Twitter: Not for Selling Books

twitter_logoBy now we’ve all seen it, the author who’s been told that Twitter is a great way to sell books. So every other tweet is about their book, their W.I.P, or their specials and freebies and distribution channels and so forth and so on. Given that we’ve all been trained to tune out advertising at this point, the only thing this author has done is succeed in turning their message about their book into white noise. Publishers like to advance this notion of social media equating to sales, but there’s no empirical data to support this position. In fact, only 37% of marketers even think Facebook is effective.

Personally, the quickest way to get me to tune out of an author’s Twitter stream is for them to continually tweet at me about buying their book. Cute hashtags (and BTW, they will always be pound signs to me) like #BuyMyBook or #FreeToday still count. Now, you’ve just told me that you think I’m too stupid to realize that the perfectly sized quote from your new release is really just another way of getting me to #BuyYourBook.

In my very unscientific opinion, that’s not why people are on Twitter. People are on Twitter to engage with one another. I’d even venture to say that an author could not mention their book except on those rare occasions such as release, sales, and freebies and sell plenty of books.

Why? Because people will check out your books when they relate to what you have to say. Authors like Remittance Girl, Brent Weeks, and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens have figured this out. They rarely tweet about their books and yet, I’m anxiously haunting each one of their new releases to read what they’re putting out next.

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Authors could learn a lot from them about how to use social media. I love getting a window into RG’s life as she works toward a Ph.D and travels the globe. Brent Weeks is a cool guy who has a great sensibility and seems like someone I’d like to talk with at a BBQ. And the Reeves-Stevens, well, I’ve been a fangirl since Bloodshift some 20 years ago. I sought them out on Twitter, but still. I enjoy the glimpse into their lives.

To my way of thinking, this is how you use Twitter as an author.

10 thoughts on “Twitter: Not for Selling Books

  1. I’m inclined to agree (I love reading R.G.’s tweets. They are so interesting). The marketing tweets don’t bother me, but for every 50 I see on my timeline I may click on 2. Not great buying odds really.

  2. I don’t get Twitter in the first place. But that’s cause I’m old. I’ve seen authors who already have a large following use Facebook to generate enthusiasm among existing fans, but it’s hard to see how most authors are going to actually sell many copies using “social media”. But maybe I’m just missing something.

  3. Twitter can be useful for an author for promoting contests or giveaways, etc, but I agree — it doesn’t work for book selling and tends to tick a lot of readers off.

  4. i had a twitter friend who literally sent on average 10 tweets an hour(!!!) about his political thriller. even without him being a friend, i hate political thrillers. i no longer follow him.

  5. This is interesting–I just finished reading an article about how artists should engage prospective clients and the one thing that everyone agreed on was not to overly promote yourself, make yourself or your work the constant topic all the time-especially with social media- it appears to be a mixed bag in using social media and one, as you point out, that does not always guarantee the best of results. Thoughtful post-thank you!

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