Whether you are currently celebrating the release of your first or your fifth book, the plan for promoting your work may not greatly differ from other marketing endeavors. These days, you have the advantage of reaching a wide audience in a short amount of time through social media. With a Twitter account, you can inform followers of your latest book, and hopefully encourage viral word of mouth. What you do not want to do, though, is abuse the network to the point that you turn off more Twitter users than attract readers.

As with anything you promote on Twitter, there are do’s and don’ts to which one must adhere. What you send out to your network could make the difference between netting a sale and getting a public reprimand. Here are a few tips to consider where Twitter “netiquette” is concerned.

1) Avoid direct mentions to Twitter users for selling your book. If you note on your Twitter profile that you are author, one can guess you will spend time promoting your work via the medium. Regular tweeting about your successes and challenges, and the occasional sale link, are not likely to bother followers – they choose to follow your stream, so they should know what to expect. When you get to the point of contacting followers, and even people not following you, not only do mutual followers become plagued with your stream of sales pitches gumming up their feeds, but you risk irritating those on the receiving end of your ads.

2) Don’t hijack a hashtag. Hashtags in Twitter are sometimes more prized than a good handle. Look on billboards or advertisements for television shows, and you’ll see a Twitter hashtag shown in place of the actual handle used. This is because marketers see the value in tags and know that people use them when discussing important and/or popular topics. You may think it’s a good idea to adopt a hashtag to promote your work, but you definitely want to research whether or not the tag you have in mind is already in heavy use. Some people may find it offensive if you try to ride on coattails by prefixing your tweets with an unrelated tag.

3) Keep your feed updated, and tweet to people rather than at them. Using your Twitter account to constantly shotgun news and links to the ether will eventually produce bored followers. If you want to nurture your following, stay social and talk to people through Twitter. Respond to tweets, re-tweet interesting posts, and thank people who re-tweet you. You’ll find that as people realize a human being is behind your account, they will be more apt to follow.

Twitter etiquette is important in your book’s promotion. Use it wisely to develop interest in your work and in your brand.

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author, freelance editor, and social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and Facebook marketing. Clients include Fairfax personal injury lawyers, self-publishing services, Virginia health care services, Norfolk Realtors, global trade portals, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns.