Some authors who tweet are Twits

One of the greatest things about Twitter is the writer community. As a new writer, I relish the opportunity to learn from and interact with new and established writers, editors and publishers. Through it, I have expanded my knowledge of writing and the publishing world exponentially, had some great conversations and made some new friends. Above all I’ve been introduced to some fantastic writing and great books. There is however one fly in the ointment, the one thing that causes me both annoyance and sadness. These are the authors who just don’t get Twitter. Let’s just call them Twits for short.
Twits don’t mean to be twits. They’re often genuinely nice people just trying to promote their books. They understand that they need to promote their book and Twitter is a great tool but they just don’t know how to use it. And the really sad thing is that often these writers are good.
Twits believe that tweeting constantly about their book is fascinating for their followers. It’s not. Quite often I’ve read the book and it’s good but I’ve already read it!   Do I really need to know it’s 99p on Kindle this (every?) month? Not really, I’ve already bought it!  Do I need to know that this magazine or celebrity thought it was brilliant? Not particularly. I’m pleased for them but I have my own opinion and I’ve already bought it. Do I want to see their mentions RT’d if someone else likes the book? No, it’s a bit self absorbed and the book; I’ve already bought it. Am I going to RT any of their tweets or RT praise for their books? Maybe a couple of times tops (if I like their book). Do I want to receive a DM from someone I barely know asking me to promote their book? Get lost! Why should I act as an unpaid PR agent?

Then, when they’re busy writing, you never see these writers on Twitter for dust until they’ve something else to promote.

This wouldn’t be so bad if this was just at the time of their book launch. They need to promote their book but when an author is still doing the same thing six months later, I’m just totally hacked off with it and unfollow them. And then the guilt sets in. After all they’re just authors trying to promote their writing and make a living. Am I being too hard? And the conclusion, I’ve come to is a resounding no. They just don’t get Twitter.
The best writers don’t subject their followers to a constant bombardment of self promotion. They tweet about things that interest them, what they’re doing in their work and lives, interact with other people and offer a bit of advice. Then here’s the neat thing. When they come to mention an event or book, their followers do the promotion for them willingly. And because they’re more interesting people, they have more followers and hence get more promotion.
Personally I never miss a chance to promote certain authors. I’ll do RT’s or an author interview on my blog and they don’t ask me. They wouldn’t even think about asking me. I ask them. Why? Because they’re interesting people and at some level they’ve taken an interest in me.
That, dear Twits is how Twitter works. But, of course, the people reading this blog won’t be the Twits. They’re too busy RTing ‘Praise for..’ and telling you that it’s 99p on Kindle.


About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

21 Responses to Some authors who tweet are Twits

  1. Claire King says:

    Yes, absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I absent myself from Twitter because of life in general. But usually when I come back I want to see what’s happening with other people, not just start blathering about myself. I like Nicola Morgan’s viewpoint, that you’re allowed 1 (nicely put) self-promoting tweet for every nine other, useful, helpful, interesting tweets you post.
    If ever I stray from the path, give me a poke, eh?

  2. Rachel says:

    Absolutely. Some people don’t seem to be aware that the rest of us are human. I resent being treated like a fan, and loathe the generic ‘check out my book/blog, etc…’ DMs. It’s great to share good news, success, whatever, and I love to see people I’ve been following for a while getting a break but it’s wise to imagine oneself in a room with fellow tweeters occasionally and think about whether we’re being annoying and who else might have something to say.

  3. Julia Bohanna says:

    Hook ’em in with crafty technique – forming a relationship, inviting interest in your life. Then maybe a little about a writer’s life – something people are always interested in. Drop the name of your book but don’t thrust it in people’s faces. Make people care about the book because it’s your baby, that they shared (so to speak) in the conception.

  4. This is one of my pet hates about following authors on Twitter. I came on Twitter to interact with other writers, to learn and to make friends that share my love of writing and books. I don’t mind the odd self-promotion but I do get very annoyed when all of an author’s tweets seem to be focused on their book.

  5. I’ve unfollwed many writers – even people I like in RL – because of relentless self promotion. At a lunch with other writers yesterday we were all agreed on the subject. Good post, thanks.

  6. Hear hear! Twitter is supposed to be about interaction and community, and if authors promote their books as part of that, fine. But when the only tweets form some authors are about their own books, it’s glaringly obvious that they’re not really playing to game.

  7. Yes really good post, thanks. A helpful aspect of Twitter, for me, is following people who don’t write at all. Although I’m most tempted by writing posts and blogs it’s enjoying the other stuff in life, that other people are passionate about that makes the experience interesting.
    Artists, photographers and local people and businesses give me ideas for my writing and I think networking can work really well locally.

    One thing I’m not sure about, or keen on, is writers blog tours. The trouble is that a lot of the same groups of people are involved, following and re-tweeting. If everybody in the circle retweets then you get to see the link multiple times. If a writer on a blog tour only blogs about their own book then I start to feel steamrollered. If people post a link to a guest blog but don’t put info as to what the post is about then I’ve already clicked when I see it’s about the same popular book. Shame really because I would have read a post on a fresh topic.

    • Interesting comment about blog tours. I believe that writers need to promote their book so personally I don’t have a problem with it provided that there’s some variety in what’s being posted and it’s clearly signposted as to what it is. I’ve not hosted a blog tour piece. I’ve done a couple of features – one for Rebecca Emin’s New Beginnings because it’s an excellent children’s book and she’s a great Twitter person and another to promote National Flash Fiction Day (I’m one of many taking part) as I feel passionately about flash and short stories. However I did an interview both times and added some unique content so I hope people got something new out of it. I would like to think I’d carry on that way rather than just give someone a space on my blog.
      Inevitably the same people will help and promote each other. I’ll confess; I do it but that’s usually from a background of mutual interaction, friendship and respect for people’s writing based over a period of time not a DM from an author I don’t know asking me to plug his/her book.

