Twitter For Authors – Your Profile – Don’t Do That, Do This!

Twitter For Authors – my new series.  I spend a lot of time learning about effective Promoting Your Booksmarketing along with marketing tips and tricks, and I’m quite frankly astounded at what I see people doing, or not doing, on Twitter, that hurts their image and their brand.  So I thought I’d do some posts to address some of this.  Twitter For Authors – Don’t Do That, Do This! will hopefully help you manage the Twitter juggernaut.

Twitter For Authors – Before You Fill Out Your Profile

This is so basic and yet I see so many people screw this one up.  Before you fill out your profile, let’s back up and speak for just a moment about branding.  If you are an author, you need to create your brand.  This is who you are as an author.  Way too many authors mess this one up.  You market yourself, and your books are a by-product of this.  For example, if you write a book called Meanie Mommie Goes On A Mean Mission, it may be a great and catchy title, and you get people following you because of this.  But what if your next book is about cute dogs and cuddly toys for them?  If you’ve been tailoring your marketing efforts to the Meanie Mom brand, you have to create an entire new brand, and the cute dogs folks won’t know about your meanie mom.  If you really think you need to market a particular book, create a twitter account (and a brand) for this.  Then create your Twitter profile…

Twitter For Authors – Your Author Profile – Do This

Once you’ve decided how you are going to market yourself (your brand), you tailor your author profile to this.  I am an author of mysteries, horror, middle-grade books, and non-fiction.  So I’ve branded myself as a master wordsmith.  I also created IAHB, the Indie Author Handbook, so I let everyone know about this hashtag (#IAHB is a hashtag that you can use to find great information about and for indie authors).  This is my profile:

Master wordsmith, hiker, cyclist. Creator of #IAHB – Indie Author Handbook. Read Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, and more.

I get the best information about myself in my profile, and a couple of side things about me (hiker, cyclist) so that I appear human and maybe interesting to others.  I could probably come up with something snappy, but what I have gets out my brand (master wordsmith) and the names of my bestselling books.

Twitter For Authors – Your Author Profile – More Do This

Have you won awards?  Put them here.  Do you belong to an important organization that will attract people to you?  Put it here.  Are you an expert in something – if you have room, note it.

Unless your account is promoting a specific book, put a professional picture of yourself, not the cover of your book.  This is about branding you.  And, people are more likely to remember you if you have a picture of yourself.  This is what you want, them remembering you the author (your website, blog, Facebook fan page, etc. gets the word out about all your books).  Also remember, if you are serious about your craft, then be a professional (see below).

I advise making your account your name (@reneepawlish) unless you’re marketing a specific book.  Any number of authors who first created a name that was cute and tied to their books (a character for example), made this mistake.  People knew the character, but then the author hit it big, and/or wrote books in another genre, and found out this: you’ve just made it harder for people to find you and your other books.

Twitter For Authors – Your Author Profile – Don’t Do This

I pulled these examples from profiles I’ve seen.  I’m not trying to offend anyone, but I cringe when I see authors follow me who say things like:

I’m A Wannabe Writer – yeah, it’s cute, but if you one day want to sell, why are you saying this?  You should be creating your brand now as a professional writer, so when you actually publish a book, you have a following who wants what your writing.  And they are looking for professional writers…

I’m Currently Working On... – same thing as above – establish who you are and stick with it.  Get people thinking that you already have things done and get them waiting/salivating for your next work.  They don’t need to know you don’t have anything completed yet.

I’m An Up-and-Coming Writer – again, see above about your branding.  Yeah, it’s cute, but it labels you as new and potentially as unpolished, unskilled, bad, etc.  Is this what you want?

I Write This, Visit My Website For Examples – Ugh! We live in a world where the average time on a website is 8 seconds.  People don’t have time to look things up, and they certainly aren’t going to search you and look for samples of your writing.  Hey goofball:), this is what your tweets are for!  You tweet writing samples with a link to your writing (think Wattpad or Facebook notes).

Author, award-winning, I’ll have a new name soon – huh?  Why would you create one user telling everyone you’ll have a new user and profile soon?  Maybe it’ll be a pseudonym?  I’m not sure, but I would advise to wait until you’re ready with your branding and then create your account.  The likelihood of people following you on one profile and then switching to another when you’re ready is not high.  This is confusing to people.

Spelling mistakes in your profile -hello!  You are an author, do you think people will want to buy your books if your profile description has typos or spelling errors in it?

