Using Twitter to Network and Market Your Books

Beth Barany shares on Using Twitter to Network and Market Your Books. Enjoy!


In addition to a website, newsletter, and a blog, authors can use social networking tools to connect with friends, make new friends, interact with readers, and gain new readers. In my previous Promotion Posse article (“Heart of the Bay,” January 2009), I wrote about how authors can use Facebook to network and market. This month I explore the wonders of Twitter, one of my favorite pastimes, list builders, and social networking tools.

What is Twitter?

In their own words, Twitter is a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. By short message, they really do mean short. Messages are only up to 140 characters long. That’s approximately one to three sentences. Another way to think of Twitter is that ‘s a microblog. People use it write about anything and everything, from what they ate for lunch, to reporting breaking news as it happens, to promoting some cool service or product they found or are offering.

Why Use Twitter

I use Twitter because it’s fun! And it’s a great way to procrastinate. Yes, it’s both of those things, and I think it does what social networking does best: It connects us with others of like mind. In just 140 characters, you can tell your followers about your latest book, a cool tip, or what you ate for breakfast. It’s a way to foster a new fan base, and reach out to people already active on the Internet. Chances are they’ll surf over to your site and see what your book is about.

Author Carolyn Jewel (My Forbidden Desire, Forever, June 2009) says, ” You don’t need any skills besides some basic literacy and you don’t have to spend hours updating and creating content, adding information, or feeling bad that you haven’t done those things or checked the site.”

How to Set Up Your Twitter Profile

Setting up your profile on Twitter requires less time than Facebook because it only asks for a user name, a website, and a bio in 160 characters or less. Therein lies the power of Twitter. Forced to communicate in short segments, you get to write something interesting and useful at the same time. Like Facebook, you can also invite and connect your email lists. People “follow” you in Twitter. You have “followers”. You are “following” others.

How to Use Twitter

Because you have such a short space in which to write, Twitter forces writers to really focus in on what’s important. And what is that? Well, that depends on who you want to speak to and why. I’m assuming that you want to build your list of readers, and build rapport with potential readers. So your posts could be either be a micro back-cover blurb teaser, semipersonal posts about your daily life, a tweet about a cool resource you found online, or talking up another author’s book. For those of you who already maintain a blog or site, Twitter is also a great way to send people to your blog. Always add a URL to send people to your book, blog, or site. Use to shorten your long web address to 25 characters, thus saving space for content.

How to Build Followers on Twitter

This is the question people ask me the most. The answer is simple. Find others to follow and others will in turn follow you. Some of them will, anyway. After you’ve invited people from your email accounts, find people with common interests, by location, or with keywords by using Twitter’s Advanced search
tool: Search using keywords like book reviewer, historical romance, (or whatever your genre is), author, or literary agent, etc.

For Jewel, Twitter is “exponentially more effective and important than the “traditional” [social networking] sites.” I agree. The people you follow become a community, and create a conversation that flows around the world. And you get to be a part of that conversation, one you might not normally be a part of.
I follow people I think would be interested in what I have to offer. They can choose to follow me or not. You can opt to approve those who ask to follow you, or you can let anybody follow you. I find it’s best to let anybody follow you. You never know who is a potential reader. I am selective, however, of whom I
follow. I only want interesting and fun people, usually writers, and other creative types, book industry professional, and also bleeding-edge tech people.

Note: When I find someone interesting to follow, I check out their followers, and if I like them, I follow those folks too.

In addition to the ability to connect with potential readers, you can connect with bookstores, libraries, agents, editors, reviewers, columnists, the London Book Fair, the New York Times Book Review, publishers, and experts in the book publishing and marketing world. Jewel adds, “You suddenly have a community view that you would never have if you didn’t happen to be an insider yourself. Your view of that community is suddenly bigger, richer, more intimate and far more informed. You simply cannot get that from MySpace or Facebook. And, within that community, your voice is heard, too. You’re in the conversation and some portion of it is, in fact, all about you. On purpose. Your followers want that.”

So, come join the conversation, and have fun in the process. takes only a little bit of time and can broaden your reach as an author. See you on Twitter!

(First printed in the May 2009 issue of “Heart of the Bay,” newsletter of the San Francisco Area RWA. Sister chapters may reprint with credit. )

The Promotion Posse is a monthly column spotlighting promotional strategies for authors, written by members of SFA-RWA with a knack for PR. Beth Barany is a Creativity Coach to Aspiring Authors, and writes YA fantasy. She can be contacted at,, and

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  • Beth Barany says:

    Another great resource on twitter: “Social Media 101: Use Twitter to Attract prospects and Engage Customers.”

  • Sam Blake says:

    Hi Beth,
    I’m a total twitter convert! You have some superb points – twitter is definitley a powerful tool. Joe Finder puts the success of Vanished going in to the NYTimes Best Seller list down to Twitter – it helps that it’s a brilliant thriller, but he’s sure sales in independent book shops boosted sales and that was the basis of his twitter campaign. You can build relationships on Twitter that you would never manage in real life, and the information supplied by the blog network is amazing. And it’s a win win – it’s fun and it’s free….

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