The Twitter Experiment: First Stages

In my last post, The Twitter Experiment: Can I Increase My Following on Twitter and Sell More Books Than I’ve Imagined, I shared about three books I’d put together to come up with a promotion method that would a) find my audience for my books and b) draw thousands of them to myself via Twitter.

What I didn’t share was the method. As I’ve said before, I’ve done a lot of work on this and all of you are free to buy these books (listed below) and see the method(s) yourself, but here is the method overview:

  • Register at and open an account
  • Go to Twitter and select a person who writes or reads what you are writing–your target audience. (You surmise this from their Twitter bio.)
  • Go to and click on “Follow Teeps,” then “User’s Followers.”
  • Put their @name in the window and click “Start Following.” Don’t worry, you won’t automatically follow them, it will just take you to the follower list.
  • There is a “follow” button beside each name. Decide which follower you want to follow and click accordingly.
  • After you have an increase in followers, you relate with, nurture, and grow your audience. (Particulars are found in John Locke’s book, but you don’t have to buy it. I talk about this in another post.)

Because Twitter allows you to follow up to 1,000 a day, the numbers can add up fast. The goal is not to follow a lot of people, but to get them to reciprocate and follow you!

If you get the Platinum version of Tweepi, you can see each person’s bio and can decide from that who to follow.  But that’s time consuming. Right now, I plan to follow the females because I write for women.

There is a free version of Tweepi, and I suggest you start with that until you figure out what you need. The paid-for versions have their perks, like forcing someone to unfollow you when they have an abandoned account, but start out with the free and then decide what you really need.

The Platinum version allows you to search the list according to your specifications. I put in “new adult,” “SciFi” and “Mystery.” I also did another search for “Christian.”

Again, for details to this method I recommend reading the books I suggested in my previous post.

What I’ve done so far…

What I’ve done so far is make lists of people I either want to follow, want to glean from their followers list, or both. Soon I will input these people’s names into Tweepi and will start following up to 1,000 a day.

Perusing Twitter for possible good matches (your target audience) is a good start. I’ll let you know what happens when I start adding these people as followers!

Stay tuned for more, and remember that these books have more details than what I’m giving you here, so it will help you to read them!

Follow me, Denise Miller Holmes, on Twitter!

Follow Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild on Twitter!

The Twitter Experiment 1;  The Twitter Experiment 3;  The Twitter Experiment 4


The Twitter Experiment: Can I Increase My Following on Twitter and Sell More Books Than I’ve Imagined?

The marketing technique I’m about to share with you should apply to fiction or non-fiction, self- or traditionally published.

I have two works-in-progress (WIPs)–one fiction and one non-fiction.  They will be self-published, after being edited to high heaven and approved by beta readers.

But, I’m discouraged. The book-marketing experts tell us that our first books will not sell well because we haven’t developed a large-enough following. I say “large-enough” because even if we build a platform before we publish, it usually isn’t enough for a new author to sell many books.

What is supposed to happen, the experts say, is that our audience builds with each blog post, each speaking engagement, and each book. When we have a fat backlist, our newest book sells all the rest to new fans.

But, all this takes time!

I believe in building a platform. I don’t care if it takes time–except when it comes to my first few books. To think that my first few books won’t sell as well as they deserve because my audience is so small, makes me cry. And, it discourages me to finish them because I’m writing them so people can hear the message (and be entertained while receiving it, of course!).

Little audience, little impact.

I know there are Christians dying to tell me that it’s the Lord’s message and He will impact who He wants…blah blah blah. Yes, but I don’t want to hide my light under a bushel. So, I think there is some responsibility on my part to do what I can to increase my audience.

I am happy to say that after much whining, I have found three books that have given me hope. They all focus on the use of Twitter to boost your sales.  The choice is Twitter because Twitter’s limits for followers are HIGH. Facebook is effective for some, but they limit followers on your personal page. Twitter does not, if you do it right.

Putting these three books together,  a two-step process emerges: 1) you increase your Twitter followers by thousands and then 2) you go about the relational business of Twitter: retweets, @replies, promoting other people’s work, and launching your book via Twitter. (John Locke’s book will be used primarily for this part, but see my disclaimer here.)

Thing is, Step 2 is ineffective until you do Step 1. And yes, I said thousands.

