What to do if you're not JK Rowling, you don't have a big publishing house to promote you but you're determined to make your book a success?
Twitter, like blogging, is essential to any book marketing campaign these days. It helps you connect with your peers, share important information and it gives you a voice and a profile out there in the busy world of book publishing. Like many writers - especially those from traditional publishing - I was a complete Twitter-phobe. So I started with a session with Gigi Eligoloff, who specialises in helping writers to create and promote their brand, using Twitter (amongst many other tools). The first - and probably most important question (but which hadn't really occurred to me!) was: why was I on Twitter? (aside from obviously using it to market my book). Choosing your niche is, apparently, vital. A scattergun approach is exhausting and not productive. There are so many millions of people to connect with, that you need to narrow it down. So, say you've written a book about bumblebees, then that's your niche. To find other bumblebee enthusiasts, you enter 'bumblebees' into the search box then wait for the lengthy list to pop up. You check out a few, select the most interesting ones, then follow them. To short-cut what can often be pretty time-consuming, you can follow their followers if you feel they are people you genuinely want to engage with. Subbotina | Dreamstime.com
Deciding on your Twitter name is also important. Best to use your author name instead of using the title of your book because presumably you are going to write many, many more books! Also make sure your bio says what niche you are tweeting in.
For the first week Gigi advised me to watch how others interacted in my selected niche of self-publishing, before I jumped in. A definite no-no is bombarding people with self-promoting tweets about your book. As a rough guide, 80% of your tweets should be about sharing useful information to others in your niche and retweeting regularly what you find interesting/ entertaining. Then 20% can be about your own book. Just compare it to being at a party and the person you're chatting to is blathering on about their brilliant soon-to-be-bestseller, you're off to the bar/loo quicker than it's possible to say 'unfollow'.
Hashtagging is an important way to label your tweets, so other people can find them. So for example, if I'm tweeting about self-publishing, I'll add #selfpub or #indieauthor (if you're as backward as I was about Twitter - # is done by pressing and holding down alt key on your keyboard then the number 3). Also, where possible and relevant, link your tweets back to your blog with a hyperlink (see last week's "Successful Blogging to Make Your Book Visible".
Last week, I finally understood the power of Twitter after Waterstones*, Notting Hill placed a pile of my books in their main window, along with a great review. Then they took a picture of me standing outside, which they tweeted to all their followers. #delirious with excitement/gratitude!
*Getting your book into your local Waterstones will be a separate blog post in a few weeks.