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Friday, October 16, 2015

TWITTER-pated, Part 1

I fought signing up for Twitter. I quickly developed a love for blogging and I’m addicted to Facebook and Pinterest. I even looked at Google+ and Goodreads on a regular basis. But, when it came to Twitter, I felt addlepated. Those @ and # symbols stopped me cold. I asked myself, how many times a day would my cell phone chirp with a notification of a new tweet?

Finally, enough author friends questioned why I wasn’t on Twitter to prompt me to look into it. Once I signed up, I realized there are a lot of similarities to other social media sites. There are pages of instructions and FAQs, but I focused only on what I needed to know to get around.

It didn’t take me long before I was hooked. Now I’m Twitter-pated.

The following is my far from being all-inclusive tutorial on effectively using Twitter. In other words, this is what I have discovered works for me.

Find the Sign Up and Log On screen at

If you don’t have an account, click on the Sign Up button, otherwise click on the Log In button.

If you are signing up for a new account, you will see a screen that looks like this. As part of the process you will need to choose a user name. That is where the @ symbol comes in. @ always precedes your user name, or Twitter name. In my case, I was fortunate that I could use @ZinaAbbott as my Twitter name. If your name is already taken, you may need to come up with something creative that is unique to you and will be easily identifiable to those searching for you. Because, once you get your Twitter account set up, you will want to search for people to Follow, and you hope they will Follow you back.

Just like many other social media sites, you can find the links to add your image and a banner. Look in the Help section for instructions. Or, do what I did and just feel your way around until you get it figured out.

Once you have your account going and have followed other tweeters, you may want to start sending out your own tweets. There are two places where you can easily start a tweet. One is by clicking on the blue box with a feather; the other is in the box below the blue bird and next to your image with the words What's happening?

I am going to compose a tweet about my novel, Family Secrets. There is a limit to the number of characters that can be fit into a tweet. Spaces and punctuation count as characters, so I use my periods and commas sparingly. When I want to add a hyperlink, I use a shortened version. 

There are instructions on Twitter how to use their hyperlink shortener. Personally, I have Bitly in my browser toolbar. I bring up another window and open Bitly for my hyperlinks. You can find Bitly at

Here is an example of a tweet using only words and a hyperlink connecting it to my purchase page on Amazon. 

Oops! There is a problem. It’s too long. I know because of two indicators: 1) the last several characters of the tweet are highlighted in pink, and 2) the numeral at the bottom next to the Tweet button is a negative number. If I tweet it as is, I will lose half my hyperlink.

I decide which part of the message will be the biggest attention-grabber and remove the rest. In addition to the message and the hyperlink, I decide to add some hashtags (#) to file this tweet into a category so I can easily find it again. In this case, I use the one for my name, #ZinaAbbott, and the one for my publisher, #FireStarPress. Notice that the red number at the bottom is positive, so the complete tweet will go through as it—with 10 characters to spare. This is a perfectly good tweet. If I am away from my computer and wish to use my cell to send a quick tweet, this will work.

However, in my opinion, this is not the most effective kind to tweet to send. I notice my eye tends to glide over tweets composed of only words without really reading them. Most often, the tweets that catch my eye are the ones that have an image attached.

Back to my tweet. I decide to add the book cover by clicking on the camera icon. Nothing has changed in the wording of my tweet, but my character allowance has dropped from 10 characters to spare to a minus 14. If I want to add the image, I need to trim the character count. 

I start by taking away any words that are not essential. Then I start trimming spaces and punctuation, and maybe rewording slightly to cut out a few letters. I work at it until I get it down to zero.

I click on the blue Tweet button, and here is my tweet. 

Because I used the hashtags, not only does my tweet show up on my home screen, but if I go up to the Search Twitter box and look for #FireStarPress, my tweet is there too. Same if I search for #ZinaAbbott.

Unless the person reading the tweet decides to make the effort to click on it to expand it, what I find to be more effective than a book cover which is half hidden is a twitter image shaped like a banner. Here is my tweet with much of the same message using an image that is completely visible on both the computer and the cell phone version of Twitter.

This is the end of Part 1 of TWITTER-pated, a brief tutorial on effectively using Twitter to market books. Part 2 will be on the PrairieRose Publications blog on Monday, October 19, 2015. You may access the blog by clicking HERE. On it I will include information on using hashtags, how to create twitter banners and how put together your visual images to go with your tweets quickly and easily.

For those readers who publish with Fire Star Press or Sundown Press, at the bottom of this post I have put what I call Twitter blanks with the logos which I have made for my own use. You are welcome to save these images to your own computer and use them for your tweets. 

On Monday I will add to the bottom of my post some Twitter blanks I put together for Prairie Rose Publications.

And the Twitter banner I will use to promote this blog post:


Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press.
The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
Please visit and follow the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

Zina Abbott Author Links:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Twitter


  1. This is AWESOME! I've avoided Twitter. Yes, I have an account. Yes, I occasionally TWEET - but I'm not real comfortable, and my photos are always too big, marking me a NEWB. Thanks so much! I look forward to part 2 and the PRP banners. I will use them, for sure!

    1. Glad I was of some help, Connie. I know where you are coming from because I wasn't there so long ago. I'll see you on Twitter.

  2. Thanks, Zina--I know some about Twitter, but don't use it very often. When I pull up Tweet from others, most seem like ads and sometimes SPAM...and nothing I really care about. But you have me more interested, so I'll read your next post and see what else I'm missing. I have not added images, so I can work on that. Good job.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Celia. I think adding images is the key. I try to make them eye-catching enough to prompt a follower to retweet. I know about that spam thing. Fortunately, it is possible to UN-follow those who upload 20-30 tweets at a time.

  3. A great tutorial Robyn!! You covered it all beautifully.

    1. Thank you, Kristy. I've enjoyed your tweets and learned from them. Retweeting is good.

  4. Thanks Robyn. This was very helpful information. I use twitter, but I'm not fond of it because of the use of symbols. I still don't understand how to make the image the way you did. It's quite possible I am just not techno oriented. LOL

    1. Tell me about it, Sarah. It took me longer to figure out and get used to that # and @ business than to start the account, add my portrait and banner. I have not even looked at what the groups are all about, but figured the other around enough to get by. Hopefully my next tutorial will expose a few more mysteries.