How to Build a Strong Author

Platform Through Twitter

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Jumping right back into how to build an online presence for your business—because becoming a self-published author is essentially starting your own business—I will discuss another very important facet of social media…


This might be arguable by some, due to Facebook and Instagram also offering authors ways to meet their readers and share their lives online, but Twitter seems to be the medium of choice for most writers.

Here are some tips that I’ve read about and learned myself when it comes to having a Twitter account:

1) Make your Twitter handle (your name) as similar to your real name as possible.

You are building a brand, and that brand revolves around you, the product. I’ve come across many authors with a Twitter handle that is an odd word, the name of an animal, or something like “@writernerd.” When someone sees your comment on a blog post somewhere (we’ll get to that in the next post) and wants to look you up, they’ll search your name. No one is going to know that your handle is actually @writernerd, and I can guarantee they aren’t going to spend 20 minutes trying to find you.

What’s the number one rule for charities wanting to receive donations? Make it as easy as possible for someone to do it. The same applies when you are trying to build your presence online: make it as easy as possible for someone to find you.

2) Don’t mass follow people…

…but make a concerted effort to build a following and follow others who share similar interests and insights as you. I’ve actually heard that if you follow a bunch of people in short succession, that Twitter might identify your account as a spammer and deactivate it. So instead of spending precious hours following thousands of people and hoping they’ll return the favor, follow a few well-known writers—Hugh Howey, Chuck Wendig, Ksenia Anske, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King to name a few—and as you notice those who comment on their pages, add them as well. Follow this method and you will soon have a substantial following of like-minded individuals.

3) Cultivate your relationships

with your Twitter friends. Don’t take it personal that people aren’t commenting on your posts right away; not only is there a slim chance of people even seeing the posts you write, but someone taking the time to answer must be earned. I’ve had a Twitter since November 2013, and have around 1,100 followers and follow 1,900 people. Hopefully that gives you an idea of the time it takes to build something like this.

Those who I have met through Twitter—and I’ve met some great people; fellow writers, editors, critique partners, all by commenting on their posts—are people I have built legitimate relationships with. We are not best friends, no, but I feel that supporting someone’s work and commenting on their daily struggles or triumphs will endear them to me, when I am hoping for them to review/market my book. That, and I also really like meeting friends who enjoy the same things I do: writing and reading.


4) Retweet, daily goals, useful tidbits, and spam.

To retweet something is to read a tweet that someone else has mentioned and support it enough to put it on your own site, thus expanding the reach of that tweet and that person even more. Retweeting is a great way to build relationships with people, because you are supporting what they are saying and “marketing” for them (in a small sense, but it still counts).

I give myself daily goals for Twitter, which might seem silly, but you’d be surprised how much time it can take to think of relevant information and in turn, find some to comment on. I usually try to Tweet at least 20 times a day, either by retweeting or mentioning my own personal endeavors. A thing that is easy and good to do is scan through Pinterest, looking for “useful tidbits” and the like. Tweet out those supportive messages and I can guarantee that people will retweet them, and possibly comment. Since raising my Tweeting goal, I have gained a significant amount of followers in a short time, and they are all people who could be potential readers in the future as well as great friends.

You will soon see that some people you follow on Twitter will fill your inbox (called Direct Message, or DM, a private message between you and another person) with generic spam messages and links to their books. I’m not particularly sure how successful this is for them, and I did glance at the first couple I received. After that, however, it was not amusing, and I don’t recommend it.

Also, the tweets with five #my #book #is #awesome hashtags are also not generally received very well by a crowd. As mentioned earlier, the best way to sell your book is to sell yourself. You’re not selling yourself very well if people are annoyed by your spammy tweets every ten seconds. Just be fun, amusing, and helpful on Twitter, and the readers will come to you. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t tweet when your book is releasing, or a great review about it. But every few minutes is overkill. Just be sure to mention in your Twitter into—the part people read next to your picture—that your book “XYZ” is available on Amazon and include the link to it.

5) Word Sprints, #FridayNightWrites, Twitter parties, and other fun groups.

This is something I am just becoming familiar with and really enjoying. Word sprints are a fun get-together on Twitter when many writers can join in on an announced “sprint” for an allotted time and share the amount of words they completed with others. This is not only a great way to make friends, but it’s competitive and encouraging to production. I’ve found that word-sprinting has increased my production tremendously, and when I’m not feeling especially motivated, joining in with others can pull me out of my slump.

The same goes for #FridayNightWrites, an awesome group started by author Megan Whitmer held every Friday across the world—I’m not kidding, the sprints begin in Australia and travel to the UK and US—when writers are able to join in on the writing party and report their counts to be included in the overall number.

There are dozens of other fun groups to follow, as well as Twitter parties held periodically surrounding book releases, Q & A’s with authors, and random topics. Join in when you can, get social, and make some meaningful connections! Next time, I’ll delve into bringing traffic back to your own blog by commenting on others.

Until then, keep writing and keep dreaming!

For more information on Ashley R. Carlson, see “About the Author” below and find her dilly-dallying at her:

Twitter: @AshleyRCarlson1

Midnight Publishing offers skilled and affordable media architects for manuscript editing, self-publishing consultation and guidance, and author marketing. The ultimate role of the editor is to help the author connect with the reader. A good editor enhances that connection, providing another eye and view for the author. Our editors are artists of language, grammar, and the mechanics that help a manuscript take the journey from ordinary to great. Midnight Publishing also offers self-publishing consultation, query letter editing, graphic and web site design, business copy writing and editing, and more.

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Midnight Publishing’s founder, Lauren Wise, on Twitter: @MidnightWriting