Learning Twitter for authors; then tweeting magic

Several years ago I joined Twitter and set up an automatic feed from my first Blog—iLookChina.net; then I ignored Twitter for more than four years. I had no idea how to use Twitter or Facebook properly. Both sites confused me and Facebook still does.

In fact, it’s been so long since I signed up for my Twitter account, I had to visit Twopcharts.com to discover that I first signed up on March 16, 2009—1,782 days counting back from January 31, 2014, but I started building my author’s platform December 2007 when I launched my first website. The blogs came later, and after I started to seriously blog in 2010, sales took off from 341 for 2009 to 2,375 for 2010, and in 2013, my work sold 5,044 books—the best year yet.

Then last May—1,531 days or 4.19 years after I signed up for my Twitter account—I was encouraged by another author to seriously start working it. A week later a speaker at the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club (est. 1906 by Jack London and friends)—where I am a member—told the audience that writers/authors needed to be on Twitter—that Twitter was crucial for an author’s platform.

Still not sure how to use Twitter, I found a short tutorial and read it; then turned to YouTube and watched several videos. The embedded videos in this post may give you an idea of what YouTube has to offer.

On May 25, 2013, I posted my first original tweet—Historical Novel Review says “written in gritty way enhanced by vivid compelling descriptions that seem too real” @ http://goo.gl/gPnwP 

Since then—for the 251 days before January 31, 2014—I retweeted or posted almost 35,000 times, and I’m still learning how to use Twitter properly.

In those first-four years while I was doing little to nothing with Twitter beyond automatic feeds from my first Blog, my Twitter page attracted about 400 followers.

But since May 25, 2013 that number has improved dramatically; when I starting writing this post, I had more than 4,200 followers and was following more than 4,600.  I’m also retweeting and tweeting three times a day when possible—a morning Twitter session; another one in the afternoon, and a third in the evening. I know there are sites—like Hootsuite—that offer automatic feeds of one kind or another, but I haven’t taken advantage of that yet. I’m still thinking about it.

I’ve also discovered that everyone on Twitter doesn’t tweet the same way. For instance, there are those—it seems—who tweet an endless stream of thank you, thank, thank you, and don’t say much of anything else. Then there are others who tweet stuff that doesn’t work well for retweeting.

I have now developed a routine where I post two originals tweets together and then retweet (RT) others five or more times who retweeted one of my originals. The reason I follow this pattern is so anyone who retweets my tweets won’t have to scroll far down the page to find one to RT, because I’ve learned that it isn’t always easy to find something to RT when you have to scroll for several minutes past hundreds of tweets searching for one that’s worth retweeting.

Anyway, I maintain four Blogs and in each pair of original tweets I post, I Tweet something that includes a shortened link that leads back to one of my blog posts [where I have written and published more than 2,200 posts], Websites or my books on Amazon. I almost never thank anyone for retweeting my tweets. Instead, I visit their Twitter page and RT something interesting they tweeted—if I can find something interesting.

The results of this effort and then some [the following numbers are based on referrers for All time]:

By 6:46 PM on Thursday, January 30, 2014, my Soulful Veteran Blog had a total of 160 visitors who had arrived from Twitter; 2,046 from search engines; 474 from the Website for My Splendid Concubine; 10 from my Facebook page, and 3 from Google +.

iLookChina.net has had 529 visitors arrive from Twitter; 234,889 from search engines; 1,284 from Facebook, and 520 from Google +.

Crazy Normal—my blog about education, teaching and parenting—has had 407 visitors from Twitter; 254 from DianeRavitch.net; 93 from Facebook; 9,765 from search engines, and 50 from Google +.

For my signature Website/Blog—Lloyd Lofthouse.org—925 arrived from Twitter; 8,214 through search engines; 1,849 from Yahoo! (where I leave comments in news piece forums); 479 from Facebook; 11 from LinkedIn, and one from Google +.

Note that this isn’t the entire list of referrals to my Blogs—visitors arriving from other sites and sources.

