Sex For Money is a semi-regular blog series about my experiences in writing, publishing, and marketing gay erotica and M/M erotic romance. All of this information is from my own experience, so your experience may differ. It’s hoped that sharing this information might be helpful to new and aspiring erotica and erotic romance authors, as I see a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation out there.
Marketing ebooks on Twitter, particularly erotica ebooks, can be one of the most depressing experiences an author can have. For all the work an author might put into promoting their ebooks, sales are usually dismal.
Then along comes a promotional package offered by a marketing company. They promise to promote your book on their Twitter accounts, sending the tweets out to thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of Twitter followers, opening the possibilities of massive sales.
It can be tempting to hand over the money — after all, they’re the professionals, right?
That would probably be a mistake.
Here’s why they can’t guarantee success:
- Twitter has perhaps the shortest “shelf life” of all the social media platforms. If your tweet isn’t seen in the first few minutes, then it’s probably not seen at all. (Whereas with Facebook, it can appear in people’s newsfeeds for days.) So, while a promo company may have fifty thousand followers, only a fraction of them will be online at any one time, and only a fraction of those people will see the tweet, and only a fraction of those people will click on the link, and only a fraction of those people will buy the book. The numbers get pretty small, pretty quick.
- Most of these ebook marketing accounts on Twitter follow authors, in order to make a connection with them. And because it’s general practice on Twitter, these authors then follow the marketing account back. So, this means that most of their thousands of followers are other authors who are on Twitter for the same reason you are — to sell books. Yes, other authors read. However, authors are not your target audience. Your target audience are the voracious readers who are searching for their next read. Yes, some of these people will follow the ebook marketing account, but the ratio of readers to authors is quite low.
So does this mean Twitter is a dead end for marketing? Absolutely not!
Here’s how to market yourself on Twitter:
- Do more than marketing. I once followed a Twitter account that promoted a certain book every fifteen minutes. I am not exaggerating. It was every fifteen minutes, twenty-four hours a day. I quickly unfollowed that account. In general, I unfollow or ignore accounts that are constantly marketing to me. If a Twitter is run by a real person and you get glimpses of that real person from time to time, then I am more open to receiving marketing from those authors and would be more likely to check out a link or two. (I’m not a natural Twitterer, so I sync my Tumblog to Twitter so that I get some automatic daily content on Twitter, and I then intersperse some marketing tweets throughout the day.)
- Make connections. Follow-back the people that follow you and go and follow people that you find interesting. Twitter will often suggest accounts you might like to follow — and I find they’re generally good suggestions. DO NOT follow ten thousand people, wait for several thousand to follow back, and then unfollow them all. Some people do this to look popular, so that they have massive numbers of followers, but they’re hardly following anybody. People who do this might follow twelve people, but have thirty-seven thousand followers. (Super big name celebrities often have numbers like this, but that’s the nature of being a celebrity.) Unless you’re a big name celebrity, you come across as a shady person just fishing for followers.
- Make your marketing tweets interesting. Sadly, I see a lot of people sending wholly uninteresting tweets to market their books. These take a few forms: just the title and a link (so this tell us nothing); a one sentence excerpt and a link (one sentence out of context, no matter how dirty, is boring); or a generic “check out my book” followed by a link (*snore*). So how do you make it interesting? Can you give us the premise in one sentence? Can you tell us what’s unique about your book? Is it a bestseller? All of these are interesting tidbits.
- Use hashtags. Hashtags are the words that come after the #. They’re sort of like tags or a filing system. There are some pretty popular hashtags for books. I’ve found success with these: #freeread (if you’ve got a free book), #newrelease, #erotica, #gayerotica, #BYNR (which stands for “book your next read”), #gaysex, #IARTG (which stands for “indie author retweet group”), and #EARTG (which stands for “erotica author retweet group”). The catch with IARTG and EARTG is that if you are sending tweets out with those tags, you should also retweet other people’s tweets that use that hashtag. I utilize Tweetdeck to tweet, so I’ve set up a column to give me the feed of tweets with that hashtag so that I’ve always got them in front of me. When I see an interesting tweet, I retweet it.
- Support others. Marketing on Twitter is not a cutthroat game. It’s not you versus the world. You should retweet others (whether or not they use the retweet hashtags) and help them promote their work. Your work should always come first, but by promoting other people, you are building good author karma. These other authors will often return the favour and retweet some of your tweets, sending the info out to their followers.
To get a glimpse of how I market on Twitter, feel free to check out my Twitter account. To make it easy on myself, I’ve got about thirty tweets saved in a text document that I just copy and paste into Tweetdeck and then schedule it to send out at a certain time. Setting up a day’s worth of tweets takes but a few minutes. And because I don’t want to be all Tumblr photos and marketing tweets, I do, from time to time, send out a tweet about whatever it is I’m doing.
I presently have 700-some-odd Twitter followers, but by following the rules of Twitter (retweeting for author karma, not being an ass, and smart use of hashtags), my tweets are often retweeted and have the potential of being seen by thousands and thousands of Twitter users. Does this result in thousands and thousands of sales? I wish. But it does result in some sales. I’ve seen an increase in sales since I started marketing on Twitter and that increase has been consistent.
Marketing on Twitter means you must be open to new ideas, new strategies, and experimenting with new techniques.
For example, I’ve noticed that some erotica authors send tweets out with photos attached — the photos are steamy and often have a dirty excerpt printed over them. To attempt to replicate this, I’ve created a series of graphics that feature a book cover and a dirty excerpt. I have these prepared and will start tweeting them soon.
As well, I discovered a list of useful Twitter hashtags over on Dalia Daudelin’s site (way down at the bottom). I’ll be giving some of these hashtags a try soon.
I’ll follow-up in a future Sex For Money post in a few weeks to update y’all on how the photo tweets and new hashtags are working.
For now, give Twitter a try. It won’t bite. 🙂