Posted On August 22, 2016 by Print This Post

Twitter Marketing for Authors by Kim Headlee

Marketing meme c2016 by Kim Headlee.
Woman jumping rope photo c2015 by undrey
Depositphotos ID 73127357.
Welcome to Twitter Marketing for Authors 101
by Kim Headlee 

Every author has her or his preferred social media platform for promoting, and mine has become Twitter. There are a few reasons for my choice, including some very personal ones that I’ll spare you from reading today. From a promotional standpoint, Facebook’s usefulness for free marketing became nullified the instant they changed their display algorithms to kill the concept of organic reach and convince businesses to pay to boost their posts. Now the best thing for an author to do on that platform is join the ever-expanding list of book-promotion groups where readers may be reached directly, and still for free.

Thus endeth my $0.02 Facebook marketing advice.

Many people believe that you cannot sell books via Twitter, but I have found a direct correlation between certain tweets and sales, and it occurs often enough to convince me to keep my primary promotional activities focused on that platform.

Most of the time, a reader will not take a chance on buying the work of a new-to-her author until she has seen mention of the book or author at least seven times. Twitter is great for improving those odds, especially if you can build a network of faithful retweeters.

Contrary to popular belief, Twitter can result in sales—or at least, increased click-throughs to your author page or your book’s product page. This exposure is what marketing is all about. Any resulting sales after that are pure gravy.

Here are my “7 Dos and 7 Don’ts” regarding Twitter marketing for authors. I start with the “Don’ts” because I’m contrary that way. 😀


    1. Don’t assume that there is any privacy in Twitter, even in Direct Messages (DMs). Structure your tweets and messages as if you’re broadcasting them to the entire universe, including your Mom. Okay, so this isn’t strictly marketing, but you can damage your author brand if you tweet something that you really didn’t want being seen by God and everyone.
    2. Don’t start a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle (for example, @romanceluverz), because the tweet will be seen only by you, @romanceluverz, and mutual followers of you and @romanceluverz. Inserting a single character (“.” is common) in front of the “@” will increase your tweet’s reach many times over. Most of the time, I try to start the tweet with a word of thanks or other type of greeting.
      BTW, as of this writing, “@romanceluvrz” is available if you need a Twitter handle. 😀
    3. Don’t #use #hashtags #too #much #in #your #tweets. It’s annoying as #Hell and can make the tweet hard to read depending on your display settings. Furthermore, #don’t punctuate #hash-tags because that creates something you #didn’t intend (“#don”, “#hash”, and “#didn”, for example). You can, however, take advantage of this functionality to punctuate your Twitter handle, creating tweets like:
      Read all of @KimHeadlee‘s historical romance novels because they’re fantastic!
      Note: An underscore (“_”) character may be used to separate words; for example, #Be_the_story, but that can be more trouble than mashing the words together, as in #BeTheStory. Those two examples do produce different Twitter searches. However, Twitter searches are not case sensitive, so #BETHESTORY, #BeTheStory, and #bethestory yield the same results.
    4. Don’t tweet/retweet nothing but stuff about your books. That gets real boring real fast. Bored followers are not engaged followers, and they sure as #Hell won’t stick around long enough to buy your book.
    5. Don’t send out automated “Buy my book”/”Like my Facebook page”/”Connect with me on LinkedIn”/”Anything else” DMs to new followers. Twitter’s DM system is clunky and too annoying to live, especially with the lifting of the length restrictions. I (probably) will never unfollow anyone for sending me an unsolicited DM, whether automated or not, but I most certainly will never buy your book/like your Facebook page/connect with you on LinkedIn/anything else just because you commanded me to do so in your DM. And as long as you insist on keeping your automatic “welcome” DM, go ahead and keep it long winded too. That’s an automatic guarantee that I won’t read any of it as I turn off your notifications and activate the “Leave Conversation” function.
#KASIWC by @KimHeadlee
  1. Don’t automatically follow everyone who has followed you just because it’s convenient and you’re pressed for time. That can lead to some very questionable content showing up in your Twitter feed or DM inbox. Romance authors in particular can be susceptible to receiving unwanted content from followers. To minimize this risk, I do not follow:
    • anyone who offers to sell me followers on any platform,
    • any account where either the profile or cover pic looks creepy or stalker-y,
    • any account that has not yet tweeted anything,
    • any account wherein all the tweets beg for money,
    • any account that doesn’t tweet at least something in English,
    • anyone whose account’s “about” statement, tweets, or retweets violate my ethical code.

