How the hashtag do #Authors use Twitter? #pubtips

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.


Almost all authors know about Twitter.

Few authors feel that they really know how to use it.

Some authors believe that Twitter isn’t as effective for book marketing as it once was.

Other authors believe Twitter isn’t for them.

Yet many authors do use Twitter quite effectively.

One important note is that there isn’t just one way to use Twitter.

So you can find the right combination of tips to fit your needs and personality.

Twitter Tip #1: Make the Most of Hashtags

What you want is a hashtag that your target audience actually checks out. Otherwise, your hashtag is wasted.

This takes some research. But the research is worth it because once you find an effective, relevant hashtag, you can use it not just for your current tweet, but for hundreds of related tweets in the future.

Many authors simply throw a hashtag sign (#) in front of any relevant word that seems to come to mind: #romance #mystery #book #kindle #actionpacked.

That’s just guesswork. Are readers in your target audience actually searching for tweets with those hashtags?

Find a variety of relevant potential hashtags and check them out. Look at the tweets that you find there. Is the content that you see there likely to draw in an audience? Next consider the Twitter users who made those tweets. If the best content is coming mostly from the same source, there is no reason for people to search for that hashtag: They can simply follow that one user and get all the best content that way. But if good content is coming from multiple sources, it would be easier to get that content by searching the hashtag than paying close attention to every tweet coming from a few different users.

But even if there is great content there, it’s possible nobody in your audience is actually searching for that hashtag. A little trial and error on your part may help you find gauge the effectiveness of a hashtag, as you can monitor your tweet engagement (you also need the kind of tweets likely to generate that activity).

If there is good content, but it’s drowned out by poor content, that’s a problem, too. It takes time to find a great set of hashtags, but it’s worth it if you do. (But keep in mind that those might not remain effective forever.)

Find authors with books similar to yours who appear to be using Twitter effectively. Check out the hashtags that they’ve used.

Note the #pubtips hashtag that I used for this post (publishing tips). I first learned about this hashtag when I saw Amazon KDP use it in a tweet with a publishing tip. Check it out here (you can learn a lot, as it’s packed with publishing tips):

You can even help inspire readers to regularly search for a particular hashtag. For example, you might get together with several other authors in the same genre, and come up with an idea for semi-weekly tweets likely to attract those readers. You might be able to get readers in the habit of checking out tweets in a particular hashtag. You have to put on your creative hat, and think of what kinds of tweets would draw in your audience. Something simple that you and others could do, which readers would appreciate.

Twitter Tip #2: Don’t Overdo the Hashtags

Two hashtags per tweet is a good rule of thumb.

#Nobody #will #read #a #tweet #that #looks #like #this #########!

Twitter Tip #3: Find Twitter All-Stars

Find and follow authors (both in and out of your genre) who appear to be using Twitter effectively.

You can learn a great deal about Twitter just watching from the sidelines for a couple of months. But you have to get good seats.

Beware that not everyone with a huge following is using Twitter effectively.

So look beyond the follower count. Also pay attention to engagement, as well as you can judge it from your perspective. If the content happens to engage you, especially when you were just checking it out to see how it’s done, you definitely want to pay close attention to those tweets.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do they include links? Are the links in the beginning? at the end? somewhere else? What kinds of links are they?
  • Do they include images? How often do the tweets include images? What kinds of images? Is there text in the images? (Even pay attention to size, color schemes, and font styles.) What aspect ratio do they use? pixel count? (Right-click on an image to check out its properties.)
  • Which hashtags do they use? How many hashtags do they include in a typical tweet? Are any of these hashtags relevant for any of your tweets? In what context is each hashtag used?
  • How often do they tweet? How often do they retweet? How often do they self-promote? (If ever.) Do they ever draw up a new tweet to help promote someone else rather than simply retweet? If so, in which situations. Do they ever click the Twitter share button to tweet about relevant articles that they discover online?
  • How do they make effective use of that very limited character count? What kinds of words are they using, and where are they putting them?
  • Observe Twitter etiquette with regard to tweet frequency, direct messages, retweets, thank you’s, etc.

Twitter Tip #4: Get Started

You don’t have to turn into a Twitter pro overnight.

The first step is just to get started with something. Otherwise you’ll never get there. It will continue to be a nagging feeling that maybe you could (or should) be using Twitter more than you are now.

