Tuesday 3 March 2015

Do you buy books off Twitter promotions?

Okay, so it's a little more complicated than that. It's actually two questions in one:
  1. Do you follow accounts on Twitter, who do nothing but tweet links to books (their own, or other people's)?
  2. Do you actually click the links in those tweets, and buy the books?
I ask because, over the past few weeks, I've been involved in a rather heated discussion in one of the author marketing groups I belong to, about how authors (especially independent authors) use Twitter.

It seems that many of my author colleagues use Twitter in exactly the same way as I describe in question one, almost always automating those tweets, and sometimes making sure to tweet no less than once every five to seven minutes!

Personally, I don't use Twitter like that, and my first reaction was that I abhor people who do. I feel that it completely contradicts the purpose of Twitter, which in my mind is to be social, be useful, and be yourself. Obviously, as an author, I would love for people to buy and read my books, but I wouldn't have thought this strategy would be the way to get people to do that.

Some of these authors, however, have been experimenting, and many have found that when they stop tweeting in this way, sales of their books drop dramatically. It obviously works for some people, then, but personally I find it... scaly, slimy, dirty. It goes against some deep seated moral conviction in me. I unfollow people (or decline to follow them in the first place) if I look at their profile and see that the past five or so tweets have been tweets or retweets of products for sale.

On my own Twitter account, I strive to always be useful, interesting or entertaining. I do share mostly links to articles, but they're all articles that I've read myself, and which I think that my target audience (hopefully readers of my fiction) will find interesting. Of course, I post the occasional more personal tidbit, because I want people to realise that they're following a real human being and not some robot. Finally, I do tweet links to my books, and other self-promotional stuff, but I try to keep that to no more than about twenty percent of my total tweets.

I'm looking for answers from two different types of people, who use Twitter:

  1. Authors, which way do you use Twitter, what are your goals for using Twitter, and do you think it helps you achieve those goals?
  2. Readers and book lovers, which kinds of people do you prefer to follow on Twitter? Do you want people who tell you about books, and only people who tell you about books, or are you looking for an actual connection on Twitter?
I know that this blog post may make it sound like I'm biased, and it's true that I am. But I'm not looking for people who I can berate and judge, so I promise I won't be doing any of that. I'm genuinely interested in how different authors use Twitter, and how readers prefer to engage with authors on Twitter.

Let me know in the comments below!

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