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Monday, October 19, 2015

TWITTER-pated, Part 2

This is my second completely unofficial tutorial on using Twitter. These ideas are what works for me. If you haven’t read TWITTER- pated– Part 1 which was posted on the Fire Star Press blog on October 16, 2015, you may access it by clicking HERE.

In Part 1, I touched on hashtags  (#). I put a hashtag in front of FireStarPress – all one word with no spaces – to “file” the tweet under that name. I do the same with Prairie Rose Publications. It is the same concept as using tag words. When I send out tweets, I add one or two #hashtags, usually my author name and the blog name. This serves two purposes:

  • Followers can click on my hashtags and see not only the tweet they are currently reading, but all other tweets under that hashtags. 
  • I can find my own tweets. This is especially helpful when I want to reuse a tweet without having to retype and look up the shortened link. I can copy and paste the text of the tweet and find my twitter banner that goes with it and upload it with the media button.


My previous tweets that also include #FireStarPress in the message will also be there. I can go back into any of those hashtag accounts and find all my tweets. The same is true for all my tweets with #PrairieRosePublications.
Here is the issue with using hashtags. If you use acronyms to keep it short, such as #PRP for Prairie Rose Publications, you will find all manner of tweets on all manner of topics that have nothing to do with Prairie Rose Publications under that hashtag designation – Peel Regional Police, health care facilities referring to platelet rich plasma, and pre run poop, just to name a few. I tried all manner of abbreviations for Fire Star Press, Prairie Rose Publications and Sundown Press. The tweets get so lost in what is already there that the point of using the hashtag is negated. So, I have discovered it is just best to use the following:

  • #PrairieRosePub or #PrairieRosePublications for Prairie Rose Publications. I’ve been spelling out the full name, but #PrairieRosePub is shorter and no one else seems to be using it for now. It allows for a few more letters in a tweet. It will be effective until such time as a drinking establishment or some other entity joins that hashtag. Then we need to share or move to the longer name.

  • #FireStarPress for Fire Star Press 
  • #SundownPress for Sundown Press

I haven’t composed any tweets for the other imprints for this publisher. For those who do, I would avoid joining a hashtag category that features a myriad of other businesses and categories other than book publishing.

Using a hashtag for my author name allows me to see all the tweets I have made whether they are for my own blog, publisher blog, purchase link or any other website or social media site.

Here is how I go about making what I call a Twitter blank. First of all, once I realized that a visual with a tweet is more effective than just words and hyperlinks, and that a book cover alone often looks distracting rather than appealing, I also figured out that I could easily spend all day making twitter images unless I came up with a system. My system involves developing templates, or blank except for the logo and URL twitter images, that I can use over and over. They do the following:

  • Add value to my tweets 
  • Save me time  
  • Develop name and brand recognition not only for my publisher, but for my own name and my own blogs

I quickly learned that if the visual is not the right dimensions, the Twitter program will cut off part of my image or lettering. I started by using the proportions of 2:1, the 2 being the width and the 1 being the height. Those looked okay on the computer screen, but some of my wording and the logo were cut off on my phone's Twitter screen. 

I changed the proportions on my photo editing program to the following:  7.9 width : 4.15 height. I also go with 150 dots per inch (dpi). I know the default is usually 96dpi for anything that goes on the internet. However, sometimes at a resolution that low the lettering turns out fuzzy and Swiss-cheesy, not professional looking at all. I have more luck with a higher resolution. Sometimes I will change it to 300dpi (keeping the proportions the same), save it, close down the program, go back into the program, bring up my template, add my text, save my final image, then lower the dpi and save it again. A lot of hassle. I stick with 150dpi to cut a lot of that out.

After I got my twitter blank formatted and saved, I was ready to make a template. For the publisher logos, I used the Snippet tool on my computer to capture the image. 

Next, I used my photo editing program to add an image to my twitter blank.

Next step was to size the image and position it on the blank background. After that, I brought up the text tool to add the blog URL.

 A word here about fonts. I am personally partial to Arial Rounded BT Bold because it is crisp, bold, doesn’t tend to run together and is easy to read. The other fonts in this example are good, too, if they are available to you and they reflect your style. Some work better if you bold them. The important thing is if  you want to save time, decide on a few fonts you like best – preferably near the top of your list of options where they are easy to find – and stick with them. You will lose a lot of time if you play around with fonts every time you want to put together a simple twitter image.

