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


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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