Can Twitter Really Help You Sell Books?

One of the things I love about having a blog is the ability it provides to interact with people just like me who are trying to figure the same things I’m trying to figure out. Today’s post comes from a question left in a comment on my post explaining RSS feeds. Christopher asks:

“Could you do something similar for Twitter because I just don’t get it? How can somebody follow 5,000 people? What use is that? How can Twitter help you sell books?”

Christopher, this is a great question that a lot of authors are asking and one I was asking not too long ago. I’ll give it a shot and answer it to the best of my ability.

But first, I have a quick announcement. Dana Lynn Smith just compiled a free resource called the Savvy Book Marketing Secrets: 52 Experts Share Insider Tips for Selling More Books. I’m honored to have contributed to this amazing resource and it’s yours for the asking. While there, I encourage you to sign up for Dana’s free newsletter as well. It’s one that I read every day. In fact, some of the tips I used in this new site design came right from her newsletter.

Now, on to our question of the day…

Well Christopher, I was a late adopter when it came to Twitter. Partly because I had the exact same questions you have, and partly because Twitter intimidated me. But I came from a marketing background where we tested everything. If I could split off traffic, I tested it- everything from post titles to whether or not we put the subscriber’s name in the subject field of a newsletter. One lesson I learned early on was that my gut reactions were often wrong. That freed me up to take emotion out of the equation.

So, I decided to test Twitter to see if it could have an impact on my traffic. Let me jump ahead and give you the results and then I’ll try to explain what I learned and how you can apply the same lessons for yourself.

Over the last year, Twitter has been responsible for between 30% and 50% of all traffic to my blog, as measured by Google Analytics. By doing some informal interviews, I found that other book marketers experienced similar statistics. No matter what your traffic is like, 30-50 percent from one source is significant.

But to get results like that, you have to know how to use Twitter. On this, I am still perfecting how I use it, but I keep a close eye on my stats to see how my changes to Twitter affect my blog traffic. Without sounding too salesman-like, you can really get an in depth training on how you can leverage Twitter into a powerful tool by reading my book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests. In it, I use contests as a vehicle to teach bigger marketing lessons by using Twitter.

To answer some of your specific questions: How can somebody follow 5000 people?

Following is easy- It’s trying to keep up with what everyone is saying that’s tough- actually impossible. I get 20 new tweets from my followers every 10 seconds or so. But for most people, Twitter isn’t about reading and responding to every tweet. It can’t be unless you only follow a handful of people. But there are tools out there to help you make Twitter more productive by automatically filtering the tweets for you.

In February, I wrote a post for the BookBuzzr blog called How To Keep Up With The People You Follow On Twitter. You can read through it to pick up a few ideas on how to manage your Twitter followers. You’ll even see that I started that post with similar questions that you asked me.

How can Twitter help you sell books?

This is at the heart of your real question as an author, I suppose. In my case, the answer is pretty simple. Twitter sends my blog a significant percent of my traffic. Once here, those visitors are exposed to my book because of the ads I place on my blog. While I can’t tell you exactly which books were purchased from Twitter referrals because I don’t do that level of tracking on this site, my experience makes me very confident that Twitter is, indeed, responsible for a significant portion of my sales. The traffic math bears it out.

The real question then becomes, “How can I harness the power of Twitter to help me sell books?” That’s what my Twitter contest book is about, and that’s what you’ll start to learn from these resources taken from my blog:

You Have A New Twitter Account With No Followers: Now What?
Tips For Using Twitter: Penny Sansevieri
Running Effective Twitter Contests To Increase Followers
Twitter Lists: A Power Tool for Authors by Freya
Top Ten Ways Authors Can Use Twitter: Dana Lynn Smith
Optimize Your Twitter Profile to Attract Fans for Your Book By Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Misconceptions and the Truth about Book Marketing on Twitter
The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Networking by Dana Lynn Smith

I hope this helped you to see that Twitter can be an important part of your book marketing plan and that there are a lot of resources out there to help you learn how. If you, or anyone else has any other questions about using Twitter to help you sell books, or on any other book marketing topic, send them to me via the form at the bottom of the page and I just might answer it in a post.

Christopher, thanks for your question. I appreciate it. Good luck with your book marketing efforts.

