Tweet THIS, Not That! 12 Things Not to do on Twitter

This Week Twitter rolled out its new "mute" function for mobile phones. Muting will soon be available on all devices including your PC. That means you'll be able to mute anybody who tweets too often or annoys you with spam. 

So it will be more important than ever to avoid annoying your Tweeps. 

Here's some straight talk on the subject from Molly Greene, social media guru, blog coach, mystery novelist, and author of the handbook Blog It! The Author's Guide to Building an Online Brand.

I've learned a ton from reading her blog, so I was jazzed that she agreed to come to visit and tell us how to behave ourselves on Twitter.

And in case you think these are just "suggestions," pay attention to what Molly says about the Twitter Terms of Service. If you mis-use Twitter, your account may be suspended and you'll lose all your followers and have to start again from scratch. 

I've seen some of those "How I Made Millions with Kindle" books that tell authors to do all of the things Molly warns against. Keep in mind those books were based on successes in 2007-09 when ebooks were new and Twitter wasn't overrun with indie authors and marketers. What worked then has been so overdone, it doesn't work any more. And could get you suspended. 

Remember the first commandment of social media etiquette: Thou Shalt Not Spam. Short version: if it annoys you when it's done to you, it's spam. Spam isn't defined by what you can get away with; it's defined by how it makes your target feel...Anne

Tweet THIS, Not That!

by Molly Greene

If you’ve spent much time on Twitter, you’re probably already aware that all kinds of people hang out there. Authors, spammers, celebrities, ranters, self-help advocates, you name it. All sorts of folk hawking their products and services jostle shoulders in our feeds. 

It reminds me of eavesdropping on a thousand conversations all at once. And it’s easy to pick out personalities from a few simple tweets, because true character shines through. Am I right? 

Think of that next time you compose a 140-character sound bite.

Unfortunately, members of the self-publishing industry are notorious for utilizing aggressive book sale tactics on the platform. Every day authors jump onto TweetDeck and Hootsuite and program in a million tweets to try and sell their books – and often, this very practice is offered up to clients by book marketing consultants and social media experts who claim to be “in the know.”

I’m here today to refute that claim. While it’s perfectly acceptable to tweet a certain number of self-promotional messages, it’s not okay to tweet that promo directly to others. Unfortunately, I get a least one @mention a day from someone who isn’t following me, yet insists I buy their book and RT the message. Here are a couple of recent examples:

·       @mollygreene From Parochial School to the VC-infested jungles of Vietnam, recounts my experiences in UNIFORMS SF! #RT
·       @mollygreene “Remember TEN-B. Throat, Eyes, Nose and Balls. 1 day your life might depend on it.” THE MACHAIR CROW at
·       @mollygreene Special #BookBub #99cents Feature -Post Pattern on sale today! #amreading #kindle #RT

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that I don’t believe these authors understand that this behavior is irritating – and spam to boot. 

And the tweets are nearly worthless, since marketing your book solely to other authors is a no-win game. (Especially an author who's not even in your genre! Send me tweets about heavy-duty gore and violence, and it's an automatic unfollow...Anne.)

Twitter is not a direct-sale platform, and Twitter rules call foul:

 “If you send large numbers of unsolicited @replies or @mentions in an aggressive attempt to bring attention to a service or link.” ...Twitter Terms of Service

That means repeatedly tweeting or DM-ing a demand for others to visit your blog (instead of simply providing links to valuable content), like your Facebook page (rather than simply providing value in your posts), or buy your books is not only deeply annoying, it can get your Twitter account suspended.

Examples of tweets you should NEVER send:

1.  Thanks for the follow @suesmith! Visit my Facebook page (or blog) and like me (or subscribe) there, too: www.bloglink oh, and buy my book! 

