Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Wrong Way to Promote Your Book on Twitter (REBLOG) #Spam #ASMSG

Because my own experiences as an author on twitter have been so very similar, I felt the need to reblog this insightful and entertaining blurb from Robert Bevan.
Before I get into this, I should make it known that I hate Twitter. I hate that it’s called Twitter. I hate that I have to refer to my posts on Twitter as “tweets”. I hate the character limit. I hate whole ‘race-to-get-more-followers-even-if-you-have-to-pay-for-fake-ones’ Twitter culture. I’d probably even hate most of the people I follow if I ever bothered to read what they write. Fortunately, I don’t. Twitter, at least for me, is the Diet Coke to Facebook’s having-sex-with-an-adventurous-gymnast. I’m not so good with analogies.
"What are these 'ogies' you speak of?"
So if I hate it so much, why am I on there every day? Well I’ll tell you. For all of the horrible continuous shitstorm that Twitter is, it’s also a fantastic means of getting your work noticed… if you’re willing to put in the effort.
You can find advice on how to use Twitter effectively all over the internet, and most of it will involve tips like “Be interesting and engaging”, “Don’t just spam your ads”, “Seek followers in your target audience rather than other authors”, and “Don’t be annoying”. I tried it that way in the beginning, and then one day I said “Fuck all that,” and developed the strategy I currently use.

On my journey as a self-published author, I’ve found that creatively breaking the rules of established conventional wisdom is often more effective than following them. You can see this in my amateurish book cover designs, my blurbs, and perhaps most in my decision to self-publish in the first place, rather than follow the age-old tradition of querying literary agents and publishers.

Let’s have a look at the conventional wisdom of Twitter usage, and discuss why I choose to give it two big middle fingers.

1, Be interesting and engaging. Who has time for that shit? I’m a self-published author. I know the path to success lies in writing more books. Every minute I waste trying to translate a coherent thought into text-message-ese is a minute that would be better-spent writing my next book.

So if I’m not there to be interesting or engaging, what do I post? That leads me to my next bit of anti-wisdom…

2, Don’t just spam your ads. I absolutely just spam my ads. That is 100% of what I do on Twitter. Well… that and spam other people’s ads. What’s that? Then why the hell does anyone follow me on Twitter? Segue Time!
3, Seek followers in your target audience rather than other authors. Why does anyone follow anyone on Twitter? One reason is that people like to follow celebrities, find out their opinions on politics or what they had for lunch or some such bullshit. That’s certainly not why people follow me. Another reason is that some people are just Twitter whores who want a bunch of followers. I’d guess that’s why a certain amount of people follow me, because I generally follow back (and unfollow those who unfollow me). But the primary reason people follow me is because I have something to offer them. These are the people who, just like me, are on Twitter to sell their shit. They retweet my book ads, and I retweet theirs.

I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the point? Other indie authors don’t want to buy your books. You’re just spamming each other. It’s just a huge circle jerk.” And you’re right. The people who follow me are not my target audience at all. Neither are most of the people who follow them, because we’re all pretty much just following each other. But “most” is the operative word there. For every person with tens of thousands of who retweets one of my tweets (my soul dies just a little bit more every time I say that word), I might reach a few hundred new potential readers. My followers, the whores and spammers, know this, which is why they continue to suffer through my bullshit, and spam it out to their own followers.

Am I making Twitter a worse place by doing this? Probably, but in my mind that’s the equivalent making dog shit less tasty.
There's literally nothing you can't find on the internet.
4, Don’t be annoying. Too late, bucko. If you’re on Twitter, you’re annoying. This is why my follower count continuously goes up, in spite of me tweeting the same thirty-something book ads over and over again every day. Sure, I lose followers every day as well. As funny and entertaining as my ads may be, they get old after the forty-seventh time you read them, and so some people finally decide they’ve had enough of me and drop me. But by that time, they’ve already either bought my books or decided they weren’t interested. My work with them is done. I simply unfollow them right back and get back to my spamming.

“So, Bob,” you say. “You’ve explained why you constantly act like a giant spammy douchebag on Twitter. Thanks for that. But in a moment of hollow shame, I too spammed my book ads, and they neither sold any books, nor gained me any followers. What am I doing wrong?”

There could be a number of things.

Maybe you write shitty books. Please don’t take that personally. I don’t know you or your books, but there are a lot of shitty ones out there. Maybe they have shitty covers. I mentioned above that my books have amateurish covers, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t put any thought into them. I like to think they have a sort of rough charm that appeals to my target audience.

Maybe you write shitty tweets. Twitter is not a subtle man’s game. Each person following you is constantly getting bombarded with hundreds (or even thousands) of tweets per minute, depending on how many people they follow. “Please check out my book. (title)(link)” just isn’t going to cut it. You need to stand out. Be bold.
Be funny.
Be borderline offensive.
People will draw their borderlines at different places.
Before I leave you, I'd like to share some tips on how to get the most out of your Twitter relationship with me. Some of you might be wondering why I don't retweet you. Here are a few possible reasons...

1. You don't retweet me. Maybe you mention me. Maybe you say nice things and even share a link to my books. Maybe you even copy and paste one of my tweets into your own tweet (By the way, why the fuck do you do that?). But if it's not a retweet, I'm going to ignore it.

2. You make your own tweets nigh-impossible to find. As I mentioned before, I don't like Twitter. I want to spend as little time there as possible. I want to be in and out in twenty minutes. I'm not going to spend ten minutes scrolling down your Twitter feed searching for something you'd like to have retweeted. If I don't find anything in the first ten seconds of scrolling, I'm probably going to skip you. Do yourself a favor. Whatever message you want the world to see, post that shit on top.

3. You're a spammer.

Yeah, I know. We're all spammers. I'm talking about Twitter meta-spam. When you tweet those ads for products that auto-tweet your crap for you, or keep track of your followers, or whatever. If I see the words "Contributed tweets for @SomeStupidAsshole are delivered by @SpamGeneratorShitheads", you get skipped.

4. You don't follow me. My Twitter family has grown to the point that I can't retweet everyone who retweets me anymore. So while I can't blame you for not wanting to watch my endless stream of recycled spam, and I do appreciate your retweets, I give priority to those who are following me.

So there we have it. I've shared with you the secrets of how we can make Twitter an even more miserable place together, and maybe sell some books. Will my strategy work for you? Who knows? Give it a try. The nice thing about Twitter is that none of your followers really give a shit about you or what you have to say. So even if this doesn't work for you, nobody will even remember it twenty seconds later.

-- Robert Bevan.


  1. Great article. Qutite helpful entertaining an enlightening! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post!

    Way to go, Travis, but why did you beat around the bush?

    Best, Steve

  3. Loved this article, Travis. Thanks for sharing. I've now followed Bob. :)

  4. I agree, Travis and Robert! I have more respect for the twitter-whores than the twitter-debutantes . . . . At least the former are honest about what they're looking for (sales)!!