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To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Advice for Authors

Twitter is a powerful resource for writers. It connects you with others and helps build relationships. When I was first introduced to it, I felt like I was posting in the wind. Luckily for me, I found Krista Davis on Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. Krista facilitated a workshop to help new users understand what this social media platform was all about. At the time, I had twelve followers and had posted ten tweets. She set up an online chat, and we asked questions, retweeted each other, and became accustomed to the platform and its conventions.

I also found Debbie Ridpath Ohi's website on tweeting for writers. This is an excellent resource for beginners or experienced tweeters. The Help file in Twitter is another good source of information if you’re looking for answers to “how to” questions.

To build followers, look at who followed you. Click Followers and select someone. You can see who they follow and who followed them. There may be people you want to add to your account.

I use Twitter to drive traffic to my blog. When I create a new post, I use TweetDeck to schedule a few nightly tweets for the upcoming week. I have noticed a huge difference in my website/blog traffic since I started this. Your characters are limited in Twitter, so you will probably need a site to shorten your URL for you. There are several free ones. I use Bitly. It also has a click tracker, so I see what posts are getting the most attention.

Tweepi is a good tool to use to clean up the follower list. Sometimes I follow people who never follow back or don't tweet. "Zombie" accounts (created to sell followers) end up in my list occasionally. And once in a while, you'll get a bunch of followers who drop you after you follow them. I open Tweepi about once a month and unfollow these.

Look at your Twitter presence. Make sure that you have a picture. (If you don't have a photo, you get an egg.) An egg is a clear indicator to others that you’re not interested enough to finish setting up an account.

Make sure you have a good biography with a link to your books and website. Update these as things change. The banner photo is a great place to put pictures of your book covers. You can change these as often as you like.

I also build lists in Twitter to keep up with groups of followers. When you add people to a list, you can see a feed from just the members. Lists help me stay organized because it creates a newsfeed from only the members.

You need to find others with similar interests. If you're trying to build followers, search for your interests. You can search for general or specific topics (e. g. writing, mysteries, agents, dogs, cats, writing tips, etc.). If you put a hashtag (#) in front of your search, you will get tweets others have tagged to that subject. Many conferences, fundraisers, and events create their own hashtags. There are quite a few literary agents who participate in Twitter pitches. It's a great way to connect with readers, writers, agents, and librarians.

You can include hashtags in your tweets, so that others searching for that topic can find you easily. There is a generational hashtag debate brewing. Readers over thirty don’t like too many hashtags. For them, two is about right. If millennials are your target audience, they don’t seem to mind a string of hashtags.

Here are some popular hashtags for writers and readers:

Be yourself when you tweet. Twitter is a social media platform, and you should use it to build relationships and find kindred spirits. Share (retweet) good information. Thank those who retweet for you and make sure to share their information.

Writers need to follow the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of your posts should be "buy my book" tweets. People are looking for conversations and interesting information. If you only deliver a sales pitch, you'll get ignored.

All the Lethal Ladies are active tweeters. Follow us and share writing and book publishing adventures. There is a list of us on our site if you want a quick way to see what we’re up to. Happy tweeting!

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