So What’s My Verdict on Twitter – Is It a Useful Tool for Writers?

My friend Leslie ( asked her readers earlier in May to write something in 160 characters. She challenged: “What can you do in 160 characters? A story surely not! I have titles longer than 160 characters for goodness sake.”

Leslie’s a poet, so I playfully sent her an email to ask if 160 characters had become a new form of Haiku. What writer can resist a challenge?  My response:

“Must say it 140 characters on Twitter. Leslie’s poet challenge 160. Ironic, no? Poets typically use fewer words 2 convey more meaning now want 20 more to do so!”

160 characters is a luxury one doesn’t have on Twitter. Although Twitter limits users to 140 characters, if someone wants their message retweeted (RT) they need to reduce their character limit further generally to less than 150 characters.

A good deal can be said within the confines of 140 characters. With the right message and what amounts to an Internet version of the kids’ game Telephone (where the first kid whispers a message into the ear of the kid next to him, who then whispers the message into the next kid’s ear, etc.) a writer has what appears to be a boundless audience. The caveat, as I have mentioned in my earlier posts, is that because of the massive amount of scam, spam, and garbage Tweets the likelihood that a tweet is read is small.

Assuming a tweet is read, how much value is it likely to produce for the writer? That depends on what you goal is. A writer who hopes Twitter will significantly increase sales is likely to be disappointed.  I can state unequivocally that in my first four months of using Twitter, it has resulted in an insignificant number of sales. However, some of the connections I’ve made have been worthwhile. There is a possibility down the road that some of these will become golden.

Early on, I was so focused on building my Twitter following that I had little time to attend to emails, phone calls and other, what I refer to as, old-fashioned networking. Sales plummeted. The lesson for me was that Twitter is a tool, but only ONE tool. Other tools I need to employ are Facebook, a variety of other social media platforms like Digg and Reddit, blogs, emails and more traditional means of getting the word out.

In my next post I will begin a discussion of Facebook. I have asked a SM coach to assist. However, before I end my thoughts about Twitter I want to make a disclaimer. My four posts on Twitter are based on my desire to promote a non-fiction book. I am looking for the best way to spread the word about my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. I am aiming at national distribution, and sales well beyond those commonly cited for an indie author and publisher.

I don’t think Twitter would affect sales much different if I were trying to market my book locally, I had written fiction, or the subject matter was about something other than women’s search for identity, self-esteem and happiness. What would change would be the mix of the social media and traditional tools I chose to use. Keep reading. I’ll cover these in future posts. In the meantime:

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on

Click to Living in the Heartland video preview to see stories of inspirational women.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland



Filed under Amazon, blog, book, cost, digital, distribution, good read, indie writer, media, Pamela Ferris-Olson, publishing, self-publishing, social media, statistics, success, Twitter

6 responses to “So What’s My Verdict on Twitter – Is It a Useful Tool for Writers?

  1. moondustwriter

    Oh goodness my name is on their I guess I will have to tweet and amplify and…..

    Love ya

    • Pam

      Tweet and Amplify to your heart’s content! Though Twitter hasn’t resulted in many book sales it has brought me good friends such as you 🙂

      I want to find or coin a word to describe our kind of friendship. It is more than acquaintance. Pen pal doesn’t seem correct either. Got any suggestions Madame Poet?

  2. I think in today’s world when you market anything, you need to try any and all avenues that you have access to. Great tips and pointers here.

    • Pam

      Glad you found the post interesting. It’s ironic that platforms such as Twitter which use 140 characters, and are simple to generate and send can be so time consuming. While I agree that writers need to employ as many avenues as they can the result translates into lots of time and effort. And, that means less work writing. As they say in Spanish: Asi es la vida. (Such is life).

  3. Hi Pam!

    Loving all the insight you are bringing to this topic! Social media is decidedly a long term proposition. In the long run, it brings great rewards, such as the friendships you mentioned.

    I recently collaborated on a blog post with someone I met online, which generated immediate business! So cool.

    So you are going to have an S&M coach talk about Facebook? LOL!

    Great work my friend!

    Mentor Mama

    • Pam

      Appreciate the kind words. I am looking forward to featuring your post on Facebook. It should have been up by now but lack of Internet – first because of travel and now because of lightning – has postponed the release. Good things, however, are worth waiting for 🙂 I’m going to take a detour from social media after that to relate what I learned from experts in NYC about publishing.

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