Twitter is not a billboard

Twitter is two things:

  • It is a personalized news service.
  • It is a microblogging platform.

It is not a billboard to announce “Buy My Book!

It can also be a conversation – a place to find and connect with your tribe. That conversation has significant value if you care to cultivate it, but brings costs alongside: in authenticity, time, and a genuine desire to connect. If you don’t want to pay those costs, you can’t get the value of connection. And even that value doesn’t entitle you to success with “Buy my book!”

Nonetheless, you can still tweet “Buy my book!” on these three occasions.

Tweet “Buy my book!” for:

1. Release Day

It’s your book’s birthday. Of course you can (and should) celebrate. Announce your #PubDay to the world. Tweet #ReleaseDay far and wide. Pop the corks!

You get complete license on this one exact day. Nobody minds some enthusiasm and commercialism. Everyone feels good for you.

In fact, some people specifically encourage it on this day: your publisher, your agent, and your most ardent followers. They all want as much buzz as you do, so tweet it up!

(Releasing in a new format counts for this as well, sort of, but keep it more subdued.)

And then stop the very next day. Post-party announcements fall as flat as yesterday’s champagne.

2. A short-term, legitimate promotion

On occasion, you’ll have a special offer to tell the world. The twitterverse will allow it, in small doses, before deciding you’re here only to shill and shout. And your followers will be delighted about it. This is what they’ve been waiting for!

It could be that there’s a temporary price drop from your publisher, or your own limited-time promotion for your self-published book – a Kindle Countdown Deal, perhaps.

Maybe you’ve teamed with other authors for a box set, or created one of your own, or are, for a brief time, giving away a special bonus.

Tweet about it.

But whatever the promo is, keep the tweet-window short. Too many hard sells and people will tune out. Then you become the smarmy insurance salesman who won’t stop hawking his plans at the neighborhood block party, the same person who wonders why everyone suddenly stopped talking to him.

3. Once every 200 tweets

You want a magic formula? Here it is.

For every 199 times you engage authentically, charm your followers, and give them value.

For every 199 tweets that reveal who you are and make your followers feel more connected to you.

For every 199 tweets that uplift and delight and console and teach, you get exactly one opportunity to remind the world that yes, in fact, you write to make a living and wouldn’t it be swell if the friends you’re talking to were reminded of that.

That’s what it takes to earn the right to ask for a sale.

What all these have in common

Service to your followers.

The only time a “Buy my book!” tweet has any chance of success is when a purchase is something they want, not something you want.

Which reminds us of the harsh truth that twitter ain’t about you. That’s why …

If you must tweet about book buying, do this:

Suggest buying someone else’s.

Be of service to your followers and other writers. Tweet heartfelt recommendations for authors you admire. Point to a blog post about your favorite writing books. Celebrate with a friend on her #ReleaseDay.

Then you can tweet “Buy this book!” plenty of times. For any book but yours.

What did I miss? Chat happens on Facebook.