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On Marketing for Authors: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

When it comes right down to it for me I’d rather be writing than marketing. As a self published author though, marketing is a necessary evil if I want to sell books. Selling books both in shops and online is what most authors want, but to be honest I didn’t know the first thing about ecommerce and online sales. Fortunately my friend (another author, of course!) pointed out that a great guide called What is Ecommerce by Salesforce gives lots of useful information about the world of online shopping. But with that being said, I hate that it takes time away from writing but, since my objective is to sell my work and make a modest second income at it, putting on my sales hat from time to time is a must.

I’ve been learning shoestring marketing by the seat of my pants. The gist of every single thing I’ve read or heard is this; if you’re an author selling your work in any forum – whether in brick and mortar stores or digitally – social media is the be all, end all place you must make a strong showing to gain fans and turn them into book buyers. Figuring out where…what specific sites I need to be on, is the burning question that I’ve had all along and, I can be sure with better than 90% certainty, that I’m not alone among struggling indie authors. Here’s the problem; every ‘expert’ I’ve noted on the topic has an opinion on just where you must be but few of them agree with each other.

Here’s what I’ve learned to be absolutely true so far, to date:

  1. You must have an author website and, preferably, a blog like this one. Some say it should have it’s own URL, etc. while others say a free site or blog (like this one currently is) is fine. You need a site and or blog to connect with your potential readers and to give readers, other bloggers, reporters, etc. ways to contact you. Those are all important people in the book world so it’s a given that having a site on the web to address them is important.

  2. You must have either a Facebook personal profile or a fan page for yourself as an author or for your book. From this page you must be personable and interact with your fans and your potential fans. What you must not do is overtly market your stuff in your posts. You can pin your blog posts. You can show off your cover creative. You can let people know when your book(s) are on free promo but you cannot ever say “BUY THIS BOOK.” Apparently, direct marketing by an author, on his her own fan page, about his or her own work, to people who have liked the page because they like that authors work is a big no-no! Who knew?

Beyond those two things, most websites and books on marketing tout being active on Twitter as the next best thing you can do for yourself as an author from a social media standpoint. I’m not so sure about that! Let me tell you about my experience so far with Twitter:

*As of January 18th, I had 340 ‘followers’. Of those, I’d say well over half are other authors. Are authors readers? Of course they are! However my personal observations have shown me that the great bulk of what the majority of the authors connected to me tweet is 90-100% about their books. They’re using Twitter to aggressively market only. BORING!

  • Of the remaining 100+, 65 are followers that want to help me tweet out my eBook. I have a public list of these. Here it is. Some charge for the service. Some do not. Many, many of them tweet dozens or hundreds of times per day to their lists. Again, BORING! And the sad part? When my book was free for a couple of days and I actively tweeted about it and sought retweets from some of these 65 that will tweet about free books, no one bothered to help me out. Not one. I guess they were already full up pounding the cloud with stuff. If all of this marketing bothers me as a fellow author looking to market too, I can only imagine what a frustration it is to the millions of non-authors that are on the receiving end of all of this aggressive marketing.

I’m not going to tweet about my current single book anymore. When I release additional books, they’ll get a mention on release day and I’ll change my banner on Twitter. Other than that, there won’t be any aggressive marketing there from me. Might I miss out on a few sales? Possibly. To that I say, oh well. I’m tired of marketing being rammed down my throat so I’m not going to be a purveyor of the same type of crap.

For my own Twitter sanity, I’ve actually made a private, personal list of my followers, many of them authors but some not, who tweet about things of interest besides their books or anything else they may be pushing to sell. Right now, I have 39 people on it out of 340 followers. That’s not even 12% but, frankly, I’m surprised it’s over 10%. These people actually share things that are worth reading and passing along. No one makes my personal, private list, if most of what they tweet isn’t worth reading or marking as a favorite or re-tweeting…or all three.