Newpub Marketing Manual

Boomer Laptop

Embarrassing admission time: I have a chronic case of Boomer tech when it comes to social media.

Longtime readers know I relentlessly advocate for elevating publishing out of the oldpub tar pits and into the newpub promised land. I'm the first to ditch obsolete publishing bromides and embrace newly emergent best practices.

Yet is was recently pointed out to me that my Twitter game was amateur hour. In effect, I'd been using the platform without reading the instruction manual.

The first step is admitting the problem. Many people forget that you then have to take the other steps.

I'm pleased to report that I have at long last entered Twitter noob recovery with the help of savvy creators like Adam Lane Smith, Jeff Putnam, and Zac Small.

Which Twitter vices have these gentlemen helped me identify and overcome?

First and foremost, they made me realize I'd been stuck in the Oldpub Marketing Department Mindset. My approach to Twitter used to be mechanistically tweeting A, B, C, & D type tweets X times per day. Straight out the legacy media marketing playbook.

What my fine colleagues helped me realize was that by taking this approach, I'd been talking at potential readers instead of talking with them.

Hang around the indie publishing scene for any length of time, and you'll hear authors--even some big names--swear on a stack that Twitter is death to book sales.

Try an experiment and check out the timelines of authors who say they can't sell books on Twitter. Nine times out of ten, they're not engaging with readers in optimal ways for the platform.

If, like me, you've heard it said that the key to Twitter success is authentic engagement, but you didn't have the first clue what that meant, allow me to expand on the concept.

Authenticity is key

Most importantly, but perhaps counterintuitively, you've got to be genuine in how you present yourself.

People are so inundated with fakes and prefab personalities that they're starving for interactions with real human beings.

A lot of brand gurus will tell you to put up a slick front that portrays you as some kind of infallible ubermensch. That kind of public image comes off as dull. In storytelling terms--and marketing is storytelling--it's the Mary Sue of branding.

Flesh-and-blood human beings who encounter everyday challenges--and sometimes fail--resonate with people far more than unblemished bronze idols.

If you want to build trust, you have to present yourself on the level, warts and all.

Converse, don't dictate

As for the nuts & bolts, you foster engagement by adding value.
  • Retweet quality content.
  • Don't just RT. Include our own insightful commentary. It's gotta be more than, "Agreed" or "Concur".
  • Like and RT anytime someone comments on and RTs your tweets.
  • Don't be afraid to tag in users with bigger followings than yours.
  • Don't argue with users whose followings are smaller than yours.
  • Talking politics is a double-edged sword. You'll gain followers, but they'll expect you to talk politics all the time.
  • If you do go the political pundit route, stake out a position, be willing to change your mind when new information presents itself, and be up front with your followers. Don't shill.
Most importantly, social media is just what it says on the tin--media for your art and ideas. Author marketing starts with writing books your audience loves to read. 

99.99% of new authors don't know the subtle but crucial techniques for writing gripping, unputdownable books. You won't pick them up at writers' workshops or by osmosis, either.

Hardly a day goes by without an author client thanking me for bringing out the best version of his book. If you're serious about reaching an audience; if you're pro enough to work with an editor who'll give it to you straight, I can take your 3 star book to 5 stars.

And I do author marketing consults, too.

If you want to get serious, get in touch.


  1. Brian

    Interesting but I still don't quite Get bullet point 3.
    As a Twitter reader I've discovered many new authours especially when they advertise their books or cite other authours' works. That's one of the things I like about Twitter



  2. Good advice for all online interactions as well as real life.

    I'd just add to watch out for Twitter brain. I was watching a review of a comic book here: https://youtu.be/CCQ1SZ2jwY4 and he noticed that all the dialog sounded like Tweets. Not surprising. These guys probably haven't cracked open a real book in years and Twitterspeak is all they know.