On Supporting Indie Authors on Twitter: Trick or Tweet?

When I created an account on Twitter as part of my author platform, I wondered how I'd gain followers. I didn't even understand how Twitter worked. It was too fast, too curt, and what can you say with 140 characters? But as an author, I needed to be there to promote my work. So I tentatively tweeted my books and the books of The Alliance of Self Published Authors.

As I spent more time, I figured that my fellow authors on Twitter would want the same things that I did. We'd have the same motives and aims. I wanted my book to be visible to as many people as possible. I wanted RTs. Surely they needed the same.

I started RTing their books even if I didn't know them personally. I picked up their campaigns... and waddya know, they started doing the same for me and my followers grew. I finally cracked the secret of gaining followers. You do for others what you want them to do for you. Some will not respond, but some will. Those who do is what counts. 

One of the loudest voices among authors is Tamara Ferguson's. I noticed that she had the same idea. She tweeted the books of many authors, and other businesses too. I wanted to know why she did these regular shout-outs. Lord knows, it takes a lot of time composing the tweets, with images and all. Luckily, she agreed to guest post on my blog and explain what these shout outs are for.

Let's see what Tammy has to say:

Fifteen Months Later . . . 

I was in the process of FINALLY writing an updated post about our author shout outs when author Eeva Lancaster was kind enough to ask me if I’d like to write a post for her blog.

WHAT did she want me to write about?

My twitter shout outs, coincidentally – WHY do I do them?

I’ll have to start at the beginning. About a year and a half ago, when I first set up on twitter, I’d been advised by a marketing consultant it’d be helpful for selling my books.

And on my first day on twitter, I looked at a tweet through the eyes of a reader; a simple message with a book title, a bunch of hashtags (I didn’t even have a clue as to what they stood for), and a link to a book that I could barely make out amongst all the hashtags.

I thought to myself – what would make me buy that author’s book?

My answer?

Absolutely nothing.

But still I moved on, and continued tweeting authors. Gradually, I began to grow followers, and then I ended up becoming involved with a few of the retweet groups. I made some good friends, and acquired a bunch of new followers, but I also began losing many of the followers who were writers.

When I won 700 followers, because of my retweeting in the retweet groups, I thought to myself – this is silly. Many of the followers I’d acquired didn’t even appear to speak English – so how was this helping me sell my books? 

This was when I realized I needed to make my time on twitter more efficient as well as useful. Several of my author friends were doing author shout outs. So why not try to do the same, but with a little more pizzazz? I think that, subconsciously, I was recalling my first day on twitter, and the book tweet I’d noticed, that never even encouraged me to open up its link.

So – just like many of you have continuously reciprocated tweeting each other’s books, I began shouting out authors with a visible presence on twitter – mostly those who were interacting with me as well as following. The majority of them were tweeting their own books daily, so this made it easier to pick up links and pictures.

It’s been nearly fifteen months now – I can barely even remember when the numbers began to change – I think it was back around the three month mark. Everything I devised from that point on was through the eyes of a READER, not an author. Before I began writing, I was somewhat of a speed-reader – I used to sometimes read 20 books a week (yes – really!!) I’d order books like crazy from Amazon when I couldn’t find what I wanted at our local library.

And the first thing I looked for when I searched for a book?

THE GENRE! I’ve noticed that many of the authors I’m shouting out don’t always make this clear in their book description when I visit Amazon to pull a review snippet. The rest of the tweet is targeted at making it as simple as possible for a reader to FIND your link and open it up to purchase your book!

What started out as please follow shout outs developed into genre hashtags with a regular lined up format – to make it easier for readers to view the information about your book during the fleeting period of time your tweet appears on twitter. I’d finally figured out the spacing of the 140 characters and made use of each single space while adding symbols. I think what helped me the most were the cover pictures of everyone’s books. I believe they’re important for developing reader recognition for your books. 

Now, FINALLY, I’m back to Eeva’s original question – WHY?

I firmly believe that repetition is the key to selling books on twitter. Some of you probably ask – who in the heck is Tamara Ferguson? One of these days – maybe – I’ll get into my past sales experience. But it’s not important – none of this has anything to do with monetary gain for myself – except that maybe I’ll be able to sell a few more of my books :O)

Did I expect so many authors to become involved with this when I began?

Not in a million years.

Of course, this program hasn’t worked out for everyone. And some authors drop out before really giving it a chance – they quit tweeting the other authors’ shout outs much too quickly when they’re not being retweeted by the group. RTs in our group usually comes with the CONSISTENCY of their retweeting – NOT with their success as an author. Everyone I add to the group begins on an equal footing. Speaking of which – I know there’re a lot of authors out there who’re frustrated because I haven’t added them yet.

But I’m only one person.

And the biggest challenge so far has been cutting back the time I spend on the program. Only 4 months ago, I was spending 50-70 hours per week on twitter – which I’ve managed to cut back to around 40 by moving some of the tweets over to auto – even though I STILL have to set up and tweet everyone manually throughout the night (I’ll be adding additional information about how I plan to cut back on this even further on my own blog).

Some nights, when I’m really exhausted – or I have contact with someone who behaves like a total jerk to me – I DO ask myself – WHY? But then I stick those thoughts into the back of my brain before I return for another night on twitter.

Except for the paid twitter promoters, there’re really no organized tweeting groups for authors. And now that we even have members from ASMSG, IAN1, IARTG as well as several others following along with us throughout the night, we’re more EFFECTIVE as a group.

If readers know we’re there, they’re more likely to search for a book when we’re tweeting on a schedule. By retweeting EACH OTHER’S books, we’re tempting your reader to open up your link LOTS more quickly. According to research I’ve done– it takes 5-10 views of your cover before a reader even thinks about opening the link to your book.

Once I began this program, I felt obligated to continue and follow through with all the attention it seemed to be getting from other authors.

As well as the appreciation.

And that’s what it all comes down to.

WHY do I continue with the shout outs?

Because the majority of you seem to consider this program valuable, otherwise I wouldn’t keep on moving forward.

Thanks so much for asking me to visit Eeva!

Thank you for guesting on my blog, Tammy!
In behalf of all the authors you support, thank you for all the hard work.

If you're one of the authors benefiting from Tammy's efforts, feel free to comment.
Has it helped you in your marketing campaign? How?

Visit Tamara Ferguson's Website

About Tammy:

A member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as the FTHRW Chapter, Tamara Ferguson is the top-ten best-selling, multi-award winning author of the Kissed By Fate Romance Series and the Tales of The Dragonfly Romance Suspense Series. Her latest release is Two Hearts Surrendered. This military romance is her contribution to the bestselling Magical Weddings anthology, which includes stories by fifteen USA Today, best-selling, and award-winning authors.

Connect with Tammy:

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