Time can be a rewarding thing. Give an author time and they’ll eventually give you the world or at least when they have stopped procrastinating. Give a Tweeter time and eventually they’ll figure out the platform because that’s exactly what I’ve done and that’s exactly what you need to succeed on Twitter. Succeeding on the platform takes many different forms from finding your crowd or community to eventually finding sales to some other awesome things. More importantly and to me its all about being content with your efforts and even though I am partially addicted to Twitter, what I’ve got from it makes me happy mostly.
The start of each year serves as not just my anniversary on Twitter but also the anniversary of when I announced myself as an author to the world. 22 year-old Lee Hall didn’t know much about being a writer back then, but he knew that he wanted to be one and he also knew even less about Twitter. Nine years later, that writing desire stands strong and for it I have seven books published, to me and probably just as importantly, I have thousands of Twitter followers. That following pushed me to be better and go further with my writing.
This is a post that will highlight some of my major learning curves on the platform with a hope it can help others.
Incentive is a word I use to describe what was missing in my Tweets during the many years of Twitter purgatory I found myself in. Specifically I’m talking about the odd link share and a random thought share routine I’d found myself in for the best part of five years. From 2013 to late 2018 I’ll happily admit my Twitter was nothing like it is today and rightly so because I hadn’t figured it out. From logging in every now and then to simply scrolling with a frown, like many newbies, I thought Twitter was a weird place, it might still be that but now I understand the platform, my view is little different. Twitter is something that requires no formal qualifications to figure out, spending time on the platform will eventually help.
Back to that word incentive because by the end of this purgatory era I finally realised the true power Twitter has if you can offer something to someone. From a simple question to advice, from a relatable experience to even a random conversational quip – If you give on Twitter, eventually you will find others that will embrace what you have to offer and more importantly engage with you for it. Late 2018 just happened to be when I began one of my most important endeavours as a social media personality and blogger and author, I started reviewing indie books. One fateful December evening I put out a tweet asking for indie book rec’s. The deluge that followed convinced me that reviews were in demand and my voice, even if it was a lot smaller back then had reach that could be amplified simply by offering to fulfil a need or have some level of incentive.
This tweet asking for indie book rec’s still serves as one of my most engaged, even now after reaching 20,000+ followers. It also paved the way for me to review 40 books in 2019 and connect with some wonderful creatives I still share my Tweeting experience with today. From then I have reviewed over a hundred indie books and that number continues to grow.
The next few years I spent on Twitter very aware of the potential it had and I simply got to work making a name for myself as an author and supporter of fellow creatives. Still a kind of post-purgatory loomed over me until April 2020 arrived and the gift of time was given to me. In an attempt to gain a readership for my still largely unknown Order of the Following Series I began to ramp up my presence online in both blogging and Twitter. Because the pandemic world had granted me more time at home, I could treat this career aspiration as an actual career and what started as a simple increase of presence, set me on the path to another realisation.
Presence is everything, being there regularly is everything and finding quality subjects to tweet about was achieved by tweeting in quantity. Finding quality through quantity became my main aim even after this 4th book in my unknown series was released because the needle was moving. April 2020 saw around 3,500 followers and December 2020 would bring 5,000. During this important time I was marking in my mind what worked and what didn’t – I’d drop the stuff that didn’t and would do more of what worked, growth was constant and as long as my tweets inspired, informed, entertained or provided some level of value and incentive, I would succeed.
For my efforts, books began selling. In 2019 I would probably sell one book from Twitter every two weeks or so. By 2021 I would be selling a book or two every seven days. By 2022 I sell a book or two nearly every other day – this hopefully tells you that selling on social media is possible eventually and you can do the same.
From 2018 to now I’d spent a huge amount of time reading and reviewing indie books and it was earning trust from a constantly growing following. Plus and just as importantly, I was reading and enjoying these works. My Tweets focused predominantly supporting others on this author path and trying my best to find things we have in common – from sharing sales figures that would bring us closer to providing tips or promotional methods. All of this incentive focused content was earning the trust of so many others like me.
Earn a person’s trust and they will invest in you eventually. On Twitter the momentum will start swinging your way when you have something to offer and if you offer it regularly. That ‘something’ needs to be unlimited and never run out. It won’t be easy figuring out but it is possible. For me, authors will always need reviews, readers will always want new books to read and those like me in the industry will always appreciate experience based support. These three things are incentive based and pretty much limitless. Supporting others on Twitter is also free – there seems to be a consensus that supporting others involves a cost, even a simple retweet or a like is considered support from me and that costs nothing.
More importantly and probably above all I set out to make my Twitter a pleasant place to be online because you might do all of the above and still get pretty much zero interest because tone is everything or it might even be something else – nobody really knows how the algorithms really work. But get that tone just right and people will eventually want to engage with you – be open, be honest and be decent. Speak with others as if they were opposite you in the same room. Big opinions or anything that may stir passionate responses can very easily turn sour on Twitter so my advice is to keep it light. Just recently I saw someone express quite a strong opinion which proceeded to trend – that particular account lost half its following in a single day. While I strongly support free speech, I am also an advocate for using it responsibly. You’ll sometimes need a thick skin because people will approach you in all types of ways from the friendly to the less so.
Social media gets a negative light sometimes for being a troll heavy, mental health draining waste of time but to me I have converted all of those negatives into positives by doing my best to make my Twitter a nice place to be. People are drawn to pleasant experiences and genuine people who are real. I want the book industry and self publishing to be a place where story-tellers can succeed no matter who they are, my efforts have rewarded me with thousands of Twitter followers, regular book sales and a boat load of supporters I call friends.
It took a while, but the journey and time was worth it. Social media does have a long way to go in order to be better at stopping abuse and trolls but for the most part, social media is one of the greatest feats of social engineering we’ve ever created. When its good it is incredible and generally most people want it to be good. That desire can stamp out the bad eventually and through being pleasant.
All of the things mentioned worked for me and Twitter is sometimes an individual journey of figuring out what works for you. Its okay to experiment and try new things on the platform, in that sense variety is sometimes key.
I do hope these words will guide you towards your own Twitter success and thanks for reading!
For some further listening, you can hear me laying out my author Twitter journey through a series of audio coaching sessions via Patreon. The first 2 sessions are free and for those who then sign up will access the rest of the series and receive regular shout-outs for them and their work on my Twitter.
For those who do follow me and support me on here and of course anywhere else including Twitter. Thank you. For those on that Twitter/social media journey like me, good luck and if you ever have a question about anything to do with it, I’m here.