Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Business of Writing: Better Tweets for Your Books! #MFRWOrg #ASMSG #IARTG

Back in February, I blogged about Twitter marketing for authors in this post. It focuses mainly on how to manage your Twitter account to maximize your network following and grow your list of people who faithfully retweet your posts.

Today I'm diving into the nuts and bolts of creating better tweets for your books. 

If you're just getting started, you can read some solid general tweeting advice (if a bit dated, since Twitter has abandoned its longer-tweet plan, and thank heaven for that mercy) by Teena Thach for the Socedo blog.

For those of you who have been around the Twitter block a time or two, I invite you to consider the following examples.

Tweet Example 1

Wil's Winter: Five years later (Red Summer Book 2) Antoinette Houston (Author) @1975Okame

Does that tweet induce you to click on the book's link? Maybe, if you're already a fan of the series or are familiar with the author's other work.

Better: aim for a unique, intriguing hook, such as:
Even a small town with a stupid name like Horsenose can have big-city drama.
WIL'S WINTER: 5 Yrs Later by @1975Okame

Note that I had to shorten the subtitle and didn't have room for the author's name. I prefer to embed my Twitter handle (@KimHeadlee, and thanks for the follow! :) in my tweets whenever I have room for it so I can track its reach. But then I was fortunate enough to claim a Twitter handle that's recognizable as my name.

The other issue with the tweet in Example 1 is that the shortened link expands to point to the paperback edition of the book, rather than the Kindle edition I coded into my version. That's not a "Twitter sin" per se, but I've learned that most customers will be more likely to impulse-buy the less expensive digital version rather than paying far more to kill a tree.

Note also that I didn't bother to shorten my link. That's because Twitter dedicates 23 characters to a link regardless of its length. If you don't believe me, try it!

Tweet Example 2
A romantic comedy adventure for anyone who likes a good story. @kezzamac  #beezeebooks
Okay... so we've got a romantic comedy-adventure story. What's the title? Removing the extra space between the link and the hashtag leaves 28 characters in which to give the title. Potential customers need to see an item at least seven times before deciding to buy it. They won't know what to buy if you don't tell them!

Tweet Example 3
INVISIBLE CHILD is about a boy who is hidden and then abandoned by parents @GolondrinaBooks
When I see passive voice in a tweet, I wonder whether the book was written that way too. To solve that problem, I would rewrite the tweet as:

What happened to @GolondrinaBooks's INVISIBLE CHILD, who was hidden then abandoned by his parents?
Note that I reworded the hook as a question that cannot be answered by either "yes" or "no."

Why? The yes-or-no question is the weakest form of writing because it's the easiest to dismiss. You do not want to give potential readers any excuse to dismiss your books!

Of course you can also incorporate review blurbs and excerpts in your tweets.

In every case, select language designed to engage and entice your readers.

Happy tweeting and marketing!


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  1. Great points all around. Something to keep in mind if using Hootsuite like I do. Never let the program shorten an already shortened url (such as tinyurl or bitly). The link won't work. I had that happen to me when I released a new book in May. The first 9 days of the month, I had mistakenly set a shortened Amazon link in the Hootsuite "add a link" box. I was getting massive clicks for the book, but it only went to an Oops, we can't find it page. >_<

    1. Indeed! I'm so sorry that happened to you, and I'm glad you caught it. It didn't occur to me to cover that point because the first time that happened to me, when I was younger and stupider about composing tweets, I vowed to never again use any link shortener other than Hootsuite's.

  2. Great advice (posted it to my FB page for other writers to see). I had not idea about the 23 spaces per URL - does that mean if my link goes into the "blue" it will still be valid?

    1. Thanks, Chelle, for visiting and sharing!

      Twitter carves out 23 characters per link in a tweet regardless of how long -- or short -- a link is. That's why I don't bother with "" links. Yeah they're short, but they don't save you any space in your tweet.

      I'm not sure what you mean by "going into the 'blue'" -- what I do to check the length is I open a "compose tweet" box and then watch the character count as I add my link and other text, and trim the tweet until the remaining character count is no longer negative. If it's negative, Twitter won't let the tweet be posted.

      All of that said, if you're using Hootsuite, you need to realize that they now (as of a few months ago) take =24= characters for a link rather than 23. I had to edit a bunch of the tweets I reuse to accommodate that little wrinkle, which they so kindly introduced without any warning or explanation whatsoever.

      When in doubt, just experiment. Good luck! :)


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