9 Tips from BEA’s Twitter for Publishing Master Class

In Discussion by Rachel Aydt

By Rachel Aydt

Cindy Ratzlaff

Cindy Ratzlaff

Cindy Ratzlaff, @BrandYou, is on a lot of Twitter lists, including Forbes’ “30 best women entrepreneurs to follow.”

“I’ve booked six figure clients and been in national media by using Twitter,” she says. At BEA she gave a Master Class, aimed directly towards writers who struggle with the 5 w’s of the platform, and who are being expected to up their self-promotion marketing strategies. Before you get started with anything, it’s critical to dress up your space with a full bio and preferably a lovely background and photo so potential followers can get a sense of your personality. Remember, you’re having a two-way conversation and Twitter is a tool to engage people. When replying to a Tweet, use their first name if you can find it so you can acknowledge those who are speaking to you directly.

Here are a few other memorable tips from the session:

1. Flock to Unlock Promotions

This is a way to give promotions just to your Twitter followers. You give a shopping code discount to an ebook or anything else that you’re selling, but the discount is only unlocked if 50 people retweet the offer. Basically, it’s a way to create an online flash mob, and it’s used widely in the fashion industry. How can writers use this? Publishers might let followers download a first chapter. “We as a publishing industry can do this; not just the fashion industry.”

2. Twix-clusive Deals

These are codes, or links, to give Followers an exclusive product; again, in the fashion industry, they’ll offer a code and hold back, say, a different color of a garment than is available to the non-Twitter followers. This is a great one for editorial outtakes that don’t make it into your books! (Audience chuckles.)

3. So What Should I Tweet?

“We want to create a world where authors are rock stars,” Ratzlaff says. “Your Followers want to know what it’s like to be on the road with them — about your creative process. What it’s like to be in a relationship with you — (Justin Beiber eats a sandwich, people!)” Ratzlaff believes that @SalmanRushdie and @JudyBlume both do it well. Another good example of a writer who uses Twitter to engage those interested in his genre is @RL_Stine: “…and the scream woke him up. A nightmare. It had been a terrifying nightmare. He ran downstairs and told his mother…”

Also, it’s best to create your own content rather than to simply “curate” links to outside stories.

4. Twubs.com

You create a mini hashtag that links back to Twubs.com. Twubs pulls a hashtag out of the noisy setting of your Twitter feed and becomes the homebase for that hashtag. You can then link it to Facebook. So if you’re having an author chat, you can do it on Twubs and it will become an exclusive home for that chat. You can go there weekly to create an online destination for members of that specific conversation. “This is a way to build authority so people have a reason to follow you.”

5. Free & Low Cost Twitter Tools

Every day Ratzlaff preschedules at least five Tweets using the Hootsuite platform. She uses Instagram or Twitpic to take beautiful pictures. She has conversations over at Twubs.com, which is free. She shortens links and tracks her post metrics using Bit.ly, also free. “Bit.y is great because you can go back to see how often your tweets were retweeted, and over time discover what followers care about and what they don’t so you can modify messages for your audience.”

6. Less is More

It’s better to use 120 characters than 140 because if you’re tweet is being retweeted, you need to allow room for their handle, a link, or their mini comment introducing your tweet.

7. Time Your Tweets

Tweets are live for 7 minutes…so time them carefully. Use a scheduling tool like HootSuite. As you’re scheduling your tweets, consider when your readers are online. For example, Mommy Bloggers would be having their online leisure time early in the morning before the kids get up. Be aggressively consistent. You should be tweeting seven days a week, five times a day.

8. Verified Accounts

If you’re managing authors, this means you and Twitter have talked and have agreed to pay $15,000 to have a verified account. You would verify your account so no one can pretend they’re you. The $15K is an agreement that you have with Twitter that says you’ll spend that much in advertising — but here’s the catch: you don’t have to spend it at once. “You can spend the $15K over the course of your lifetime,” says Ratzlaff.

9. The Hottest New App

Now that you’ve mastered Twitter, go check out Vine.co, an app that takes 6-second videos (and that the fashion world is all over). What can you do in six seconds? Tell visual stories, of course! You can post these to Facebook and to Twitter, but as of now you can’t link to the videos in an email.

What are your tips, tricks and best practices for Twitter? Share them with us in the links below.

About the Author

Rachel Aydt

Rachel Aydt is a full-time writer, editor and researcher in New York City. She worked on the staff at American Heritage Magazine, YM, Cosmopolitan and CosmoGirl. Rachel has also contributed to Time International and Inked magazines. Since 2001, she has taught writing classes at the New School University.