    It’s a rare day when I look at my Twitter feed anymore; I usually go straight to notifications and start retweeting from there. Even so, I don’t want questionable content in my feed, or as an excuse for someone to send me yet another unsolicited DM begging for something from me, or, worse yet, showing me anatomy that I can never unsee.

  2. Don’t use common handles (such as @amazon) or hashtags (such as #Kindle) in your tweets. The former is an utter waste of tweet space because nobody monitoring @amazon is going to care about =your= lone tweet, let alone retweet it, and your book will get lost in the ginormous pile of #Kindle-tagged (or #romance-tagged, etc.) tweets in about four nanoseconds. The object is to go for hashtag uniqueness. Click on #KASIWC if you have any question about how well this technique works.


  1. Do check out a new follower’s profile. If appropriate, retweet something of theirs or send him/her/it a direct tweet (just keep in mind Don’t #2, above), and then follow the account back, because the more accounts you follow, the faster your following will grow. I admit this can be time consuming, however, and antsy people may unfollow you if you don’t follow them in half a heartbeat, but in case you haven’t noticed, there are PLENTY of birds in the Twitterverse sky. And the antsy people may follow you again anyway, especially if your content is worth following. For the record, I try to check my followers list once a day, usually in the evening (ET), so if you have followed my @KimHeadlee Twitter account, please be patient; I’ll get to you! You shouldn’t be antsy as a writer anyway. 😀
  2. Do engage personally with your followers whenever appropriate, and perhaps include a link to your book or author page if they have left a clue in their profile or tweets/retweets indicating that they might genuinely be interested in your work. Failure to perform this bit of basic research and social media etiquette can cause you to run the risk of being branded as a spammer by having too many users block your account or lodge complaints about you to Twitter Support.
  3. Do set up universal links for your books and author page to increase your odds of landing foreign sales. A great site for both is, because they allow you to specify your own Amazon Associates ID for any business unit where you might have one (US, UK, CA, etc.). I do get a fair number of affiliate sales that way, and you can too.
    Hot Tip: You don’t have to be a author to take advantage of their sister site, which allows you to establish one universal link for all digital editions of your book, be it published via Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, or any of the many other online retailers they support. Books2Read is just getting started, however, so they don’t yet offer functionality to set up universal links for your author pages, audiobooks, and print editions. As with Booklinker, Books2Read will allow you to specify your affiliate IDs for all these platforms.
  4. Do include balanced content in your tweets, such as blog posts about hobbies and pictures that interest you, other writers’ tips, and so forth. A great way to do this, if you blog (and if you don’t, you should start), is by setting up a free account at and then becoming a member of “tribes” of like-minded bloggers. After having been on Triberr for going on two years now, I am a member of 40+ tribes not including my own, I have 1K tribemates (other bloggers to potentially share my posts), a combined Twitter network reach of 20M (solo, my Twitter follower list is >18K at present), and within the first six months, my daily blog views increased one hundred fold. I don’t care how bad you think you are at math (which is a fallacy since mathematics and language are processed in the same region of the brain ;-), that’s a LOT of increased exposure.
  5. Do set up cross-posting to Twitter with your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. This is another way to vary your content… unless all you’re doing is a 24×7 infomercial about your work on those platforms too; see Don’t #4, above.
  6. Do establish a free account at or other such tool that allows you to easily manage your follower and following lists. My personal preference is to unfollow anyone who has unfollowed me the instant I follow them, because I’m not on Twitter to feed anyone’s ego but my own. (Hey, ya can’t fault a gal for exercising Truth in Advertising! :D)
  7. Do establish a free account at or other such tool for scheduling tweets (my personal rule of thumb is one of my book-related tweets per hour), and save all your tweets as Drafts so you can tweet them again, using Hootsuite’s link shortener, from time to time.If you have hundreds of reusable tweets, as I do, then I also recommend backing them up somehow. I use Excel, with separate tabs for each novel plus one for “other” tweets (my profile and web site pages, newsletter signup, etc.), and I have recently added a date/time column corresponding with the date/time I created the draft tweet in Hootsuite so I can find it more easily when I want to change it or use it.There are other such services out there (, for example), but Hootsuite is affiliated with Twitter and doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. I’ve done the third-party-app route, and I have way too many tweets to risk going with a tool that might be shut down without notice or forethought. Having Hootsuite chop a character off the “allowed” limit for plain text in scheduled tweets that include a link—without notice, and in spite of the fact that Twitter did not raise its 23-character link size to 24—was annoying enough.

    Recently I took advantage of Hootsuite’s 2-month free trial offer for the “pro” upgrade, primarily to see whether it will be worthwhile for bulk-scheduling my tweets. However, due to their imposed limitations with the scheduling algorithm, the first day my account is eligible to use this functionality is the day this post goes live, so I cannot yet evaluate its usefulness. If anyone has anything positive (or negative, for that matter) to say about whether Hootsuite’s paid service has been worth it, I would love to hear about it in the comments!

