by Steven Marshall author of Galico

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So, here’s a joke for you:

This guy walks into a crowded bar and tweets @bar: “I’m HERE!” Only the bartender responds. Everyone else is oblivious to the newcomer. Baffled, the guy asks the bartender: “Why did they ignore me?” The bartender shrugs and says: “That’s what happens when you don’t put a dot in front of your @ sign.”

Get it?

If you do, well done. I’ll bet you’re already using your Twitter account to successfully network in the publishing warzone. Sadly, the folks who don’t get that joke are those who think Twitter is a magic wand to generate readers/book sales the second they sign up. They generally spend a week unsuccessfully tweeting “READ MY BOOK”, then go pout in a corner with around a fifty followers because “Twitter doesn’t work!”

With respect, Twitter works amazing. I’m currently being paid to co-write a horror screenplay, thanks to a producer I met via Twitter. For the same reason, my friend Paul spent a summer in Tunisia composing a music score for a film that won multiple awards.

Twitter is the gateway to a world of connections most of us simply wouldn’t make in the offline world. Anyone who hopes to make a potential living from writing is doing themselves an injustice by not taking the time to utilize this valuable tool. Naturally everything has a learning curve and there’s no shame in admitting we find something intimidating or confusing.

Here are some solid tips to help you get the most out of Twitter:

1) Pin an important tweet!

Your Twitter homepage is holy ground. It’s the place you’re hoping publishers/editors/Jennifer Love Hewitt will visit to learn more about you. Most folks will move on quickly if nothing grabs their attention, so make sure there’s a relevant tweet (preferably a link to your JukePop story) pinned to the top of your Twitter feed. Make your first impression count.

2) Always put a . in front of the @!

When you tweet @stephenking “Thanks for telling me I’m amazing!” you’re only speaking to him directly. If Stephen King tells you you’re amazing, you need the literary world to hear, so remember it’s .@stephenking (or any symbol, just so long as it’s in front of the @ sign). Your tweet is now visible to the masses.

Remember that party where you chatted a little louder so the hot girl/guy beside could overhear how witty and interesting you are? Twitter’s like that, only this time it’s editors/agents/publishers you’re trying to court.

3) Choose who you follow wisely…

The majority of your followers (in the beginning at least) will have made their decision to follow you based on who YOU follow. So if you’re looking to cultivate horror readers, following people who believe that horror movies are Satan’s way of warping young minds really makes no sense.

4) …But DO follow people!

Every time you follow someone, you show up as being more active in the Twitter system. The more you follow, the more you’ll start popping up in those “Recommended followers” emails that are sent to frequent users.

5) Don’t be a narcissist!

The first big mistake on Twitter is jumping into the pool shouting “Read my book! READ IT NOW!” and expecting thousands of strangers to do so, simply because you commanded it.

As in life, the best strategy to gain readers/followers on Twitter is to show you care about others. If you know other great artists in need of exposure, retweet their work. Guide people to their FB page or website.

Give a little bit of love and you’ll get it back.

I’m not saying don’t tweet about your own work (I do it all the time), just show you’re not an egomaniac. The ratio to keep in mind for your tweeting habits is 30% self, 70% others. Once you adopt this habit, watch your following grow, along with the amount of your own work that is retweeted by others. And remember…

6) You WANT retweets!

This is how you gain positive attention. Remember, the goal is to reach not only your followers, but their followers too. That’s where the magic happens. Some of your followers may have thousands (or hundreds of thousands) following them. Nobody retweets something that doesn’t warrant being seen, so a retweet is an instant badge that says: “This is worth reading.”

7) So how do I get retweets?

Be fun and creative! Tweet a good joke, or a piece of writing advice, or a warning that watching Jersey Shore re-runs can melt your brain. Show personality and folks will visit your page where they’ll be greeted by that pinned tweet we discussed earlier (Win!).

And when you’re promoting your JukePop story? Be fresh and innovative. Seize opportunities. Someone once posted on the Galico Facebook page what a piece of trash my tale is.

What did I do?

I hopped on Twitter and broadcast something along the lines of “99% of readers love my horror novel, Galico (though it went down like a lead bollock with the other 1%!).” Suddenly a bunch of people couldn’t resist seeing if Galico really was that Good or that Bad. The amount of retweets and positive messages I got from new readers was phenomenal.

8) #Hashtag #Everything!

When you put that # symbol in front of a word, you’re linking your tweet to a wealth of similarly themed tweets, thereby increasing your exposure. Personally I want #horror #readers and #writers to #CheckOut #Galico. I always make sure those who #enjoy #werewolf #stories or #TexasChainsawMassacre can stumble across it.

Even if no one else is using your story hashtag, keep tagging it anyway. By doing so, you’re creating a platform where all previous tweets about your story are displayed. You never know when an interested party might click on that link and discover a hive of relevant information about you.

I hope you’ll try some of these pointers. At the end of the day, the more readers we bring to JukePop via social media, the more we’re helping the community as a whole.

Feel free to email me if you want me to expand on these or other tips: limesmarshall@gmail.com

Happy Tweeting!

Steve