readers or the press. 

- Promoting an upcoming event, such as a book launch or reading, by creating a hashtag that other people can use.

What follows is a summation of advice from avowed experts and my own experiences following that advice. This blog post is geared toward novelists and fiction writers -- online marketing is generally easier for non-fiction writers.

Note: This post assumes some basic knowledge of Twitter. Some previous posts, if you need a refresher

Disclaimer: In 2014 I made a big push on Twitter and as of today, I have not been offered any Pulitzer prizes or Guggenheim fellowships, but I'm giving in another shot on the advice of an agent I met with earlier in the month.


II) Things to Try 


1) Find and use hashtags employed by authors of books similar to yours. 

My first book God Bless Cambodia and my novel in progress are love stories featuring romantic dysfunction, bathroom humor, and white guys behaving badly. (I know, I know -- I'm tone deaf, out of sync with 2021, etc)

Unfortunately, after checking out authors with similar work, I found no useful hashtags. One of my comp authors used hashtags mainly to promote his work (@jonathan tropper). Two other comp authors, Sam Lipsyte and Joshua Ferris don't use Twitter, and a third comp author, Philip Roth, is dead.

Verdict: Not useful for my work 

Try Lit-Map if you need help finding comp authors for your work can help you find comparable (comp) authors



2) Find hashtags related to themes or topics in your book

My books and one-man shows include neurotic, mildly offensive humor so I searched for comedians, such as Larry David, Greg Gutfeld, and Chris Rock – didn't find them use any useful hashtags.

God Bless Cambodia, my first novel, includes a lot of travel writing – the narrator takes a trip around the world and had a rotten time. I was able to find plenty of hashtags related to travel but most were promoting travel not saying it sucks. 

Verdict: Not useful for my work

3) Find hashtags for your genre 

Here's a list of hashtags for different genres (scroll to the middle of the page)

Another place to find your genre: See how comp books are categorized on bookseller sites or at the local library.

My books don't fit neatly into a genre. God Bless Cambodia falls somewhere between commercial fiction and literary fiction and has been classified under "absurdist" and "comedy," on some bookseller sites and, at the public library, under "Man-woman relationships -- Fiction," "Voyages and travels -- Fiction," "Depression in men -- Fiction.

Verdict: Not useful for my work

4) Use hashtags used by the local press: arts reporters, book reviewers,

Even if your tweets don't result in immediate coverage, you might build some visibility and generate coverage at a future date because reporters will be familiar with your name. Remember the old axiom of advertising: need to hit someone seven times before they'll notice you) What are local arts media and authors using?

Verdict: this has promise


5) Create your own hashtag for a theme in your book or an upcoming event your hosting.

 How to create your own hashtag: When creating a tweet, adding a “#” to the beginning of an unbroken word or phrase creates a hashtag.

For my Twitter account @chronicsingle, I created a hashtag a few years back called #chronicsingle.





Here's a hashtag I created and am going to try out. For songs, movies, books, etc that were funny some years ago but will likely be offensive now, I created the #wontflyin2021 by simply typing it into a tweet. 


Step 1 for creating a hashtag


And here's what a tweet using the hashtag #wontflyin2021 looks like. Note: I tried to weave the hashtag into the actual tweet.


The finished product


Note: If you're using a Twitter to promote an event, be sure to ask attendees, the press, etc, to use the hashtag in any tweets.

Verdict: Could be useful


III) Tweet Etiquette for Deploying Hashtags


- Weave the hashtags into your tweet – classier but not always practical

- List them at the end of your tweet – easiest

- Don't use too many. Twitter and other experts recommend no more than two per post.



IV) More Marketing Tips for Authors


More on Hashtags

Twitter Refreshers 


Previous Blog Post: Covid Query Process for a New Novel


 Video trailer for my first novel God Bless Cambodia


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