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February 21, 2011

When you first join Twitter, there’s a lot of lingo to learn. #FF, favorites, goodies, handles, hashtags, retweets, spam, timelines, #WW and widgets to name but a few. There are also a lot of numbers, ratios, and words that you may be unfamiliar with. One of those terms is LISTS.

We love lists here at the IBC. Why? So many reasons. Remember, we want to help you learn how to use social media, specifically Twitter, to promote yourself and your writing, so Twitter lists are a wonderfully easy way to do this.

First off, my all-time favorite article that explains how to create lists step-by-step is here, on Mashable. Go there first to learn all the basics. Then come back over here to discuss what to do with your lists once you’ve made them. I’ll wait. #whistles

Okay, you’re back. Every Twitter account can create up to 20 lists, and each list can include up to 500 users (not that you should include that many, but you CAN). Therefore, you can actually have up to 10,000 people on your lists even though you may only be following 2,000 (Sorry, math.). I know—crazy, huh?

The point of lists is really two-fold, as a writer: 1) to search for targeted followers specifically for you and 2) as a way to reward your followers. Other people use lists for lots of different reasons but these are the main two reasons we as writers use lists. (There’s secret number three reason: to save time, but we’ll save that for last.)


In order to grow on Twitter, you need to follow other people. And not just Joe Q. Public (no offense Joe. I’m sure you’re a very nice man). You need to follow writers, readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, editors, publishers—pretty much anyone who has anything at all to do with books. So, besides using the SEARCH box, how do you find these important people?

Lists, of course.

Every single day, I go in and look at which lists I’ve been added to. Or which lists my writer friends are on. Then I see who else is on those lists. Or who created those lists. I backtrack. I click and click and click some more. And then I follow. Five from here. Two from there. Until I’ve followed twenty-five new people.

Why is this important? For me, especially now that my new book, A Walk In The Snark, just dropped, I want to be looking for readers of non-fiction, reviewers of non-fiction, book bloggers, people who like eBooks, people who like humor, and people who aren’t afraid of curse words, vodka, or scary kid stuff (read the book).

Lists help you narrow down all the Twitter noise into concrete blocks tailored just for you!


For those more savvy Twitter users who may not be following you, put them on a list and viola! They start following you. It works like magic.

Why? Ego, baby.

Listen, people are fairly simple creatures. There’s a little something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—heard of it?

Physiological comes first—basic needs like food, air, sleep, water, sex. Then safety, shelter. Then family, love, belonging. But then—ha! Then there’s esteem and this is where Twitter lists come in so beautifully – self-esteem, confidence, respect of others, respect by others…it’s the jackpot, baby! You hold the cards to making other people feel good right in your fingertips – and you didn’t even know it.

I love teaching this stuff.

So how do you make your lists so special that people will want to be on them? Make them difficult to be on. Exclusive. Make one only for redheads who have published satirical eBooks. *smirk* OR make one only for published authors OR only for paranormal romance OR only for bloggers whose names begin with the letter K. Whatever. You have 20 lists—get creative.


Once you start using lists, you will never scroll again. Especially as you grow larger (as we recommended above), you simply won’t have the time to look at every tweet that floats by. My follow count is around 5500 now. Carolyn’s is over 11,500. Lists are what save us.

Whenever I help someone set up their lists, they’re always amazed that they’ve never used them before. You will be shocked at the impact lists have on your following/follower ratio and kicking yourself that you haven’t used them yourself much earlier as well.

Your Twitter lists really are the only way for you to see what your favorite peeps are up to and to respond in a timely manner. Sure, you can dip into your home stream occasionally for the brutal assault. But remember—these listees are the cream of your crop. Spend time with them. Cultivate them. Because eventually they will be buyers of your book, baby.

Over on the @IndieBookIBC stream we have taken our 20 lists and divided them primarily up by genre. We did that so YOU all could easily find other writers to follow and bond with. Follow all the people on the IBC list of your genre, see what lists they’re on, etc. You may want to be on more than one of our lists and that’s fine too. Let us know. Less than ten percent of our over 4,000 member collective has informed us of their genre preference. You can do better.

We also have a reviewer/book blogger list. If your book is coming out, we strongly recommend you follow all those folks as well as start developing a relationship with them. Lists are the best place to start.

I hope this article has helped demystify lists for you. Be sure to add Amber, Carolyn and I to your lists as well as the IBC.

Just add us under, oh, Rockstars.

Like this article? You should follow @RachelintheOC on her Twitter, blog, Facebook, Goodreads, or download her new hilarious non-fiction eBook A Walk In The Snark on Amazon for only $2.99 (for your Kindle or via the free Kindle app for your smartphone or computer). You can also find her most days on our @IndieBookIBC and @Bestseller4aday streams.


Looking for the first Bestseller For A Day‘s results?

Play Fling skyrocketed up the charts, peaking at Amazon Kindle rank #1267!! That is huge movement considering the average of #40000 rank it previously held at. It took only 65 sales February 14th to launch that high. Just imagine how far each Bestseller For A Day book can get once word spreads about this innovative Indie program.

Head over to Amber Scott’s weblog for more Bestseller For A Day delicious details!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2011 5:22 am

    I love that you reference Maslow’s hierarchy of needs! Kudos! Great blog though, have linked from my own this week re Twitter for beginners. Any more on the subject, keep ’em coming….
    Good read, thank you!

  2. February 21, 2011 11:48 am

    Rachel, good post. I’ve created separate lists for my separate interests – freelance writing, my actual writing specialty, hiking, outdoors — and I’ve added each to Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a great management tool for lists and Twitter in general.

  3. February 21, 2011 1:26 pm

    Thx JA and John — appreciate your tips as well. John, I have so many columns already on Hootsuite (with 4 streams I’ve yet to add lists but will do that today — thx for reminding me :)). I’ve been doing the back and forth w/ Twitter for that — WASTE OF TIME– ack!

    I do find every day more and more uses for lists. I think once people get over their initial fear of lists and start using them regularly, they’ll find so many layers and nuances. They really are brilliant.

  4. February 22, 2011 9:57 am

    Excellent information. Thank you, IBC, for making the Web 2.0 world accessible to those who need it most–indie authors! Keep up the good work.

  5. August 9, 2011 9:05 am

    Excellent advice. I’ll surely try this myself. Twitter does have its wonders even if it is simply for tweeting. Just like you said, you need to be creative. Thanks for this one.


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