Twitter for authors? Absolutely. It’s the hottest social media for authors. And if you are an aspiring author, you need to be there now. Don’t wait until your book comes out. Build a following and gather momentum so you can make an impact upon launching your book.

Crowdsourcing information, promoting your book, connecting with other writers—you can do it all with a few taps of the keyboard! Here, we speak with author Cathy Turney on how authors can use Twitter strategically to enhance your presence, reach more readers and sell books!

Getting Started: The First Steps to Authoring a Twitter Book Tweet This

Charlotte: What inspired you to write Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers? Is this a system you’ve been developing until you could write about it? Or did inspiration to author a book about Twitter come at a specific moment?

author Cathy Turney writes about Twitter

Author Cathy Turney

Cathy: I actually wasn’t planning to write about building my Twitter following. But I was at a Women’s National Book Association get-together where we went around the room telling about our current projects and as I was describing my next real estate book, the president said, “Tell us about how you got 10,000 Twitter followers—that’s what we want to hear about!” And everyone said, “Yes!”

Charlotte: You start the book off with a challenge to readers – the Race to the Top Challenge. I’ve never seen anything like that in a book! What made you think to include a challenge in your book? How do you think this makes readers engage differently with your book? What do you think is the benefit of including a contest?

Cathy: Authors are advised to put free bonuses in their books to attract more buyers. I didn’t have any bonuses! Everyone loves a contest, so I thought if I could come up with a contest, that would work. Then my book coach, Lisa Tener, told me about Tamara Monosoff’s strategy for putting free offers up front: Amazon’s “Look Inside” only looks at the first few pages (and others that they select), so I put it in the front where everyone who “Looked Inside” would be sure to see it—vs. at the back of the book where they most certainly would not see it. Once the winners for this contest have placed, I plan to offer additional contests – to keep engagement up.

The Writing Process: Showing, Not Telling

Charlotte: Can you tell us about your writing process? How did this process look both long-term and day to day? Did you have to do any outside research before writing this book? Or did it all come from firsthand experience?

Cathy: Ha! My research consisted of buying books about Twitter and being so lost and confused (because I’m a right brain creative, technophobic Luddite) that I just had to figure it out myself. They’d tell me what to do but they didn’t show me. And they were all over the place with no focus. It was torture.

My writing process. This book was not as fun to write as the last two. Through so much of it I had to tell myself, “Just sit here and do this. It won’t get done if you don’t.” I knew what I did every day to gather my flock (which only takes 5 to 10 minutes a day, which is the beauty of this system), but I had not been keeping detailed notes about how I got from A to Z. I had, though, been keeping a log of how many followers I gained each day, how many people I followed, and words that I used to engage a response.

So when I decided to write the book I created a dummy account and started all over, notating each step and including screen shots, because you really have to show people how to do Twitter, otherwise it’s just too confusing (for many of us). Lots of wannabe tweeters think oh, all I have to know about Twitter is hashtags, the @ symbol, and web links, and that’s all there is to it. And then they get frustrated when they try to actually do something on Twitter.

Charlotte: The book gives readers highly informational step by step instructions, down to the smallest detail. But it also interjects with humorous little quips throughout! How did you find the balance in your writing between highly informational and funny and personable? How do you think writing that way helps readers?

Cathy: The detail and how-to were crucial—after all, that’s why I wrote the book—to spare others the torture I went through trying to just make Twitter work, for Pete’s sake! As I mentioned, a lot of humor is born from suffering, and sometimes I just had to laugh at the ridiculousness of stuff I encountered with Twitter. And it was really fun thinking up bird analogies—is that the right word?! My amazing editor, Cynthia Rubin, hasn’t reviewed this!

Finding a Compelling Title

Charlotte: How did you come up with (or create) your book title?

Cathy: I was so excited about solving everyone’s Twitter challenge but my original title did not convey that. Lisa Tener waved her wand and tweaked my attempt:  “How to Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly Ethically” to the more active “Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly, Ethically.

Step-by-Step: You Can Do It!”

