A Writer’s Guide to Using Twitter Effectively

Marketing December 11, 2014

“Alright, my book is almost finished. Time to prepare for web marketing: blog, check! Facebook, check! Google Plus, check! and now for Twitter …”

Sound familiar? Twitter is a key piece to building a successful web marketing strategy. But just like any other promotional venture, the strategy must be solid (and exist) to make the effort worth while. In this article, we’ll explore the key points which are useful to a writer or author.


Polishing Your Profile

Experience proves first impressions make a difference. Millions of individuals use Twitter so take every precaution to ensure that your profile stands out from the crowd.


The Profile Image

Because this is often seen first and consistently, it’s important for this piece of your overall Twitter brand to look professional. If you’re using a portrait of yourself, it should be done by a professional photographer and present you from your shoulders up. Keep in mind that Twitter profile pics are displayed small, so having your photo cropped will play an important role.

Profile Cover Design

As with the profile image, the cover is important. If working with a design or branding team, have a custom background designed that complements the brand and color scheme of your book or series.


If custom design isn’t an option for you, select a simple, subtle pattern over tiling your book cover or a family portrait across your background. Remember, quality is key.

Theme and Color Scheme

As with the background design, uniformity plays an important role in presenting a professional overall Twitter experience to your followers.

Create a Plan and Tweeting Schedule

Use the 80/20 Rule

Don’t spam and don’t advertise. This is difficult for many who introduce themselves on Twitter. However, it’s important to realize that millions of individuals use Twitter and off the cuff, 99.9% of them will not care about what you are trying to promote or sell.

As difficult as this sounds, it doesn’t have to stay this way. A dedicated following and audience is possible, it simply takes a targeted plan and consistent follow through.

To begin, experts recommend that your Tweets start with one of two things: useful and interesting information, or a conversation. Follow those in the market you wish to reach and share what genuinely interests them.

After some credibility has been established with the resources you provide on Twitter, then comes the 80/20 rule. That is, spend 80% of your tweets on useful/interesting topics from elsewhere on the web, and the other 20% on self-promotion.

Make Every Tweet Relevant and Useful

As mentioned above, it takes time and consistent work to reach a point where others on Twitter will find value in what you have to say. Thus it’s important to make every tweet count. If your end goal is to market and promote your writing, it’s vital to craft every tweet in such a way as to prove useful or entertaining to followers. Here’s a couple of sample tweets that illustrate the contrast between a good tweet and bad in this regard:


Visit my website and buy my book! It’s on sale for $7.99 this week only! http://mywebsite.com/book

If coming from a best-selling author, the aforementioned tweet is acceptable. For anyone else, it serves to turn readers away—especially if they know nothing of the book mentioned.


Here’s a tweet that’s focused on the reader and gives enough info about the book to tell why it’s worth their time:

Take government conspiracy, add a bit of suspense, and mix with some adventure—what do you get? A thrilling new read for this summer: http://mywebsite.com/book (and hey, it’s only $7.99!)

Don’t Be an RSS Feed

Nothing tweeted should be auto-fed to your stream, nor something that you would not find genuinely appealing and useful if you read it yourself for the first time. Automation has its place in the realm of social media, however, the moment it becomes a crutch to avoid the work and thoughtfulness of serving those who follow you, it harms your marketing efforts. Always ask, “If I were reading this, how would I respond?”

Here are two examples, both sharing a link to followers:


35 Mistakes Authors Must Avoid to Succeed http://ausefulblog.com


Authors make mistakes—myself included. Here’s a list of the most common pitfalls of every author (and how to avoid them) – http://ausefulblog.com #writetip #authors

Find New Connections

Good content is primary for any social media account, but just as crucial is the need to be personable. Make connections, start conversations, and make yourself worthy of being found.

If someone asks you a question or re-tweets one of your messages, respond, thank them and be cordial. Many a person is un-followed when his or her stream is perceived as nothing more than an RSS feed.

Again, it makes a difference to respond—only if mediocre or bare minimum is your goal. To build a following and draw more attention to your writing, start conversations. Twitter is filled with hashtags (and writers using them) which have conversations already started—and many more in wait mode.

Ask questions, pick interesting topics, and engage your audience.

Don’t Auto-DM

What is an auto-DM you ask? Simply put, it’s annoying for those who receive them. The DM (or Direct Message) is a handy feature which enables two individuals on Twitter to send a private message that only those two can see. Unlike the @ mention, it will not show up in your stream and so, remains completely private.

So again, what is an auto-DM? It’s an automated Direct Message (as you may have guessed) that third-party applications send to new followers. For those utilizing auto-DMs they seem like a quick and easy way to market a recent novel. For the recipient, it’s often an impersonal spam message that creates more annoyance than interest. Remember, individuals on Twitter are interested in a personal connection. After all, how would you feel if you were walking down the street and a person greeted you with an automated message asking you to buy their book?

Top Writing Hashtags to Use and Follow

Twitter has a useful search feature, but better still, is using hashtags to track down those in whom you’re interested. Here’s a few to use specifically for connecting with other writers:

  • #amwriting
  • #amediting
  • #writetip
  • #writingtip
  • #pubtip

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