Monday, 17 October 2016

Dear Author, You Need to be on Twitter

By Iola Goulton


As many of you probably know, I review books. Lots of books. I currently have over 800 reviews on my blog, going back over five years. Some are for books I loved, some for books I loathed, and some for books which were good books but not spectacular.

I review on my blog, and copy the reviews to other sites such as Goodreads, Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Koorong Books, and Riffle. I also share a lot of my reviews on social media—Facebook, Google+, Pinterest … and Twitter.

And when I share a book I loved, I want the author to know about it. 

That’s not me being egotistical. It’s me being practical: authors love reviews, especially positive reviews. It encourages them:


But I want them writing, not stalking Amazon and book blogs looking for reviews. So when I post a review to Twitter, I like to tag them in the review so I can be sure they’ll see it when they do check. It also brings my review to the attention of other people looking at the author’s Twitter feed.


An author will often share my tweeted review, potentially bringing it to the attention of more readers. Well, why wouldn’t they? They want reviews, especially positive reviews. They want their current and potential readers to know about those reviews, in the hope that will influence more people to buy their book. This is a biblical principle:


If I say something about myself, it's not valid. If you say it, it is ... especially if someone else agrees with you.

There’s even an internet buzzword for it: user-generated content (or UGC). 

That’s a simple way of saying they author (the producer) gets shareable content (Tweet, book review, meme) from users (me). Because me (or you) saying something positive about a book is more powerful than the author saying it herself. Or himself.

It’s self-promotion, but not the annoying kind. Sure, Twitter is full of authors spamming the feed with “buy my book!” promos every six minutes. That’s the annoying kind of self-promotion, because it’s all about the author. The beauty of user-generated content is it’s from the user. An author who retweets me is promoting me as much as she’s promoting herself.

But not every author is on Twitter.


Or if they are, they have weird names that means I can’t identify them. And that means I can’t tag them in my posts. It means they don’t benefit from my user-generated content. It means they’re missing out on me promoting them—which means they have to promote themselves. Probably by spamming.

To plagiarise Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that authors hate promoting themselves.


Fine. I get that. But that’s not a good reason to avoid Twitter. It means you’re thinking about it the wrong way. Instead of thinking of Twitter as another social media network you have to be on to promote yourself, think of it like this:
Twitter is a way readers, reviewers and authors can find you and influence for you. And a way you can influence for promote readers, reviewers and other authors.
Doesn’t that sound better? Pay it forward. Be relentlessly helpful. Make social media about other people, not you.

Some authors aren’t on Twitter because they think it’s going to be a lot of work. It’s not (or if it is, you’re doing it wrong). There are heaps of free (and paid) tools that will help you manage your Twitter account. I’ll be back next week to talk about some of my favourite tools.

Meanwhile, if you’re not on Twitter, why don’t you head over there and set up an account?


While you’re there, follow me (@iolagoulton) and Australasian Christian Writers (@acwriters). Then leave a comment with your Twitter user name so we can follow you back, watch for your Tweets and retweet you. If you’re on Twitter … well, that’s even more reason to follow us!

17 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Iola. I find most of your reviews (well all of them) via Twitter. I like Twitter - it suits my "learning" traits by enabling me to access & share new information including book reviews. I haven't been as good in recent times tweeting books I've read so thank you for giving me a gentle nudge to start doing it again.

    Bless,

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    1. Thanks, Ian, and thanks for all your retweets!

      This illustrates another reason authors need to be on Twitter - it might not be their favourite social network, but it might be the social network of choice for some of their target readers.

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    2. Ian, I appreciate all your retweets, too. Thank you :)

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  2. I have my blog set to network blogs and it will tweet all my blog posts and also these ones but thats as far as I have gotten looking forward to next week.

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    1. Jenny, that's a great start. At least it means people can find you on Twitter. And you may even pick up some readers from it.

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    2. Jenny, We appreciate you sharing the ACW posts on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you :)

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  3. Thanks for the post Iola. I'm a reluctant convert to Twitter (my 3rd year anniversary) but do find it invaluable & generally tweet the book reviews I write on Goodreads. I also follow back most authors and retweet other's people's content. It's nice when peeps return the favour :) but good to connect regardless.

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    1. I understand the "reluctant convert" thing. It took a while to get over the feeling it was thousands of people talking and no one listening. But it's lots of fun now I've figured out a way to use it that works for me.

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    2. Jeanette, I've appreciate your retweets. Thank you :)

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  4. I'm a twitter avoider - mostly bc of people's self promo :( But this post has made me think a little more about the positive aspects. Looking forward to next week's post!

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn! I'm pleased to make another reluctant convert!

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    2. Hi Carolyn, You're probably not aware of just how many of your ACW blog posts I've tweeted without being able to connect them to you personally. Please let me know when you've set up your Twitter account (or share your Twitter handle if it already exists). Thanks :)

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  5. Oh dear! This is what I've been also avoiding! I keep thinking, "no, no, not another social media!" I spend too much time on emails and those already and still not enough time even for doing Goodreads enough. Looking forward to your next blog about this, Iola!

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    1. Thanks, Mary. I hope you find it useful - I don't want to stress you out :)

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    2. Hi Mary, The thing with Twitter is just 'being there' and having a profile set up with a pinned tweet is helpful. Even if you aren't active and only occasionally check your account, you'll still be able to catch up on the mentions from other Twitter users in your notifications.

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  6. Iola, excellent post! Yes, I also believe it's essential for authors to have a Twitter account even if they rarely use it. We're looking at doing more promo connected to ACW on Twitter. You will be missing out if you blog with us and don't have a Twitter account set up.

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    1. Thanks, Narelle!

      Yes, if you blog with ACW, *please* set up a Twitter account and follow @acwriters so we can support you.

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