Twitter tweets: twiterature or bulltwit?

Twitter tweets: twiterature or bulltwit?During my meanderings on Twitter I find I’m becoming increasingly irritated by tweets that try to cram so much junk into those 140 characters that the message can only be read with the help of an electron microscope.

Do these affect you the same way? And do you agree with me that a lot of junk not only obscures a business message, but also can make you feel positively hostile towards the product or service being punted?

Twitterjunk rules…

First of all there’s the adverb grabber, e.g. “Easily and simply write your autobiography: quickly get it written, published and selling well – become a published author http://etc.etc.” Am I really going to believe I can go from diddly squat to a published author selling loads of books in 140 characters? Stop, draw breath, and tell me something more realistic.

Then we have the hashtag queens …  “Great widgets #smallbusiness #bigbusiness #majorcorporations #nonprofits #littlecornershops #SMEs #younameit #whocares” http://etc.etc” No, no, dear. Tell us a bit about what you’re selling rather than shriek out your target markets like a parrot with its tail on fire.

Next, there are the never-mind-what-I-do-or-who-I-am-just-click-on-the-bloody-link business Tweeters. Unless a Tweeter identifies him/herself I’m damned if I’m going to click on a bald, lone link without any accompanying explanation. Why should we? Because we like the look of your beady eyes in the thumbnail pic? I don’t think so.

Finally, we have the Tweet-and-run artists. These people schedule their business Tweets 6 months ahead and then move on to other things, forgetting that Tweets for their money-making scheme in time for Christmas run all the way through to June. And especially during times of national stress like freezing weather and ankle-deep snow, their Tweets about cut-price lawn mowers are just the weensiest bit inappropriate. Does this encourage me to buy from them? Not.

Twittermation: OK, but within reason

OK, many business people haven’t got the time to supervise personally every Tweet that goes out on their behalf, especially if they use one of the myriad automated Tweetomators available now. But for heaven’s sake can we please encourage business Tweeting – whether automated or not – that:

  • Makes sense without throwing too much information at you
  • Is written in comprehensible English, not a string of lame adverbs and adjectives
  • Has fewer than 18 hashtags so leaving space for some information
  • Gives Tweetees information relevant to the time and day

What do you think? Could Twitter Tweets use some good old fashioned editing to make them comprehensible and reader-friendly?

Share your views, please …

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“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

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Personal selling on Twitter: yes, it can work

This book was successfully marketed on Twitter by personal contact from author to potential reader.

People thought I was nuts to sell a book on an individual, 1-to-1 basis on Twitter. With this “serious” title on its launch nearly two years ago. The book is about how to write nonfiction books and get them published. I found that automated tweets that work for the lower-priced gift books – even using all the right keywords – didn’t work with anything like the same success as the personal touch.

Not as crazy as it sounds

For starters the number of people tweeting about their literary works-in-progress is relatively small. This meant my target readers were reachable on an individual basis without it taking me 8 hours a day to tweet to them all. (It took me an hour a day, tops.) I found them through Tweetdeck, which is one of several Twitter management tools available on the market today. I could afford to tweet with them personally, because although the book was not self-published my royalties were substantial enough to justify the time.

Secondly, writing a book is not like buying a can of baked beans, a software package, some jewellery or finding easier ways to fill in your income tax forms. Even with non-fiction which this particular book promotion was about, the process of writing it and getting it published can be as agonising as dropping your pants and sitting down for the duration on upturned drawing pins (thumbtacks in North America!) People take their books very, very personally.

So when someone comes along on Twitter with an obviously many-times duplicated “how to write a book in ten minutes and get it to sell thousands by next week” service offer, it’s going to be about as welcome, and as believable, as a chocolate teapot.

Approaching tweeters direct is not spamming

A couple of times during the course of the book launch I received spiteful responses from people who had gotten these targeted messages. “Spam! You’re blocked!” shouted one … “go peddle your books somewhere else” sneered the other. But there were only those two. As for the rest, it was no coincidence that over the next couple of months the book hit the number 1 spot on the Amazon (UK) best-sellers list in the “writing” category, and is still selling well today.

Not only did I sell lots of books, but also I made many new friends who messaged me and emailed me to thank me for my interest in their book writing projects. Since that time I have helped several of them by giving them a bit of free advice on their individual projects. I have been hired by three of them to copy edit their books, and by two more to ghostwrite their books for them.

And a large number of them have become loyal subscribers to this site.

It may be a relatively labor-intensive way to sell books, but it’s easier and cheaper than bricks-and-mortar book tours, and with more and more book sales taking place online nowadays it’s a lot more effective, too.

Would I do it again?

Yes, but depending on the nature of the book. Where the target audience is easy to identify and isolate, as in the case of this example, it’s ideal. But for books with a broader, more general appeal to wider and more diverse audiences, to target individuals would probably be spamming .

This book has a wider and less specific remit, so needed broader-based marketing.

For example, one of my more recent books is a general tips/advice title about business writing. Not only would be it pretty hit-and-miss to target anyone on Twitter who runs a small business, but also it would be impossible to do on an individual basis due to the vast numbers. It would only be feasible using an automated system which works, too, but in different ways.  And as I’ve said in an earlier post, general promotion (whether automated or not) works very well for the lower unit cost gift books – especially at gift-giving times of the year.

This personal selling on Twitter also, I imagine, works very well for other products and services in appropriate circumstances. What do you think?

Get the writing help you need and gift books your folks and friends will love

…in Suze’s bookshop


Write right for Twitter and your book or eBook can sell bigtime

Once in a while it’s encouraging to see a straight, old-fashioned sales success story about promoting your book or books, and here is my latest contribution – using Twitter.

