I Made A Twitter Account…Now What?


Twitter, (social media in general), is an opportunity to interact with the world in 140 characters or less. But how do you best use those 140 characters?

  • To promote your new book?
  • To share links?
  • To encourage?
  • To be political?
  • To share your latest McDonald’s lunch?
  • To ???

Here is what some big name authors across multiple genres have been tweeting about lately. (Examples pictured below.) In a snapshot: politics, movies, boredom, sports, inspiration, contests, quotes, blogposts, etc. Each of these accounts represents very different styles of Twitter feeds, which is good news for people coming to Twitter for the first time. It tells us … there are many acceptable ways to Tweet.

But if you’re asking about the best way to Tweet, let’s look closer.

Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods has 2.35 million followers, and he’s tweeting about being bored in a cab. Then he offers an invitation to ask questions, which he answers. In a world where conversations with Neil Gaiman would typically be limited to three seconds at a signing event, I have a unique opportunity because of Twitter.

Twitter is access.

It is a glass door into the life of a celebrity. (In this case, you are the celebrity.)

Janet Evanovich, a number one NYT bestselling author, has nearly 40 thousand Twitter followers and she primarily uses her Twitter feed for promotional advertisement of her novels. Whereas John Green, young adult author of The Fault in Our Star, uses his feed to … share … whatever comes across his unique mind: politics, DFTBA items, birthday shout outs, etc. He has 4.8 million followers. What does this tell us?

Twitter isn’t a bookstore.

It isn’t the place we go shopping for items; it’s the place we go shopping for sameness. This is why the number of Twitter followers does not translate specifically to sales. Janet Evanovich sells more than 40 thousand books, and John Green doesn’t sell 4.8 million copies with every new release. If you made a Twitter account to sell books, you might be disappointed with the results.

With these concepts in mind, consider a Twitter feed that is a reflection of your self—a place where you are providing sameness and searching for sameness. Marketing guru Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.” Twitter puts that why on display and opens up doors of potential friendship. Early in my career, I listened to Jon Acuff give some great advice on utilizing social media. “Remember,” he said. “You’re asking for a friend, not a favor.” As you set about your 140 characters, ask for a friend.Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.01.47 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.01.58 AM


Book Cover

“According to Hubspot, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.”[1] This is brain language for Your Cover Matters. More than your title. Maybe more (initially) than your content. People really do judge books by their covers. At the very least, they often decide to purchase a book based on cover.

So, if you are self-publishing, what can you do to make sure that your book cover is transmitting the “Buy me. Buy me,” message?

Here are 3 tips you might not have considered:

  1. Don’t just think about your target audience. Consider your target generation.

According to Stauss and Howe, who coined the theory on generations[2], here are the current generations in the United States:

  • Greatest Generation – 1930-1946
  • Baby Boomers – 1946-1964
  • Generation X – 1965-1984
  • Generation Y/Millennials – 1982-2004
  • Generation Z- 2004 – Current

If you take time to familiarize yourself and research your target generation prior to designing your cover, you will notice facts about what each generation prizes, things they buy/don’t buy, causes they care about, images they appreciate, etc. Applying this information to your cover might auto-attract your consumer.

  1. Your book cover is your handshake with the consumer.

Consider an image that represents your overall content, but does not feel like an inside joke to your potential reader. i.e. My working title for Faking Normal was once 23. While 23 was a powerful metaphor within the book, it was ultimately one that you had to read the book to understand. Faking Normal was a much broader invitation that made people say, “Faking Normal, I do that everyday. I wonder …” 23 wasn’t an invitation; it was a middle school clique that excluded the consumer. Covers can’t afford to be middle school cliques either. They must invite the consumer into the work from across the room.

  1. Ask yourself “What cover would make me buy my own book?”

I suggest you try this exercise: Go to a bookstore. Imagine you’re going to beach or getting on an airplane and you need to find something to read. Go pick up ten titles based on the covers. Lay them out and snap a photo of them with your phone. (Return or buy the books.) Go home and analyze that photo. What are you attracted to about those books? What made you pick them up? You can’t steal those book covers, but you can look for markers among them to include in your cover.


[1] http://commerce-futures.com/ecommerce/blog/the-visual-generation–the-ecommerce-revolution-tips–technologies-for-victory.html


Upgrade Your App-titude: Two Tips to Maximize Social Media

Social Media is this generation’s newspaper. It offers weather, news, sports, buying/trading, advertising, community, special interests, etc. All of which are great for killing time while standing in the grocery store line or delaying a morning run, but what if your publisher or publicist says you have to start an account to “build your platform” or “sell your book?”

Today’s author is pressed to be a journalist who posts to the on-going conversation of social media. This conversation is time-consuming, and if you asked ten authors his/her thoughts on utilizing social media, you would receive ten wildly different answers.

While many authors enjoy interacting online through various platforms, nearly every author feels pressured to participate whether he/she likes it or not. If you happen to be someone who feels pressured and has decided to participate because you must, this blogpost is for you.

Here are some of the most popular social media platforms:

Reluctant social media users will take comfort in two things: a) focusing your involvement and b) maximizing your time.

The key to focusing your involvement is limiting your platforms.

If you’re only going to participate in one social media platform, I recommend Facebook. Why? Those are the people who are most likely to spend money on you without effort. They already like you; you already like them. You don’t have to convince them to buy into your brand; you only have to alert them you have something new for sale.

After Facebook, I would add Twitter. It offers you the greatest potential for free marketing-touches. For instance, you might have one follower, but if a user with a million followers retweets you, suddenly you have an audience of one million. Plus, there is the added bonus of being limited to 140 characters. Fewer words equal less time.

After Twitter, I prefer Instagram. Instagram is image-driven, and research shows that Millenniums (born 1981-2000) and Generation Z (born after 2001), who have been raised in computer-based worlds, thrive on digital images. Instagram is the easiest way to speak in picture language.

The key to maximizing your time is cross-posting.

I would suggest (once you’ve chosen your platforms) that you investigate two social media aids: Buffer and IFTTT.

Buffer.com allows users to set up cross-posting on up-to-three social media accounts for free and an unlimited number of accounts in the paid version ($102/year.) Posts can be written at your leisure, queued, and scheduled to post during your personal online rush hour. Analytics are also available to determine best-used practices.

IFTTT.com, which stands for If This Then That is a free social media tool that utilizes triggers and actions to automate posting. An IFTTT user set up a personal recipes for multiple social media platforms. For instance, If This (I post a photo to Instagram), then (Also post it to Twitter.) These recipes use hashtags or other content to automate action, thereby saving users times from entering each platform separately.


Courtney is the Author-in-Residence for JKS Communications. She is the award-winning Young Adult author of FAKING NORMAL, THE BLUE-HAIRED BOY and THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH.