(Buy Small Magics and Cold Magics so you'll be ready when True Magics comes out and yes, I am getting the sales pitch out of the way early)
Why Twitter?It’s the easiest to use and the fastest to build a following on. Twitter has lots of writers, readers, fantasy fans, horror fans, historical fiction fans, YA fans, etc., etc., etc.
And most important of all, it is very, very easy to be found and followed.
I’m still learning Twitter. There’s a lot about it I don’t know, and there’s a steep learning curve ahead as I work on turning my followers into my fans, but here’s what I’ve got so far.
Getting More FollowersI’ve gone from approximately 150 followers to 4,761 at the time of typing this. I expect to break 5,000 by the end of the week. And it’s all because I am, in fact, stunningly interesting.
Little love here, folks…
All right. It’s not because I’m stunningly interesting (though I do try). The truth is that if you’re not already famous (or notorious), rich or stunningly good looking, you aren’t going to be building followers at any great speed just by being present and tweeting regularly.
So I’m doing it differently.
After some research I decided to gain new followers as described in this article by C.S. Larkin. The gist of it is this: I follow people who are interested in the same things I am, and the ones that follow me back, I keep. The ones that don’t follow back, I unfollow, usually in 24 to 48 hours.
It sounds fairly heartless, doesn’t it?
I think of it like cold calling in sales. I follow someone. They look over my tweets and decide if they want me to follow back. When they do I send them a direct message. Once they read that, they decide if they want to keep me. If they don't, I unfollow them to make room for those who will.
A Word About that Direct MessageThere is debate over direct messages in Twitter. They’re used for advertising and for spam, they’re impersonal (if you write them badly) and they can annoy people.
That said, a properly written direct message is a polite way to tell a new follower that you are glad to have them. Here’s mine:
Welcome! I tweet about writing, books, TV, movies, web series, science, stage combat, and stuff that’s just neat. Thanks for following!
No sales pitch. No requests for friends on Facebook. No requests to visit my website. No demand for retweets.
Of the 4500 followers I have gained in the last few months, I have had exactly one complaint. So I’d say it’s working just fine.
So How Do I Find Followers?I use JustUnfollow to find people to follow because it allows me to search by hashtag or keyword (such as #amwriting #amreading #fantasy #scifi #horror #YA). It also allows me to find people who write similar things and follow their followers. That’s the one that works best for me so far.
But are they “good” followers?Right now, my followers are made up of:
- people who think I’m interesting
- people who think I might be interesting
- people who automatically follow back anyone who follows them
- The odd spam-bot (I'm working on wiping those out).
Another word for them is “fans.” And turning followers into fans is my job. If they aren't interested, they'll leave.
Tweeting!I try to live tweet at least tree times a day. I also use find.ly every week to gather together articles I like (see the list in my Direct Message) and Hootsuite to send out scheduled tweets with them. This way the account is always active.
The daily tweets are the hard ones because if I’m not careful they become a variation on “Sitting at #desk. #Amwriting.” Most of the articles I send out get at least 2 retweets. Some get many more, including some of these blog posts. Thanks, folks.
Retweeting and FavoritingI do as much of this as I can, when I can. I favorite and retweet causes I support and statements I agree with, as well as articles, pictures or tweets that fall into the parameter of my welcome message, or that I find funny or interesting.
If you are advertising your book/play/web series/comic/event with exciting copy and I read it, I will probably re-tweet it (Put “#Retweet” “#RT” or best of all, “Please #Retweet” in your tweets to improve your retweet numbers). If you have boring or nonsensical copy, I will not. My follower’s time (and mine) is valuable. I’m not going to waste it.
I don’t retweet anything political or religious because my twitter feed is for selling books, not debating beliefs. I don’t retweet anything off-colour because of the demographics of my target audiences.
Final Note: Don't Be CreepyThis article went way longer than I expected, both in time to write and length, but I need to say one more thing.
Don’t be creepy.
One of the problems with JustUnfollow is that, if you follow as many as I do, you tend not to look at whom you follow. This can lead to political or religious connections you don’t want, people you don’t like, and some times, it can make you look creepy.
Case in point: My next series is a YA horror series aimed at young adults, with a possible middle grade audience as well. I thought about following Rick Riordan’s followers, figuring they would like what I write. Fortunately I looked them over first.
As would be expected for someone who writes middle-grade fiction, most of Rick Riordan's followers are minors.
I did not follow them.
As a rule, I try not to follow anyone under 18 years old. Because having a guy in his 40s following you when you’re a minor is creepy.
Don’t be creepy.
Next week: Wait a minute! What about Promoting Your Books on Twitter?