If you’re fairly confident with Twitter but want to know how to save a significant amount of marketing time – without spending a penny – then this article is for you. If you’re still a bit green, you might be interested in firstly checking out my Quick Reasons Why Authors Need Twitter and Indie Author Marketing Twitter Basics.
Twitter is a fantastic tool for indie authors. No doubt. Facebook is good, but nowhere near as dynamic – though I’d recommend implementing both platforms into your strategy.
Before we begin, I’ll state again that I’m no Twitter expert – my advice is just based on my own experiences and what has worked for me. I also don’t claim that my time-saving method is the quickest possible out there – there are slightly quicker ways, but they usually require apps I’ve found to be quite expensive over time. There are also a number of positives, besides cost, that come with my free method. (More on this later)
Anyway, so by now you’re familiar with Twitter’s bells and whistles. If you’re managing to keep on top of everything, congratulations! – please get in touch with me right away and reveal your secrets! On the other hand, if you’ve found managing Twitter a real chore – one that’s consuming too much time – then I have some great news for you: Things can be a lot simpler!
If you have a day job, partner, children – a little thing called a life – you’ve probably realised that constant Tweeting throughout the day just isn’t doable. Every spare second you get that should be spent on writing your new book seems to get used for Microblogging.
I was in the absolute same boat once. I knew Twitter was worth the effort – but it was taking over my life! What I wanted was a robot that could take care of the promotional side of Tweeting for me, so that then all I’d have to do was keep up to speed with readers’ Tweets and DMs, and posting general updates – the enjoyable stuff – that took around just 10 minutes a day. All the rest of my free time could be spent doing what I was supposed to: actually writing my next book!
Luckily I found a solution. Not a robot per se, but a way to organise and manage my messy Twitter regime tenfold – and all for free!
1. Create a Promo Tweet List
The first thing I knew needed sorting was my Self Promo Tweets – you know, the ones that feature review snippets, book extracts, links to articles on your blog, indie news and so forth. I needed them all recorded, laid out clearly on a single document. My aim was to create a massive selection of Promo Tweets – a list I could quickly grab different types of material from.
So I created a new Excel spreadsheet, which we’ll call Promo Tweet List, opened my novel ALEX in Word format, and then started copying across some of the best bits I wanted to turn into Tweets. For instance, if I found a chilling sentence, I’d copy it across to the spreadsheet. Next, I went to my book’s Amazon page and copied across some of the best bits from customer reviews. I organised each Tweet into different categories such as Amazon UK Reviews, Amazon US Reviews, and Book Extracts. I also wrote up some original Tweets which I put into categories like Blog Links and Plot Summaries (this is made clearer below shortly).
I had a whole bunch of material on the spreadsheet, and now all I had to do was give each line Tweet characteristics. Sentences had to be tightened, Hashtags added, and nothing could run over the 140 limit. Handy free sites like Bitly.com took care of shortening my links.
Now, I won’t lie – creating all those Tweets took a few hours (you could always make your own list smaller if you’re tight for time). The end result was worth it, though – now I didn’t have to think up any more Promo Tweets. They were all there on that one spreadsheet, complete and ready to be posted!
TIP: Use Excel and the font Courier only – its letters are the same width. Use Twitter to measure the length of one initial Tweet by copying and pasting it over. When it reads 140 exactly, copy and paste it back to your spreadsheet, replacing the original. Use this Tweet’s length as a marker – a way of measuring all the other Tweets you produce.
2. Create a Promo Tweet Timetable
The second thing I wanted to do was organise my Tweets into a daily calender format. So I set up another spreadsheet, which we’ll call Promo Tweet Timetable, and created seven 8 x 3 blocks (one for each day of the week). The first column had an ascending list of times which went through different periods of the day. Each row of the next column had a category title such as Amazon US Review, Book Extract, etc. Next, I filled each row of the empty column to the right with a selection of Promo Tweets from the Tweet Promo List. I did this by flicking between each spreadsheet and copying them from one to the other.
Here’s a brief example of how my timetable was constructed:
12:00 – 14:00 Am. US Review “Book review snippet” (#) (Link)
14:30 – 16:00 Book News Link (Name of news article & author) (#) (Link)
16:30 – 18:00 Book Extract (Book extract) (#) (Link)
(Continued by 5 more Tweets)
TIP: Forget the mouse – use the Alt + Tab keys to flick between both spreadsheets, Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to copy and paste, plus the Arrow keys to navigate. Also, when you pick your times to post between (for example, 17:00 – 18:00), make sure you pick ones that benefit your marketing cause the most. So, if you’re trying to target Amazon US users as well as Amazon UK users, you need to make sure you pick the hours these two countries are most likely to see your Tweets. I believe there are now free apps which can actually tell you when your Followers are most likely to be online – that’s something to consider. Finally, it’s very important to check your Twitter profile’s time zone is correct.