I’m not one of the Twitter pros yet. (When you find one, you’ll know the difference.) But I’ve taken the plunge, I’ve grown a following, I’ve followed many authors, I’ve done a ton of research on how to use Twitter (haven’t yet applied it all, but I’m getting there)… and that’s the way marketing works. You keep trying to improve and learn and try new things, and some of it will pan out. I started out with a simple WordPress blog a couple of years ago, and now I have a respectable following and average about 300-400 views per day. It functions as a content-rich website now, with most of my traffic coming from search engines, but it didn’t start out that way.

So if you want Twitter, or your blog, or any other aspect of marketing to work for you, the first thing is to take that first step and get it started.

Remember, you don’t have to build Rome in a day. You can take small steps and still eventually get there:

  • If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Twitter and setup your profile.
  • You can feed your WordPress blog posts (or Facebook posts) into Twitter. This will help give you some content at Twitter to help attract an initial following. It also helps connect an author who prefers WordPress or Facebook, for example, to potential followers who prefer Twitter. Let people follow you from their favorite platform. (But watch out for possible double or triple posts. For example, don’t both feed WordPress into Twitter and Twitter into WordPressβ€”just do one or the other.)
  • When you come across an article that’s relevant for your audience, use the Twitter share button to tweet it. This will give you something different to share on Twitter.
  • Follow authors who appear to use Twitter effectively. This may help you learn some handy tips and build up the confidence to take a bigger plunge.
  • Then you can gradually start to apply various tips that you’ve learned.

Twitter Tip #5: Search for Twitter Help

This is the information age. Take advantage of it.

Use a search engine to find helpful Twitter tips for authors.

Here are a few to help you get started:

Check out the comments for my blog post. You might find some valuable tips there. If you have any Twitter tips, feel free to share them in the comments.

If you leave a comment with a tip, please include your Twitter handle (@you) so people can check out how you use Twitter.

Twitter Tip #6: Use Twitter Analytics

Measure tweet engagement, check out follower demographics, and more.

Using Twitter actually gets you an abundance of information (that can help you market better as well as better understand your audience).

And it’s free:

Write happy, be happy. πŸ™‚

Chris McMullen

CopyrightΒ Β© 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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57 comments on “How the hashtag do #Authors use Twitter? #pubtips

  1. In the time I have been using Twitter I am fairly sure the style of it has changed. Less interaction and more people using it as if it were a free classified advert service. I guess evolution of parameters and style is part of the deal with social media.

  2. Very useful Chris! I know I dont use Twitter effectively. I dont promote my book there at all, nothing is more boring and sure to drive people away! But I do use it to try and engage people to visit my blog and fb page where I have lots of content which I hope will interest the kind of people who would like to read my books. I do need to change my settings though… every social media site I’m on seems to auto tweet on my behalf… not something I want to happen!

    • Well, Twitter self-promos may not be effective; the more indirect route may actually work better for that. Those offers to auto-tweet sure do seem strange when we first encounter them; then they become too common.

  3. I’ve found the hashtag groups (#ASMSG, #Bookboost, etc.) help out, but I don’t think I get much in the way of actual sales from Twitter. I do get follows and retweets a lot, which increases the audience and scope of what I’m doing. One thing I’ve found the most important with Twitter is retweeting. I started out on there and rarely retweeted. Once I began returning the favor, my stats started going up. (Sorry if you mentioned this in the post. Been reading it on and off for the last 15 minutes due to morning stuff.)

  4. Do you know if Hashtags matter where they are placed? Sometimes I will do them in the middle of a post, sometimes at the end. Always wondered if it matters. Great post.

  5. Sorry. I refuse. THAT’s where I draw the line.

    A very nice reader tweets my posts, and WordPress posts them to FaceBook, and that is IT.

    I know I have to master a few more of these, but Amazon Author Page is first, followed by possibly Goodreads (I have an account – have no idea how to use it).

    But Twitter? Nope. I think in 140,000 WORDS, not 140 characters.

    OTOH, if someone wants to volunteer who already enjoys Twitter, I will accept the help. Unlikely, but possible.

    Anyone who tries to do everything won’t have time for writing.


    • That’s true: You have to save time for writing, and choose which beyond-writing activities to pursue.

