Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Nuances of #SampleSunday

If you're a writer who posts on Twitter (and believe me, you should be) and you haven't checked out #SampleSunday, I recommend it. If you're a reader on Twitter, it's a great way to introduce yourself to a variety of new authors.

Typically, authors who use the #SampleSunday hashtag link their tweet to a portion of their work available online. This eliminates the need for the reader to download a file or "sample" through your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. So, if you have an opening chapter or just a piece of your work posted to a blog or website, or some other repository, you can drive traffic to it using this very simple tag. If you're looking for a network that might help you spread the word, there's usually a thread devoted to #SampleSunday over on the Writers' Cafe at Just make sure to follow the rules wherever you may go. I'm constantly amazed at the folks who "join", but don't provide the necessary info. Let's take a look at a properly formatted #SampleSunday tweet that I've written for my novel:

#SampleSunday Ever wanted a twin? How 'bout on your back porch with a gun to ur head. MULTIPLES OF SIX @andyraneauthor

If you're posting this to a forum, where others will copy and paste it as a tweet, do them a favor and add in "RT" at the beginning. Remember, a tweet can only be 140 characters long. Use them wisely. Start with the tag #SampleSunday. Don't use doesn't mean the same thing. Next, create a hook for your book. It's gotta be short, so choose your words carefully. Try not to use too many shortened words or abbreviations. You've got one chance to get someone to read your tweet. If they have to sit there and try and decipher what you've written, you've already lost. Also, avoid talking about the book as if it's yours (eg, I, mine, my). If someone else tweets this, they'll have to revise it, or it'll sound a bit funny. Next comes the title of your book. Hopefully, it's not too long. This will obviously affect the length of the remainder of your tweet. Twitter handle (eg, @joeauthor) is next. Very important if you want to know who tweets this or retweets it. Then, add a link to wherever your sample is. Mine links directly back to the sample on this blog (which can be found in the tabs at the top of the page). I suggest using for shortening your links and tracking their use. It's free to use, and you can reuse the same shortened links over and over again. It's one thing to send out a tweet with a link you hope gets used. It's another to see that someone has actually clicked on it. Finally, if you stil have some room (you might!), add another tag that describes your book. Perhaps #suspense or #thriller or #paranormal or #kindle or #nook, etc. Try out different approaches. You may find a particular combination of hook and tags brings in more clicks.

So, get out there and give Sample Sunday a try. What's the worst that could happen? If you try it, be sure to come back and let me know what you think. If you're a #SampleSunday seasoned scribe (say that 5 times fast), feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions I might have missed. :-D