2. Thanks for the follow! You can read all about me here: bloglink 

3. Looking for a great read @suesmith? Buy my book: 

4. Free today! #Free #Kindle #eBook #Giveaway #YoullLoveIt #BestNovelEver #MustRead #RT 

5. nice blog post @suesmith, now here’s mine – read and retweet: www.bloglink 

6. Why did you block me @suesmith? 

7. @suesmith just unfollowed me 

8. Hi @suesmith! I just followed you – follow me back now 

9. [Insert] angry rant about any event, person (including literary agents!), situation, or disappointment 

10. [Insert] unsolicited, sarcastic, buttinsky comment about my profile, tweet, blog post or conversation with another tweep 

11. [Insert any all-encompassing message in all caps] HI EVERYONE! HOW ARE YOU? HAPPY MONDAY, TWITTERVERSE! 

12. [Insert any horribly mis-spelled message] I no your gong to luv my buk!

All these behaviors will just irritate folks or get you blocked. 

So why are these types of messages a drag to read on Twitter? Because spamming with strings of hashtags, tweeting about who has unfollowed you, begging for retweets, bragging about your social authority, demanding follows, insisting people pay attention to your books, Facebook page, or blog content … all this is about you.

What should you do instead?

It’s easy to tell people what they’re doing wrong, harder to advise about what is right. But if you look at Twitter like you look at life, you’ll see that the same rules apply. 

Twitter works best when you put others first. 

How? Be a giver, not a taker. Be a resource. 

1. Tweet valuable content that will be of interest to your targeted followers. 

2. Add to the conversation by reaching out and complimenting others on the content they share. 

3. Shine the light on others. Then your fans and followers may flatter you by sharing your links and content with their own followers.

4. Thank those generous followers by sharing the RT love.

If you don’t have anything nice to tweet, don’t tweet anything at all

You are going to come across people on Twitter you won’t particularly like or admire. They might even pick a fight with you, challenge your position on something, hurl insults or badger or stalk you. 

In short, you’ll meet a small percentage of folks who hide behind social media and spew offensive things. Take the high road. Do not engage them. Do not add fuel to their fire by responding or adding to the drama. 

DO NOT retweet their unkind remarks in hopes others will take notice and come to your aid.


Apply the 80/20 rule for self-promotion

Nobody’s saying you can’t self-promote or share sale links to your books on Twitter. 

But if your feed is over-weighted with calls to purchase your goods, be forewarned that followers will grow weary of your spiel and unfollow you. 

The 80/20 rule applies: post 80% helpful content + RTs of your follower’s content + personal, “live” convos with others, and use the remaining 20% for self-promotion.

Readers, what do you love and hate about Twitter? How do you feel about auto DMs, crabby tweets, and aggressive book sale tactics? How do you balance interaction and self-promotion on social media?

Molly Greene is a blogger and author of Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand, and the Gen Delacourt Mystery series, which includes Mark of the LoonRapunzel, and Paint Me Gone. She blogs about her life and self-publishing topics at and she spends time on Twitter  (@mollygreene) • Facebook and Google+  Stop by and say hello!


PS from Anne: This week I found another helpful tip for writers using Twitter. If you're aiming for a traditional publishing career and you're submitting to agents, the hashtag #MSWL can be a great short-cut to finding the right agents to query.

#MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List. Agents tweet what they're looking for (and sometimes what they're tired of) so you can get a peek into the minds of those agents you're so carefully researching. (You are researching carefully before querying, right?) Here's an overview of the #MSWL community from DS Mosier on the Publishing Cohorts blog.

Other Twitter hashtags for queriers are #querytip and #askagent. But DO NOT send book promos for a manuscript or self-published book with those hashtags. Seriously, when I checked the hashtag right now, I saw a bunch of tweets that looked just like Molly's "Twitter Don'ts"! Mostly that stuff gets ignored, but some agent just might see your tweet and remember you. Not in a good way. 

Coming up on the blog

June 8th: Nina Badzin: social media expert and freelance writer: regular contributor to Brain, ChildKveller, and the HuffPo.

June 22: Nathan Bransford: Yes. That Nathan Bransford (squee!) Blog god, former agent, children's author, and author of How to Write a Novel.