By dropping the “How to,” she made it dynamic. Adding “Step-by-Step: You Can Do It!” tells readers  that the process will be laid out for them, that it’s doable, and provides encouragement. Lisa made the title pop!

See why I’d never write a book without her coaching?!

Looking Back: Comparing First Books to New Books

Charlotte: You’ve written a couple other books previously and been published in other magazines and outlets. Did you find yourself using the same writing style and voice as in your previous books? Or did you develop a voice specific to Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers? If you did develop a specific voice, why? And how did it develop?

Cathy: Voice. Ah… Well, you know I refer to Lisa Tener as the goddess of voice! My real estate book was very snarky, and I was hesitant to put that voice out there (I mean, I am in a service industry and it could turn a lot of people off). Lisa loved the humor and tweaked that manuscript to the point where it was “socially palatable” and freed me to write in that sardonic style. That book, though, was a humorous exposé on the real estate sales business, more “creative nonfiction.” Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers… is not so much a narrative as it is a how-to, a manual. But much humor is born of suffering, and the humor could not be avoided!

Charlotte: Your first book, Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success, won quite a few awards. Can you tell us a bit about that experience and what awards you won? What about this book do you think made it so successful and award-worthy? Did you try to replicate those aspects in Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers?

a humorous business bookCathy: It won the American Business Awards Gold Stevie for best business book of 2015 and the International Business Awards Silver Stevie for best business book of 2015. I’ve also won some humor writing contests. I think what made Laugh Your Way successful is that all the “lessons” were delivered as true stories from my 25+ years as a real estate broker. I had a lot to unload! It was very cathartic! And it’s funny—not a “serious” business book. I imagine by the time the judges got to my entry (we submitted at the 11th hour), they were ready for some humor.

Charlotte: Did writing Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success give you any new insight into your real estate practice?

Cathy: Insight into my real estate practice…I think it reminded me of how important it is to find the humor in even the toughest situation. Humor, to a large degree, diffuses stress and bonds clients to you.

Twitter for Authors: Publishing for the Tech Era Tweet This

Charlotte: Why did you choose to focus on Twitter specifically when authoring this book? Do you think the tips you share in the book are specific to Twitter only? Or can authors use this advice to enhance their other social media like Facebook and Instagram?

Cathy: Oh, marvelous question! As I wrote in the About This Book section, what does anyone with a product or service to promote need? A way into millions of minds, hearts, and pocketbooks. What did the 2016 U.S. presidential election teach us? That Twitter is the way into millions of minds, hearts, and pocketbooks.

Twitter is the easiest, fastest, least expensive way to promote your product. Absolutely! All the other prominent social media platforms make you pay to promote yourself. You can’t do much of anything on LinkedIn without paying them a membership fee, and Facebook really makes you put all your business on a “page” (vs. a “profile” – don’t you love the confusing terminology?) which, depending on how much you pay them, they will push your page in friends’ feeds (or not).

Twitter does not charge to belong, and you can target thousands of likely buyers of your product with just a hashtag search. Plus, it takes forever to “make friends” on Facebook, whereas with Twitter it’s simple to get dozens of targeted “friends” every day. And they don’t demand anywhere near the level of engagement that the other social media platforms’ participants do. The consensus among people who use Twitter the right way is that it leaves the others in the dust.

The actual “how-to”s are for Twitter only. But advice I give about setting up your banner or masthead works great for any other social media platform on which you have a banner.

Charlotte: 10,000 Twitter Followers was published both softcover and as an electronic version. I’ve never seen a book published like an electronic tutorial, and it sounds so cool! Can you tell us about the electronic version – what it includes, how you read it, how the reader interacts with it? Why did you decide to publish the book like this? You also recommend that people buy both the softcover and e-book versions of Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers. Why do you recommend that? How do you think having both versions benefits readers?

Cathy: Most books about social media are e-books for two reasons: (1) traditional publishers aren’t keen on the idea of publishing them because they can’t turn them around as quickly as the technology changes, and (2) most social media books are self-published and the electronic format is less expensive to produce.

