Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. She posts about growing your author platform every Thursday. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
To write well for Twitter, you really need to change your mindset. I’ve seen 100,000+ word novelists balk when it comes to Tweeting, and I’ve seen successful business types equally fail when they take the hard sell approach. Twitter isn’t a place for you to flaunt your knowledge of the English language or refine your author voice. It’s equally not a place where constantly telling people to buy your book or visit your website will work. Twitter takes a bit more finesse. A bit more thought. And a lot more of a marketing or sales-driven mindset.
Twitter restricts the number of characters used in each Tweet to 140. If you’re curious what that looks like, note this paragraph. Yep, 140.
It may seem like a lot to work with at first, but once you add any @ mentions or links or hashtags, it can get crowded fast. It’s this very crowdedness that hinders authors from being successful with their Tweets.
But the bottom line is if you can learn to write compelling, actionable copy for Twitter, you can write just about anything.
Just like any other social media channel, the basic rule to a great Twitter handle is to have a goal. Do you want to sell books? Generate interest in your website or blog? Position yourself as an expert on a topic? A clear goal will guide each and every Tweet, preventing you from flooding your readers with conflicting information. With a goal, you’ll be sure to attract the very readers that care about every single Tweet you throw at them. And that is where the Twitter magic happens.
But how do you construct compelling copy in 140 characters? I’m glad you asked.
The Three Components of a Great Tweet:
1. It has a GOAL à Call to Action
The Tweet must either provide worthwhile information or ask the reader to DO something. For example, if you’re going to be speaking in the Chicago area, you could Tweet about it, encouraging Chicagoans to come out and see you. Or, you could ask readers to check out your speaking schedule (include a link) to see when you’ll be in their area. The ideal strategy would be to do both. Share your speaking schedule link when you’ve got your summer tour nailed down, and then Tweet about each city a day or so before you arrive.
2. It has a HOOK
The Tweet must grab the reader’s attention. Many Twitter users follow hundreds if not thousands of people…that’s a lot of competition. Get your Tweets to stand out by always ensuring they draw the reader in. Avoid lots of hard sell Tweets, such as Buy my book! This is where creativity is a must.
3. It has LINKS and/or HASHTAGS
A great Tweet will direct your readers to places where they can get more information.
Linking to photos is a great way to connect with your readers through those less sales-related Tweets. For example: Thanks to everyone who came out to hear me speak at the #ChicagoPublicLibrary It was awesome! <link to photo of speaker with fans>
Linking to a website is a great way to provide extra information and a harder sell. For example: Thanks to everyone who came out tonight! Next up, Indianapolis <link to speaking schedule on website>
Twitter will automatically shorten your links to 20 characters, leaving you with 120 to work with.
Hashtags are also great in Tweets. They build credibility and will expand your reach. Hashtags look like this: #creativewriting #allIwantforChristmas . They are a hash sign, followed by a string of words or an acronym that uses no punctuation or spaces. You can create your own hashtags simply by Tweeting them. But you can also search on Twitter and other social media sites to find out what existing hashtags apply to your Tweets.
Readers use hashtags to find other Tweeters who are talking about topics they’re interested in. People who are interested in #ChicagoPublicLibrary will monitor the hashtag so that they can know and discover all there is about that particular topic.
Jumping on a trending hashtag will broaden your readership, because there are tons of people out there also talking about that specific hashtag.
So what does a great Tweet look like? They aren’t always grammatically pretty, and the limited character count oftentimes has you talking like a texting teenager. But it’s time to cast any word-related snobbiness aside. Great Tweets are ugly, yet effective. Here are some I put together:
Like Romeo & Juliet? LOVE #vampires? Check out my new book TWILIGHT <linkhere> #YAparanormal - this Tweet works because it gets the reader answering “yes” to each of the preliminary questions. They’re already thinking “yes” when they come to the pitch. It’s a bit of a hard sell, but it works. Readers feel comfortable with hard sells that are well thought out.
What happens when a #serialkiller runs a hotel at the world fair? Read devil in the white city <linkhere> #nonfiction – this Tweet uses the book’s one-liner for a HOOK.
At B&N 2nite @ 7:30p in Rosemont. Get a #freebook when u upload a pic of us. Details <linkhere> #fiction #bookgiveaway - this Tweet is a great example of using Twitter to promote. Plus, it will encourage additional buzz when readers accept the challenge and start uploading their pictures with the author. The pictures will reach their friends, thus generating more awareness for the author.
Thing to love #4: dress blues. Find 1000 more things to love <linkhere> #militarylife #militaryspouse - this Tweet uses a teaser from the book to generate interest.
Does Tweeting seem more doable? Love to hear your thoughts on this topic!