Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Twitter Guide For Authors & Illustrators > Promotion and Marketing > Be honest. How effective is Twitter in selling books, REALLY?

Index of topics: Main Twitter Guide For Writers & Illustrators page. To go back to my blog for kidlit/YA writers and illustrators, see Inkygirl. You can find me on Twitter at @inkyelbows (focus: writing and illustrating children's books) and @DebbieOhi (livetweets, chat, photos, personal ramblings). Also see my list of Other Useful Twitter Guides For Authors And Illustrators and Twitter Lists of: agents who represent kidlit/YAkidlit/YA editors, children's book art/creative directors and K-12/teen librarians on Twitter.

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Q. Be honest. How effective is Twitter in selling books, REALLY?

First off: if your only goal is promotion, then I advise that you stay off Twitter.

In my experience, Twitter is not an effective tool in selling books directly.

The "directly" is an important word here. I see WAY too many authors and illustrators repeatedly tweet stuff like, "Buy my book!" or "Check out my book on Amazon!" over and over again. Even worse, some of them tag people in these promotweets, in hopes of getting noticed. The latter is more likely to create bad PR than good, and maybe even get them blocked.

There are so many "buy xxxx" or "check out my book on Amazon" tweets in people's feeds these days. Ditto for offering a free or cheap ebook.

If you're already a well-known author or illustrator, or have bulit up a loyal following, that's a different matter. But even in those cases, I'd advise against hammering your followers with "BUY MY STUFF" tweets too often.

In my experience, Twitter is much better for establishing and building relationships like:

- an author-readership relationship

- networking with industry people with whom you hope to eventually work

- networking with industry peers 

- networking with potential readers, book reviewers, etc.

- conversations with others just for the fun of it

If you're planning to join Twitter solely to sell your books, I'd think twice. Your time would probably be better spent elsewhere.

Last updated on February 26, 2014 by Debbie Ridpath Ohi