Why Twitter Might Not Be Right For You as an Author

Twitter for authors

In the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from aspiring authors about Twitter. Everyone seems to want to know if they should be on it, why I like it so much, and whether they should focus more of their own book marketing efforts on it.

Well, like everything else in this age of digital marketing, the answers to those questions are a bit complex. So I’ll just go ahead and tell you why I love Twitter, and why I think it’s not right for all authors.

Many of my readers are nonfiction writers/bloggers rather than fiction writers. And there’s an important distinction there: practical nonfiction is often highly illustrated (with four-color photos), while fiction is almost always straight narrative (with black-and-white text). Why does this matter when it comes to social media? Am I just being picky for fun? Are all literary agents out to befuddle writers and make social media even more confusing?

I hope you’re thinking no to those questions. Right? Right?

Right! So the format of your future book really does matter when it comes to social media. For practical nonfiction writers/bloggers, your aesthetic is your brand. The design of your online properties, the images you include in your posts, and the images you curate and share on social media are all part of your brand. Practical nonfiction is inherently image-driven, and therefore, it’s best suited for image-driven platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. (I’ll write more about the distinctions between these platforms next week.)

And yes, you can attach a photo to a tweet. But really, most people go to Twitter for pithy commentary, not aspirational images. However! If you’re a fiction writer or a narrative nonfiction writer, Twitter is absolutely a place where you should be growing a network. In fact, tweeting regularly is one the 7 habits of highly successful authors that I discussed last week. Twitter is a glorious hub filled to the brim with your favorite authors, editors, agents, and other publishing professionals, all having conversations that you can listen in on and learn from. It’s flat-out fun, and it’s a great way to learn about the ins and outs of the publishing world.

That’s exactly why Twitter is my primary social media network, but I don’t recommend it for my practical nonfiction authors. (And why it’s only #5 on my list of stats I look for when scouting authors.) I love keeping up with other publishing professionals on Twitter, and I want to help the crowd of aspiring authors (both fiction and nonfiction) that hangs out there. But my clients who work in the lifestyle nonfiction space (cookbooks, design, home, etc.) can get a lot more bang for their social media buck on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook.

And there you have it. My deep, dark, not-so-secret thoughts on Twitter for authors. I hope that leaves you with a little less fuddle in the befuddling world of social media!

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