The reason huge numbers are important is only a small percentage of your audience/followers will buy your book, even if they are like minded. In direct sales books, they tell you that a direct mailing, when sent out to the general public, will only garner a 1% positive response.

But what if you only send your mail piece to everyone in your city that LOVES the kind of thing you’re selling, and have bought things like that before? The response will be a whopping 10% percent! (Insert sarcasm mark here.)

Thus, pumping your numbers up high is important AND you need to make sure those numbers are people who would reasonably buy your book (have somehow demonstrated that they like what you’re selling.)

The three books that I used to cobble together this method are all ebooks, so if you really want to try this you’ll have to get yourself a Kindle or other ereader. I have mine on my Kindle. Here are the titles:

(The John Locke book doesn’t cover the quick-add method, but does talk about how you handle your followers once you get them. Again, see my disclaimer here.)

For those of you who are thinking Cool, we get permission to spam, uh, NO. And for those of who who are thinking, Stay away from this, it’s spam, absolutely not!

This is not about spamming people. It’s about getting real followers who like what you like and may very well want to buy your book! The only thing I’ll be experimenting with is speeding up what before was a very slow process. Hallelujah, there’s hope!

In a couple days, I will post Part II of this and give an overview of the method I stuck together from these three books and how it’s worked for me so far.  I will not give away every single detail, I’ve done some real work on this, but I will give you enough to get you started, and if you read the three books above (and maybe even more) you may find you can tweak my method to suit your own way of thinking and doing things.

Talk to you soon!

Follow me, Denise Miller Holmes, on Twitter!

Follow Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild on Twitter!

The Twitter Experiment 2; The Twitter Experiment 3; The Twitter Experiment 4


Just Do It: Make a Plan and Stick to It

I had an epiphany over the summer: I was tired of not finishing my projects, and I was lamenting my blogs that lay derelict along the roadside.

How could I change things?  I saw two things that I could do immediately that would revive my writing and make sure I finished my projects. Here they are:

Make a Plan

As soon as I realized my problem, I made an inventory of all my writing projects and blogs. There are a lot. I also had to add writing lessons for my writers group –at least one a month.

Whew. The list looked daunting, but before I caved to feeling overwhelmed, I saw one bright dot on the horizon–I could make a schedule.

Okay, for some people that’s a no-brainer, but I had gotten out of the habit of scheduling my time, and was letting life take over. I felt like I was just putting out fires.

Books, short stories, and blogs do not write themselves. You must plan them.

In order to make yourself feel like you can breathe, make sure you make a schedule that allows you to accomplish your goals for that day.  In other words, don’t over-pack your time. Give yourself realistic goals for each day.

In that vein, when you work your schedule, pay attention to what feels like too much. For instance, I found out that on several of my blogs, weekly blogging made me feel overextended, so I’ve reduced one blog  to twice a month and one to once a month. The main blog I will write for weekly.

So feel free to test your plan, but once it’s right, stick to it like tar on a roof.

Write First Thing in the Morning!

I read an article over the weekend about what successful people do first thing. First of all, statistically, successful people get up early. It’s just a fact. The next thing they do is exercise. And the next thing they do is…work. They start right away tackling their projects.

Now here’s an important detail–what successful people don’t do when they first get up is check their emails or Facebook or Twitter. They delay those tasks and instead they work on their projects!

I see why this makes people successful. Those other things are time suckers that take away the time we can be writing. And yet, when I make sure I write first and delay emails/Facebook until later, I somehow get my writing done and all the emails and Facebook tasks as well.

Just Do It!

Both the above points together say one thing: make your writing a priority. If you don’t, it won’t happen. As writers, we all need to combat the mystical force of Resistance, sit our butts in our chair, and quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard when he said, “Make it so!”

The Power of the Verbal Business Card, Part 1

Savvy Writer Article #1202 by DENISE MILLER HOLMES

Wherever you go, as a writer you need to promote yourself. You will especially need to promote when you are  engaging editors and agents at conferences. ALWAYS be ready to tell people what you do as a writer–and keep it to thirty seconds or less.

A dynamite way to do this is with a verbal business card. It’s very much like the “elevator pitch” you practice for your books, but it’s about you.

