In my books I urge against marketing your books on Twitter, or paying anybody else to do it for you. I’m annoyed by the hundreds of misguided tweets shouting and bouncing all over my Twitter feed like
“Sexy, hot, 5star reviewer says ‘Must Read!!’ On sale now #99 #kindlebooks #amreading #bestseller”
And recently I was also pretty critical of book cover contests. But then I thought, to be fair, I really need to test these offers out and see for myself whether or not they actually works.
So I bought a book promotion campaign from Diantha Jones, who has these Twitter handles.
I don’t mean to single out Diantha unfairly; one of the reasons I picked her website MasqueradeCrew is that she is doing so well. She has built a large network of mostly indie authors, who regularly retweet her content. We should all be so lucky. If Twitter book marketing worked, then her promotional campaigns should do the trick.
I bought a Deluxe Package for $35, and Diantha set everything up for me. She did a good job organizing the information on this page: http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.com/2014/09/100-common-publishing-questions.html. Then she started Tweeting. The retweets came flooding in. A whole bunch of people were talking about my book and promoting it. People I knew and didn’t know. I’ve actually been very impressed – there were hundreds of retweets and it seems like Diantha was Tweeting every couple minutes for at least a week. Then she started tweeting the questions on their own, or quotes from the book; very smart marketing. The book got in front of thousands of people, gave me a whole bunch of new Twitter followers, and I made sure to follow everybody who retweeted. Since a lot of Diantha’s followers are authors, this was particularly useful for my platform (though may not be so for other authors). So thanks, Diantha – you did great work and I’m very happy with the results, because I got a lot of new followers.
And yet, nobody was buying the book.
Even though a lot of people were Tweeting and Retweeting my book, almost nobody was buying it.
I sold about 10 copies during the whole period.
Reasons this is probably true:
1. The links didn’t go to the Amazon site or a nice sales page, but directly to the Masquerade Crew website, which, I’m sorry, is disorienting and poorly designed. If you are trying to sell something and your product (cover) looks bad, or your sales page/website looks bad, people will never buy from you. The design has to be clean and professional first, or they won’t trust anything you say. So if the campaign had linked directly to the Amazon sales page, it might have gotten some sales.
2. An online book promoter’s big list of followers are almost certainly other indie authors (or maybe people who like cheap and free books). I had thought Diantha’s followers, if they were authors, would have been interested in my publishing tips. But it’s possible that a lot of her followers like romance or erotica – and that’s why they didn’t buy mine. So if you’re going to do it, make sure you use someone with a large following of exactly your target audience (or even a not-large one: 100 rabid fans is better than 25k ambiguous followers). Also, Diantha has a program set up so that people get rewarded when they share her content; which means a lot of people were sharing my book but only interested in getting extra promotion for their own books.
3. Almost everybody ignores all this stuff anyway. There’s too much of it. There’s too many book promotion tweets on Twitter and they all look the same and we don’t care about any of them. We tune them out. They don’t work. They aren’t personalized, they aren’t meant for us specifically, they are just somebody peeing in the pool. The way to overcome all the noise is to post really interesting, cool, relevant stuff; to actually talk and reply to people; to form relationships, so that people give a damn about you.
4. I didn’t have any book reviews up. This was my mistake, and actually the whole test may be invalidated – because traffic could have been going to my Amazon site, but a book with no reviews doesn’t sell. I should have given Diantha a bit.ly link so I could track exactly how many clicks she got on the webpage – if people were clicking, then it’s not the design at all, but just the Amazon page with no reviews that killed the experiment. We should also have used bit.ly links on her Twitter posts so she could prove how many of her followers actually even clicked over the the website.
How to actually use Twitter for book marketing
Use Twitter to make friends with people who are interested in similar things. Use Twitter to post reviews or comments about famous books in your genre. Use Twitter to share and promote other authors’ books in your genre. Use Twitter to make other people look and feel good about themselves. Use it to share articles and news for the influencers and bloggers you look up to.
Use Twitter to share amazing articles you’ve written on your beautifully designed blog, which features your book on the sidebar, and share those articles with people who are interested in the topic (you can find them by searching hashtags).
If anybody has had real success with a paid-for Twitter marketing campaign (and you tracked your sales carefully) I’d love to hear about it. If you have other Twitter marketing tips to share, please do so in the comments.
PS) If you read 100 Publishing Questions Answered and it wasn’t awful, I’d love a review.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.
This is a great post and I do agree that to date at least, Twitter
doesn’t seem to translate into sales. However, with regards to my books,
I use it as an ‘inception device’. What I mean is, I’ve found that even
if we don’t realise we remember something, when it comes up in a
setting we are drawn to, that thing comes to the forefront. For that
reason, I don’t mind having a couple tweets a day focused on my books,
released or unreleased.
Otherwise though I do use it as you’ve
suggested here, as it also allows us to form deeper connections within
the ‘Twitterverse’ and beyond :). Thanks for sharing ^_^!
Yeah. I have had limited success with Twitter promo. I don’t do it myself much (one tweet per day) but I tried a book tweeting service. Not much bump in sales from that though my links did get a lot of click-through. It was cheap though so I might try it again.
I think that the key to making any of these types of methods effective, whether it’s a someone promoting books through Twitter or one of the email book recommendation services, is something you mentioned. These services need to have a very targeted list of followers or subscribers. I write near future sci fi with a cyberpunk vibe to it. What I do has a limited audience. I know that. These readers really love what they love, there just aren’t as many of them out there.
So these services can brag about their multiple thousands of followers or subscribers, but if they aren’t interested in what I’m writing then they aren’t useful to me. What I need/want to find are lists that are hyper focused.