TWITTER!! Huh, Yeah, What Is It Good For!?

Twitter first caught my attention until I was Googling myself one day to see if I was famous yet, and I found a conversation where people were tweeting about various dino-erotica titles and covers, and somebody mentioned that they liked the title “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus.” I made a Twitter account, and it swiftly became my main social media format. I tried Facebook back in the day, and I don’t like it. I have a FB account currently, but I keep forgetting that it exists, so it’s poorly maintained. Likewise, I’m on LinkedIn, Tumblr, G+, and probably some other stuff that I don’t remember. Twitter is the main one that I use.
Occasionally I’m asked if Twitter is good for promoting one’s work, and the short answer is that no, it’s not. Granted, I’m not good at optimizing self-promotion. Granted, self-promoting via Twitter is better than nothing. Still, in my experience, it doesn’t yield very much in returns.
For a stretch of time, back when I just had ~10 titles on Amazon, I spent about an hour on Twitter every morning, and another hour every evening, faithfully tweeting and retweeting and interacting and such. The net result was that for as long as I kept up that level of activity, I’d make about $10/month. Then when I slacked off, sales would trickle down to zero, or very close.
As I said, Twitter is definitely better than nothing. $10/month is–looking at straight numbers–infinitely better than $0/month. The problem is that it’s still just $10/month.
I figured okay, but I only have 10 titles right now. That’s about an average of $1/title/month, so if I get 100 or 1000 titles, I’ll be pulling in much more money for the same effort. But I don’t have that many titles. I ran into a bottleneck in my production, one I’ll talk about later: cover art. I still believe that IF one has enough titles, and IF one is active enough on Twitter in the right ways, it CAN get a decent financial return for the effort. But there are most likely other, better returns out there for the same amount of effort.
Twitter’s strength is quite simply NOT promotion.
Twitter’s strength is making connections.
It’s not hard for any indie writer on Twitter to fall into a network of other indie writers. We all occasionally (at least) ask people to buy our books, and most of us don’t do much buying of other people’s books in return, because most of us are poor and/or don’t have as much time to read as we’d like, and/or are picky bastards who became writers in the first place because most writing isn’t up to our standards.
While Twitter friends might not overall be the best buyers, they can become invaluable assets in one’s writing career. You can find beta-readers, editors, writing partners, and business opportunities that you might not be able to find otherwise. I’ve made a number of friend connections that aren’t just fun, but that help me focus on what I need to focus on most: writing.
My friend @AngoraShade, for example, is fun to shoot chitchat or food pictures back and forth with, but she’s also an invaluable beta-reader, somebody to exchange tips and information with, somebody to help boost morale, and so forth. We’ve passed ideas back and forth, tipped each other off to tempting anthology calls, discussed experiences about different formats and websites to share our writing on, and so forth.
A good friend/contact can be more important than finding dozens of customers. I have made dozens or hundreds of dollars over the past several years trying to use Twitter to self-promote, but I have made thousands of dollars by making connections via Twitter.
Most of this came from a single opportunity in the form of an encounter with erotica writer, AVN-nominated, and webmaster Kelli Roberts. We ran into each other online, and I ended up shooting her a link to my free erotic Halloween story “Corn Hold.”
She was impressed enough with my writing that she brought me in on a project she was working on, a romantic BDSM novel called “Letting Go,” a work designed to ride the wave of the “50 Shades” popularity, only with better sex scenes, and written not only for those unfamiliar with BDSM, but also for the more experienced crowd.
While the project didn’t turn out as profitable as we had hoped, due to our major promoter all but backing out of the deal, it’s still my most profitable endeavor to date, as well as some of my best work. I was able to pay some bills when the book debuted, and again when it got a mention in Women’s Health Magazine.
(Incidentally, the ebook version of “Letting Go” is free until May 11. So get a copy now!)
That’s the best way to use Twitter: use it to connect with the right people and opportunities. You don’t want to spam out random pitches to everybody, but you can get to know all sorts of people over Twitter. People are accessible on Twitter in ways that you just don’t get on other social media. You can tweet at a celebrity or a large business, and you have a chance–maybe a very tiny chance–of them responding to what you’ve said, compared to a cold email that would likely just end up in the spam folder.
Twitter is a useful tool, but it’s better for the precision work of pointed, deliberate connection-making than it is for just spamming out blindly and hoping for results.
At least, that’s my personal experience with it.

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