Category: Social Media

The best Twitter hashtags for authors

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If you’re a writer in this day and age, you’re probably on Twitter. And whether you’re an indie author or not, you probably want to do some of your own marketing.

Even if you’re already a social media expert, hashtags are super confusing. Googling for a list of “popular writing tags” or “book promotion hashtags” brings up hundreds of suggestions, and if you were to use all of them you wouldn’t have enough characters to say anything about your books at all. So how does one choose?

Well, I wrote down the top 40 that kept coming up in my searches and I used some online tools to examine which are actually being used. I hope that my research will be useful to others as well.  I also made a note of how many of these uses were retweets as retweets are important for marketing purposes. Essentially you want about a 50% split, to show that tweets using the hashtags are actually being shared and not just going into a void.

Below is a graph showing the amount of times a hashtag has been used in a week. The tool I was using had a limit of a maximum of 1,500 tweets, so the tags that hit the 1,500 line are actually used more than that. I’ve listed the hashtags alphabetically.

hashtags1 hashtags2

The top 10 hashtags

  1. #Storytelling
  2. #BookGiveaway
  3. #AmEditing
  4. #AmReading
  5. #AmWriting
  6. #FridayFreebies
  7. #Bookstagram
  8. #TeaserTuesday
  9. #WeNeedDiverseBooks
  10. #IndieAuthors

As with everything social media related, popular hashtags are very trends-based. What’s fashionable to use today, might fall away completely by this time next year. For instance #ReadWomen2016 only had 71 uses last week while #ReadWomen2014 was incredibly popular at the time. It’s important to keep experimenting.

Are there some hashtags you enjoy using and have had success with that I haven’t mentioned here? Please leave a note in the comments!

The Dragon Writers – Facebook Ads for Authors

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This article was originally posted on the Dragon Writers website

It’s the subject of much debate: are Facebook ads worth it for indie authors?

The answer is: it depends. You have to go in with a very specific strategy to make it work and even then it’s not always going to pay off. Unfortunately all marketing is a risk, but hopefully the advice below will help you reduce that risk.

I’m not going to take you through how to run ads on Facebook – there are loads and loads of tutorials for this. Rather, I’d like to jump right in with some strategic points.

When should I use Facebook advertising?

Use it as part of a general marketing campaign when you have a specific goal in mind.

  • Don’t use it to get more likes on your author page. People will respond to an ad when they’re going to get something out of it. The only people (who don’t already know your work and your genius) getting something out of liking your fan page are going to be spammers and they will dilute the reach of your posts to fans.
  • Don’t use it for general awareness about your books. Again, people are selfish and they won’t care that you – this author they’ve never heard about – has a book out unless they can get something out of it.

So use it when you’re running a promo of some kind: a reduced price, a freebie in celebration of a new release, free books in exchange for newsletter subscribers etc.

Go into it having a very clear idea of what a “win” is to you. I would recommend a win is either a conversion (purchase/download) or a number of website visits. “People who’ve seen the ad” is not really a win unless they were driven to do something when they saw it. And as already stated, randoms liking your page is not a win.

Also, consider running the ad for a short space of time. Do it for a day, then see how it’s performing and adjust. You don’t want any ads going that aren’t paying their way.

Who should I target?

The more specific you can get an ad, the cheaper it will be.

  • Through playing with custom audiences, you can target people who have visited your website or who subscribe to your mailing list.
  • Don’t discount sending ads to “people who like your page and their friends”. Due to the Facebook algorithm, not everyone who likes your Page will see all your posts and promotions unless you pay. Also, people tend to be friends with those similar to them, so it can be a way of reaching new readers.
  • Target based on interests – send ads to people who like books similar to yours. Bear in mind that a lot of Facebook’s understanding of “interests” is guesswork.
  • Target based on demographics. If you’re marketing a children’s book, display the ad to parents only. If you’re marketing an Afrikaans book, make sure only those who speak Afrikaans can see the ad. Where are your readers based? Where is the book set? Bear all this in mind to trim down your audience.

What should my ad look like?

Use an eye-catching visual that has NO text on it (You are allowed 20% text, so you can get away with your book title and text like that if you have to). You have 3 spaces to put text: the headline, the link blurb and the post text. Post text and headline display across all platforms, link blurb will only show up on desktop.

Most people will only read the headline text. So make that your priority!

Here are some specs to start with:

  • Image: No text, low contrast (because of Facebook’s compression algorithm), pretty, bright, emotive. Upload in PNG (again because of Facebook’s compression algorithm). Create as 1,200 x 628 (it will be down-scaled to half that size).
  • Headline: About 6 words, one of which is an action word.
  • Post text: Written coming from the page/you, in the voice of the page/you.
  • Link text: More info on what you’ve said in the headline.

Where should my ad go?

When creating the ad, you’ll get the option of where to display it. To save money I’ve found the following works:

  • Strip away the sidebar ads and the audience network – those don’t display well and no one clicks on them.
  • If you really want to budget, go for mobile newsfeed only. I’ve seen the majority of clicks coming from mobile for months now.
  • It’s up to you if you want to go for Instagram – do you think your book will appeal to the kind of person who uses Instagram?


