How Twitter propelled a republished book up the Kindle charts

Jon Reed is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Publishing Talk, and author of Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing. Follow him at @jonreed.

Sometimes the important connections on Twitter are with other authors. Especially if those authors are Neil Gaiman and William Gibson.

Amazing things can happen on Twitter if you catch the eye of an ‘influencer’ or two.

Sarah Salway’s Something Beginning With was first published in 2004. Although it had a blog, this was in the days before Twitter, Facebook, and the huge word of mouth possible to achieve with them.

In November 2010  it was republished by the Friday Project. Within a week, it went from nowhere to the top 250 in the Kindle charts. How did this happen?

When Something Beginning With became available again as part of the Friday Project’s “Library of Lost Books”, publisher Scott Pack blogged about it on The Bookseller site, and Sarah Salway blogged about how lucky she felt to get a second chance.

Then author Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) tweeted about it to his 1.5m followers, pushing it up to 500 in the Kindle charts. Another tweeter called @GreatDismal – otherwise known as the author William Gibson – said he was taking it and another of Sarah’s books on holiday with him. Other tweeters picked up on this, including @gardenmonkey and @Danoosha.

The perfect example of how social marketing can help word of mouth.

Sarah says: “From nothing, not even being in shops, the book went to top 250 in kindle charts. I have been offered interviews, book club readings, articles etc. It feels it is the perfect example of how social marketing can help word of mouth like this.”

This may not have been a deliberate strategy – more luck,  serendipity, and happenstance. But it would never have happened had Sarah not been on Twitter, and had there not been a couple of blog posts to tweet about. A presence on social media creates the conditions for such unexpected possibilities. You never know quite where it might lead you – or how quickly.

Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway has gone Top 500 on Amazon Kindle since Neil Gaiman tweeted about it this morning.
@fridayproject
Friday Project
I am about to take Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway on vacation. Also, her Getting The Picture.
@GreatDismal
William Gibson
Happiest twitter day ever - now up to top 250 (http://tinyurl.com/2dfgu5s). Yay! Thanks @, @, and all for support.
@sarahsalway
sarahsalway

Twitter somehow makes people friendlier.

Social networking isn’t just about marketing, though – it’s also purely social. Sarah tells Publishing Talk: “I use Twitter to keep up with other writers and creatives, meet new writers and readers, find good new links. But also because it makes me laugh. I found the UK gardening writers quite quickly and I love them. I have also found a creative hub locally I wasn’t aware of and kept in touch with contacts I might have lost otherwise. Through Twitter I have been asked to write articles and give readings. As I am shy in ‘real world’ it has been great at book parties as I have a ready made group to gravitate to and we all have something to talk about. But professionally I have to say the advantage of using Twitter is getting the attention of writers such as Neil Gaiman and William Gibson who I would never normally cross paths with. Twitter somehow makes people friendlier.”

Sarah Salway’s Top Twitter Tips

  1. Establish some kind of regular routine, as well as your random tweets. I put up a writing prompt every weekday morning and get really good feedback on this. It helps keep me tweeting when I might have given up.
  2. Enjoy it. If you are always networking and trying to impress it’s boring. I’ve been on virtual coach trips with gardeners, exchanged a day long game of consequences, and numerous jokes that make me laugh out loud still.
  3. Treat the character count as an exercise. It will help focus your narrative elsewhere.
  4. Follow some of your heroes. I’ve done this with writers I admire and, without fail, have been amazed at their amazing self-discipline and passion. It’s inspiring to see it on a day-to-day basis.
  5. Be generous. Share links, support, and knowledge.

Find more case studies and Twitter advice in The Publishing Talk Guide to Twitter

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http://twitter.com/#!/GreatDismal/status/3865820933390336
I am about to take Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway on vacation. Also, her Getting The Picture.
@GreatDismal
William Gibson

About Jon Reed

Jon Reed is a writer, lecturer and social media trainer. He is the author of Get Up to Speed With Online Marketing (2nd edition, Pearson, 2013) and The Publishing Talk Guide to Twitter. He runs the social media consultancy Reed Media, providing training and workshops on social media marketing. He previously worked in publishing for 10 years, including as publishing director for McGraw-Hill. He launched Publishing Talk in 2007. More about Publishing Talk...

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2 Responses to How Twitter propelled a republished book up the Kindle charts

  1. Tobias Steed says:

    Thank you for a very good example of how social networking can help undiscovered titles. It would be interesting to see how print sales were effected as well. We’ve got a few undiscovered titles @canofworms feel free to follow us. Happy 2011.

  2. Ben says:

    Very interesting. I’ve just recently started trying to use Twitter for promoting my series of stories for Miscorrection on Kindle. I found some minor success this week and I continue to adapt my approach and see what works. This article has given me some good insight. Thanks a bunch!