3. Automation – Set & Forget Promo Tweets
What I now wanted to do was not just copy each one of my organised Tweets straight into Twitter, but to schedule them into an app which could Tweet them automatically.
I installed a free app called TweetDeck. Not only is it built by Twitter, it’s great for many other reasons: it organises your Twitter activity into easy to digest columns – something you just can’t get on Twitter’s website. These columns are fully customizable, too. You can keep your favorite Followers’ streams on one page, in addition to your Mentions, DMs and more. But the best part is that it allows you to schedule an endless amounts of Tweets – in other words it’s an automation system!
Next, I copied all the Tweets from the Promo Tweet Timetable into TweetDeck, and finally scheduled them according to the post-between times. This task probably took an hour the first time I did it, I’ll admit – but now it takes about twenty minutes. Even if it took you slightly over an hour the first time, I think it’s worth it – within that time you’ve just entered a whole weeks’ worth of Promo Tweets! You’ve set’ em – so now you can forget’ em!
TIP: Again, use Alt + Tab to flick between the Promo Tweet Timetable and TweetDeck, and use Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to copy and paste. Make sure you select not only the right times when scheduling your Tweets, but also the right date – it can be a pain trying to alter the dates once scheduled. Also, to stop you from overusing the same Tweets from the Promo Tweet List, change each one to a red font once it’s been scheduled.
Now that you’ve taken care of your Promo Tweets for a week, all that’s left to do on Twitter is Tweet casual, quick stuff. So you just have to keep on top of replying to Followers and keeping them up to date with your writing, etc (a few simple-whenever-you-feel-like-it-Tweets a day). Hurrah! – you are no longer chained to Twitter!
The more you carry out this automation method each week, the quicker you’ll get. You already have a list of Promo Tweets written up – all you have to do is select some, grab some interesting news from your Followers, add that too and you’re there. Schedule it all into TweetDeck and then it’s time to put your feet up!
TIP: Once you’ve scheduled your Promo Tweets, don’t neglect your profile completely for the rest of the week. By now you’ve probably seen a few other author profiles that read similar to this: ‘promo, promo, promo, promo, thanks for following, promo, promo, promo…’ Sound a bit spammy? Don’t let this be you! Take pride in your profile. Love your readers. Love chatting. And why wouldn’t you? These magnificent people are buying your books and want to connect – so show them some love! Also, Twitter is still a great place to chat with other authors and keep up to date with the publishing world and a loads of other intriguing stuff. Lately, after logging in I’ve been checking out some psychology news – and as my thriller novels have an emphasis on psychology, what could be more handy? Bottom line: don’t let your account become impersonal. Or in the words of Marina & the Diamonds: you-are-not-a-robot!
A Quick Note On Paid-For Apps
I’m aware that there are apps out there capable of remembering all your Promo Tweets and scheduling them automatically (so you don’t have to keep uploading them each week). I’m not in the dark to this. In fact, I’ve tried one or two and they do work pretty good. But at the time I was on a real budget and found these apps to be quite costly, especially as they charged on a bi-weekly basis.
Scheduling with TweetDeck isn’t the fastest way available – but there are a number of other reasons why I prefer this method besides cost. And they allow me to optimize my strategy better. What I mean by this is that when I used a paid-for app which stored all my uploaded Tweets, I forgot about them. I tended to put off reviewing them. But when I look at the Tweets in my spreadsheets and TweetDeck, things are different – it makes me analyse them. Because I see my Tweets in this manner on a weekly basis, I often update them, altering things like keywords to ensure I’m still capturing my target audience. If I’ve recently added a new post to my blog, say, I’ll create a new Tweet for my Promo Tweet List. I just feel more in control – if I monitor everything, I know it’s always running at the optimum level.
Whether my free method is for you or not, I truly hope you found this article interesting and were able to take something away for your own marketing strategy.
I’d love for you to check out my debut #1 Thrillers & Suspense novel ALEX which I’m excited to say has just sold over 250,000 copies – now just £0.77 / $0.99 for a limited time! You can find out what customers have been saying on Amazon UK by clicking the cover to the right, and on Amazon US here. If you enjoy ALEX, you can also get my second novel PERFECT REMAINS for FREE by writing a 10 second review.
As always, comments below please – it would be fantastic to hear your feedback and any thoughts or tips of your own you might have. Thanks for stopping by!