I am not against promoting your work on Twitter. I am against promo tweets being the majority of what makes up your Twitter feed. This has become the top reason I unfollow authors on Twitter.
Aside from being annoying-- it's like watching a TV show with more running commercials than the program those commercials support-- I don't really see a constant stream of promo tweets as an effective means of marketing.
Because of how Twitter works, it doesn't make sense to me. The only people who are going to see your promo tweets are people who have already taken the step of following you (or retweets, but you can't control that). Meaning, they are already interested in you, or your work, or both. And by that token, they very likely already know that you have books available to buy and where to purchase those books.
If that's the case, then seeing constant advertisements for something you're already aware of, and have already made a decision on whether or not to buy, is extremely irritating.
And before I go any further, there is a difference between hype and promotion (although not in the technical sense). Hype is promotion that takes place before the product is available. This type of promotion doesn't bother me in the slightest, even if it gets heavy. Hype is important to build before a book's release and on the actual release day.
But after that, all the promotion that follows is likened to a commercial. When you continually tweet about your book as if you're still in pre-release hype mode, it's grating. It makes you look self-centered and clueless about online social savvy. And it's borderline insulting to your Twitter followers, as if to say, "Maybe you didn't see it the first million times, but I have this book..."
No. No. A thousand times, NO.
Constant promo tweets also make me think that the author's book isn't doing so well, or as well as they would like (whether that is true or not, I don't know, but that's the impression it gives), so they feel the need to keep talking people into buying it. In that sense, promo tweets have the opposite of their intended effect. A good book sells on word of mouth between readers.
Once your book has released, let the readers sell your book. It's at this point that I expect to see more tweets from the author along the lines of retweeted book reviews. Because if someone else is praising your book I will be more apt to believe it's good.
Of course the author thinks it's good. Of course the author wants you to read it and buy it. So my eyes glaze over when promo comes from the author.
But if someone else recommends the book? I'm much more likely to check it out.
So the question then becomes, "What kind of promotion can an author do post-release that won't irritate his/her followers?" Because there has to be something better than Promo Tweet Vomit.
1. Get involved. Goodreads hosts discussion groups where readers can chat with authors. Amazon has discussion boards. I'm sure B&N does too. These are just a few examples. The main thing to keep in mind here is that you want to go where the readers are, not other writers/authors.
Yes, writers are readers too and writers will make up part of your book-buying audience. So it's not a bad idea to be active on a writers' forum with book links in your signature, but other writers can tell when you're just there to talk about yourself, and it's annoying. Go to the sites for writers to help your fellow writers with their work. Go to the sites for readers to encourage people to read and/or buy your work.
Twitter is a social network. The majority of your Twitter feed should be social, not commercial.
2. Get local. Step away from the Internet and take a stroll to your local library or bookstore (if you're lucky enough to have one). My library hosts Meet the Author type gatherings regularly. Someone who meets you in person is much more likely to buy your book.
And if your book is only available in electronic format, don't fret. Book signings aren't the only thing you can do at bookstores. Ebook-only author events could be a great way for bookstore owners to promote their e-readers.
Do a reading from your Kindle (or whatever you own). You're still showcasing your product-- a great story. We live in the Digital Age. Bookstore appearances do NOT have to center on print book signings anymore.
Also worth considering? Arranging to be interviewed by your local paper. People go nuts over that kind of stuff, they really do. They love having a hometown "celebrity."
3. Get smart. Seek out your target audience. Don't expect them to find you, you go find them. If you write for teens, arrange high school appearances. If you write sci-fi, attend science-related events. If you write women's fiction, start a book club at your house. Etc, etc. Talk to other people who have similar interests as the things you present in your work.
Going back to the example of the local library, you can sign up for programs that don't directly revolve around Author You. My library, which happens to be located right next to the public high school, hosts a monthly book club for YA fiction. It's mainly for the benefit of teen readers, but adults are welcome too (because my library is smart and knows that adults read YA). As a YA writer, I read a lot of YA. I am joining this book club.
If anyone asks why, I can tell them I'm a YA author and let them take it from there. Most people are thrilled to meet authors in person, even if they've never read your work. Just stating this fact about myself usually leads to a discussion about Author Me. But if it doesn't, nothing has been lost and it doesn't come off as annoying promotion because all you did was answer their question.
So those are a few of my ideas. How do YOU feel about constant promo tweets? Can you think of a better way?