There are a few other Twitter marketing trends I’ve seen lately, such as “quoting” (read, “hijacking”) someone’s tweet for the sole purpose of including a link to an unrelated item. Sometimes I retweet those and sometimes I don’t, depending on how many of those I get in my notifications, how annoyed I am either by the hijack itself or if one of my cats has just crash-landed on top of me (I work underneath their tall perch, so this happens more often than you might think :D), and whether Jupiter is aligned with Mars.

Given a choice between receiving an automated Direct Message and an automated “welcome” tweet, I much prefer the latter—and most DMs I receive get deleted unread—but whether or not I retweet your “welcome” tweet depends upon its content and if I can use it to help balance the content of my Twitter output. Usually I’m happy to do so, but there have been exceptions too.

Thus endeth Twitter Marketing 101 for Authors.

Happy writing, marketing, and tweeting!


RU Authors, do you have any Twitter marketing tips that work for you? Share them!

Join us on Wednesday for Nan Reinhardt!



Portrait of Kim Iverson Headlee created for
King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court,
(c)2015 by Jennifer Doneske.

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in the mountains of southwestern Virginia
with her family, cats, fish, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and
assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and
the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently
as the midtwentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim has been a published novelist since 1999 (Dawnflight, Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and a student of Arthurian lore and literature for nigh on half a century. Her most recent release is the award-winning King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court by Mark Twain as channeled by Kim Iverson Headlee, a science-fiction/fantasy time travel romance.


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13 Responses to “Twitter Marketing for Authors by Kim Headlee”

  1. Love the tips. Honestly I have one other Don’t I’d add though and maybe this is just a personal thing (and I hate it on Facebook too).

    If I follow you or we become friends that doesn’t mean I immediately want you to send me a DM telling me how grateful you are that we’re friends and btw here’s a link to buy your book now! I immediately unfollow when I get those. It’s just a thing. If I want to check you out I’ll click on your links you’re posting don’t high pressure sales tactic me.

    Posted by Patricia Eimer | August 22, 2016, 9:06 am
    • I know exactly what you mean, Patricia. On Facebook I get really touchy about people posting their book links on my timeline without my prior consent. My Facebook timeline is NOT a public message board, and that practice is nothing short of rude. I might not unfriend someone for engaging in that practice, but again, it’s a guarantee that I will never buy anything written by that author.

      I usually don’t unfollow Twitterfolk who send me the automated “buy my book” DM pleas, but as I wrote in Don’t #5, it’s another automated guarantee that I won’t ever buy that book.

      Thanks for visiting & commenting! 🙂

      Posted by Kim Headlee (@KimHeadlee) | August 22, 2016, 11:33 am
  2. Love the tips! Now I just need to prioritize and find the time to implement….

    Posted by Donna Maloy | August 22, 2016, 10:26 am
  3. Fabulous advice, Kim!! And thxs so much for taking the time to share. Happy Monday to you…**lifting coffee cuppa toward screen**

    ~ Cindy Nord

    Posted by Cindy Nord | August 22, 2016, 10:31 am
  4. Evening Kim!

    Great list, one every author needs!

    I’m like Patricia, I hate the automatic “buy my book!”….it feels like “let’s jump in bed together!”…way too soon….lol…I want to get to know you first, read your tweets, then join in if I feel we’re a “match”…

    great post, thanks so much!!


    Posted by Carrie Peters | August 22, 2016, 8:59 pm
    • Thanks, Carrie; I’m happy to help!

      LOL about the “let’s jump into bed” remark. You nailed it. 😀

      Now, if someone offers a free book, I might be disposed to consider it, but not if it comes via an unsolicited DM.

      Marketing of any stripe is all about creating a =relationship= with the potential customer; that’s why it’s commonly observed that the longer you can keep someone engaged with your product (whether on a bookstore’s aisle or online), the better your chances of landing the sale.

      Posted by Kim Headlee (@KimHeadlee) | August 23, 2016, 10:52 am
  5. Wow. Excellent and informative post. Will be linking to it this weekend. Thanks very much.

    Posted by Tina Radcliffe | August 24, 2016, 3:01 am
  6. Thanks for the kind words!

    Posted by Kim Headlee (@KimHeadlee) | August 24, 2016, 9:36 am
  7. Excellent, informative post, Kim. Thank you. Best to you.

    Posted by Màiri Norris | September 10, 2016, 3:34 am

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