July 20th: Janice Hardy: host of Fiction University and bestselling YA author. Repped by uber-agent Kristen Nelson.

August 10th Jami Gold: editor, writing teacher, award-winning paranormal romance author, and awesome blogger.

September 14th Barbara Silkstone: bestselling indie author and owner of the Second Act Cafe.

And of course NYT million-seller Ruth Harris will continue her information-packed posts on the last Sunday of each month. 


Molly Greene's great blog guide for authors is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA , Kobo, and Nook

Blog It! The Author's Guide to Building a Successful Online Brand by Molly Greene

"Molly's book taught me so much. When I read it, I was pretty much blogged out. I'd said everything I had to say about the art and craft of writing and publishing. But Molly re-energized me with her concrete solutions for bloggers in need of new topics. I had to stop reading to jot down ideas for posts, that's how fast this book works.

Blog It! is easy to follow and packed with pertinent information. Molly gives clear, concise instructions for beginning bloggers and those of us in need of a blog-lift. I'd recommend this book to any blogger, from seasoned pro to newbie to not quite there yet."...Cynthia Harrison

and also...


Due to a weird glitch, Anne's funny mystery SHERWOOD LTD. is FREE right now on Amazon US. (I'm not sure if it's free in other countries, since they don't show the price) It climbed to the top 200 free books over the weekend: #3 in Humor and #21 in Romantic Comedy. So if you haven't read #3 in Camilla's misadventures (great to read as a stand-alone) and you want a fun summer read, grab it while it's free. My publisher is working on restoring the price, but he has no idea when it will go back up to $3.99

Camilla's hilarious misadventures with merry band of  outlaw indie publishers in the English Midlands, where she falls for a self-styled Robin Hood who may or may not be trying to kill her.

"Good Manners for Bad Times author Camilla Randall (Dr. Manners) could use a publisher, or, at least, the cash advance from a publisher. Currently broke and homeless, she would welcome opportunity knocking on her nonexistent door. Eventually it does. Sort of. From across the Atlantic, the upscale pornography press, Sherwood, Limited, is looking to become respectable. Free residency in their Lincolnshire factory is included. How can any well mannered person decline?" ...Kathleen Keena


Amazon’s literary journal Day One is seeking submissions. According to Carmen Johnson, Day One’s editor, the litzine is looking for “fresh and compelling short fiction and poetry by emerging writers.” This includes stories that are less than 20,000 words by authors that have never been published, and poems by poets who have never published before. To submit works, writers/poets can email their work as a word document, along with a brief description and author bio to dayone-submissions

Drue Heinz Literature Prize for a collection of short fiction and/or novellas. Prize of $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Author must have been previously published in print journals. Deadline June 30.

The Saturday Evening Post "Celebrate America" Short fiction contest. $10 ENTRY FEE. The winning story will be published in the Jan/Feb 2015 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, and the author will receive a $500 payment. Five runners-up will each receive a $100 cash payment and will also have their stories published online. Stories must be between 1,500 and 5,000 words in. All stories must be previously unpublished (excluding personal websites and blogs). Deadline July 1.

WRITERS VILLAGE SUMMER SHORT FICTION CONTEST $24 ENTRY FEE. $4,800 First prize. Second prize $800, third prize $400 and 15 runner up prizes of $80. The top 50 contestants also get a free critique of their stories. Judges include Lawrence Block, a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, and Jill Dawson, Orange and Whitbread-shortlisted author of eight novels. Winning stories showcased online. Any genre of fiction may be submitted up to 3,000 words, except playscripts and poetry. Entries are welcomed world-wide. Deadline June 30.

The Golden Quill Awards: Entry fee $15. Two categories: Short fiction/memoir (1000 words) and Poetry (40 lines max) $750 1st prize, $400 2nd prize in each category. Sponsored by the SLO Nightwriters and the Central Coast Writers Conference. Deadline June 30th.

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