When asked what they do, most writers say, “I am a writer,” or, “I write romance novels,” or “I write historical non-fiction,” etc.  This response is somewhat interesting, but it doesn’t  grab. Proponents of the verbal business card say that you need to hook the listener, much like you hook the reader at the beginning of a novel.

Here is what a VBC does–it discards bland verbs like “I write” or “I am” and uses exciting verbs instead such as build, craft, teach, inform, manage, design, construct, generate, train, guide, establish, mentor, regulate, develop, structure, organize, etc.

The reason these verbs work better is they are verbs used to describe what authorities do. Teachers are authorities in our society. People who construct and train and design and regulate all have authority. Writers? Not so much. :D

Notice how much more powerful these statements are than “I am a writer”:

“I craft futuristic mystery stories that inform readers about social issues in an entertaining way.”

“I teach people who hate gardening how to care for their gardens in five easy steps  so they have more time to enjoy Life.”

If you are a Christian writer, here are more examples:

“I inform Christian women through my romance novels about God’s love, so they can find a deeper happiness.”

“I design materials for Sunday schools that helps primary-school-age children understand how to have a walk with God.”

“I teach teenagers about history through non-fiction that emphasizes the biblical worldview so they make constructive decisions.”

There are two more things we need to look at when writing a VBC–specificity and benefit.  These will be covered in Part 2.

If you enjoyed this article, you will also like Market YOU Before Your Book: A Lesson in Passive Marketing

Market YOU Before Your Book: A Lesson in Passive Marketing

Savvy Writer Article #1201 by DENISE MILLER HOLMES

BAD NEWS. You’ve been told  publishing houses don’t market books anymore, they expect the author to do it.  A feeling of being overwhelmed envelops you as you ponder the new career you must add on to your writing–marketing. Typically, you handle this by learning how to market your books and your books alone. But a new wisdom is here. Writers need to market themselves before they ever market their books.

This is problematic for you. As a typical writer, you have a terrible time getting out there and letting people see you. What you want is to push your book in front of your face and say, “Don’t look at me. See this fabulous book and buy it. It wrote itself.”

But, the biggest authors get their names out there FIRST, before they ever have a book.

Passive Marketing is about doing things that get your name (and later, your products) out there in the public eye without overtly asking for the sale. It includes things such as distributing business cards (yes, a writer should have a business card); speaking to organizations; filling out profiles for Yahoo, Google, Blogger, and any place that asks; a professional head shot to put on your blog, your business cards, and your profiles; writing a blog; and actively presenting yourself on Facebook and Twitter, and, if you ghostwrite or speak–LinkedIn.

Please don’t think these things are a waste of time. They are very powerful. But, they are only the first step. You HAVE to get your name and presence out there in the public eye, or any active marketing you do later will fall flat. Of all the things listed above, I think speaking is the most powerful.

Overcoming your resistance to being SEEN is probably the hardest obstacle for you the writer to conquer. You may go through tough denial. You may think that you will be the one who writes the book that becomes the bestseller the minute it hits the shelves. It won’t happen!

But, you can choose to conquer your fear of being out there. When you do, the world will open to you.

If you like this article, you may also like The Power of the Verbal Business Card, Part I because a VBC is a vital part of Passive Marketing.

This article is similar to one published in Denise Miller Holmes author blog  Writing Adventures– Passive Marketing Lesson for January 17th Writers’ Guild.

Does Your Plot Have a Theme?

Savvy Writer Article #1103  By DENISE MILLER HOLMES

Of all the elements of fiction, theme is the one least understood. It feels intangible, and gets easily lost when a writer plots.

But, theme is the very foundation of plot, so if you begin to push your characters around in order to make an exciting plot without regard for theme, you are in danger of losing the cohesiveness of your story.

Simply put, theme is the moral of the story. Your plot must tell a tale that demonstrates that moral or the reader will be confused.

For instance, the theme of the movie The Patriot starring Mel Gibson is you don’t have to be ruthless to fight a war and win. If you check out the plot, it demonstrates this theme from beginning to end.

The film’s opening scene has Benjamin Martin’s voice saying “I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.” This fear, we find out in the opening sequence, came about because Benjamin fought a previous war ruthlessly. He feels so guilty about it,  he is now a pacifist.

But the current war pulls him in. If he is to save his family, he must fight. He begins by fighting with abandon, until his sons confront him and teach him he can fight with honor.

