Saturday, April 14, 2012

Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

How does an indie writer like Dracie Chan become a best-selling author? According to the Wall Street Journal, her only book, 'The Mill River Recluse’ has sold over 400,000 copies since it was first published on Amazon in May 2011 (less than a year ago!)

Hoping to pick up a few tips, I thought I would look at what Ms. Chan has done to promote her book. When I found her on Twitter @DarcieChan (easy to find), I was amazed to see that as of 14 April 2012, she had only 307 followers, was following 11 people and had made just 189 tweets! Obviously Twitter has not been a factor in her success. However, does this mean that I’ve been wasting my time tweeting and following on Twitter?

Admittedly, I have probably wasted some time on Twitter, probably quite a lot of time if I’m honest and I’m going to try and be more self-disciplined in future. However, everything I’ve read about book promotion has said that social networking sites such as Twitter are a vital tool. Personally I would agree, but not because I have made a lot of direct sales as a result of it (and there are quite a few authors out there who are always tweeting, but have extremely low book sales). There are many best-selling authors like Catherine Bybee and John Locke who are very active Twitter users. However, they don’t use twitter to sell their books, they use it to share news and connect with readers and other writers. 

For me Twitter is a great way to:

  • Meet other writers
  • Talk to readers
  • Find out what other people are doing e.g. what they’re reading and what they’re writing at the moment
  • Share ideas with other people
  • Tell people about my latest news, such as great book reviews
  • Let people know about interesting blog posts from my blog and others (I always notice an increase in page views on my blog after a tweet about a post)
  • Let people know about great books written by other authors. One way to do this is to go to their book’s Amazon page, click the ‘Like’ button under the title and then click on the Twitter icon in the pop-up box that appears.
Do I also tweet about my own books? Yes, especially to get word out about a promotion, such as the promotional price I currently have for The Royal Sheikh (75% off!) and I do it in the hope that one of my followers might retweet my book tweet to their followers and perhaps one of those followers will decide to buy it.

What do other people think? Is Twitter a useful tool for authors? Why? Why not? (And by the way, I'm at @KatherynLane)


  1. I use Twitter almost daily but make sure I tweet about other people's blogs and books aswell as my own. I still don't know if my tweeting helps much with book sales but it's fun to interact with people from all over the world.

    1. I agree! I've met some great people on Twitter from many different places

  2. Sometimes I feel like my life is slipping away, trapped in social media land & places like Twitter, ha. However, I am with you Katheryn...It's a GREAT way to connect with other writers, readers, and in general I think it is helping me spread the word about my books. Great post! :)

  3. As someone published only in e-book format Twitter is a great venue to get the word out. I try not to tweet just about my book. I share the love by tweeting other peoples posts as well :) I've met some great friends, enjoy their remarkable personalities & read some of their amazing work (Katherine, you are included in all of the above. Getting my TBR pile whittled down and will soon be reading Her Latin Lover!!!)

    This is a thought-prokoving post, Katherine. Makes me rethink all the minutes I'm on social media when I should be writing :)

    1. Thank you Jan! Hope you enjoy Her Latin Lover

  4. Hi Katheryn. Very interesting and thought-provoking post. Wow, you said Ms. Chan has sold over 400,000 books, and had 189 tweets. I have sold 3 copies of my book that I can directly attribute to tweeters and have 9,625 tweets. Now these are 3 who told me they brought it. It is possible that there may be others that I don't know about.

    So it definitely is not cost effective time-wise for me. However, I do like Twitter for the positive reasons you state. The author community is a very encouraging and helpful one to be a part of.

    1. The author community is certainly very helpful and full of great people, like yourself Pamela! Writing can be a solitary job and it's great to connect with other authors.