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Don’t be a twitter - how to effectively promote your book using 140 characters

As an author, words are your business, but when you’re restricted to only a handful of characters it can become difficult to effectively get your message across without creating a message that reads like computer code. Here are some tips on how to make the most of Twitter.

When every character counts, it can appear that Twitter is a difficult and complicated way to market your book, especially when you consider that a single word could make or break the response to a a tweet. It’s an effective way to promote your work, and here’s how.

Tweet styles

Looking on Twitter you’ll notice that there are lots of different ways to write a tweet, but they all essentially boil down to two types: conversational tweets, and marketing tweets.

Conversational tweets are those that involve the tweeter being a bit more casual, and engaging their fanbase. As an author, this would involve replying directly to fans, remarking on current events or something that happened to you personally, or maybe a photo of yourself doing something you enjoy.

There aren’t any real rules to these type of tweets, common social etiquette applies. They’re your personal interaction with the internet, and as such will naturally reflect your personality, showing you’re a real person and not simply a name on the cover of a book.

Marketing tweets need to be a little more contrived. You need to structure your tweet in such a ways as to make your followers do something, such as buying your book, leaving a review, clicking a link, or sharing so as to spread the word.

For these you’ll have to think carefully about how the tweet will be perceived and whether it will encourage someone to do something or cause them to ignore it completely.

Character limits

Twitter has a limit of 140 characters but that doesn’t mean you should cram your tweet to the brim, using every single available letter as this can be counter-productive.

Research has shown that, in order to get the best possible chance of being shared, your tweet should leave some space for retweeters to add to it, leaving their own message. A retweet is still a tweet and therefore also restricted to 140 characters. If you use up all the space, your followers aren’t able to personalise it, making it relevant to their followers.

However, it’s best not to leave too much space as shorter messages get passed over by people when they’re scrolling through their newsfeed.

The best length is around 100 characters. It’s long enough to ensure it gets seen in the newsfeed, but short enough that your followers can add to it.


Ordinarily, only the people that follow your account or visit your page directly will see what you’re tweeting. To get out to a greater audience, and hopefully gain more followers, you will need to utilise hashtags.

Hashtags are keywords that categorise your tweet, making it more relevant to those interested in those subjects. You can use anything as a hashtag, but if it’s too obscure it obviously won’t have any one searching for it.

Appropriate hashtags for authors looking to promote their book might be #author #book #novel #scifi #bookgiveaway. Industry tags would be #selfpub #indiepub #writers. There are hundreds of different hashtags and it’s worth looking at other successful authors to see what they’re using and their follower’s responses to them.

Be careful not to overdo it, though, you don’t want your hashtags to overpower your message. Two or three is probably optimal.

Calls to action

When crafting a marketing tweet it’s important to know what words are most effective when every word counts. If you want to encourage your followers to perform certain actions, then you need to use the best words for the job, giving them clear direction and an incentive to do so.

Using calls to action like ‘Click here to download’ are very effective and increase clicks by a large percentage. You could also create a sense of urgency by including a deadline such as ‘Today only’ or a limit ‘Only 100 available’ etc.

If you’re just looking to spend the word then directly asking your followers for a retweet massively increases sharing, especially if it’s tied to some sort of contest or sweepstake. The better performing tweets use the word ‘Retweet’ as opposed to simply ‘RT’ and include it at the beginning instead of the end of the message.

If you’re looking to increase your follower numbers it could be as simple as just asking. You could ask for a follow in order to release a sneak peak of the latest chapter of your book, or your cover design before it’s officially published, or maybe a competition to name a character in the book. Remember when asking for a follow to include an incentive.

If you’re looking to engage your followers and start a conversation, you could pose a question and ask for a reply. This should be more of a personal tweet with a more casual tone. You could couple it with a competition in order to maximise response.

Don’t forget the point

Twitter is primarily about engaging and conversation, it’s not the place to bombard your followers with constant brand messages. Remember to balance any marketing tweets with more personal messages and other kinds of useful and entertaining content in order to avoid turning people off.

Let us know what you think about the most effective tweets below, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter which includes tips and tricks, and special offers for our services, including ready-made book covers and designs, eBook formatting, and promotional tools.

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