Back in the early 00s I wrote a book called “The Horse Lover’s Joke Book. It took me all of about 3 months in total and I enjoyed every minute of it. The book was published by one of the specialist equestrian imprints in the UK and the USA and since then it has sold out several times and been reprinted as many times again.

Needless to say its success is due largely to it being an affordable horsey gift, which is why it’s nearly always in the top 20 “horses” category on Amazon and regularly hits the number 1 spot there in the run-up to Christmas. It also sells hand over fist in bricks-and-mortar equestrian retail outlets, and does pretty well online from specialist equestrian websites, as a gift for Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries and more.

All the same a while back, with one eye on maintaining its sales and the other eye on establishing the groundwork for its sequel which was being published soon afterwards, I decided to try Twitter to promote it.

We’re talking very basic advertising strategy here

Via Tweetdeck I set up searches for various incarnations of horsey and other phrases, but settled on the most obvious ones … #horses and #gifts. I was quite surprised to see how vast the horse-related Twitter membership is, especially in the USA, but with what seemed like thousands in the UK as well. When my search was on “horses” and my PC’s speakers were turned up, the Tweetdeck pinger would be going off like a pesky burglar alarm.

I wrote and sent every tweet manually and changed things around a bit as I went along, but my basic tweet would be something like:

Want the perfect stocking filler for a friend who loves horses? “The Horse Lover’s Joke Book” #horses #gifts

I started tweeting these at the beginning of November and continued at the rate of about 8-10 per day up until Amazon’s Christmas delivery deadline.

I then received the final figures from my publishers:

The sales total of “The Horse Lover’s Joke Book” on Amazon UK just in November and December 2010, was 25 percent more than all the book’s sales in the whole 12 months of 2009. (Sales figures for the same period 12 months later were almost identical after a similar promotional push in November and December 2011, and I’m currently running the same again for 2012.)  

And it wasn’t doing badly back in 2009 before I started using Twitter for business, either. So if this isn’t proof that promoting and selling niche nonfiction books work well on Twitter, I don’t know what is. So get Tweeting – and sell your books and eBooks!

More help for you on Twitter and beyond:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

Hi sucker, auto-thanks for the Twitter follow

There has been a lot of discussion recently on some of our online platforms about the nature of auto-responder direct messages on Twitter – especially those in response to a “follow.”

I can understand the need for the rich and famous to use an automated response to “follows” from their fans. We must assume those pour in by the dozen every minute 24/7, and for the stars to answer each message individually would really eat into their manicure time.

But when it comes to the likes of me – or many, many other small business operators like me – why do we send new followers a standardized DM? These must assume that all Twitter’s 75 million-odd users are identical clones of each other, which is a bit of an insult to someone who has followed you because s/he thought you seem interesting.

A few examples from my inbox in recent days…

140…er, how many?

Hi Fellow Tweeters, I have just found the most responsive marketing platform on the net…. and what’s more it’s totally FREE…. if fact

That’s right we are launching our own TV channel and are looking for suitable businesses and individuals to promote their businesses, if you

Geography? Whassat?

Welcome to (name)! I am looking forward to learning more about you. Check out our guide to (city many thousands of miles away) at

Let’s not waste time on foreplay

Thanks for following me. If you want to make money on Twitter check this out: http://xxx.yyy

Excitable types

Thank you for following me!!! I look forward to following your tweets!!!!! What are your interests? Let’s share ideas soon…

Thx 4 follow! Following U back. Please enjoy these 5 free podcasts on writing & publishing from @xxxxxx http:yyy.zzz

No such thing as a free lunch

Thanks for following…(name)…founder…download your FREE marketing gift here…http://xxx.yyyy

This is Tweetbook, isn’t it?

It’s great that new friends are now just a click away…. Lets connect on Facebook and share great value together > http://xxx.yyyy

I appreciate you following me. Have you seen my Facebook page http://xxx.yyyy

So how should you handle follows on Twitter?

For my own purposes, anyone who follows me on Twitter deserves a personal response from me. I know that many of such “people” who follow me are automated and driven purely by the statistics I tweet about and all that.

But although I can determine the difference between genuine tweets and those set up by the spammers hiding behind names and pictures of interesting women offering all kinds of skills from needlepoint to S&M, I don’t want to take the chance on losing contact with someone who might be interested in my business offerings, and/or be interested in becoming a buddy who shares hobbies, views, etc.

Yes, it takes time, but it’s worth it

When a new follower shows a profile, I check to see if anything I’ve written may be of interest to them. This can be, in order of preference:

1. An article or post here on

2. One of my nonfiction books

3. An article I’ve written for BirdsOnTheBlog or other site

4. A relevant article that someone else has written

5. A relevant book that someone else has written

I compose my “thanks for following” note with words to the effect of “you may find this article about (whatever) useful” and add the appropriate link. If there’s room, I might also add a personal comment like “Hi fellow Canuck (Canadian)” or “your new book sounds great” – etc.

Then, I send that tweet as an open reply – not as a DM (Direct Message.)

This way, not only does the message get across to my new follower, but also it acts as a reminder to all my other followers at the same time.

Results? Out of every batch of 20 or so new followers I get, there will be at least 5 who reply back to me thanking me for the link and/or the personal comment. Some talk about whatever it is I’ve referred them to, so I know they’ve read it. And some enter into quite a long Twittersation with me about it.

It’s all good for business; it builds camaraderie and confidence; and it makes me quite a few new friends.

What are your experiences?

Please share!

Get your tweets tweeting right!

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English