TwitterbirdLast week we talked about how to use Facebook to engage your readers and ultimately sell your book. Today we’re going to focus on the other Social Media giant, Twitter.

Twitter has about 500 million active participants, but unlike Facebook many folks new to Social Media just don’t get Twitter. “Why tell strangers what I had for lunch or what I’m wearing today?” Even though a lot of ‘tweets’ (Twitter posts) are pretty personal and pretty boring, that’s not what Twitter is about, at least not what it ought to be about for you.

For authors Twitter is a great opportunity to build and engage with your audience on a daily basis in short (140 characters only) microbursts. “But what to write? What can I say in 140 characters that will mean anything to my potential readers?”

Here are 10 great ‘tweet’ ideas for engaging your readers on Twitter:

  1. Excerpts from your book or manuscript – Every book has (or should have) interesting self-contained ‘sound bites’ – sentences or phrases that stand out with particular meaning. Publishers use such ‘sound bites’ as ‘pullouts’ – meaningful text bits set apart from the main text. Separate out meaningful, funny, memorable bits from your book or manuscript to use as ‘tweets’.
  2. Your public schedule – Will you be doing a book signing or speaking somewhere? Are you attending a conference or meeting? Tweet about any place your audience can meet or interact with you in person; give the dates, welcome them to meet you there.
  3. Questions you may want to ask – Do you have an idea for your manuscript or next book? Are you stumped on a particular topic you’re writing about? Ask your audience via Twitter. Get their opinion. Engaging your readers during the writing process is one of the most powerful ways to build super-fans – the ones who will evangelize your books to everyone they know.
  4. Endorsements from readers – Why not share endorsements from readers with your Twitter audience? Social proof (what others think) is the most effective form of advertisement for any product or service, including your book. Other people telling your audience that your book is fantastic is 97% more effective than you telling them your book is fantastic.
  5. Reviews – Have you received book reviews? Share them on Twitter! Be sure to include the review link, if there is one.
  6. Special offers – Drive your Twitter audience back to your website with special offers. “Free sample chapter,” “New book sneak peak” and “Personalized by the Author” are all great value added ‘special offers’ an author can provide. Share these with your Twitter audience.
  7. Posts from you Facebook page – set your Facebook page to automatically post to Twitter (here’s how)
  8. Posts from your blog – set your blog to automatically post to Twitter. If you’re using a WordPress based blog there are several Social Media plugins that will do this automatically when you publish a blog post. We use Nextscripts Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP).
  9. Retweets – Become an active Twitter participant; follow people you’re interested in and retweet interesting tweets to your audience.

10. Recommendations – Have you just read a good book or heard an inspiring message? Share a comment and a link with your Twitter audience.

These 10 tips just touch the surface of how Twitter can be a huge benefit to reaching and growing your audience – and selling more books! Here are a few additional really worthwhile free resources:

Hubspot’s e-book, “How to Use Twitter for Business.” This free in-depth e-book will walk you through everything Twitter from sign up to what kind of Twitter account you should have to Twitter business strategies (it carries over nicely for authors).

Dawn Perkins’ blog post “10 Ways Authors are Using Twitter, and Why You Should Too” on the Inland Northwest Christian Writers Blog.