How a Self-Published Author Got 1,213 Followers on Twitter

Twitter. You’ve probably heard of it.

People call it a “micro-blogging service,” whatever that means.

If not, they’ll casually lambast it as something that adolescents use to inform friends of their latest Teenage Adventures.

Twitter is more than that.

In fact, it’s one of the handiest tools to promote your blog, your book, your band, your artwork, your photographs, your anything.

That’s because you can network on it. You can meet creative people who do exactly what you do on it.

But  making a Twitter account is easy, but getting followers is harder.

That’s why I recently spoke with Holly Robinson, the indie author of Sleeping Tigers. In just a year, she’s gotten over 1,000 followers on Twitter.

When you started Twitter, what were your first impressions?

My first impression was ‘Why the heck would I want to do this?’

I didn‘t really see the point of it, especially because I was wondering who would even follow me. Finally, a friend of mine talked me into it.

She walked me through the steps of setting it up, too, but that was really easy.

I started around September 2011 and I kind of did it as a joke at first, because I thought that I might as well figure out what Twitter actually is.

After you set up your Twitter account, what’d you do?

I asked, ‘Okay, who do I want to follow?’

I wanted to find news I wanted, so I followed Publisher’s Weekly, Penguin, Poets & Writers, and some self-publishing websites.

What I found out is that when I started following those kinds of Twitter accounts, I got the information that I wanted. So, Twitter slowly became an information resource for me.

I started following other writers, too. Writers are very generous and they’re usually going to follow you back if you follow them.

Then, the tweeting started.

*Laughs* Right, when I tweeted things out, I usually tweeted things that I liked reading.

You know, I would find a blog about self-publishing or an article about how to use [Amazon’s] KDP or what’s better, Lulu or CreateSpace.

I made sure all of my tweets were information-heavy.

When I found something I thought was really cool, I’d comment with something of my own, saying something like, “If you’re thinking about KDP, you should do this.”

What I also figured out, after a friend showed me, was that I could link my blog to Twitter and I could tweet about my own stuff from Open Salon or Huffington Post.

That’s how I got a lot of my followers. I have about 600 followers on Huffington Post and some started following me on Twitter.

Click to follow Holly: @hollyrob1

Do you use hashtags?

Very infrequently, but sometimes there are hashtags for writers that I use, like:

  • #writerwednesday
  • #amwriting
  • #FF (Follow Fridays)

For example, if I’m tweeting something specific about creating 3D characters, I would follow it with the hashtag “#amwriting” and link to the blog post.

What are some writerly mistakes you see on Twitter?

I never, ever use Twitter to promote my books directly.

I hate that. I’ll unfollow writers who constantly just say ‘Read my book!’ or ‘My book is free on Amazon!’”

If there’s no helpful content, it’s useless for me. If I’m going to promote my book, I do it by linking to reviews or something like that.

Any other keys to your success?

A big part of it is Triberr, which sets you up with different blogging “tribes” that correspond to the things you write about.

I got led by the nose to it by a friend. She invited me into it, then I got invited into another one. So now when I write a blog post, my tribes tweet it out.

That means that a lot of my tweets get exposed to all of my tribe’s followers – about 365,000 people.

With Triberr, I send out a lot more tweets than I used to, because I can approve tweets that I like and those will be sent out through Triberr.

Tell me how Triberr works.  

Well, first you sign up through your Twitter account on Triberr.com.

After that, you log in and see your dashboard. Then, you look at the different tribes, which are all divided by interest.

My own Triberr, bereft of any bloggers or blogging success.

You can ask to be invited to a tribe or get invited by a ‘tribal chief.’ You can also start your own.

Once you’re in a tribe, you can go to your Triberr and look at your Tribal Stream. You can filter things, too, and schedule different tweets from that stream.

I filter through ‘power writer’ or ‘rocking writer’ tribes, then I approve the posts I want to tweet.

And does that take more time?

No, that’s included in my fifteen minutes.

I don’t spend more than about fifteen minutes a day on Twitter.

I’ll usually just send out one or two personal tweets a day and then use Triberr to schedule anything else interesting.

I also use Hootsuite to schedule tweets.

Have you made any connections with writers through Twitter?

One author from Los Angeles helped me after reading something of mine about self-publishing books on Huffington Post.

He said he liked the post and wanted to help me promote my book. Now, we email each other and follow each other’s blogs.

I’m actually about to go on a writing retreat with mystery novelist Toby Neal.

Whoa, how did that happen?

I tweeted at her after reading her self-published novel, because I really liked it.

She tweeted me back and we followed each other.

Later, I had to write a story by Indie Reader and I thought, ‘Who do I know who’s self-publishing that’s doing pretty well?’

I interviewed Toby for the story and soon we were swapping manuscripts. Six months later, we’re going to meet for the first time at a writing retreat in California.

So, do you think there’s a lesson here for traditional publishers, too?

Definitely. Traditional publishers are going to have to train authors in social media.

If they’re not willing to teach you, you need to go to another service. You need to do it, whether it’s in your contract or not.

Traditional publishers need to keep up with indie authors, because indie authors know how to do it.

When I self-published my novel, Sleeping Tigers, then sold my book, The Wishing Hill, to Penguin, my editor was shocked at the sales I’d gotten from self-publishing.

Sure, it’s not a best-seller, but it’s all because of the stuff I did on social media.

What should writers do if they’re struggling with social media?

These days, you do have to establish a presence online so people can find you.

Writers think blogging takes too much time, but you really have to do it. It’s not hard, it’s free, and you can do it yourself

You need to write for other sites, too, so you can get a lot of followers. Through Twitter, through your website.

Writing for The Huffington Post is a way I’ve gotten a lot of people to follow me on Twitter.

You have to remember it’s social media: everything’s connected. You have to establish that presence.

Otherwise, nobody will find your book. I think that’s true whether you’re traditionally published or self-published.

The breakdown

  1. Establish a place you want to send people, like a blog
  2. Follow fellow Creatives who are doing the same thing
  3. Interact with those Creatives when you see something you like
  4. Provide useful information about art, not just promotion
  5. Triberr can jumpstart your social media efforts

If you want to learn more about Holly’s writing, don’t forget to visit her website at authorhollyrobinson.com or Tweet at her @hollyrob1.

Looking for more help? I’m working on a guide to Facebook & content marketing for writers looking to promote their books, due early 2013.

If you’re interested, sign up for The Creative Brief, my free monthly newsletter, and I’ll email it to you as soon as it’s ready!

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5 Responses to How a Self-Published Author Got 1,213 Followers on Twitter

  1. Toby Neal says:

    Excellent article! My friend Holly sent me to check out your blog. Nice work!
    We are both hungover from our creativity binge in the woods of Mendocino, real life is so messy and full of things like bills and changing the TP roll, but that’s the life of a writer for you!
    Check out my blog too http://www.tobyneal.net/ and let me know if you want a copy of my minibook Building an Author Platform that can Launch Anything. Happy to send you one.
    Aloha
    Toby Neal

  2. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the challenges.

    It was definitely informative. Your website is extremely
    helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to
    know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with
    HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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