 ——– Tony Eldridge is the author of The Samson Effect, an action/adventure novel that Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the author of the Twitter marketing book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests.

16 Responses to “Can Twitter Really Help You Sell Books?” Subscribe

  1. Christopher Wills April 13, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    What can I say? Brilliant. Thanks Tony.

  2. Tony Eldridge April 13, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    You are too kind, but I thank you! I hope this helped.

  3. nizejpodpisany April 13, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Excellent post, Tony. I’m a fan of Twitter, because it’s fast and simple. Decisions are almost instant – and this can apply to book buying.
    I’m absolutely fascinated by this topic so I spend a lot of time on exploring possibilities Twitter can give for authors.
    One of them is selling books directly from Twitter links (yes, it’s doable, you just have to target owners of devices with Kindle application installed).
    Second thing is Twitter fiction. It’s actually a great way to show your literary potential. Writing very short stories (tagged #vss) is a smart way to let people find you. As well as another Twitter initiative – #FridayFlash. Every Friday writers share links to their flash fiction stories. It’s a fantastic way to bring traffic to author’s blog.

  4. Tony Eldridge April 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Piotr, thanks for your comments. Every time I read something you write, I learn something new. I’ll start to check out the hashtags you mentioned and get a feel for how they work. Isn’t this an exciting time to be an author? I know you’re coming up as a guest on my blog again. This might be a great idea of a post topic. I bet is will be extremely powerful for authors.

  5. Christina Fifield-Winn April 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Thanks for the info! Very useful. Hope I can use it to my benefit.

  6. Tony Eldridge April 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, Christina! If you have any questions, please be sure to shoot them my way. If I don’t know the answer, I will do what I can to find it for you.

  7. Carolyn Howard-Johnson April 14, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    Tony, you have to know I am a fan of Twitter for selling books, too. (-: Anything retail. And authors are reailers, whether they like the idea or not. Ha! And, of course, I RT’d this blog post. Ahem!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Author of Frugal and Focused Tweeting,

  8. Tony Eldridge April 14, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Thank you, Carolyn! I appreciate the RT! And I do know that you’re a fan of Twitter for selling books. You have written a lot of great stuff about the subject.

  9. Tony Eldridge April 14, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    BTW Carolyn, I don’t mind if people use hyperlinks in their comments. It will make it easier for readers to visit you. If you want to know how to do this, check out my post, The Non-Techie’s Guide To Basic HTML

  10. Dorothy April 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    This was an absolutely wonderful post, Tony (as usual!). I like it when you suggested traffic from twitter goes to your website and that’s how people find out about your book. That’s how Twitter can be effective in selling books. Personally, I think Facebook does a better job but in another way. I tend to connect more with people on Facebook, but that could be just me. Twitter, however, is great, super, stupendous for getting people over to your website or whatever else you want people to go to, that I so agree, and I do have authors telling me they are selling books through social networks so that is very very encouraging!

  11. Tony Eldridge April 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Dorothy, thanks for your comment. And I agree about Facebook. In fact, I could write a similar post just about Facebook. FB and Twitter are different platforms, and in my opinion, you need to use them differently. FB is more conversational and focused on interacting with the people you connect with, although both share this quality to some extent.

    Reading comments like yours keeps on confirming to me how fortunate I think we are as readers and writers living in this time.

  12. Shelley Hitz April 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Great post Tony! Twitter is a powerful (and free) tool. The main thing I have to watch is that I don’t spend too much time there :)

  13. Jon Mac April 22, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    Wow thanks for this! I’ve already seen that easily the majority of traffic (what little there is anyway) to my blog comes from twitter – and half the time I barely understand what twitter is doing! But hopefully these tips will help me figure it out :)

  14. twitter marketing strategy June 14, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    The important aspect of twitter marketing strategy advertising is that we need to include the Twitter link on website, newsletters, blog, to get as many re-tweets as possible.

  15. elanwilson June 14, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. I love twitter and have sold books from it. It’s an important part of my marketing plan and gains me a lot of visibility for my website and blogs. As a writer, if I had to pick between twitter and facebook for promotion, twitter would probably win. It would be hard to give up facebook though as I’m pretty addicted to that too ;)

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