Twitter can be an amazing tool to brand yourself as author, connect with your readers and fellow authors, if used correctly.
Here are some tips I have scrounged from trawling, (not trolling!), the net.
Be Yourself, Not Your Book
Present yourself as person and not as your book. It might seem a great idea to take the book title as a Twitter name – but what are going to do when writing your second book. You would need to open a second account for this book, the third book, etc.
Followers are also more likely talking to a person than a book.
Choose your Author-Name as Twitter-handle
To brand yourself as author choose your author-name as Twitter handle. If it is not available anymore extend it with ‘Author’, ‘Writer’ or an underscore ‘First_Last’.
Provide a Bio, a Photo and the ‘URL’ to your own Website/blog.
Take your time to draft a good sentence for your Bio. Nothing too crazy or too fancy – just a great line so followers have an idea who you are and what you write.
A photo is a must, but if you like to keep your anonymity you can use a cartoon-ish picture or a manipulated picture of yourself.
Do not use your book as profile picture. (Followers get the impression that you ‘only’ want to sell your book).
The URL could be to your blog, your Facebook page, or other social media sites where followers can learn more about you.
Do not use your book link at Amazon. (Same reason as with the picture – new followers won’t buy your book anyway. They might do later when knowing more about you.)
Tweet-Out some Tweets before start following others
Post your first tweets even if you have no followers. Your new followers will read them soon.
Start following your first Tweeps (Twitter Users). Follow only Tweeps you are interested in. They might be fellow authors, readers, book bloggers, book sites, news sites, people with the same hobbies you share, etc. Follow Tweeps who are posting (by your definition) interesting tweets or have an interesting Bio or are people you know.
Do not follow everybody you see on Twitter
At first, you are limited to 2,000 people to follow. So, choose your Tweeps as described before. Once you have 2,000 followers yourself you can follow more Tweeps.
It’s all about Quality
If one of your goals is to brand yourself as author and build your own Twitter community where you discuss topics you’re interested in – the more it is important to have quality followers.
Not just thousands of followers who give you every morning a quote of the day, do the ‘follow you, follow me game’, or are just tweeting out their links to their eBay, Amazon, or other e-commerce sites.
It sounds great to have 100,000 followers but these before mentioned users will never communicate with you or have even a look at your tweets.
Do not sell your book!
Nothing annoys your followers more than asking them “Please buy my book”, “Please, read my book”, “Now only 99 cents” etc.
Followers are quickly annoyed and will call this ‘shameless’ self-promotion. You might think the same when reading only these kinds of tweets from people you are following and might decide to not follow these Tweeps anymore.
Make yourself ‘Author interesting’
Tweet about your writing and the progress of your new book project. Having received an amazing review, award, etc. Share the publishing process, provide tips for others. Share sale success etc.
If you make yourself interesting enough your followers will probably investigate your book and/or reviewing your book. (soft sale)
Do let your followers know if your book has been featured, or you have an Interview or a guest-post. Let them know about reading or signings, how to get freebies, etc.
Get involved in discussions
You’re seeing your followers discussing interesting topics, get involved, ask a question to start a conversation.
If you see interesting or helpful tweets from others you’d like to share, RT (Re-Tweet) it to your own followers.
This helps interesting posts to get a wider audience. Your followers will RT your Tweets as well if they are interesting for them.
Don’t ask for RT’s
Your followers will re-tweet your tweets if your posts are good (interesting, helpful) enough for a RT.
Using Hashtags (#)
Use Hashtags – so Tweeps who search for a certain category, or genre, can easier find your tweets, like #thriller #para #ya #WritingTip etc.
Do not overuse Hastags.
Tweets can be more difficult to read with to many hashtags.
Build relationships with other writers
“Thanks for the RT” doesn’t exactly build relationships.
If someone retweets your tweet or mentions you, take the extra two minutes to check out their Twitter profile, see what they write, comment on it in a tweet with a ‘Thank you’ included.
Fellow writers are mostly also readers and are great to have relationships with to share tweets, writing tips, found a beta reader group, etc.
Do NOT use these relationships trying to sell them your books.
Even more Quick Twitter Tips (not only for Authors)
Be honest. Have fun. Don’t try to sell anything.
Twitter about stuff that has to do with your blog, but also Twitter stuff that has nothing to do with your blog.
Share links, share ideas, ask questions, answer questions — anything but “what are you doing?” unless it’s really interesting
Write each word like it matters, because it does.
Respect the people you follow. Be interesting. Listen first, tweet second. Don’t waste words.
Don’t follow more people than you can handle. If you’ve got too much going on, you miss a lot of the good stuff.
Stop thinking that twitter is pointless and just try it. It’s all about community, reach out and be a part of it.
Send out interesting, funny, resourceful and insightful tweets and this will earn you more followers.
Tweet often and experiment with different times of day and night, weekday/weekend. You never know who is ready to surf Twitter.
Make tweeting a two-way dialogue. Comment/respond to the tweets of others.
It’s OK to push out links to your latest blog entry but don’t overly sell anything in your tweet.
Better to be friendly and positive than negative and critical in your Tweets
Feel free to comment on current events, hot trends, news, cool individuals, relevant issues, unique ideas, and things you find of value.
Talk, don’t sell. Twitter is not a marketplace – it’s more like a community room. Pull up a chair and make friends.
Find the official Twitter Glossary here
The @ sign is used to call out usernames in Tweets, like this: Hello @Twitter! When a username is preceded by the @ sign, it becomes a link to a Twitter profile.
A short personal description of 160 characters or fewer used to define who you are on Twitter.
The Connect tab lets you view interactions, mentions, recent follows and Retweets. Using the Connect tab you’re able to view who has favorited or retweeted your Tweets, who has recently followed you, and all of your @replies and @mentions.
DM = Direct Message
Also called a DM and most recently called simply a “message,” these Tweets are private between the sender and recipient. Tweets sent over SMS become DMs when they begin with “d username” to specify who the message is for.
#FF stands for “Follow Friday.” Twitter users often suggest who others should follow on Fridays by tweeting with the hashtag #FF.
A follower is another Twitter user who has followed you.
Your following number reflects the quantity of other Twitter users you have chosen to follow on the site.
A user’s “Twitter handle” is the username they have selected and the accompanying URL, like so: http://twitter.com/username.
Curated groups of other Twitter users. Used to tie specific individuals into a group on your Twitter account.
Similar to RT, an abbreviation for “Modified Tweet.” Placed before the retweeted text when users manually retweet a message with modifications, for example shortening a Tweet.
Mentioning another user in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a “mention”. Also refers to Tweets in which your username was included.
A Twitter page displaying information about a user, as well as all the Tweets they have posted from their account
A Tweet posted in reply to another user’s message, usually posted by clicking the “reply” button next to their Tweet in your timeline. Always begins with @username.
A Tweet by another user, forwarded to you by someone you follow. Often used to spread news or share valuable findings on Twitter.
Abbreviated version of “retweet.” Placed before the retweeted text when users manually retweet a message.
A message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or fewer.
Twitterer (offcial Twitter User – others say Tweep)
An account holder on Twitter who posts and reads Tweets. Also known as “Twitter user”
URL shorteners are used to turn long URLs into shorter URLs. Shortening services can be found online.
There are some great Twitter Tips on these sites too.