Emily Benet bagged herself a publishing deal on the back of her blog, and got millions of hits for her Wattpad series – now, she’s taking the digital world into her own writing in her new book, #PleaseRetweet. We caught up with her to find out the essential things authors should be doing to market their books on Twitter.
When I first joined Twitter in February 2009, I didn’t get it at all. I felt like I was in a busy airport where everyone was just shouting out at random. I never thought it would end up inspiring my novel #PleaseRetweet. Although my book is a comedy teasing our obsession with social media, I can’t underestimate how influential it has been on my writing career. I have made great contacts from being on Twitter, which in turn has led to speaking events, writing jobs and increased readership. The only way to make sense of Twitter is to get stuck in. Give it six months… what’s the worst that can happen?
1. Brand your profile
As writers we don’t normally have a logo, but instead we can use the same headshot across our social networks. This is good for strengthening our online identity and making us more recognisable.
You can also add a banner to your profile showing off your books, or something else representative of you. If you are a blogger, use the same banner you use for your blog. The recommended size is 1500 × 500, and it can be tricky to get it exactly how you want, as your profile picture will hide a part of it. Experiment to see how it looks, but don’t worry too much. It’s much more important that you have a profile picture, as otherwise the default ‘egg’ image will make you look like spam.
I use getgimp.com for making banners and customising images. It’s like a free Photoshop and there are plenty of helpful tutorials online to help you get to grips with it.
2. Make lists
When you’re following hundreds of people, if not thousands, it’s easy to miss out on the people and tweets you’re most interested in. The best way to keep track is to organise the people you follow into lists. For example, you might want a separate list for book bloggers, editors, cover designers and so on. You can choose to keep these lists public or private. You can also add people to a list without following them.
3. Share great content
Retweeting content to your own followers – with or without your own comments – is a great way of engaging with people. There are times when you might even want to share a tweet outside of Twitter. Social media is all about sharing, so as long as the tweet is attributed to its author, which it automatically will be, they won’t mind at all.
4. Embed tweets in your blog
The option to embed a tweet is very useful for bloggers. It’s as simple as copying and pasting the code into the HTML window of your blog post. (If you use Blogger, this window appears under a tab called ‘HTML’, but in Wordpress it will be called ‘Text’.)
Here’s a straightforward video of how to embed a tweet into a blogger blog.
5. Integrate your Twitter feed
Make sure people can find you easily by integrating all your networks. You can either add a Twitter Follow button to your blog, or you can embed a Twitter Feed so people can see your activity without needing a Twitter account.
The option to add a Twitter feed is available in Wordpress blogs and can be found under ‘Widgets’. Alternatively, you will need go to your Twitter account ‘Settings’, select ‘Widgets’ from the menu, and there you can customise how you would like your feed to look on your blog. You will then need to copy the code generated by Twitter, and paste it into the sidebar of your blog. Here’s how to embed your Twitter feed in a blogger blog.
You can also add a Twitter tab to your Facebook page. Go the menu on your Facebook page, select ‘More’, and ‘Manage Tabs’.
6. Temporarily mute rather than unfollow
If people are abusive on Twitter then don’t hesitate to unfollow and block. However, there might be times when people are simply just talking incessantly about a subject you’re simply not interested in. For instance, a television show or sporting event. You can choose to mute people temporarily.
It’s perfectly acceptable to unfollow people if you’re never interested in their tweets, however when you’ve met those people in real life and may meet them again, it’s probably less awkward if you just mute them!
7. Engage with hashtags
If you are spending an evening tweeting about an event or a show, like #Eurovision, or BBC Question Time #bbcqt, make sure you use the hashtag given on the programme. If you don’t, your tweets will sound incoherent in your followers’ feeds. By adding a hashtag, your tweets are indexed in the bigger conversation about the show that goes beyond your timeline, so anyone following the hashtag will see you. It’s a way of gaining more followers.
8. Tweet frequently
There are no rules, but the reality is that Twitter is pointless if you only tweet once a week.
Some people use Friend or Follow, a website which provides stats on their followers and following. The first people they will unfollow, often to readdress the balance of following to followers, are those who haven’t been on Twitter for a few weeks. You need to be tweeting daily.
Finding out what time is best is down to experimentation. Some people find their following most responsive during the morning commute, others tweet regularly at lunch time. The important thing to remember, like all social networks, is interaction is key. Don’t just go online to broadcast your own message. Take time to reply to other people, as that’s how you build a community and a loyal readership.
Emily Benet is a half Welsh – half Spanish Londoner, currently living on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Wherever she’s lived her passion for writing has followed.
Her debut book Shop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in her Mum’s eccentric chandelier shop. It won the CompletelyNovel Author Blog Awards at the London Book Fair.
Her second book, a romantic comedy called The Temp, also began its life online, as a serialised novel on Wattpad and racked up two million hits under its original title Spray Painted Bananas. Her new novel, #PleaseRetweet , teases society’s obsession with celebrity and social media. It came out on the 5th November 2015, published by HarperCollinsUK.
Connect with Emily on Twitter.
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