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Top 5 Twitter tips for children's book authors and illustrators

Consolidate, make it visual, and share the love—Kids Can Press gives their advice on how to use Twitter.  

kidscan_logo.jpg 1. Ask yourself why you want to use social media, particularly Twitter. Presumably it's to build an audience for your children's book(s), so you'll want to find your target audience. Any children's publisher will tell you that moms are the major purchasers of children's books, and a quick search for "mom bloggers" will start you off on the right track. Most will also be on Twitter, so follow the ones who post regularly about books, retweet or favourite any of their tweets that interest you, and most likely you'll start building a following. Follow your favourite children's authors and illustrators, children's book publishers, bookstores, libraries and individual librarians, too. Build your own community of like-minded folks. Keep in mind, though, that if you're creating children's books, you might want to consider keeping a separate social media stream for this audience—these followers may not be as appreciative of your witty, risque, politically charged or intoxicated tweets as your best buddies are.

2. Consolidate—it's not just for debt. If you're on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social sites, consider linking them to your Twitter feed. Your tweets can be fed to your blog, and your Facebook posts can simultaneously appear on your Twitter feed. This is particularly useful if you have regular readers of your blog who aren't on Facebook or Twitter. And it just makes sense. But if your Facebook page is strictly "friends only" you may not want to activate this feature.

3. Make it visual—especially if you create children's picture books. Post images from the books as often as you can, or of what you're currently working on. One of our favourite children's book blogs is Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, because there are so many visuals. We try to do the same whenever we post something on Facebook or Twitter about one of our books—and it's even better if it's video. Create a simple video, or post a link to a fan-created one, as the Brothers Leung did to a librarian's video interpretation of one of their books. They get to promote themselves while giving props to one of their fans/followers. Which brings us to the next two tips...

4. Share the love. Sure, you're hoping people will learn about your books and your artwork and hopefully buy them, but no one wants to read about you all the time. So take the opportunity to highlight the work of your friends or someone you've just discovered. Congratulate other authors and illustrators for new works, great reviews or award nominations or wins. What goes around comes around. And if you get fan mail from your readers, ask them if you can share it online—take a photo and post it. If you find something that interests you, share it—most likely your followers will also find it interesting.

5. Promote yourself—it is, after all the reason why you're on Twitter (as laid out in Tip #1). But be gentle on your followers. Yes, it's absolutely acceptable to toot your own horn, but do so sparingly. Share those great reviews or any media that you get by posting links to them and make sure to thank the reviewer, interviewer or producer (that goes a long way). And if you have a shatterproof ego, post the odd bad review too, and watch your friends and followers come to your defense. It goes without saying, but post all the events that you're going to, even if you aren't doing a presentation or a reading. And if it is your reading or book launch or party, then be sure to create an event on Facebook and invite friends and share through all your social streams. And then do a follow-up with great  photos from the event. Ensure those who missed it come to the next one!

-Michaela Cornell, Kids Can Press, @kidscanpress

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