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Promote your book by starting a Twitter chat

One great Phone-665690_640way to promote your nonfiction book is by starting a Twitter chat.

A Twitter chat is a regularly scheduled hour or two in which you introduce a topic at a specific hashtag. It might include a short interview, conducted by tweets, with someone else on the topic. Others then can post tweets (often questions and their own suggestions) related to that topic using the chat’s hashtag. You or your guest then respond to those tweets.

By hosting a Twitter chat, you establish yourself as an expert, hopefully gaining more Twitter followers and getting people to look at your website or blog, which leads to book sales. It’s akin to hosting at the local library a public discussion, which you loosely lead, and having in the room a table where your books can be sold – except it’s done digitally via Twitter.

First, a couple of words of warning. For a Twitter chat to work, you’ll need quite a number of followers, at least 400 to start. A Twitter chat also is a long-term commitment, not something that is done once but instead every week for at least several months. In addition, chats tend to work best for nonfiction books and niche topics.

To set up a Twitter chat, begin by creating a unique hashtag that suggests your topic. For example, if your book is about hiking in the Midwest, you might use the hashtag #midwesthiker. No one else should be using this hashtag, or at least it shouldn’t have been used in quite a while (such as the last post using that hashtag was a couple of years ago).

Next, set up a regular time when the chat will occur. Usually the chat lasts only an hour once a week. Remember time zones, so if you set the chat up for 8 am Eastern time, that eliminates much of the West Coast from participating, as the time is 5 am there. Early afternoons usually are best for chats, as that is the peak time for Twitter use and catches all time zones.

Then create a page on your website or blog about the Twitter chat. It will give the hashtag, the day and time (be sure to include the time zone, as in Noon-1 pm Eastern), and a schedule of topics.

Of course, you’ll need to promote the Twitter chat. Use all of your social media – but especially Twitter – to regularly advertise that it’s coming up. The promotion needs to include the hashtag, date/time, and topic.

After the chat is over, consider offering post-chat transcripts. Various services (like Storify) can do that for you. This is especially important when your Twitter chat gains a lot of interest, as regular followers who missed the chat often will want to catch up.

Finally, measure your success. A Twitter chat is a couple of hours a week that could be spent writing your next book or doing other promotions. After a month or two, if you’re not getting several new followers or a few book sales from each chat, see if there’s a way you can tweak what your doing to be more successful. If it’s still not paying off after four to six months, perhaps the chat is not worth the time.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.


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