One key to selling your book, photo book or calendar is finding an audience who is interested in your topic. Website forums have been a good way to speak to people who share your same interests, but finding the right websites to post on can take quite a bit of time and effort.

In the past year, another great way to find and communicate with people who share your interests has emerged: Twitter. This web-based communication tool allows you to have conversations with numerous people whether they share your interests or are simply interesting in their own right. If you’re shy, you don’t have to actively engage people in conversation; you can follow people that interest you and sit back and watch the conversations unfold.

Twitter allows you to communicate in 140 characters or less. You can also share links to longer blog posts, news items, or websites. The current political candidates are using Twitter to organize their supporters and keep people informed about what is happening in their campaigns.

To use Twitter simply sign up for an account and get a username. The process is easy and only takes a few minutes. You also can use a picture (or an image of your book) to represent yourself.

Once you create an account you need to start finding people to follow. You can input your email account details and Twitter will show you if people you already know are using the service. You should also use the search tool to find people who are talking about topics that you want to follow . I did a search for “Lulu.com” to find other authors who use Lulu. Simply follow each user to create a list of people who are interested in Lulu.com and self-publishing.

Try searching for other topics that interest you. I enjoy hockey and am working on a book about youth hockey, so I searched for “hockey” and then followed other people who enjoy the sport. This has allowed me to join in on conversations with my target audience: hockey fans. As I have gotten to know them, I have been able to talk to them about ideas for my book, and even solicit feedback on some of my chapters. I know that once I release my book, I will have a built-in audience that is not only interested in my work, but has also participated in its creation.

Once you start following people, you can begin to see their conversations and whom they talk to. Start following people you find your friends talking with. Always remember, the messages you post will be viewable by everyone unless you send a direct message to an individual user. Before you know it, you’ll be networking and making friends. To get started, you can follow Lulu.com HERE and weRead HERE.

There are a number of other tools to help you:

Twellow.com: Directory of Twitter users
Twitter Search: See what people are talking about
Twirl: Put Twitter on your desktop

Questions? Comments? Post Below!