How to sell a book on Twitter… Click-bait title much?

So I’ve been doing this publishing thing for a few years now, and I’ve racked up a nice little bevy of sales and whatnot. Not super big numbers, but enough that I feel like I have a handle on what’s going on. I keep seeing this oft-repeated idea that “You can’t sell books on Twitter” and I look at them and go, “Really? I do it all the time.”

So I thought I’d blog about my observations. Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary. 

Observation #1: It’s all about the soft-sell, baby.

Soft-selling is the idea that you create relationships first, then convert those to sales. Instead of approaching someone and throwing your book in their face…

Get to know them as a human being.

Think about this way: when you’re just starting out, the majority of people who buy your book are probably friends and family, like Great Aunt Sally. Sally may not dig space pirates, but you’re a great kid, and she wants to support you.

Take that same idea and apply it to a book blogger or a reader. If they like you as a person, they’re more willing to take a chance on your unknown book. Whether they like it or not is another story, because #subjectivity. But if you’ve written a great, well-edited, well-designed book, there’s a good chance they might like it.

Observation #2: Let them do the talking

The other aspect of soft-selling is the idea that other people need to sell your book for you. There’s nothing that sets my ick meter off faster than when a Twitter follower asks for book recommendations and some rand-o author chimes in with “MY BOOK!”

To be fair, I’ve done this a few times, but I still felt icky.

What I want to get to is that when someone mentions, “I’m looking for a fun sci-fi book,” then someone else pops up with, “Have you checked out Razia? It’s sooooooo good!” (Side note: It soooo is)

One of the best ways to get to this point is to send ARCs to book reviewers and bloggers. And one of the best ways to get to know these fabulous humans, and, by extension, demonstrate that you aren’t a complete weirdo, is Observation #1.

Observation #3: You never* sell on first blush

*There are exceptions to this rule, like price promotions, free books (which are their own animal), and straight-up luck, but generally, this has been my experience.

If you look at traditional publishers, they begin the process of building “buzz” around a book up to two years before it even comes out. In some cases *coughtruthwitchcough* it’s overkill, and nobody wants to even look at the damned book, let alone buy it when it comes out.

But, done right, the idea works. People don’t always whip out their credit cards when they see a book advertised. They file it in their memory bank of all the other books they see on Twitter. But seen enough from a number of different people (See Observation #2), they might be swayed to plop down their credit card.


Look, I get it, it’s easy to create a pretty Twitter ad. And you know what? The first twenty times, it might get you some clicks. But three hundred times in a row, there’s a bit of a diminishing return. Trust me, I’ve tried it. I’ve tried it with my publisher twitter too, and it didn’t work there.

So what are you supposed to do? Be creative. Come up with a bunch of different fun ways to talk about your book. Yes, it’s hard. But if you wanted easy, go bake a cake in your easy bake oven.

Observation #4: This doesn’t happen overnight

It’s really easy for someone with 49k twitter followers to talk about how he’s on Twitter to hang out and have friends, and not sell books. Never mind the fact that he regularly discusses his books and the bad reviews he gets, and his mentions are filled with people talking about how they’re buying his book because of his Twitter, which he regularly retweets.


Soft-selling takes time. Turning readers from “Yea, she’s okay” to “YOU HAVE TO READ EVERYTHING SHE PENS” takes time. Convincing people why your book is worth their $10 takes time.

But if you keep at it, keep soft-selling, growing your relationships, and, most importantly, writing more books, then I guarantee that you’ll start to see an uptick in your sales.

And you will definitely sell a book on Twitter.