8 July 2015

Review: Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors by Ian H Sutherland

Excellent ... but not for Twitter Newbies

Twitter is one of the major social networks, and with approximately eleventy-billion tweets sent daily (many of them containing #GoT memes and spoilers), it’s one authors need to know about. If you do know about Twitter and want to learn to leverage the power of the beast, read on. If, like Jon Snow, you know nothing, you would be better reading a beginner guide first—I recommend Belinda Pollard’s blog posts, or Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall.

Advanced Twitter Strategies is what is says in the title: advanced strategies to build a substantial Twitter following in a short time by following Sutherland’s SHARP principles and using his recommended tools. He has personally built a following of over 30,000 tweeps in less than six months, and achieves this in 15 minutes a day. That’s impressive: I’m not interested in “advice” from people with fewer Twitter followers than I have.

Sutherland uses a range of tools to automate as much as possible within Twitter’s rigid anti-spam guidelines, and he takes the reader through each of these tools in detail: how to set up an initial account, which features to use and how to use them, and how to spend your 15 minutes per day. Down to the second. And it looks achievable …

Yes, there is a catch: the system will take more than 15 minutes to set up initially, and Sutherland uses the paid versions of some services. These services have a combined cost of $14.75 per week at current prices, so this isn’t a strategy you will necessarily want to follow if you don’t actually have something to sell. Like a book. He also points out the importance of having the basics covered with your book: excellent content, good cover, and good reviews. (What’s the saying? Excellent marketing will only make a bad book fail faster.)

Given there is a cost in implementing Sutherland’s method, you’ll want to monitor your ROI: are you selling enough additional books to justify the expense? (Alternatively, how much time will these tactics save you that you can then spend on writing your next book? I’ve heard writers complain that marketing takes *hours* each day. Does it? Or are they procrastinating?)

One thing would have made the book more helpful: I would have liked him to explain why he chose a particular service provider over the other companies offering a similar service. What are the pros and cons of SocialOomph vs Buffer as a scheduling service? Of Tweepi vs. JustUnfollow (now called CrowdFire) to manage following and unfollowing? I use Buffer and CrowdFire. Should I change? Why?

I would add one further caution: social media does not necessarily sell books. Yes, I bought this book based on a tweet from the author, but that is because I have seen his name in my Twitter stream and recognised him as an author who offers good content (in his case, #twittertips, following his own SHARP principles) rather than an author who fills my feed with self-promotion. People, Spam® is a food, not a marketing strategy.

While I’ve found it easy to connect with writers on Twitter, I haven’t found it so easy to find readers, especially readers of Christian fiction (readers of book marketing and writing craft books? I’ve found thousands of them). So if your target reader is busy on Pinterest looking at inspirational quotes, craft ideas or wedding dresses … this won’t help.

But if your target reader is active on Twitter and connecting with people through Twitter is part of your marketing plan, then I recommend this book. I believe it does what it says on the tin.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a nonfiction book.

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