Twitter – How to Use It Effectively

by Gwen Fitzgerald

Every author wants to put him/herself out there, and it’s important to build an online base. But it’s hard to get noticed on a website crowded with people doing the same thing. Twitter is a powerful tool that allows one to give updates consistently, meaning that connections are made and maintained.

For an author, this makes it easier to build a platform while writing a book.  In the long run, this effort and attention will help with promotion and networking. Yes, it can be intimidating and confusing to begin building a Twitter “empire.” The end result is a marketable writing presence before finishing one’s book.

  1. Work Your Profile:

Fill out your bio with interesting information. Make it just a few lines long, but include your genre, your book’s title (or working title,) your passions, and profession. Including this information allows other Twitterers to find and add you.

Link your Facebook and website.  It’s quite normal for people to not use their real names on Twitter, so your Facebook friends might not think to look for you unless this link is established.

Use a relevant photo. Even if you don’t put in a self-portrait, it’s better to put in something that will catch your followers’ eyes. Use your book cover, or find some interesting focus of your writing a la vintage Penguin covers. It can seem tempting to use a photo of your dog in a Santa suit, but when people are browsing their home page, the picture is the main thing drawing their eye. The photo only adds to the recognition.

2.      Follow the Right People:

The best way to get followers is to follow people who will follow you back. While they’re interesting to read, celebrities probably won’t return the favor. Instead, imagine you’re at a networking event, and think about who you’d interact with. Try adding local writing clubs and bookstores; then look through their followers and find other writers, readers, agents, editors or publishers to follow (and interact with them).

If you’re writing non-fiction, find people who are experts in your subject, as well as people who share the same interest. You can find them by searching via hashtags and profiles. At that level, most people will follow you back.  Twitter is a better use of time when interacting with people who are helpful vs. falling into the trap of playing the numbers game.

3.      Say Interesting Things:

You’re building an identity as a writer. So, tweeting about your toast isn’t doing much good unless you’re writing a breakfast cookbook. How about posting a sentence from your novel that you’re particularly proud of or a really interesting piece of trivia from your research? Create posts that force interaction with followers. Create a hashtag (it’s as easy as putting a # symbol in front of a word- after that it’s automatic) and use it to monitor a contest or discussion you’ve created. Post a confusing photo and ask what people think it is. Look to how companies ask questions as a marketing tool. It will result in more interactions and increased traffic to your profile.

Use hashtags liberally. Almost everything you have to say can fit into a hashtag trend, and using hashtags helps people find you. Also, look at the current trends from your home page and post your thoughts using the hashtags.

Post pictures! If you see a funny book title in the library or have a new cover design, take a picture and post it using something like Twitpic. Pictures get people’s attention and are easy for people to follow.

Think about what would make you un-follow a person and avoid doing it! Anything that would be classified as TMI or potentially disrespectful to people should stay off your feed. You don’t want to alienate followers; it’s better to put one’s best foot forward.

Try to tweet twice a day. It doesn’t have to take a lot of energy or time, it just takes a minute to post a picture or some interesting trivia.

4.      Connect Your Twitter Identity to the Rest of It:

Include your Twitter username everywhere possible. Link to your personal Twitter page in the signature of emails, include it on business cards and Facebook – and more. It’s also easy to casually mention your Twitter username upon meeting another Twitter fanatic.  

With the assistance of an app, one can even tweet updates to a blog and post tweets on Facebook. Using a browser like Rockmelt for your social media posting makes it quick to connect to Twitter. There are also programs like HootSuite that are organized so one can hit almost every social media website at once.

One final note: There are people who hate Twitter. Please don’t be one of them. It’s a powerful tool and a great way to connect with people. And almost every design feature can be worked around. You can set your followers to come to you by RSS. If you feel like you don’t have the time to tweet once or twice a day, use a program like HootSuite or SocialOomph to schedule tweets for the future or use to text those tweets. With just a little effort, you can make Twitter work no matter what your style is.

In the end, the most important thing to remember is to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to “talk” on Twitter.  Don’t be intimidated to interact with others. Be yourself and express what you’re doing. People will come and be interested. It can only do you good, I promise.

Gwen is the wonderful intern behind the scenes, who makes life at Red Sofa Literary smoother. 🙂 She can be contacted at or found via Twitter at @GwenFitzgerald



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  1. Novel Girl on March 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I follow your point 2. I created my account for connecting with everything writing- and books- related, so celebrities don’t have a place in my following list. I can read how many babies they’re having via a magazine, if I want. I use Twitter to focus on connecting with people in the industry. 🙂

  2. Stephanie Faris on July 10, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I login to Twitter and get so frustrated…SO many promotional things and links. My advice, as a Twitter user, is to just post a sentence that engages people. Don’t promote your book or blog…at least not all the time. I skim over those. But if someone posts a question that bears a response, I’ll reply…and maybe retweet. And in time, their name will stick with me and I might click and see what they’ve written. Or, better yet, I might see their book on the shelves and remember their name and buy it.