If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices remain timeless.
Today’s post takes changes on the platform into account:
1) Don’t put “Aspiring Author” in your profile description – Look, I get it. You’re an aspiring author and you hope to be published some day, whether traditionally, by yourself, or some other way. But to potential readers, it doesn’t look great. It sounds like you hope something will happen. Something will happen, if you work for it. Better option: “Working on my first novel/book/short story collection,” or similar verbiage.
2) But don’t put “Published Author” in your description, either – This might seem like a no-brainer for authors, but I’m amazed by how often I see this. Again, I get it, you want everyone to know that you’re now published…no longer “aspiring!” However, many people will view that description and think, “What other kind of author is there? When you’re still unpublished, you’re just another writer. An author is someone who’s been published!” I’m not saying people are right to think that, but many will. And nothing turns off a potential reader like a redundant writer.
3) Please do not put “Writer” as your entire description – Unless you are already a household name, we want to know more about you. Your Twitter profile should be the opening gambit in a conversation. Mine begins with “Author. Editor. Publisher. Check out the Metaphysical & Visionary time travel novel #Whizzers, available worldwide: msahno.com.” I’m not saying it’s the best Twitter profile in the world…but it’s not as unimaginative as the single word “Writer.” Who wants to check out a book by that person?
4) Do add something personal – The remainder of my profile says “🚫DMs 🚫porn.” You might not think that’s very personal, but it tells you a couple things about me: I don’t respond to direct messages from strangers. Want to reach me? Reply to one of my tweets or @ mention me. As for porn, I don’t have a personal problem with it; I simply don’t want to repel potential followers by having it in my Twitter feed, and I’m not going to follow back porn accounts anyway.
5) Don’t #hashtag a #bunch #of #words – Seriously, don’t. It’s annoying and hard to read. If you’re going to hashtag something in your Twitter profile, I’d suggest limiting it to a word or short phrase. I don’t recommend using a zillion hashtags in tweets either, but since my 2020 article, I’ve revised this advice slightly: don’t do it all the time. Once in a while, for periodic hashtags like #FollowFriday or #ShamelessSelfPromoSaturday, it’s probably fine.
6) Avoid the Direct Message trap – I must admit I used to have an automated greeting message that went out to every new follower I gained. It was a rookie move, and I paid the price. First, most of those messages come with a Call to Action. So they’re like, “Hi, thanks for following me. Now that you’ve done me a kindness, please give me much more by following me on Instagram, liking my Facebook page, and buying my stuff.” Uh, no.
Second, who the heck has time to read all these? If you get a couple hundred new followers per month, and 10% of them send an auto-DM, that’s 20 messages per month. I don’t have time to read all those. Do you?
And there you have it. A short Twitter tips post for a Monday in January. I hope they help you grow your following. Please comment below if you have an additional tip or want to discuss these.