I hesitated to advise readers to buy both books because it sounds self-serving. But when I was trying to understand other authors’ Twitter books (which were all e-book format only) it would have been so helpful to have had a print manual that I could refer to when I changed screens to actually go to Twitter, the program, to try things out and see for myself. Unless you’re capable of doing a split screen on your computer (which I am not; remember, I’m a technophobic Luddite), you can’t have the e-book open at the same time you have Twitter open.

The other reason is that if someone purchases the print book only, he won’t see the colors which make it a lot easier to decipher Tweets. A third reason stems from my awareness that few people actually take notes as they’re studying an online book, and the print book is effectively a crib sheet. I was uncomfortable telling readers that they should consider buying both books because I didn’t want to look “salesy,” If I could have produced the print book in color, I would have, but the cost was prohibitive.

Backtracking a bit on why I wrote this book, I did it because I couldn’t understand anybody else’s instructions! So I had to figure it out myself. People heard I’d gotten thousands of followers and it only took me 5-10 minutes a day (after spending three months figuring it out), and they figured if Cathy (a right-brain, technophobe) could do it so could they and they wanted me to tell them how. And I thought, oh yay! Others can benefit from my suffering! So I wrote the book.

Charlotte: Lisa Tener mentioned that you had some challenges with getting the screen sharing images to work with Amazon Kindle. Can you share what the challenges were and what you learned from it? Any tips about working with e-books and Kindle, in particular?

Cathy: Let me preface this by saying that you can hire someone (for a reasonable fee) to format your manuscript into electronic (Kindle) format, and  I highly recommend that. The way Amazon converts your CreateSpace book to the screen is nothing like what you submit because it’s being formatted to fit a  small screen. I had seen a number of  Kindle books that I wondered why the author didn’t edit them better. Well, now I know—Amazon did the conversion.

I hired a professional to upload my book to the Kindle platform and he, even, had a challenge—I use strike throughs as a humor device, and the strike throughs were not showing up well. We tried several possible solutions and arrived at one. But I know Amazon would not have dealt well with it. And they’d have charged me a lot more for “re-do”s.

My tip is to have a professional do this part of the self-publishing process for you.

Other unforeseen challenges: I had my roll-out planned and then learned that Amazon takes up to 2 weeks to put the “Look Inside” feature up. You really should wait for that to appear because many, many people won’t buy a book unless they can look inside. And you should try to synchronize the publication date for your print book to coincide with the electronic book release because lots of people will want one or the other and won’t think, “Oh, there’s an electronic version coming.” And they might not buy your book.

A tip: It’s a rare writer who can do it all him/herself. Especially for your first venture into self-publishing, work with someone who can guide you through the whole process, from start to finish. Like Lisa!

Between the Pages: Know Your Readers!

Charlotte: Who did you envision as your target audience for this book? Did you expect people to come in with no Twitter experience at all? Or did you envision your readers having some amount of understanding?

twitter for authorsCathy: The target audience for this book is anyone with a product or service to sell because having a large Twitter following makes you “relevant,” that thousands of others want to hear what you have to say. If you’re a writer, publishers want to know what your platform is. Big Twitter numbers seriously impress them. If you have a service to promote, say real estate, you can impress potential clients with your knowledge through links to helpful websites and information.

Additionally, apropos of targeting, Twitter has become the de facto news source for many issues today, and more and more people want to know how to understand a tweet and where to find the news they’re seeking.

Part I of the book (there are three parts) assumes little or no knowledge of Twitter. It goes into great detail about how to interpret tweets and how to set up your own Twitter page/profile. When I began, I was even confused by those things, and I assume that many people who want to be on Twitter are confused there, too. Part II goes into great detail about how to set up and use the three easy (and inexpensive) programs to use every day to gain followers. Part III is for those who get comfortable with Parts I and II and want to take Twitter a bit farther. But it’s not necessary to do the things in Part III to get 10,000+ followers easily, quickly, and ethically.

