Saturday, May 4, 2013

Twitter: Spam vs. Marketing

A few months ago I took down all of my programmed tweets that directly marketed my ebooks. I did this out of frustration with how many of these tweets I was seeing in my own stream. They vastly outnumber tweets where anyone actually says anything about how their day is going or whatever. When I attempted to make  list of tweeps who "tweet real stuff" I only managed to accumulate 24 people, out of a potential group of nearly 2000. This makes Twitter really boring to me. I felt like I was just looking at a stream of spam, and it didn't help that 4 out of 5 of these marketing tweets used quotes from the novels with grammar errors or style issues in the quotes. One vampire novelist's quote said something along the lines of, "A dead body! Someone sucked his ass dry!" Now, just give that one a minute to knock around in your head. Not a pretty picture, is it? A couple of times I couldn't help myself--I had to @ the person with the troublesome tweet and point out the problem. This was never received very well (I can't imagine why!). Seriously, though. You're tweeting something from your book. Why not choose a line that actually flows well?

Yeah, that's what I end up thinking, too. They've probably already chosen the best line in their book.

But I digress.

Back to my point: I got fed up with all the marketing tweets especially since most of them seem to come from people who otherwise are not engaged with Twitter at all, or very little. I nixed my own, and kept an eye on my sales. At first, nothing changed. Then I had a couple of pretty dry months. Then, April happened. In which I more than tripled the the best month of sales I ever had before on Amazon, and had my second best month ever on B&N. What changed?

Well, in April I was giving away two books. I released The Plane and the Parade so I was giving away The River and the Roses. And I had just started giving away Myadar's Snare then, too (I still am; get it here.) And because I wanted to be sure everyone knew about these giveaways, I did a lot more tweeting about them than I had been. I also sent out some direct messages--I really hope those didn't annoy anyone, but since what I was DMing about was free, I decided it was a risk worth taking. Since the free books are located here on the blog, I can't be sure that the tweets led directly to the sales--after all, for that to be the case, a lot of people would have had to click through on the pictures in the margins here or on the links on the ebook description page or something. I also joined several Goodreads groups in April and added my books to a few bookshelves, so it's quite possible that made a big difference--although I only did that with the Myadar books, and I sold a bunch of Veronica books as well as Broken Ones, too, which I didn't post.

So I've decided to give marketing tweets another try and see what happens. Right now, I'm only going to send out 2 or 3 a day. This is extremely low. Michael Hicks, who is my hero because he started out like any indie publisher and worked his way to where he quit his day job and bought a house in Florida with a pool, for pity's sake, sends them out every 60 to 120 minutes, for instance. He's being moderate compared to some of the spammers I mentioned above. I just really don't want someone who only has three dozen followers to open their Twitter account one morning and have to scroll through my fifty marketing tweets clogging their stream.

So we'll see if these tweets do anything. I may eventually up it to 6 a day, although I'm going to give it some time first. I'll give an update when I've seen what happens. By the way, if you don't already follow me on Twitter, you can do so here.

How do you schedule your tweets? Have you found that one kind of tweet is more effective for your sales than others (a book description, a quote from the book, a quote from a reviewer)?

When you see promo tweets, is there one kind you prefer? How do you feel about seeing a lot of promo tweets in your stream?


  1. Hi Sophia - great (and pertinent) topic. I tend to rant on a bit about the constant sales-only approach many writers have taken to twitter. It sounds like it's a matter of balance, though. Enough 'real' tweets so we know you're a real person and can get to KNOW the person behind the profile/book, but if you have things to give away which lead on to paid books, why not say something? I think at the end of the day, followers need to get something out of the tweets. Something free which leads them to something paid, or the entertainment of a real personality.

    Keep us updated on how it goes!

  2. Hi Beatrice,
    Thanks for commenting! I hear you about the sales-only approach. I am very tired of the sales-only approach. But like you said, there's probably a balance. We'll see. If I've given the marketing tweets a solid shot and I see no change in sales, I'll nix them again. Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Great topic, Sophia. I don't tweet a lot -- some days not at all, other days a three or four times. Unfortunately, there's very little I can do to track where people learn about my work. I do know early on in the release of a recent novel, on days I tweeted and Facebooked I'd see a few sales. Of course, I had other things going on as well to market the work, so who knows?

    I'm not nearly as far along in this as you, and I wish we had stayed in touch to compare some notes, but glad you're doing well!

  4. It sounds like you're doing pretty well, John! Keep it up. :)