Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Okay, so I admit to not being the most Twitter-savvy person on the planet.  Hell, I'm probably not the most Twitter-savvy person in the Ozarks, and that's saying something.  Still, I think I might have a little insight and I'd like to share it.  As always with online advice - especially from a non-expert - take what works for you and throw the rest out.

Anyway, there are these things called hashtags.  For the less-initiated than me, it's pound-sign and you put it in front of other words or phrases to bring wider attention to your tweets.

Say you have 500 followers.  They'll see what you tweet.  But there are millions of twitter users.  If one of those millions do a search for tweets about a specific hashtag, they'll see your tweet whether they follow you or not.  I think.  Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure.  The reason I think this is because when I started using hashtags, I started seeing more follows and more sales, and people started re-tweeting things I'd said, even though I know they weren't following me.

Not exactly scientific, but it seems logical to me.

What hashtags did I use?  Well, for Dying Embers (which I tweet about as #DyingEmbers), I added #suspense.  Now anyone who searches Twitter for #suspense will find my tweets about my book.  (Amongst the many thousand others, so it's still needle in a haystack, but at least my needle is in there.)  For Accidental Death (#AccidentalDeath), I did #mystery.

And when those books were on sale for 99 cents, there's a handy hashtag already in use - #99cents.

Now, you can make any hashtag you want.  A friend of mine regularly hastags whole sentences like #Imhavingawesomeday or #cannotbelievewhatisawtoday.  But I suspect those will only very rarely draw someone to your feed.  Good thing for us all that as soon as you start to type #, Twitter offers you suggestions.  They aren't always what you're looking for, but they can give you an idea of the different things people are looking for out there.

Use the search box to help you find buzz words, too.  If you're lucky and your book is about something that's already trending, you're in like Flynn.  If not, you just have to hope that someone looking for #booksaboutmurder will find your mystery or suspense or thriller.  And your #mysterywithcats has a following.

I think it's all about finding what works for you, trying different things, and staying on top of how people might find your books.  And really, that's all we can ever do.

Any hashtags you use regularly to help people find you?  If you're not a writer, and you use Twitter, what hashtags do you search for?  I used to have a saved search that helped me look for agents accepting twitter queries. 


  1. I don't do twitter because frankly I don't understand why you would. I'm a dinosaur in this department because although I'm computer savvy, I just can't understand why you'd want to spend all your time plugged into a device and making (as they seem to me) stupid comments about going for a crap or eating a burger. And let's not mention the controversy when some celeb takes a pop at someone or something. Having read your explanation however I at least have a better idea about what the hashtag is and I can definitely see that it would be useful for you as a writer with a product to sell to have access to that many other twitters. Still not for me, although I have been toying with opening an Instagram account just because I want to show off a particularly beautiful quilt block I made or brag about having made my first garment. I've still not made a decision about it ... procrastination they name is Fran!

  2. I didn't get Twitter for a long time. My thinking was that if I was going to say something, it was going to take way more than 140 characters. Maybe I was an Ent in a previous life. But it can be useful and interesting, depending on who you follow. Hashtags can be fun and creative, and if you can work good ones into your tweet, so much the better. They can also be a sly nudge nudge wink wink, or snark. As the saying goes, this pencil has an eraser, so give it a try and see what you think.

    The thing that's interesting is that 140 characters forces you to think about what you actually want to say. Sometimes you have to flex those writing muscles to fit it all in.

  3. I used to have a list of hashtags that were good for writers. Then I lost it in the debris and detritus that is overtaking my office. My problem is trying to say something pithy and still leave room for the hash. LOL

  4. This is the best explanation for using Twitter I've ever read. I tried it once with a couple of my dream agents, and was bored to tears. Never went back.

    But I might sign up just to promote my books. I don't really want a following. Unlike you, I can't think of any interesting to say.