Indie Authors And The Future Of Twitter

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

As you may know, Twitter is about to go public, and this brings up some interesting things for indie authors who use Twitter as a marketing tool.  Now, I don’t believe Twitter is going away anytime soon, but as I’ve said before, Twitter has to show profitability, just like any other company (and especially one that is public) or it will go away.  The interesting thing is that Twitter has to show its areas of potential profitability and its areas of liability (the document is called an S-1).  A recent Yahoo article broke this down, and I’ll share some of the highlights, along with my own thoughts on what this might mean to indie authors.

Indie Authors – Has Twitter Reached Its Max?

One key area of concern is Twitter’s growth.  Twitter says that it’s only added 15 million monthly active users in the last year, bringing its total users to 215 million.  The numbers twitter for authorsare far below other sites (Facebook being the key one), and Facebook has been adding features similar to Twitter.  The concern is that Twitter can’t keep up, and it will lose advertizing dollars to these other sites.  And advertizing dollars is virtually the only way Twitter makes money.  I personally believe Twitter has lost any sales effectiveness for indie authors, you know, like those who jumped on the bandwagon a few years ago and sold a lot of books.  It’s just too crowded now.  Sure, some of you will say you sell books through Twitter, but the vast majority don’t.  And if Twitter has reached its culmination, in terms of users, this won’t change.

Twitter also has concerns about reaching international audiences.  It’s blocked in China and other countries have similar services, so why do they need Twitter?  This impacts indie authors who hope to reach worldwide audiences.

Indie Authors And Twitter’s Revenue

indie author salesAs I said above, Twitter gets most of its revenue from advertizing (Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends – by the way, do any of you indie authors use these – if so, let us know what you think of them in the comments).  And Twitter acknowledges that none of them are really proven.  This isn’t a good admission.  If Twitter loses money because these prove to be ineffective, there goes Twitter, and a way for indie authors to connect, share information, and yes, generate some sales.

Also, Twitter admits that it’s not been profitable (I’ve noted this many times).  They actually lost $420 million since inception.  They’ve shown record profits last year (not enough to balance overall losses), but expect this to slow as user base slows.  Not good for them.

Indie Authors And System Changes

Ah, how many times have I griped that one of the things I hate about Facebook fan pages is that they change things all the time (I make this same gripe about other sites too :)).  And herein lies the problem for Twitter.  You use a Twitter app on all your various devices, but what if those devices change things around?  What if they create something similar to Twitter, or give preferential treatment to other applications?  Twitter is screwed.

Indie Authors And The Ever-Changing Social Media Landscape

The biggest takeaway for me in all this is (besides not investing in it lol) is that it’s risky to put all your efforts into one social media site.  Twitter’s great, and I use it to connect with others, share my blog posts, and more.  But it’s not the only site I use.  Twitter faces competition, and it may be a matter of time before Facebook or Google creates similar features, making Twitter obsolete.  That’s why I try to build connections on more than one site.  If one goes, I have the connections elsewhere.

What do you think?

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Indie Authors And The Future Of Twitter

  1. Lily Bishop says:

    As an Indie Author, I’m frustrated by Twitter, although I have made connections that have been helpful. What frustrates me more than the “buy my book” shout-outs is the constant flood of DM’s from justunfollow and the well-meaning tweeters who think that tagging you in a nothing post is support. (For example, Join me in supporting @xxx, @xxx, and @xxx.) If you are going to take the time to do that, tweet a link to my book. I actually had someone tag me in a post saying “Feeling a little under-supported but I continue to support xxxxxx” (and tagged me and 4 others). I looked, and this same person had about five tweets doing the same thing to a bunch of people. Frankly, I was offended. I’ve had email exchanges with this person and hosted this writer on my blog, and to get tagged like that was frustrating beyond belief. I didn’t respond, but really?

    Frankly, I use twitter to make connections with other writers. Readers aren’t following writers on twitter. They don’t want the constant barrage of buy my book, or buy this book of this author I like, or read this blog about writing.

    Twitter is broken. So many people interact using only the apps and never even look at their twitter feed. It’s like a giant cocktail party with people screaming at each other and no one listening. I treasure those rare personal interactions that I occasionally accidentally stumble across.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      You bring up some great points. I’ve said in other posts that authors need to keep in mind that those who used Twitter to sell books were, for the most part, ones who adopted Twitter early on. Once the indie explosion occurred, it’s too crowded. I love Twitter to bring exposure to my blog and like you, I have some nice personal connections, but for sales, not so much :).
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. This article is loaded with supposition. What if this, and then what if that.

    There is no social media paid advertising that has proven to sell books consistently, not even Goodreads. Definitely not Facebook and twitter.

    That is not the purpose of social media, regardless of the fact that is the reason most authors use it.

    What twitter and facebook and google+ are very good at, is to create exposure and engagement – buzz, hype, networking. And in that mix, when used properly with valuable content that’s relevant to the network you have built, then yes, books will be sold.

    Few people use facebook ads to sell books. Same with twitter. What works in paid ads over social media, is to increase the reach and engagement of your social media. And all kinds of businesses understand that, and use paid ads for that purpose.

    And if twitter was to ever really get anywhere close to a dire situation financially, all they have to do is charge a few dollars per person per twitter account, per month. In fact, twitter could probably collect enough money in five years to pay down the US national debt if they started charging a slight fee to have a twitter account.


    • Renée Pawlish says:

      So it’s supposition – and your point is? I basically condensed what Twitter has said themselves are the concerning points that their company faces, and gave my thoughts on it :).
      And yes, Twitter could charge people, and potentially lose millions of followers.
      And they have stated themselves that they’re losing hundreds of millions, that is not supposition.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Excellent appraisal of the Twitter situation as it approaches its IPO, thanks Renee!

    Yes, Twitter is no good to sell books or anything else for that matter. It does work to drive (some) traffic to one’s blog though even that it does less than before. For example, I don’t see that Triberr is much good anymore. Alas, those SM sites come and go.

    Is Twitter’s demise near? I don’t think so, it still has uses as a way to connect and is very much in use in developing countries to fuel and organize street protests. This thing about the connection – almost a game since one has to do it in short spurts of 140 characters – is probably going to be the one thing that will help it to survive. That game aspect, that challenge to say something in a few words, using the very essence of the message. But that is of course something that amuses a relatively limited number of people. It’s more fun to pin pictures on PINTEREST, people are so visual…and musical!

  4. John Chapman says:

    Looking at my Twitter screen it seems to me that Twitter could make use of the area under their copyright notice at the bottom left. Perhaps an advert there relevant to tweets a user is following or posting about?

    I do think Twitter is wasting an opportunity with it’s ‘trends’. Not one of the ones which appear on my page is of the slightest interest to me and it would be difficult for me to make use of them when promoting my books. Now if Twitter was run by Amazon or Google it would be a different matter.

    As to ‘buy my book’ posts, of the nine tweets visible on my current screen, five of them are for books. I take comfort from the fact that three of those are an author tweeting about a different author’s books and that authors do tend to read a lot – well at least I do.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I agree. I think Twitter is going to have to embed ads to make revenue. And I don’t see a subscription-based model working either.
      Thanks for your comment.

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