Facebook has a tutorial on how to set up the Facebook pixel for showing conversions. So I’m not going to explain what a pixel is or a conversion is. What’s important is that when you want someone who comes through from an ad to take an action on your site, set up a confirmation page that is displayed to them once they’ve taken that action (like a “thank you for downloading” page).

You can instruct Facebook to tell you every time that page is displayed which will tell you how many times people have taken that action. This happens in real time, so you can measure your returns day-by-day and adjust accordingly.

If you find lots of people are visiting your site but not converting, it may be a sign to look at your website design and adjust that, not the ad, to make it easier for a person to follow through.

I hope this helps!

Categories: Articles Social Media


I just nuked my Twitter feed (here’s how you can do the same)


I logged on to Twitter today and saw the usual: a hodgepodge of bad news, entitled moaning and social issues I have no choice but to care about. In five minutes, I had nuked it all.

To say this decision came out of nowhere is not really fair. I’ve been speaking to Graham about how draining I’ve begun to find the social platform, then last week there were two pieces I read that started the cogs turning. This piece by Cassey. And then this one on Medium: “Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)“.

Twitter used to be my favourite place to hang out, but logging in had become the equivalent of walking into a very loud room, so loud that I was unable to hear myself think, then stumbling out feeling frazzled and grumpy. I think something that contributed to the problem was that I’ve changed industries so a lot of the shouting was just not relevant to me any more. Neither, I’m ashamed to say, were many of the people doing the shouting (I hadn’t spoken to some of them for over three years).

I put out a call into this very loud room for a weapon of mass destruction…

And someone came back with this link.

The option I went with was so incredibly simple that I didn’t have time to re-think the move.

  1. Go to your Following page on Twitter
  2. Scroll down to the bottom
  4. Go to the “console” tab
  5. Paste in: $(‘.button-text.unfollow-text’).trigger(‘click’);

And then everyone was unfollowed.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m pretty sure some of the people who I re-followed were offended, thinking that the entire time we’d been Twitter BFFs I’d been secretly not following them. I’m also sure I missed some people as my following list has gone from 900 odd to about 120.

But you know what? It is liberating. It’s that “I just cut all my hair off and now I feel so free” feeling.

Long may it last.


Categories: Social Media


Yes, Facebook is stalking you

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The first time my mom experienced “remarketing”, she almost had a heart attack.

She had been on a website a few hours before, looking at a specific product she wanted to buy for someone’s birthday, and then she went on to Facebook and that exact same product was sitting in an advert on her screen.

There was genuine fear in her eyes as she turned to ask me what was happening. At the time I was a bit sketchy on the details, but I explained to her that there wasn’t really a Big Brother watching her. At least not in the sense of a dystopian superpower waiting to query her choice of gifts.

But how does it actually work?

Tracking your movements

Facebook is one of many services in this day and age that give users a piece of code they can put on their own sites to report what people are doing there. This code is called a “pixel” or a “web bug”.  Whenever a user lands on that site, the pixel downloads information from a server (in this case Facebook). When it downloads that information, it’s also giving a bit of information to the server. Usually that information is something as simple as “Hi, I am downloading this info on this page”. Though of course, this all happens in computer language.

So there isn’t a Big Brother sitting actually watching what you’re doing. This is a great explanation of the more technical aspects.

As an advertiser

Facebook gives you the code to put on your site. Then you can “create an audience” of all the people who have visited a particular page and market to them. If you’re interested in doing this yourself, Jon Loomer has a nice step-by-step.

You can also create a Facebook audience made up of existing clients by uploading a list of their email addresses.

Perhaps the best way to understand how this works in practise is reading this amusing story of how someone played an epic prank on his roommate by creating an audience of one and marketing to it.

No conspiracy 

Remarketing is only one method of narrowing down who you target through Facebook advertising. If you want to see why you’re being show specific ads, a fun exercise is to go to the drop down arrow on the top right of a post (in News Feed) or the x (on a side-bar ad) and click on “why am I seeing this ad?” Here are some examples of ads that appeared on my Facebook feed today:


Ad targeted thanks to a remarketing pixel



Ad targeted by interest




Ad targeted by client list




If you’re still not comfortable with this whole thing, going to “why am I seeing this ad?” also lets you opt-out of seeing ads based on websites and apps. This is also an easy way of setting your ad preferences so you’re more likely to be shown stuff you’re actually interested in buying.

Comment if you have any questions ^_^ .


Social media character limits for statuses and captions

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All social media platforms have character limits when you’re writing statuses (or captions). Most of them have two limits – one for the overall post, and one before followers will see a “read more” tag or an ellipsis (…) prompting them to click to see the rest.

I found it quite difficult to find a list of when statuses are cut off. So I did some research and made this infographic based on the best information I had available.

I’ve included the limits for the most popular platforms of 2015 in order of popularity: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterst, Google+, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Feel free to share on your own website, I’d appreciate a link back and if you’d drop me a comment to let me know where you’re using it.

I hope you find it useful.