  8. Tracey says:

    Totally agree! As an aspitring writer and new mum twitter has been great in allowing me to keep a network going and feel part of a writing community whilst physcially getting out is tricky, but I get totally hacked off with not only being sold to but being asked to act as an selling agent!

    Great post

  9. Janet O'Kane says:

    A fine post. I can only echo it and the sentiments of the commenters (some of whom I’m delighted to ‘know’ thanks to Twitter).

  10. Ronald Green says:

    There are those on Twitter who like to see what others are doing, and there are others who like to let others know what they are doing. Not all tweeters have both those aims.

  11. sueperfluous says:

    I couldn’t agree more! My pet hate is when a writer tweets over and over again the same book-pushing tweet, day-in-day-out, and very little in-between. In contrast though are some very sweet writers of great talent who are extremely modest about their books, rarely mentioning them on Twitter. These I am only too pleased to recommend on Twitter.

  12. Oops. I think I may have committed some of the above crimes. I’m new to Twitter (joined a few weeks ago) and it’s taking a while to learn the ropes. I just wanted to say: have mercy on newcomers like myself who make mistakes. I’m not very web-savvy – neither technically or in matters of Twitiquette – but I’m getting there. (Last week I learned what #ff meant, so progress is being made!)

    Also, people have different opinions about what is acceptable practice and what isn’t. I don’t get offended when people promote their books say, every few weeks. In fact, I’m more likely to get round to buying it eventually if I get a nudge every so often. And as a self-published author myself, fiction is the skill I’ve been trying to hone all these years – not PR. PR, self-promotion, and social networking with strangers isn’t something every writer is naturally gifted at – or even wants to be bothered with at all. But it’s what you’ve got to do if you want to shift copies and get noticed. So hold fire on that unfollow button – some Twits are just beginners. A bit like learner drivers. We’ve all been there.

    • Tasha – It’s not a crime to promote your work. You have to because no one else will. But constant self promotion on Twitter is like listening to a parent talking about their child to the exclusion of everything else. You know it’s important to them (and you may like their child) but there’s only so much you can take and eventually you start to get fed up and switch off. As a marketer by background, that’s not good marketing.

  13. Thanks to everyone for their comments. It seems to have struck a chord. I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable about my view so I’m glad that other people feel the same way. I have a professional background in marketing so I really do appreciate the need for authors to promote their book in a very crowded and competitive marketplace.
    I’m never sure there will be a formula for what is a sensible balance, although Nicola Morgan’s viewpoint sounds a reasonable trade off to me. She knows her stuff about writing and publishing.
    I unfollowed another ‘Twit’ yesterday. He/she seems a nice guy from his/her press. His/her book’s very funny and I enjoyed it very much. I’d even recommend it. If I told you who it was and what the book was about, you might even go out and buy it too (I believe it’s only 99p on Kindle). But I’m not going to out anyone as a ‘Twit’ so I’m afraid you’ll never know. I find that really sad.

  14. Claire king says:

    You’re funny, Julia. The problem with your crafty technique is that (I found) you end up actually interested in others, and any cunning promotion plan is scuppered by having fun!

  15. Rebecca Emin says:

    Great post and normally I’d be nodding but right now after being really quiet on Twitter for a while I’m worrying. Eek! I always use the rule no more than 20% about my own books tops, but it’s often a lot less than that when I get chatting to people.

    I can’t bear those DMs when you just add someone. “Check out my books… and a link”. I never ever have followed those links.

  16. Pete, great post. (And I was thinking that even before I stumbled on my name!) I can’t stand it when authors do this. Really tacky and off-putting. And asking people to RT your promotional stuff – arghhhhh. Thing is, Twitter is a social place, not a market-place, and no one goes on Twitter in order to be sold to. Claire mentioned my 90/10 suggestion – I’m actually thinking of revising it to 97/3!

    Do you mind if I mention (esp for Tasha, to reassure her) that I’ve blogged about how writers can behave positively without bugging people? I won’t put the links here, because it’s your blog, but you know where to find me. If Tasha can’t find the relevant posts, she’s welcome to email me.

    Thanks for the post, Pete – writers need to learn this stuff.

    • Thanks Nicola and I’m more than happy to post a link to your resources on developing a social media presence here for Tasha and anybody else who’s interested.

      This blog post contains links to other relevant posts e.g. the 90/10 and I’d recommend them to anyone.

      I’ve had 100s of views on this article. Many agree, some don’t. They believe that plugging their wares constantly on Twitter is what ‘they are supposed to do’ as writers. I couldn’t disagree more. I now tell writers (nicely) I am going to unfollow them and why. Some are good enough to reply and some just get their retaliation in early if they follow me!
      Those who do reply generally point out that they don’t just tweet about their book and that they ‘interact’ with their followers (which usually consists of chats with a few obvious friends or ’so glad you enjoyed my book, I’m writing another one…’). However they fail to pick up that ,unless I follow both parties, I as a general follower won’t see any of this. The 90/10 rule needs to be for tweets which go out to all followers not just 90/10 on an author’s timeline.
      The only negative of this blog post is that it’s made some people who aren’t natural self promoters more self conscious in promoting their work and that’s a shame. I wish I could post the names of the worst pluggers so that they could see that this is not just a bit of natural exuberance around launch time (for which anyone should be forgiven) but a dedicated campaign of leaden over-promotion, scheduled repetitive tweets and in some cases, a real lack of social skills. Anyone who uses the hashtag #pluggery knows what they’re doing!

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