Chip MacGregor

March 22, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: Authors on Twitter – Who’s Doing It Well and Who’s Missing the Mark


Amanda 2 CropAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. She posts about growing your author platform every Thursday. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

Last week, we looked at some basic rules for using Twitter as an author as well as how to write a great Tweet. But what does all of that look like when put into practice?

First, I think it’s important to note that most big-name authors aren’t on Twitter. Take JK Rowling for example. The Harry Potter author stayed away from Twitter until she got so fed up with people posing as her, she created her own account back in ’09 @jk_rowling. She’s Tweeted 10 times since, and most of those seem to be her reminding fans that she’s alive and that the @jk_rowling handle is the real her. Oh, and she has over a million followers. Pretty sure, that number is more related to sheer popularity than it is exceptional Tweeting, but the fact stands: most authors are avoiding Twitter altogether. They've recognized that it's not the medium for them and THAT'S OK. If there's anything I want you to learn from this series on platform, it's that you should choose your social media battles. Start with one medium and go from there. All is not best.

Anyway, back to the post…

There are plenty of published authors who are on Twitter and doing it well…just as there are plenty who are doing it poorly.


Good Example

Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog for those of you following along) is a marketing and social media guru. He’s published thirteen books and has most likely sold over a million copies. His Twitter account is the shining example of most everything done right.

Its sole purpose is to Tweet links to his new blog posts. That’s all, folks. No wishing his mom happy birthday. No asking fans to come out and hear him speak at such-and-such conference. No complaining about a delayed flight or rainy weather or all those other things that Tweeters deem important. It’s just links.

Clearly, he gave Twitter a goal: to support his blog. He recognized early on that his time is best spent writing blog posts. That’s where he shines.

Now for all of you who think that Tweeting a link to your blog post will get you nowhere in life, note this: Godin has 160,000+ Twitter followers. That’s 160,000 future book buyers. That’s 160,000 potential retweets. That’s 160,000 people who care so much about what he has to say, they want to be notified the moment he says it.


Bad Example

Amanda Hocking is the quintessential example of a fiction author who made her way using social media. Amanda got started by epublishing her own books, then relied on her own marketing chops, as well as Amazon’s splendid purchase recommendation system, to sell a ton of copies. After over a million books sold, Hocking is a millionaire with a publishing contract with a major house. All in all, fairly comparable to our friend, Seth Godin. Maybe even a  bit more successful sales-wise. But let’s take a look at the numbers.

Hocking’s Tweets (@amanda_hocking) cover everything from birthday wishes to her family members to sadness over rainy days. She retweets like it’s going out of style, and rarely posts her own links or hashtags (most of that comes from stuff she retweets).

One thing she does well, though, is interact with fans. She responds to their questions, maintains light dialogue with them and includes them as much as she can.

Now, for those of you who think the personal Twitter approach is way better than retweeting your blog posts, think again. Amanda Hocking, millionaire, bestselling novelist and future New York Times list author, has a measly 13,000 Twitter followers. That’s only 13,000 of her 1 million+ fan base.



So there you have it. Simple and straightforward beats out warm and fuzzy.

But please, don’t misinterpret. I’m not saying that we all should dump our relationships with fans simply because our goal doesn’t leave room for that. I’m just saying that without providing value to our readers through a clearly defined goal, we’re missing out on a lot of potential followers. And for those of us who are unpublished, potential followers mean potential book deals.



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