As for book sales, there’s no way to link sales to Twitter, Facebook, Google +, my Blogs/Websites or any other site, but my first two novels have sold almost twenty thousand copies and continue to sell steadily.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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32 thoughts on “Learning Twitter for authors; then tweeting magic

    • That the trade off. For most of us, it takes time to build an internet pretense that people notice. We are competing against hundreds of millions of websites and blogs. And once you start to attract views, you have to keep working at it or lose it. There’s truth in that old saying that you either “use it or lose it”, which reminds me that I need to take my two mile walk this morning before it gets too hot. Supposed to be almost 90 later today.

  1. Pingback: How I sold almost 2,000 books in twenty hours | Lloyd Lofthouse

  2. I think I ‘get’ Twitter. You have some good ideas. I just pulggio to post for me usually twice while I’m asleep to try and catch the evening/late night crowd in the US otherwise they would never see a tweet from me. I can’t be online 24/7

    My Facebook page on the other hand I have no idea what to do with. It’s basically a repository of my tweets at the moment.

    • You aren’t alone about Facebook. I still don’t know how to use that site properly for promotion so I just have auto feeds going from my Blogs. As for Twitter, I’ve signed up to use Hoot Suit to do what you seem to be doing through pulggio but I haven’t set up my Tweets to appear automatically yet (I still have some learning to do on how to use Hoot Suit). I think through Hoot Suit, we can set up automatic feeds so Tweets appear as often as we want. That’s what I understand anyway.

      The reason why we join organic cooperative groups that ReTweet each other also serves the same purpose but these groups aren’t organized. Instead, they seem to grow as you follow and ReTweet others. But I find that some people I follow and ReTweet don’t ReTweet my Tweets. When I visit their sties, all they do is post their own Tweets and you seldom see them ReTweeting anyone else.

      How many ReTweet my Tweets is unpredictable but I see (just checked) that several did last night while I was sleeping and a few more Followed me. What I do with new followers is go to their page and see if there is something they posted worth ReTweeting and sometimes that pays off because they then ReTweet one of mine later. And I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me because some of them are from commercial sites instead of authors, readers or bloggers like us.

      It’s like panning for gold. You never know when you’ll find some. And many of the ReTweets of my posts waiting for me in the morning came from the UK and even Asia. Then I ReTweet one of theirs. In fact, I make it a point to ReTweet at least 20 to 40 of my followers and new followers even if I don’t have that many who ReTweets my Tweets. I do this to keep the momentum going and it seems to work. Some people may not log on three times a day for two or three hours like I do. Some people may only visit their Twitter account once a week and then spend a day catching up.

    • I should have asked. Do you have a Blog? If you do and you reply to this comment, make sure that your Blog’s html address is in your comment so anyone who reads our conversation has a link to visit your site.

      I find that my Blogs have brought my books more readers than anything else I’ve done to promote my work.

    • By joining and/or cultivating a group that you Tweet and then some or many of them ReTweet your Tweets, your tweets will then be going out at all hours.

      For instance, I usually feed Twitter three times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. In fact, fifteen minutes ago I finished my evening Twitter feed that ran 17 minutes.

      And in the morning when I get up, I could have anywhere from 20 to 100 of my Tweets Retweeted (while I slept) and then I ReTweet while posting fresh Tweets of my own.

      There are people in Europe, Asia and Australia who ReTweet my Tweets while I sleep and then I ReTweet there’s while they sleep.

  3. Pingback: Introvert’s Social Networking Adventure | Bat Hughes, Writer

  4. I haven’t had any trouble with Facebook (except with their stupid policy of limiting who actually sees your posts…grrr!), but am new to Twitter. Like you, I had an account for a long time, but never saw the point. When I self-published my cookbook, I created an account for that and started posting a lot more. The biggest thing I’ve notice — the Twitter community is very helpful and welcoming to newbies (like me). Thank goodness! 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing your journey. We all take our own steps along our own paths. Some of mine are similar to yours. I’ll be coming back to this post for more ideas to try.

  6. I’m good with Facebook, but Twitter confuses me. I use it anyway, but I’m never sure what I’m doing. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Funny, because I’m pretty computer savvy … just not Twitter-savvy!

    • How do you use Facebook? There’s so much about computers and the internet that confuses me so I tend hold off learning something new so I can wallow in my comfort zone a bit longer before facing the unknown once again.

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