Here is my text with the Prairie Rose Publication URL. I made it large enough to be readable, but small enough so it and the logo together do not take up a lot of space. That leaves plenty of room on the template to later add pictures from a blog or a book cover and a one sentence hook or tagline.

Save your Twitter blank/template with a unique name. For example, I would save it as PRP [name of color] twit template. Keep it in a place on your computer that is easy to find. You can use this template over and over for different Tweet images.

On the templates for my personal blog, I add my Twitter name in addition to my blog URL. For my logo, I use my nameplate I add to most of my blog posts. On some Twitter templates I use a Facebook or blog banner.

The last and perhaps most important piece of advice is to save this template where you can find it easily. As the saying goes, DO NOT REINVENT THE WHEEL. Reuse your same blank with the logo and URL over and over. When you want to create a new image to market a new book or to promote your most recent blog post, bring up this same template and add to it, saving your completed twitter image with a new file name.

With my Prairie Rose Publication twitter template saved to my computer, if I decide to promote either one of my books or a blog post I’ve written, it is a quick and easy process. I bring up the template on my photo editing program. Next, I add the image of the book cover or other photo.

I size the image, perhaps tilt it and/or use my photo program to add a border or some other decorative element.

Then I add the text. In this instance I copy and pasted the tag line from my online media kit for this book (To see more about creating an online media kit, click HERE. Just remember to come back when you are finished.) The Word document used Times New Roman, so I stuck with that font. I centered it, bolded it, chose the best font size in order to effectively format it on the image, and saved it using a unique file name

Finished! This tweet image I saved in the online media kit file for this book so I can use over and over. If I had prepared this to promote a blog post, I would have saved it in the file for that particular post. Other general use tweet images I save in a dedicated Twitter file on my computer.

Not all of our tweets should be about trying to sell our books. We also want tweets that will help develop name recognition for us. 

As an author, it was a milestone in my life when I knew people started recognizing my name, were aware what kind of books I wrote, and could even discuss the characters and settings. It has been exciting to me to have people tell me when they see my name on a book, they buy it. There is no substitute for good writing, but when we are competing with a host of other good authors out there, it doesn’t hurt to work on a little “branding” to develop name recognition.

Along with sharing good information to educate our readers, a lot of effective branding is designed to appeal to the emotional side of the brain. If you have not already done so, now it the time to create a file of images that generate emotional responses--what I call my Warm and Fuzzy file. Out of concern for copyright issues, most of these images are my own photographs. Others I have included for ideas I can create. Imitation is the sincerest form a flattery—as long as it doesn’t violate copyright. I have been filling my Warm and Fuzzy file with pictures of cute animals, funny things, beautiful scenery and happy people—those pictures that will generate an emotional response. 

Along with a little saying, these types of pictures are excellent to add to your Twitter templates with your author logo. They are intended not so much to inform or push a product as to prompt the reader to FEEL. And, hopefully, a connection between that positive feeling and your name will develop in their memory.

This cute little portrait of a girl holding a book I found on the public domain section of Wikimedia Commons. The written sentiment is one almost all writers can appreciate.

I keep these tweets short and sweet. I may link them to my Amazon Author Page or my blog. I hashtag them to my name. The tweets with these types of images I like to send around in a new tweet every two weeks or so. I'll go back in my hashtag account for #ZinaAbbott, find the tweet and copy and paste the wording and hyperlinks before I add the image.

One of the objectives is to strike a chord with the tweet reader enough to motivate them to star the post to let you know they liked it. Better yet is when a follower will RETWEET the post and share it with their followers. Retweeting is how we broaden our reach beyond our immediate group of followers.

There is a comprehensive help section on Twitter. I searched only what I needed to get started. I access them by clicking on my thumbnail image. It is also where I can go to Log out.

This concludes my Twitter-pated tutorial on some of the ways I have learned to use Twitter in my book marketing. I hope I have presented a few ideas helpful to you. As promised in my first Twitter-pated post, at the end of this post I will add some Twitter blanks/templates with the Prairie Rose Publications logo and blog URL which I developed for my use. Please feel free to save them to your computer and use them with your tweets.

And, this is the twitter banner I will use to promote this blog:


 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press. Her novelette, AChristmas Promise, along with the first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, was published by Prairie Rose Publications.

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. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines - author.

  2. I'm studying your tutorial. Twitter is just not in my realm of understanding, but I am trying to learn. Thank you for this detailed info. It's the kind of detail I need.

  3. COOL!!! I never thought about doing this. Just tried it on one of my new releases and all I can say is COOL! It makes the tweet pop. Thank you.