Charlotte: What did you do in your writing to target and engage that audience you envisioned? Did you use specific tone, vocabulary, images, content, etc?

Cathy: Yes – all of the above! The tone is empathetic and humorous. Vocabulary – simple and bird-analogy-oriented. Images – tons of images! Content – it’s highly instructional. Really, it’s a manual that reads more entertainingly than a manual.

Authors: Using Twitter to Promote Your Book

Charlotte: In this day and age, just about everyone has a Twitter account, including authors. What do you think are the benefits for writers or soon-to-be writers to engage on Twitter?

Cathy: You’re right—almost everyone has a Twitter account because they’ve been told they should! But typically, they have under 500 followers and don’t know how to build that in a minimal amount of time (daily and over months), or what to do with the followers they do have to be effective.

With a high follower rate they look “relevant” and can target the audience they need to promote their writing.

Charlotte: How can writers specifically use it to further or enhance a career? Do you think it will soon be (or already is) necessary for an author to be on Twitter and other social media to succeed? If so, why?

Cathy: Yes, because that’s where so many people find you and it’s much less expensive than traditional marketing. Plus, you can set it up so it’s automatic.

Charlotte: What are some things you are doing to promote this book?

Cathy: I have two webinars as a guest presenter in the works, I’ll be blasting it out on Twitter (and Facebook, but you know how I feel about FB), a MailChimp promotion to my whole email database and a list of 5,000 Realtors, and I hope to speak at some writers’ groups.

Charlotte: Is it different from how you promoted your other books? How are you using Twitter specifically to promote the book?

Cathy: Yes! I hadn’t embraced Twitter before, and this audience has much greater breadth than a real estate book has. I’ll be sending targeted tweets about the book (remembering the 80/20 rule, whereby you market your product only 20% of the time) and doing “tweet chats” (where you let everyone know ahead of time that you’ll be tweeting using a particular hashtag at a particular time so they can join in and discuss the topic).

Charlotte: Lisa Tener tells me you worked with beta readers, many of them her clients, aspring authors who “desperately need to grow their platforms, particularly social media in order to reach their readers. And those aspiring authors who want to attract a traditional book deal especially need to be active on Twitter and grow their following.” Lisa said that her clients are loving the book and that it’s helped many of them demystify Twitter and make much quicker progress. What is some exciting feedback you’ve received from Beta readers? Is the feedback you received this time different from feedback you received for your previous books? If so, how?

Cathy: Lisa is an angel and is always thinking of ways to help her friends and clients. When she finishes coaching a book, it doesn’t end! If she sees two people who, together, could produce some synergy, she brings them together. She’s such a great matchmaker. I’ve heard back from a number of her readers who have given me very constructive advice—especially where to clarify things better—and I’ve incorporated many of their suggestions in revisions of the manuscript. My favorite feedback came from Rusty Shelton (who, I knew, indulged me because of my connection with Lisa). His testimonial is on the back cover of my book:

Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly, Ethically is one of the best books on building a Twitter audience that I have ever read. I’ll be recommending this must-have guide to our clients for years to come.

–Rusty Shelton, best-selling author and founder of the award-winning marketing agency Shelton Interactive

Charlotte: How can our readers reach you?

Cathy: Best way is to email and put Twitter Book in the subject line—I won’t miss that! Other places:


Twitter: My handle is @CathyTurneyLafs

Facebook: Cathy Turney

Cathy Turney is an avowed technophobe who knew that if she didn’t conquer Twitter, it would conquer her. She is also an award-winning humor journalist and recipient of the American Business Awards Gold Stevie for her book Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Success and is managing partner at Better Homes Realty in Walnut Creek, California. 

In a previous interview on this website, you can read about Cathy’s previous book and How to Write Humor for Business Audiences.

Cathy sweated bullets making Twitter work and evangelizes about the easy method she discovered for amassing followers in her third self-published book Get 10,000+ Twitter Followers—Easily, Quickly, Ethically.


4 Responses to Twitter for Authors: An Interview with Cathy Turney

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