Authors: Readers Don’t Care About Your Twitter

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post asking whether fiction writers should blog, and if so, what about. I got some great feedback, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and researching in the meantime. A few of you asked that I share my findings, so here are the startling facts.

Keep in mind, I researched my target market. While I’m not a hundred percent who will enjoy my book, I’m guessing it will be older teens and adults, primarily women. They’d likely also read fantasy, young adult, romance, chick lit, thrillers, and maybe some horror or science fiction. If that isn’t your target market, then your statistics might tell you a different story.

I found an excellent research study done by the Romance Writers of America (RWA). While I wouldn’t classify my novel first and foremost as a romance, our target markets would overlap a lot, especially readers of paranormal romance (essentially, romance with a fantasy element).

I strongly recommend reading the whole study, especially if you are a self-publisher. Romance readers are the biggest subgenre purchasers of e-books and care the least about whether they’ve heard of an author or not. The study asked a lot of in depth questions about how to price ebooks, and found that if you price your book too low, readers won’t buy it, because they assume that it’s a low quality book.

RWA also spent a lot of time on various media and how effective it is at reaching readers. Granted, these statistics were from a 2011 reader survey, so they are a little old, but they are so shocking I wanted to copy them in full for you. Note that blue is NOT DONE AND HAVE NO INTEREST.

Activities that Do or Do Not Interest the Romance Buyer

Source: Romance Writers of America 2011 Romance Book Consumer Survey

Did you see that?

83% of readers have not and have no interest in ever following an author on Twitter. Add to that an additional 13% of readers that don’t follow you and have varying levels of interest of ever checking out your Twitter account. Only 6% of readers have ever actually gone to an author’s Twitter account.

Guess what else they don’t care about? Your Goodreads, YOUR BLOG, your videos and trailers, your Facebook page, or your online or live events. Yes, there are a few people in each of those categories who are interested in those things, but not much.

The one exception here is readers do like author websites. They like to occasionally check in to see what you’re up to, what’s coming out, and any little extra goodies you might be offering. But as for any ongoing info like a blog, Facebook updates, Twitter, etc. –not so much.

After my mind stopped reeling, I thought about this. It makes sense. I only follow two author blogs of my very favorite writers. Honestly, most of the time I give their new posts a quick skim at best, and half the time if it doesn’t have anything to do with their newest book, I delete it immediately. While I have followed a number of authors on Twitter, I don’t ever look at their feeds. I think I might have clicked a Like button or two for an author’s Facebook page, but I’m quite certain I have never read an author’s status update. I’m a writer myself, and I don’t even care about these things. Why in the world would a reader? I am a busy person who is constantly inundated with media. What I really want from my authors is more books, not tweets.

So if all of this media we’ve been pouring our time into isn’t what makes a reader buy a book, then what does influence their purchasing decisions? RWA asked that, too.

  • 50% say they buy the book for the story
  • 19% for the author
  • The third biggest factor is the book is part of a series
  • Lastly is the back cover copy (Does anybody like those front covers?)

An author’s online presence isn’t completely for naught. It does help build name recognition and that hard to measure “buzz.”  The Google spiders learn who you are, and publishers always like that.  The problem is platform building has to eventually lead to hard sales.  RWA found some online influences that did lead to a book purchase:

  • Online bookseller websites (,, etc.)
  • Reading about it/seeing it online (I wish they’d given a bit more detail about what this means.)
  • Seeing it on a bestseller list
  • Author website

At this point you’re probably thinking, “That’s nice, Lara, but my readers are young and hip and possibly even male. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to me. I don’t write silly paperback romances.”

First of all, whatever you do, don’t ever insult a romance reader. Not only do romances make up a huge part of the publishing market, they are also some of the most loyal repeat buyers. That everyone should have fans like romance readers!

Secondly, are you are sure your readers are who you think they are? The other major study I found was by publishing market statistic guru Bowker. They also will let you download their 28 page report on the state of publishing for free. Want to know who buys the most books, ebooks or traditional?

College educated women over 30 making $50,000 a year or more. Specifically:

  • 60% of books are bought by women
  • 60% of books are bought by people educated to a degree level
  • 58% of books are bought by those making at least $50,000 a year or more
  • 69% of books are bought by those 30 or over, with 28% being 55+

So does any of this make you rethink how you spend your time? It certainly does for me. I’m still pondering what I’m going to do with my blog, but it is likely to go through some changes. The first one is that I’ll just be posting on Mondays. I’m forgoing the Thursday posts so I can have more time to work on my novel. Imagine that!  🙂

Author Platform: Don’t jump from it. I promise it will be okay.

With the exception of a rejection letter, it seems there is little else that strikes as much fear in the hearts of fiction writers as marketing themselves. I, too, share this phobia. In college I was originally a marketing major. Then I remembered I was an introvert.

One of the things I adore about being a writer is that I can lock myself in a room for hours surrounded by complete silence. I had envisioned occasionally emerging from my writing cave to get something published, maybe do a book tour, and that was it. Wrong. Can I just take a moment here to say I was getting really tired of being wrong?

New mantra: research first, write second. Say it with me now!

To say that the world of publishing has changed a lot in the last ten years is a drastic understatement. It’s along the same lines of Monty Python’s Black Knight insisting that his loss of several limbs is “Only a flesh wound!” (See it here.) Authors are expected to market themselves, period. They do this by establishing what the industry calls a platform.

There are a number of definitions floating around out there for platform, but simply put, it’s about growing your audience. Former publisher of Writer’s Digest Jane Friedman has a great summary article on platform. She emphasizes that it’s not just about begging people to like you on social media. It’s about being authentic and producing quality work.

To be fair, unlike not knowing how to write well or not knowing your market, you do not absolutely have to start working on platform before you start writing (unless you’re writing non-fiction). However, every time I ask someone when is the best time to start working on platform, the answer always is, “Yesterday.”

Platform is easily the trickiest part of getting published that I have had to face thus far. It just seems like such an overwhelming task. Hiding under the covers with my cat and chocolate ice cream really is the only way of coping. I can’t do the Twitter! Insert hysterical sobbing noises here.

carolina disgust

What’s a girl to do? First of all, I told myself to get a grip and stop scaring the cat. Then I did what I always do. I read. Christina Katz has written a very helpful how-to book called Get Known Before the Book Deal. It skews very heavily toward non-fiction writers, but there’s still a lot of great advice that can be transferred to those of us in fiction, too. I found, an amazing website dedicated to teaching authors how to grow their platform, blog, use social media effectively, and create websites. I’m also slowly making my way through the encyclopedia that is CopyBlogger.

I started a blog.  I now have a Twitter account. I announced both steps on Facebook. I’m going to an event at my local bookstore tonight. I broke out in hives. Just kidding! I survived. You will, too. I promise.

Up Next:  Traditional vs. Self Publishing, or, Playing Emotional Ping Pong