He struggles with this new moral truth. Toward the end, he is tempted to withdraw from the fight. He is filled with anger at the death of his son. He  believes that God is punishing him for past ruthlessness and that he must go back to pacifism. But he has a great epiphany…it is good to fight. His son fought. His son fought fairly. He son would want him to fight.

So he takes up arms and joins in the strategic battle against the British, and fights with honor. And thus, he wins the battle. He is a changed man—a man who gave up his flaw to realize a new way.

Does your plot support your theme? Remember, the character flaw, the false belief, the back story, the current inner struggle of your main character, and your plot, must reflect a moral premise. If not, your story isn’t a story, it’s just a plot.

Logline: What it Is and How to Write One

Savvy Writer Article #1102 By DENISE MILLER HOLMES

A logline is a one-sentence description of your story idea. You use it to both help you focus on the story you are writing as well as to pitch the idea to publishers, agents, and the like. Steven Spielberg likes it less than 25 words, and that’s what is usually done.

The first question the logline answers is, Who are the protagonist (hero) and antagonist (villain)?

In the case of Star Wars, the hero is Luke (a farm boy in a distant galaxy) and the villain is the evil empire. Darth Vader (a powerful sorcerer) is also the villain, and he represents the evil empire.

Then we have to ask, What is the goal of the hero? For Luke, the goal is to prevent Darth Vader and the evil empire from gaining more power and to reestablish the republic.

What is the goal of the villain?—to complete the takeover of the empire with the evil Syth in control.

Okay, so we see the conflict of the story. Now we have to implement some rules.

  • Don’t use character names in your logline, tell the character’s role or title instead. (a farm boy, a princess, a housewife, a businessman)
  • Describe your hero and villain (add adjectives)
  • Communicate the setting, the time frame (if applicable), and the genre.
  • Choose conflict that’s emotionally charged (Blake Snyder, in Save the Cat, recommends irony.)
  • Use present tense
  • Tell the setup only. Leave the conclusion a mystery

A strong-willed farm boy must become a warrior in order to join a rebellion against an evil galactic empire and its powerful sorcerer. ~Star Wars

Let’s break it down:

Farm-boy—tells his role but not his name

Strong-willed—gives just enough character description to understand that the empire is in for a fight and that our hero is flawed.

Warrior—another role the hero plays in the story, and this tells us there’s action.

Empire—that’s the bigger, social villain.

Evil—for this story, labeling the empire “evil” is enough. For another story, you would use a more specific adjective to describe the villain. You might contrast the adjective for the hero with the adjective for the villain, for instance, to show why there is conflict.

Galactic—lets us know it’s not an earth empire, like Ancient Rome, but a huge empire that involves many planets and people.  This also helps us know the genre, Science Fiction.

Sorcerer—this is the personal villain, and it also shows us that besides being SciFi, there’s a touch of fantasy, or magical realism, however you see it. There is also great contrast between the hero (a farm boy, who is a neophyte in “the force”) and a powerful sorcerer.

The conflict is emotionally charged because we have a farm-boy coming up against an evil empire. The stakes are high and the odds are against him.  This logline promises us an intense action-adventure science fiction story!

Here are more loglines:

Legally Blonde—A ditzy-blonde, California sorority president, dumped by her Harvard-Law-School boyfriend, leaves California and fights to succeed at Harvard Law to prove she is worthy of him. 

Pretty Woman—A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.  (quoted in Save the Cat by Blake Snyder)  I might add an adjective for both “businessman” and “hooker,” but this is fine without it because there is such an obvious conflict/contrast between a businessman and a hooker.

Terminator—An ordinary waitress fights the attacks of an obsessed time-traveling robot who is trying to kill her because her future son will lead the resistance against the violent robotic rulers. (Yes, it’s a little long)

Remember that only you and the person to whom you are pitching will see your one-sentence summary. If it gives away some of the story, it’s okay. The reader/viewer never will see it.

Blake Snyder recommends being a “slave” to your logline because it keeps you on track while writing. If you want to make a major change, go back and work it out as a one-sentence summary.

What a short description like this does is strip down the story to its bare minimum. It allows you to see the plot conflict and if there is enough contrast between the hero and the villain. Before you write or change your plot, work it out as a logline to see if your story works.


You may also like: Deepening Story Conflict with a Clash of Values.