Twitter and How I Use It

Inspired by Amber Skye Forbes’ blog The Misuse of Twitter.

I’m Doing It Wrong

Even before I started writing, I read a lot about publishing and what it takes to be a successful writer.  Everything I read mentioned building a platform, whatever that was, for an author to be successful.

Essentially, a platform for an author are three things: a blog, twitter and facebook.  There are other social media sites relevant, but those are the universally accepted three things that a successful author must have.  I’m not sure I agree, but for the heck of it, I decided to start with twitter.  It seemed the most straightforward thing to start with, given the 140 character limit of tweets.

The story I’m working on involves a copyright troll, inspired by blog posts at and so I started to follow them on twitter; @fightcopytrolls and @DieTrollDie among others related — and @Epica, my favourite band.

I also searched twitter for the keyword #writing and followed people I found interesting.  This was because I read quite a lot of articles about twitter, and it’s listed as one of the essential keywords writers need to know about.  Some people use #amwriting, #write, or all three but I chose to stick to #writing.

In my earliest days of using twitter, new stuff kept turning up on my feed; either related to copyright trolls and therefore related to my story or the craft of writing — stuff that I was interested in and read thoroughly.

I got people following me, possibly related to my use of keywords — and still do — and I would go over their feeds to see if anything they said would be of value to me.  If I thought I’d like to know what the person was tweeting about I’d follow back.  This meant, and still means, that I wouldn’t follow purely advertising accounts unless I thought I’d like the service at some point.

Of course, many, if not all, of those accounts stopped following me within a few days when I wouldn’t follow back.  I didn’t care and still don’t.  Using twitter has always been about value for me, personally; not some sort of race of how many followers I can get.

Right now I have 46 followers, and am following 70 accounts.

Then, I read about the 10% rule that hits when people follow two thousand accounts.  I don’t know, nor care, how the 10% rule works or what it means.  I am not going start to play a game with tools like justunfollow — something I don’t really know what is — I’ll continue to use twitter in a way that provides value to me, and hope that my tweets provide value to my followers.

Chances are that I’ll have published something by the time I’ve reached two thousand accounts to follow and that readers will start to follow me in droves.  I’m not worried.

Enter the Chronic Self-Promoter

At some point an author started following me and I followed back, though with some trepidation.  The only things he ever seemed to tweet were review quotes for his book and blogs about it.  Even his blog had nothing but articles about his book.

I told him I’d unfollow if he didn’t fix his signal-to-noise ratio and gave him two links to articles about how to tweet effectively, 50 tips for using twitter effectively and Twitter: Friend or Foe?  From the former:

26.  Stop following anyone who constantly tweets sales and promotional messages.

Even though I’m not taking all of the tips to heart, for example I’m still an egg, I do pay attention.

When I wanted to send him a direct message about the blog which inspired me to write this, I found out he’d stopped following me.  At that time I had no compunction to stop following him.  Even though I had by now semi-interest in his book, I kept thinking:

“After reading the book, what then?”

There was nothing of value in his tweets apart from the self-promotion.  So after reading the book, I would have no need or want to keep following him.  I believe authors on twitter need to keep this in mind.  Your readers want to follow you, to know about what you’re up to, when your next book is coming out and so forth.  If everything you tweet is all about a book they’ve already read, what’s the point?