      You feed WordPress into FB. Why not into Twitter, too? It simply posts your headline and link to your WP article, allowing Twitter lovers to keep up with your blog from Twitter. Character count isn’t an issue for this. It’s automatic. Just curious.

      • The answer to your question is that I DO accept WordPress’s automatic posting to Twitter (and Google+ and Facebook), but I’ve never gone looking at the Twitter one – because 1) I’m not the Twitter type (the more interruptions I get, the less functional), and 2) I had to use a different browser than my default Firefox.

        But Firefox has been misbehaving for me lately – so I tried Chrome. I don’t like the Safari interface, and Chrome LOOKS like Firefox (but I still don’t like change – dinosaur here). Maybe I CAN log into Goodreads and Twitter from Chrome.

        I haven’t thought to try it.

        EVERY change to my routine – we are fighting internet dropouts now, and I had to get the window AC installed for the chinchilla – costs me usable work time.

        I have so little of it when my brain is really on that I spend it carefully.

        So the short answer is Yes – I tweet automatically. The long answer is No – I can’t take on a ‘presence’ any more places than I already have, and I’m shorting those right now.

      • That makes sense. I switch between 3 different web browsers depending on what I’m doing. It feels like driving 3 different cars depending on where I need to go.πŸ™‚

  6. This is a wonderful article about Twitter use. Do you mind if I feature this on my blog, A Writer’s Path (6,100 subscribers)? I usually have on guest posts from various authors 1-2 times a week. I would, of course, announce credit to you and include a link where my readers can find your blog and check out your other articles. Before I even considered, I wanted to ask you first.


    • Thank you.πŸ™‚ When I’ve done guest posts, it has always been with new material so as not to duplicate content on the web. (Or perhaps I misunderstood the question.) To share the same content, most bloggers use WordPress’s reblog feature or share a link (rarely, with an excerpt), or other share with the Twitter or FB share buttons.

      • Some do. There are different ways. I’ve researched duplicate content quite a bit, and the search engine (most people refer to Google) doesn’t penalize the original site, it merely doesn’t log the duplicate location as the original. So, the only risk is that when/if I guest post your work (with credit, etc.), it’s likely that my content (yours) won’t be search engine searchable. Which is fine with me, as my only intent is to share with my readers, and for them to discover you. : ) Hope that all makes sense. I just like to do guest posts, as it features the original author more than a simple reblog.

  7. I really hope you’re right about Rome not being built in a day. Although, by the time I get around to being better at Twitter, Rome will have up and disappearedπŸ™‚

  8. I do use Twitter quite a bit and have built up a following of mainly other writers over the last 16 months. I do not over do the book promo on their but like Ali Isaac use it to engage with others. I use the analytics and also here on WP and over the last 12 months Twitter is the 2nd highest referrer to my blog. Since that is my shop front where I write blogs and also have details about my books, I think it is a good platform to use. But, it does require consistency, good content and appropriate use of images since they seem to engage faster. Great post thanks Chris and passing it on.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with Twitter and its relation to WP.πŸ™‚ It’s important to determine the main role for each social media site, along with your goalsβ€”as well as understanding each audience. It looks like you’ve done that.

  9. I’m totally mystified by Twitter. I read this post, but don’t understand it all.
    It is very informative, just over my head. I need to get with it.
    Came over here from Janice’s blog, Reflections.

    • That’s a good question. Twitter is a social media site, but not quite like Facebook. The distinguishing feature at Twitter is that the posts are called tweets, and the text has a very limited character count (140), much like a text message. So part of the popularity is how this fits in nicely with texting and cell phones, although you can tweet from a pc, laptop, tablet, or whatever, so it doesn’t require the use of cell phones or text messages. You can include images and links, just like posts on Facebook or other social media sites, but unlike other social media sites, there is a very limited character count. Comments and interactions are considerably different from other social media sites, too. Yet Twitter does function as one of the major forms of social media, so it is like Facebook in that regard.

  10. Pingback: How the hashtag do #Authors use Twitter? #pubtips | Michaelphelps1's Blog

  11. Reblogged this on Reflections and commented:
    The article How the Hashtag do #Authors Use Twitter was originally written with authors of books in mind. However, the advice given is important to bloggers as well as authors.
    I also wrote an article explaining the importance of using Twitter hashtags in my post 7 Tips I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging, ( Twitter is my third best referrer of traffic. I believe my blog has received that traffic since I followed the advice offered in this post.

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