Do Twitter followers really matter when trying to get published?
When you are looking to find an agent or publisher, how concerned should you be with social media? Do Twitter followers really matter? Many publishing professionals will tell you that all that matters is the quality of your book. We all know this isn’t true because most decisions are made based on the topic and genre rules of a book before the quality is even judged. Just look at the hashtag #mswl.
But once the topic seems intriging and the book meets basic rules for word count and focus, then the actual writing comes into play. We could talk about that all day, but this post is about the next consideration. You know all agents and publishers will google you, right? The first thing they look at is social media. So don’t say anything too crazy! Assuming you are fairly normal, it is the size of your network they talk about the most.
This 2011 article in the Huffington Post shows how important publishers thought Twitter was back then, but is this still the case in 2016? Do Twitter followers really matter in the age of constantly shifting social media platforms? I will say that the publishing community uses Twitter more than any other social media platform. Facebook is a close second.
I have heard some agents say that Twitter follows don’t matter, but many small publishers say that they do. I drew my conclusions more from actions than from words. I did this by looking at the submission forms of a few small presses who accept unagented submissions online. Several small press sites actually ask for the number of Twitter followers on their submission forms. I am not going to name them, because I want all of us small press publishers to stick together. They might see this as negative attention.
So Why Do They Think It Matters?
There is a good reason they ask this though. A lot of small presses look at the number of Twitter followers to try to determine how many books the author will sell. They do this because there really isn’t a lot to go by to estimate this and maybe Twitter is the best you got. Another thing they don’t ask, but you should be aware of, is the ratio of followers to followed. Ideally you should have more followers than people you follow. This is supposed to mean you generate content that people like, but it could always just mean that you unfollowed a lot of people the day before and they just haven’t unfollowed back yet. There are now so many ways to generate artificial follows. Because of this, I believe the number of followers will soon carry less weight.
There is some merit to the assumption that if someone is active on social media assuming that they will be more active in selling their book online. But, I don’t believe there is a direct difference between someone with one hundred followers and someone with four hundred followers. Most people are not going to buy a book because of a Tweet from a stranger. On the other hand, they may already want to buy someone’s book and just be reminded because of the Tweet. So the number of Twitter followers doesn’t really matter unless it represents people with whom the author regularly communicates. Ideally, the list includes people they communicate with offline as well.
So What Do I Do Now?
So grow your networks organically, follow your friends, and really talk to people. Don’t worry too much about the number of followers. You should know that one hundred goods connections are better than a thousand strangers. If you write non-fiction, concentrate on getting readers to your blog. This shows people are interested in your content more than a Twitter follow does.
One way to grow your network organically–Tweet meanful content while using these hashtags.