Profile but no links – what?  This is a place to advertize your website, your blog, your Amazon page.  Take advantage of this!  If you link back to your website or blog, this is great for your SEO (a back link).  Do it!

Author name and nothing else – again, hello!  This is where you are selling yourself so why don’t you have any information in your profile?  This labels you as amateur.  Put in a profile (see above)!

Profile with a picture of you in your bikini or thong at the beach – this might be cute or… (hey I’m not a judge) but it’s not professional.  And don’t put a picture of your cat, dog, kids, etc. up.  It’s about you, remember?  You don’t want people to remember that cute cat picture and then think who was that author – what was their book?  I remember the cat, but…

Twitter For Authors – Don’t Believe Me?

Some of you are probably shaking your heads – C’mon Renée, I’m just trying to have some fun.  Gotcha, I’m all for fun and jokes.  But I’m also serious about selling my books.  I just went to a marketing conference tailored for authors and the specifics I’ve shared are the same ones shared by a master marketer who has sold millions of books because he created a brand and stuck with it (I’ll be blogging more about this conference and what I learned soon).  Branding yourself is key, and creating a quality Twitter profile and image is part of this.  It’s easy to redo your profile, so don’t neglect this key piece of your marketing strategy.

What do you think?  What makes or breaks a Twitter profile?

Look for all my Twitter posts on the Promoting Your Books page.

Image courtesy of DigitalArt.

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.
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32 Responses to Twitter For Authors – Your Profile – Don’t Do That, Do This!

  1. Caleb Pirtle says:

    Sound advice. Twitter is a wonderful marketing tool. I just never know whether or not it really works. So many tweets. So much information. Does anybody ever stop and read the links attached to them?

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I hear you. And I would say it does work, to an extent. I’ve seen sales from it, but one thing I learned in the marketing class is social media is to get people to your selling message – in and of itself, social media is not to sell. But more on that later :). Thanks for your comment.

  2. The thing I can’t understand is writer pages that have no link to writer blogspots. I suppose it’s possible the writers have a twitter account and no blogspot? I also see this problem on writer BLOGSPOTS–no easy links to their twitter, FB pages, etc. The easier and faster, the more traffic.

    AND I did name my twitter account for the topic of my first book. I kinda like it b/c it links me w/that topic. And I feel like I’ve gone too far to turn back! People know me by my twitter handle now! But my blogspot is now in my name. AND my email. So I’m getting there!

    Great post!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I hear you – get your links in wherever you can. And as for you, it sounds like your book isyour brand, so what you do is be consistent with that (and I understand being too far down the road to go back – I wish my blog title was different but it’s too late to change now). The issue you’ll have is if you publish in something different, there will likely be people who will have trouble finding you. But keep it up, you’re on the right track :). Thanks for your comment.

  3. Renee, I agree entirely. At this point in my Twitter pilgrimage the main thing I want people to see is my name. I have tried to make my profile a clean, concise snippet that tells people on Twitter a little about me personally and gives them a link to my blog if they want to learn more. I don’t have any of my books listed in my profile, although I have gone back and forth about that. Occasionally I tweak the profile a little if a particular book is making some headway, etc.

    The main thing that makes me want to follow someone on Twitter is their profile. If there is enough there to peak my interest, I follow them. If all I see is a default image on their profile, or just a cute rant, I tend not to follow them.

    I like to RT stuff from other authors that looks interesting and occasionally like to send out something goofy just for fun.

    I don’t know if I have sold any books as a direct result of Twitter, but I do believe that a continued daily presence of “paying it forward” creates goodwill, which is always a good thing in the grand scheme of things.

    Thanks for the informative blog.

    Stephen Woodfin

  4. Great information here. I find myself shaking my head when I want to check out someone’s book or blog and there is no link or even a name I can look up. Twitter is a great marketing tool, but only if you use it to your best advantage.

  5. What do I think? I think I’m going to have to take a good long look at my Twitter profile! Thanks for the detailed suggestions.

  6. Nevea Lane says:

    Great advice Renee. We are not celebrities, yet. People will not be able to distinguish us from the rest of the tweeps if we don’t use the very things that you mention above. I’ve used Twitter to market ‘me’ and my brand. Every one should know that I post music, contests, shouts about my books, other’s books, and that’s my brand. I saw this article first thing this morning and re-tweeted it immediately.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you found it helpful and I appreciate the re-tweet. Social media and branding can be difficult, but we don’t need to make it harder than it is :). Thanks for commenting as well.

