This post, by Gwen Fitzgerald, originally appeared on Publishing Geek.
I recently published an article for Red Sofa Literary, the agency where I intern. I’m pretty proud of the information, so I’m including it here:
Every author wants to put him/herself out there, and it’s important to build an online base. But it’s hard to get noticed on a website crowded with people doing the same thing. Twitter is a powerful tool that allows one to give updates consistently, meaning that connections are made and maintained.
For an author, this makes it easier to build a platform while writing a book. In the long run, this effort and attention will help with promotion and networking. Yes, it can be intimidating and confusing to begin building a Twitter “empire.” The end result is a marketable writing presence before finishing one’s book.
1. Work Your Profile:
Fill out your bio with interesting information. Make it just a few lines long, but include your genre, your book’s title (or working title,) your passions, and profession. Including this information allows other Twitterers to find and add you.
Link your Facebook and website. It’s quite normal for people to not use their real names on Twitter, so your Facebook friends might not think to look for you unless this link is established.
Use a relevant photo. Even if you don’t put in a self-portrait, it’s better to put in something that will catch your followers’ eyes. Use your book cover, or find some interesting focus of your writing a la vintage Penguin covers. It can seem tempting to use a photo of your dog in a Santa suit, but when people are browsing their home page, the picture is the main thing drawing their eye. The photo only adds to the recognition.
2. Follow the Right People:
The best way to get followers is to follow people who will follow you back. While they’re interesting to read, celebrities probably won’t return the favor. Instead, imagine you’re at a networking event, and think about who you’d interact with. Try adding local writing clubs and bookstores; then look through their followers and find other writers, readers, agents, editors or publishers to follow (and interact with them).
If you’re writing non-fiction, find people who are experts in your subject, as well as people who share the same interest. You can find them by searching via hashtags and profiles. At that level, most people will follow you back. Twitter is a better use of time when interacting with people who are helpful vs. falling into the trap of playing the numbers game.