Friendly Follows

Unless you’re writing purely for yourself, your aim is to sell your work to readers. Selling is a word that often has Indie authors running for the hills. It shouldn’t though. If you want people to read your books, you’re going to have to have them buy them to begin with. There’s nothing torrid about selling your books. Nothing to be ashamed of. So do it. Sell that stuff. But sell it politely. One of the most powerful tools for Indie authors to find readers is Twitter. Unfortunately some of the really hardcore OY BUY MY BOOK brigade have muddied the waters there a little, with their ad nauseam spamming of their books without ever posting anything else. That doesn’t mean that Twitter won’t help you sell books anymore though. You just have to be patient, post interesting content other than only your own, and behave socially.

I often come across Indie authors around and about, who are incredibly selective as to who they’ll follow on Twitter. Unless you’re J K Rowling you’re not going to be successful if you’re expecting thousands of people to follow you for no other reason than that you wrote a book, without any sort of reciprocation. Theoretically it’s better to give than receive, but not so much in cyberworld these days, and if you want to be noticed at all, you have to give. Whether you’re giving information, having lively chats, or just sharing something beautiful, these things will catch the attention of potential readers much more effectively than only ever sharing things about yourself or your books. The same goes with who you choose to follow or follow back.

If you weren’t selling or planning to sell a book, would you have signed up for Twitter? No? Then insisting on only following back other writers, or even more precisely, other writers who you think are “worthy”, is seriously counterproductive.

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean that nothing else interests you. Writing is your job, and what defines you, but everyone has things that they love to do when they’re not doing their work. Gardening, cross stitch, cooking, art, making really cool medieval chainmail out of bottle tops and pink paperclips. The same goes for chefs, university students, secretaries, CEO’s and plumbers. Possibly what they love to do when they’re not working is to read books, even though it would never occur to them to write one. That guy who followed you who has 178 followers, and tweets about how cool his beer belly is, is a potential reader. And when you – author of note – follow him back, he is most chuffed. He notices you. Retweet the photo of his epic beer spill that formed the shape of a perfect frog bottom on his t-shirt, and you could very well have your first fan. A reader who has not ever considered writing a book. How would you feel if J K Rowling followed you back? And then retweeted you. Not quite the same league, but I’m sure you get my drift.

I only follow two people who don’t follow me back, and unless I find any particular account particularly offensive, or obviously a bot, I follow everyone who follows me. I personally enjoy Twitter, but I know that a lot of authors don’t. They see it as a chore, and something that they have to do to sell their work. I recognise them. They’re the ones tweeting only about their own books, and never retweeting anything at all. So when I see their gravatar in my feed, I very seldom even look at what they tweeted because they’ve already shown me what to expect. Then there are the writers who are trying to build their marketing platform before they publish, which is a brilliant idea by the way, but some of them also only ever post about the book they’re writing. These things are boring if they’re all you ever share, and are never going to grab attention in Twitterverse.

As well as following authors and writers, also follow people who tweet about the things you love apart from writing, and interact with them. Look at the profiles of people who follow you, and follow them back. Look at their tweets and retweet them or reply to them. Make friends out there, and as well as finding future readers for your scribbles, you just might start having a little fun while you’re at it. Don’t just send out your book links, because that’s guaranteed to get your posts muted by many. Selling your books this way really can be fun if you choose to make it so.