The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

How Twitter works and why people in publishing should consider using it

Someone walked into my office the other day and saw my Twitter screen.  Caught in the act?  Actually, it was about 4:30 p.m. ET on a Thursday and I was in the middle of a #followreader discussion about successful book promotion strategies.

You see, Twitter is possibly the most robust network to link readers and the publishing community since Gutenberg built his printing press.  I realize Twitter doesn’t work for everybody and I’m not suggesting that everyone use it — there are days when even I don’t have the time (or simply can’t be bothered) to type even 140-character status updates — but what must be recognized is  that Twitter is no longer the latest fad among tweens; it has since evolved into an incredibly powerful communications tool (and it can be fun, too).  I realize I’m pretty much preaching to the choir with this post, but please feel free to share the following with colleagues / authors.


Most people now know the Twitter basics: you have 140 characters to update your status and you have a list of people whose status updates you follow and a list of people who follow your status updates.  But for all practical purposes, what does that mean?  Why should authors and people in the publishing industry use Twitter?  Here are some reasons why:

Networking: Although most publishing houses, literary agencies and book publicity firms are in New York — which means many of us see each other in person — many are not.  And of course, media exist all over, as do readers.  Twitter is how we meet.  Publisher @artepublico uses Twitter to connect authors with the media.  @calli526, a book publicist, uses it to connect with the media.

Promotion: Twitter can be used to talk up a book, blog, event, author, giveaway or pretty much anything else.

Feedback: For example, @benrubinstein polls his followers for ideas and suggestions.

And here are some specific examples of how Twitter works:

#followreader is a weekly publishing discussion conducted on Twitter on Thursdays at 4 p.m. ET and moderated by @charabbott and @katmeyerwho also blog at Follow the Reader.  (Summaries of the discussions are posted on the blog for people who miss the Twitter conversation.)  Here’s a tip, though: for Twitter discussions, it’s best to use an application that’s optimized for chats like Tweetchat.

@RustyShelton and his colleagues at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicity  developed a Tweet the Author service.

— Author Anastasia Ashman posts about how she uses Twitter.

@meredithkessler points out that Robert Olen Butler’s @TweetsFromHell was picked up by @LATimesbooks and followed by major critics and Butler fans.

— Literary agent @janet_reid found a panelist for a publishing conference via Twitter and has also used it to fact check some locations/spellings/customs.

— When I write a blog post, I try to tweet about it (and include a link to the post).  That means my post could potentially be seen by the 1,267 people who follow me.  Realistically, a tweet won’t be seen by all of one’s followers, but even if only a fraction of those people see an update and click through to the link, that still amounts to a lot of eyeballs.  (And certainly a lot more eyeballs than if you’re not using Twitter.)  Similarly, some authors will tweet about upcoming events to let readers know where and when they will be speaking or about reviews and interviews.

— And lastly, how do you think I found the examples for this post?  Yup, you guessed it.


What are your Twitter success stories?  Do share.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Social Networking | 24 Comments