Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Er... Tweet?

So I looked into opening a Twitter account because social media, right? And somebody I respect said that I had to make these tweet-things in order to sell books. During my research I discovered that there are all these Rules and Etiquette Things about how you can't even mention your book, not even casually, else it's Spam, which I thought was a canned meat product. Apparently not. Who knew?

Important Discovery Number One: In your marketing strategy, do not mention your book. Ever.

So how does one market if one isn't allowed to mention one's product? Further research revealed that you're supposed to send your minions followers something called Valuable Content, and somehow, through a Mysterious Process which I have yet to identify, this will translate into book sales.

Except? This Valuable Content can't have anything to do with your book because otherwise it's more Spam. Which... I still think of as lunch meat in a can, so go figure.

Important Discovery Number Two: Tweet Valuable Content, which has nothing, whatsoever, to do with your book.

Unfortunately, my research did not unearth any information regarding whose definition of Valuable Content I am supposed to be adhering to. And I'm pretty sure my idea of Valuable Content isn't even in the same universe as, say, my mother-in-law's idea of Valuable Content. (Although to be fair, I'm basing this supposition entirely on the not-even-remotely-amusing penis enlargement advertisements she keeps forwarding to me.)

Anyway, with all of these restrictions, and the lack of a working definition of the term "Valuable Content", I have come to the conclusion that the people who are using Twitter to successfully market their books must be using some kind of code.

Important Discovery Number Three: Any Tweeting that contains marketing should be done in code.

This code shouldn't be too easy to crack, otherwise people would immediately understand the message and as soon as they realized I was trying to market to them, they would Unfollow me, which is a Bad Thing. Near as I can figure, Unfollowing is the Twitter version of being sent off the playground for Not Playing Well With Others (story of my life, but that's a rant for another day).

Important Discovery Number Four: Your code should not be too easily broken.

On the other hand, the code shouldn't be too complicated, either. A quantum encryption algorithm, for example, might prove problematic because by the time anyone got it figured, most of my electrons would be entangled with electrons in some other galaxy, and I just can't see being too concerned about book sales at that point.

Important Discovery Number Five: Quantum encryption is probably not a good choice.

A nice, middle-of-the-road code, which obfuscates things just a bit beyond casual recognition, would probably be best. I decided to try a code based on a technique I remembered doing in a poetry class, where you take each letter of your name and come up with a descriptive phrase beginning with that letter. Except, instead of my name, I would use my very simple and clever marketing phrase, "Buy My Book", and instead of a list of descriptive phrases, I would use a list of some Valuable Content. A quick search of what passes for News on several internet news sites (which shall remain nameless) yielded a number of interesting pieces of Valuable Content that could be used:

B = Black Friday Deals on Canned Lunch Meat!
U = Underwear Mogul Decapitated in Freak Accident with Pink Thong!
Y = Yak Poo Removal Hints: Your Thanksgiving Rescue Headquarters!
M = Myopic Guinea Pigs Save Drowning Man!
Y = Yorkshire Terrier Attacks Bus -- 12 Dead!
B = Black Friday Fashion Hints!
O = Orange is the New Black!
O = Octopus Gives Birth to Kittens!
K = Kelp Brownies: A Holiday Tradition!

See what I did there? Clever and subtle, eh?

Before trotting this out for real, I decided it would be prudent to conduct a trial run. After all, if no one could figure out the code, what was the point? I prepared and sent a series of emails with the above titles to everyone on my contact list. Then I sat back and waited for the money to roll in.

Unfortunately, all I got was a whole lot of replies, most of which started with WTF, Jaye? Apparently, my code was a bit too clever. *Sigh*.

Frankly, I'm not convinced that Tweeting about yak poo is going to do anything for book sales.

Important Discovery Number Six: Tweeting is for the birds.


  1. I don't tweet so I don't know anything about the ins and outs of Twitter. However, a few of the authors I follow use it and I've seen their tweets on their blogs and Facebook. They actively promote their books and other activities related to promotion such as blog tours so there must be some way around the spam thing. And since it seems that you can cross post one tweet to all of your other social network sites, it's probably a good way to reach a wider audience.

    1. The main problem I have with social media is that for someone like me who didn't grow up with it, the learning curve seems incredibly steep. And the more places I need to spend time, the less time there is to write. It's a balancing act that I'm still figuring out. I imagine I'll probably get to the point where I'm on Twitter and Facebook and all that... but it's going to take a while for me to get comfortable with it all.

  2. LOL. I've sold over 10k books through twitter (I'm not on Facebook) so yes, it works. The learning curve for Twitter is easier than any other medium, if I can do it, you can.

    Dump your 1st Important Discovery. I don't know why that bunk keeps coming up again and again. It's absolutely false. Go from there.

    1. You're determined to drag me, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, aren't you? All right... I'll give it shot... but if I end up on the edge of the playground, whimpering in my cardboard box, I'll know who to blame!

    2. That's how I feel every time someone says Facebook. :) Connect w/ me @TheBrandonShire, I'll fend off the wankers.