Twitter marketing won’t suit everyone, but if you’d like to cast a net beyond your circle of family and friends, Twitter marketing can help. Please welcome Decima Blake, author of the crime mystery novel, Hingston’s Box. Decima and I met each other on Twitter, and she kindly agreed to write about how she’s using Twitter to find readers for her book. Connect with her on Twitter — @Decima_Blake — and let her know you read her article.
Thanks so much, Decima, for introducing us to a topic we all need to be thinking about.
In September 2016, I joined Twitter ahead of the publication of my debut crime/mystery novel, Hingston’s Box. My publisher, Pegasus Publishers (@pegasuspublish), wanted me to use social media to assist them with marketing. Having no social media accounts, I was slightly apprehensive about where to begin and sceptical about how I would fare on any of them.
Twitter appealed to me because of the 140-character limit per Tweet. You can’t write too much, and this makes the process speedy; but the character limit can also create a good writing challenge.
Twitter Marketing Isn’t As Hard As You Think
I read Twitter’s Help Center pages and Googled “how to use Twitter.” Satisfied it was for me, I then signed up and spent time browsing Twitter.
The following stood out to me as important considerations for marketing my book:
- Everything you do on Twitter needs to convey its key message in no more than a glance.
- Your profile photo and header photo should be eye-catching and represent you well.
Figure Out Your Profile
For consistent marketing, I used the professional author photograph that appears in my book (Seamus Ryan, photographer (@Seamusphoto).
I hand-write my books, so I decided my header would be a composition of my fountain pen and my handwritten copy of Hingston’s Box. I used a “picture effect” setting on my camera so that it didn’t overpower my profile photo.
I chose a complimentary theme colour so that my profile page is limited to three main colours: black, white and gold.
(The 2016 size for Twitter banners is 1500 x 500 pixels. Some designers are using 1500 x 423. You’ll want to size the banner correctly, or Twitter will resize it for you. Canva is a good program to use for creating Twitter headers and graphics.)
After the Design
Once I’d decided on a profile picture and a Twitter banner, I began Tweeting. Here are some ideas that helped me get started:
- Tweets should be clearly written and easily understood.
- Lots of hashtags would make Tweets appear cluttered. I tried to make use of hashtags (#) without including too many per Tweet.
- If I mentioned another Twitter user in my Tweet, I included their @username (also known as a Twitter handle) so that they were notified.
- I made Tweets eye-catching by adding relevant photographs that supported my message.
I knew that images would help me capture the attention of those scanning their Twitter feeds.
Before I sent my first Tweet, I prepared a small library of photographs that directly related to my book. I had taken a number of these when I visited locations that appear in Hingston’s Box. The locations include Dartmouth in Devon and The National Archives in Kew.
Be True To Yourself
Twitter marketing can introduce you to a large number of potential readers, but if you’re on Twitter for a while, you’ll see many authors relentlessly marketing their books. If you can avoid being one-dimensional on Twitter, you’ll gain more followers.
Retweeting other people is very important. Not only is it integral to the purpose of Twitter, it is community-spirited and helpful to others. You may also begin to form networks with other Twitter users. This is how Marylee MacDonald and I met each other. In the course of time she kindly asked me to write this guest post.
You can discover many people on Twitter with shared interests and hobbies, so Tweet and Retweet about your varied interests, too. Enjoy Twitter and show there is more to you than just your writing.
After I created my profile, I began to use Twitter. I followed a very small number of people and places I already knew of. These included Embrace Child Victims of Crime (@CVOCCharity). The charity receives a percentage of the royalties from sales of Hingston’s Box. I also followed The National Archives UK (@UKNatArchives), The Natural History Museum (@NMH_London), Seamus Ryan, mentioned above, and a friend of mine who is very well versed in Twitter.
My first Tweet went live a fortnight before my publisher released Hingston’s Box. I announced my debut crime mystery novel, included my own hashtag #HingstonsBox, my twitter handle @Decima_Blake, a hyperlink to my page on the Pegasus Publishers’ website, and a photograph.
Rather than bombarding my followers, I sent a few Tweets about my book per week. I started to Retweet and to Tweet more about Hingston’s Box. I varied the photographs and the content, and I searched for crime fiction and mystery conventions, festivals, relevant museums, book reviewers and bookshops. I began to follow authors, and some of those followed me back.
I was very fortunate to find a book reviewer, TheDorsetBookDetective (@HelpImHannah). She kindly agreed to review my book. To my surprise, Hannah posted her review on the publication day for Hingston’s Box. I was delighted.
As time progressed, I looked for new people who were being Retweeted by those I was already following. I also searched for keywords and hashtags. This soon led me to follow photographers, Victorian enthusiasts, botanists, artists, and classic car fans. These folks have similar interests. As I found new people to follow, my followers increased.
I’m still continuing to learn as I go.
Aside from new people, the best “discoveries” I’ve made relate to certain hashtags. By using hashtags, I know which posts my followers Retweet. Only use hashtags when they’re relevant. Don’t overload your Tweets, or they’ll be incomprehensible.
Besides whatever personal hashtags you create, you can piggyback your Tweets on hashtags that pop up every week. These include #ThePhotoHour and #StormHour. For the Twitter marketing campaign for Hingston’s Box, local groups #SouthHamsHour and #Devonhour helped me reach targeted audiences on Wednesdays. Further to these, I’ve also planned Tweets that fit #ThrowBackThursday and #FlashBackFriday.
Twitter Marketing and Reviewers
Part of a Twitter marketing campaign involves me finding reviewers. In less than four months I’ve met numerous engaging, supportive and professional book reviewers. Hingston’s Box is being reviewed in the UK, Belgium, Spain and the USA.
Outside of the writing world, I’ve had numerous very positive engagements via Direct Message and replies to Tweets with like-minded people. I’ve even been asked to Tweet my views on an intriguing, pilot film-noir web series called The Run by Double Take Films (@DoubleTake_ltd). All this activity has taken place in a little over three months. I’m amazed by how helpful people are to each other on Twitter.
In conclusion, I’m glad I joined, and the amount of “likes” applied across Twitter each day is an indication of the positivity of its users, I think. I’d highly recommend Twitter to any author, hobbyist or professional seeking to improve their marketing, visibility and contacts.
(See below for links to order your copy of Hingston’s Box. Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads.)
Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, a short story collection, and THE RUG BAZAAR, a chapbook. Her books and stories have won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, a Readers’ Favorites Gold Medal for Drama, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, and many others. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and when not reading or writing books, she loves to walk on the beach and explore National Parks.