by Lauren Sapala
It seems like every writer is on Twitter these days. We know that social media can be a powerful tool to help us network, sell books, and raise our prospects of becoming a household name. But most authors report dissatisfaction with their Twitter experience. They don’t see a significant increase in sales, or their fan base, and they end up wondering if it’s even worth their time to be on Twitter at all. But Twitter is not to blame. What’s really happening is that authors are missing a key piece of the puzzle.
Most authors assume that they should use Twitter to connect with potential readers. But this is the wrong way to go about it. Instead, our best chance of success is to connect with our fellow authors.
Most authors make an account on Twitter, set up their profile, and then go about diligently trying to find their readers. If they write contemporary romance, they try to connect with women interested in that genre. A military history author, on the other hand, will most probably look for older men who are history buffs in order to take advantage of that demographic. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but if this is the only approach authors take, they will soon find that most of their energy is wasted.
This is because the types of people who are just casual readers on Twitter are not usually there to promote any cause of their own. They use the platform for fun and enjoyment, to skim the news, and to occasionally share a bit of content. They might retweet an author, sure, and they might buy a book. But they have no reason to do either of those things beyond casual interest. And because their motivation is only casual, authors can’t expect a huge amount of help from this corner.
However, all the other authors on Twitter are an entirely different matter.
These are Twitter users who are far from casual. We have blogs, books, and careers of our own that we’re looking to grow and promote. We are extremely interested in entering into reciprocal social media relationships with our colleagues. After all, if you tweet our stuff and we tweet yours, both of us stand a much better chance of gaining exposure, and both of us will be much more likely to continue the relationship as it serves each of us in an important way.
Some authors are hesitant to build Twitter friendships with the other authors in their genre because the tendency is to see them as competition. This mindset can be damaging to your success because, in fact, you share a pool of fans with these writers. If a reader loved their YA Urban Fantasy with a strong female protagonist, chances are that same reader will be very interested in picking up a copy of your YA Urban Fantasy with a strong female protagonist. By joining forces with your colleagues on social media, you can combine your resources to draw potential readers to your united front.
By focusing on connecting with fellow authors on Twitter, you also open yourself up to unexpected opportunities and strokes of good fortune. This is how you get asked to speak on panels at conferences, and how you find out about an upcoming anthology looking for submissions. You look out for your fellow authors on Twitter and they look out for you.
So the next time you log in to Twitter, use that search box to your advantage. Type in the name of your specific genre or just use the hashtag #amwriting to see what kind of accounts come up. Follow anyone who looks interesting to you or who seems to share some things in common. Then look through their tweets and see if there is anything you can share that would help them out. The authors who you are meant to connect with will notice and thank you, or share something of yours in return. Put these friendly people on a list to keep track of them and check in regularly to see what they have going on in their writing world. After a while, you’ll see the relationship between you two practically building itself.
The key to Twitter for authors is collaboration. When we join together our reach increases exponentially. When we unite as writers we get so much more done.
[In the spirit of Lauren’s post, click here to join a Twitter-fest where you can meet and follow other authors. Enjoy! – The Admin]
Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in personal growth and artistic development for writers. She is the author of The INFJ Writer and lives in San Francisco. You can learn more about Lauren on her website and her Author Central page.