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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Twitter: How To Stop Finding Other Writers and Start Finding READERS!

You know how it is. You keep getting followed by writer after writer and soon it's just a clusterfreak of writers, all of you talking in circles and promoting your books, and WHERE THE HECK ARE THE READERS???

Four quick tips filled with hashtaggy goodness to help you start finding readers on Twitter. 

1. Ask: What are YOUR readers talking about?

If you only take away this one tip, you're already in a 500x better place.

Are the readers out there talking about #writetip and #amwriting and #writechat and #writerslife and #indiepub and #buymybook and all those hashtags writers like you love?

No, they're not, not unless they're also writers.

Right now, according to Twitter Trends most of the Tweeps out there are talking about Aaron Hernandez, #advantagestogettingold, #my4wordnewyearsresolution, Charleston Southern, Bill O'Reilly, #tony90, #reasonstolietokids, #addawordruinachristmasmovie, and #tonybennet.

So right now at this moment in 2016, that's a start. There's also a truly lovely list of hashtags for readers and booklovers, in general, that you can use.

But! You shouldn't automatically jump on all those bandwagons and expect good things. It doesn't matter what all of Twitter is talking about: it matters what YOUR readers are talking about.

That means you've got to boil down your audience. You must know that your book does NOT appeal to everyone, and you have to focus in on a target, and then, talk about what THAT target wants.

My readers are talking about #iamcomics, #representationmatters, #scifi, #superheroes, #newcomicsday, #blackcomicschat, #comicsareforeveryone, #scifiart, #blerd stuff, #comicbookhour, and a bunch of other geeky stuff. They REALLY like #science and beautiful photos. They also really like comedy, which is harder for me to hit because there's no perfect hashtag, but it's not impossible. 

How do you find out what your readers are talking about? 

2. THINK like your reader?

It helps if you're already synced up. I am my target audience, so I started talking about stuff my audience likes because I like it. I stumbled into some real growth when I was tweeting race representation stuff and got a reply from the powerful +Black Girl Nerds account, or the time I tweeted #GameGrumps stuff and met a friend, or when I got a reply from Mark Hamill--and that was all just because I was talking about stuff that was relevant to my interests.

But I'm not always synced with my readers, and I'm sure you're not either. I'm also not a Black woman or an Asian man, and in my particular niche I work especially hard to create fiction that's socially representative and diverse, so what should I do? 

3. Listen to your readers!

Listen! Listen to your target audience! This is where Twitter Lists are your best friend. Compile lists of a bunch of accounts that people like your readers follow, and watch those accounts. I read something about representation every day, because it's important for me to know what's happening to readers who aren't seeing themselves in their heroes. You can do the same, with what's important to you, and--here's the clincher--you can schedule retweets of the best content in Hootsuite or Buffer to get SO MUCH LOVE. Twitter's whole "quote" feature lets you talk over the RT and add a lot of value to the conversation, too. That's RT-opportunity gold.

So start now! If you're a scifi writer like me, search #scifi on twitter, and look at the accounts that seem to be saying interesting stuff. List them up. SFF writers might also list up big science accounts, like @Nasa and stuff, and see how you can turn their tweets into scifi gold. You can also subscribe to OTHER people's lists (my Artists list is golden), but it's almost always better to make your own.


4. GO where the readers are.

Look for the chats the readers are participating in. #ScifiChat happens at a certain time. #BlackComicsChat happens at a certain time. There are 20 reader-friendly chats on this list, before the much-less-helpful writer-friendly chats. Always look up the chat and see if it seems writer-dominated or reader-dominated. Go for the reader chats!

And stop Google searching like a writer all the time. Enough "how to grow my Twitter"--start searching stuff like "great reading hashtags" or "where can I get my next great read" or "best new scifi of this year," stuff like that. Look up the followers of THOSE accounts, and start chatting them up, replying to their tweets and offering them friendly, useful information about the stuff they care about. Not your book--the stuff they care about. I've found that once I've offered about three or four useful links in the conversation that are NOT about my book, I can start making that ask. (One or two links if I've asked a lot of questions about their lives and we've started a good convo) So far no one on Twitter's said no to my personal asks.

It all boils down to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You don't really want some rando yelling at you about their book. You hate ads, and you don't like mediocre stuff from people you don't know. You do like it when people reply to your tweets, send you cool articles, and show an interest in your life. You do like cool people with a lot of knowledge in INSERT FIELD HERE, and you're likely to seek out an author who INSERT THING YOU'D SEEK OUT HERE. "If my goal is to catch a lion, but I bait the traps with peanut butter, who is the fool for griping about catching mice?"

Don't hunt mice.


Jen Finelli is a world-traveling scifi author with all kinds of crazy published scifi about stuff like brain worms, zombie fairytales, and scientists who jump into volcanoes. She likes to share free fiction on her blog, and sometimes she dares to offer writing tips even though she's crazy enough to talk about herself in third person. Her book about a comic book character who shoots his author comes out in 2017--sign up here to find out about it and get cool books from people who are better than her! Or go here to read the next writing tip.

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