What I Learned in My First Month Trying to Sell Books on Twitter

I signed up for Twitter long ago, but not until last month did I really start using it. I decided to make a concerted effort to get traffic to my blog and sell some books. My rise to fame would be earned one witty, kind, or well-hashtagged tweet at a time.

Here’s what I have learned this month.

Famous people don’t click on your profile.

If I say something witty enough on Steve Martin’s or Mindy Kaling’s page, they will comment or start following me and commenting on mine, right? Then they’ll wonder about my books. Then they’ll buy one. Then they’ll love it. Then they’ll tweet about it! Wrong. Some celebs don’t run their own Twitters, but those who do are too busy for me.

No one clicks on your blogs.

Unlike celebrities, regular people might click on your profile. Yay! However, they won’t go so far as to actually read one of your blogs. After my success on Facebook, I was a little surprised at this. I even watched the trending hashtags and yelled “I HAVE A BLOG ABOUT THAT” and tweeted it out quickly, before the hashtag stopped trending. No one has retweeted my blog yet. (Except my awesome friend Robin.)

People retweet the most random things.

After all my hashtagging and positive comments on people’s tweets, what gets retweeted? Some stupid hashtag game answer. Not even my best ones. Lame ones. Nothing about writing or the Bible or music or politics. “Girl put your jacket on #makeasongfreeze” or some such crap.

It takes longer than a month.

I have watched the impressions and clicks on all my tweets carefully. While I’ve had some profile clicks, I don’t think I can trace a single book sale back to Twitter. I was going to say that Twitter doesn’t work for selling books unless you’re already famous, but I guess I don’t have enough evidence to claim that. Maybe I suck at Twitter. Or more optimistically, maybe it just takes longer than a month.





Reclaiming 2016

I’ve noticed that when people on social media are excited about some wise meme, I usually think (and sometimes say) “It’s not that great.” And when they are fuming about something, I usually think, “It’s not that big of a deal.”

That is, until the election. I was one of the people saying that while in the big picture everything is okay “because God,” for our nation right now things are absolutely the worst. Not because God can’t save us, but because more people voted for racism and sexism than I wanted to believe.

When my friends who voted for Trump said that everything would be okay, I wanted to unfriend them, hard, across the face. “It’s not that big of a deal,” they said as I had once said about Starbucks cups.

And I’m still planning to speak out and wear this shirt,

but I think it’s also important to note that, despite losing Harper Lee and Richard Adams and David Bowie and Carrie Fisher (sorry if I left your favorite off my list—it could go on forever) 2016 does not need to be categorically denounced.

I had some unbelievably blessed moments, and so did you. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge them now. I’ll go first. 

In the spring, I got to chaperone my husband’s high school band on their field trip to Disneyland, and our kid is in the band. My new job helped us pay for it. I saw Shakespeare performed live. I went to a San Francisco Giants game. My kid had a great birthday party. I started a jazz band for high school girls.

In the summer, I went to my niece’s high school graduation and we spent a wonderful day at the ocean paddleboarding and evening playing games. I got to read parts of Anaheim Tales with other authors at our local bookstore. My kid chose to get baptized. I went to a rally at the state capitol, and the governor signed the bill to end the statute of limitations for rape.

In the fall, I performed in my first musical. I am cowardly lion! Hear me roar! I had an actual, real, birthday party.

I watched my kid perform music all year. I got to go to the best music hall in the western United States. I grew closer with my spouse. I got to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and go to the beach whenever I wanted. I was healthy.

2016, I will not tell you to kiss my a– or whatever everyone is saying. Certain moments that you gave us brought me to tears, and Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams on the tails of the election seemed especially cruel, but thank you for the beauty. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the place I live and the family and friends I’ve shared this place with for one more year.

Your turn.

Do You Have to Know Someone to Get Published?

If you’re a novelist who doesn’t “know someone” in the publishing business, there’s going to be a moment when you feel defeated. You’ll read articles about “how I got published” that all involve the author knowing someone, you’ll see celebrities publish children’s books that are not as good as the unpublished books your critique partners have written, and you’ll start to think that there’s no way you can make it.

I know. I’ve been there. But here are three thoughts to cheer you up.

1. You Might Know Someone Who Knows Someone

I’d been writing quite a while when my mom mentioned my manuscript to her friend. Her friend happened to have a daughter who had a friend who was an agent in New York. I thought there was no way that someone that distantly related to me would offer to read my manuscript, but I was wrong! One of these days, someone you know might remember that they know someone.

2. You Might Not Know Anyone Yet

Enter contests and join writing clubs. You might not know anyone yet, but you might meet someone. I have met an agent and a publisher through contests and another publisher at a write-in. I mean, I’ve met even more agents and publishers than that, but these three actually led to something. Get out there! You never know!

3. You Are Someone

With self publishing, it’s possible that the only person you really need to know is yourself. Do some Google searching on how to market your book, and pop that sucker up on Amazon. You don’t even need to have money. With an investment of a little time, you can learn to format your own CreateSpace book and do quite a bit of free advertising with Twitter, blog tours, calling local bookstores, etc.

You might notice that I didn’t mention the possibility of sending queries to agents and publishers without knowing them. I know this works for some people but I don’t have much personal success with it. I wrote about the three things that have actually happened for me. I hope these three things will boost your spirits. You can do it, Writers! I believe in you!