  7. Thanks for the advice. I’ve already changed my profile and I agree, it looks much better!

  8. First there was Sputnik, then, some time latter, man on the moon & the years of the space shuttles.
    Before us newbies get our first book published & reach for the stars and other distant galaxies, how do we begin to ‘Brand’ a product still in pre-production, even before it has been tested on the target market?

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I have a post on it, it will be up in the Promoting Your Books page soon, but you can look for it. Also Google it and research it :). And I’ll do another post soon. Thanks for your comment.

  9. I agree with all of what you said, Renee; if folks want to be cute and have fun, start a personal twitter account for that. The account that will be used to market their business should be business-like and should represent them as an author not their latest book. I for one don’t follow books; I follow authors. Of course, tossing a tid-bit into the bio that is relevant and makes you stand out from the crowd is a good thing, but please; not the bikini pic or deep cleavage shot.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Yep, I hear you. People may disagree but the great marketers keep a consistent, professional brand…I want to sell, so that’s my motto too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Thanks for sharing this! I notice these things all the time, and they still surprise me. The other thing that turns me off is if someone tries to give me the hard sell in a bio and/or uses tons and tons of links and hash tags. That just indicates that they will probably have all ads in their feeds, and I usually move on.

  11. Mark says:

    I personally can forgive a lot, but the one mistake that gets me is the name and nothing else. I’ll probably follow that person back because I don’t usually mind following whomever (other than spam or non-niche businesses), but when it comes time to interact with you beyond Twitter, I use the profile to find your blog or whatever.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Yes, it’s hard to understand why, with Google and everything out there, to not understand that basic step, but people do. I wonder for some if it’s wanting to still be anonymous in a sense (i.e. that’s why some write – I can stay safe at home in my office where no one sees me). I sometimes suggest they do more and if they want, I send them the links here :). Thanks for sharing.

  12. I like your suggestions, but I have to disagree to a certain extent about being personable on Twitter. The “cute and funny” things are what make you a person. Yes, we’re branding but who says you can’t brand all of yourself rather than the professional, stuffy persona of being a writer.

    I take my career very seriously and I plan on working hard to promote my work. At the same time, I believe being more human and less like a robot will get us farther than anything. For example, my favorite author is Stephen King, and for the longest time, based on the photos on his cover jackets, I thought he was a dark, brooding kind of guy. While he might be those things, he’s also incredibly intelligent, smart, witty, and he has a dark sense of humor.

    We’re not JUST selling books. We’re selling ourselves, our talent. With every work finished, we snip off a part of our souls and we share it with the world. Be you and it will attract a huge following.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Sure, you want to be those things, and I don’t believe I was saying don’t do those things at all, but be wary of doing them in your profile. There are plenty of stats that show that those that do the things I pointed out have less success in terms of selling their brand, and branding is key. I use my tweets to connect and be funny and so on. I use my profile to let people know that I am a professional :). Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. Robin says:

    Renee, thanks for a great post full of good information. I’ve already seen some ways that I can change my profile to make it more meaningful and attractive to my readers. I’ll be back for more!

  14. Thanks! You’ve saved me from some stupid Twitter mistakes, but probably not all of them.

  15. Elizabeth Yu-Gesualdi says:

    Hi Renee! Question for you. I want to create a Twitter account, but my name is too long. My debut novel will be released within the next 2 months and I want my Twitter user name to be as it appears on the cover of my book, which is Elizabeth Yu-Gesualdi. Unfortunately, there are too many letters and I’m not able to create the account. What do you suggest I do? Should I go with Liz rather than Elizabeth? If I do that, I’m concerned that people that will want to follow me, won’t be able to locate me. Any suggestions that you have, will be greatly appreciated.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Boy, that’s a tough one (and too bad it won’t fit). I would lean toward using your last name, as it’s unique, and part of your first name, or maybe your last name with the word “author”:

      They’re going to remember or think about your last name more. And to make it easier, make sure you put your twitter handle everywhere you can (link in your ebook, on your website, etc.) Also, put your full name in your twitter profile because I think when people search your full name, your account, even without the full name, will still show up.
      Hope that helps and thanks for the great question.

      • Elizabeth Yu-Gesualdi says:

        Thanks so much! I think I’ll go with E_Yu-Gesualdi. I’m still waiting on my personal tech guru to help me create the Twitter account. He should be ready as soon as he kills just a few more zombies on Call Of Duty.

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