The Black Magic of Getting Your Book Tweet Right

I’ve been doing this book marketing thing for quite a while now, and one thing that I often need to help people with is getting their book link tweets right. I figured it’s time for me to put all my tricks in one place. This is that place.

“People click my link and it says the book isn’t available”

The problem here is that there isn’t just one Amazon. There are lots and lots of them. If you share a link to amazon.com, and someone in the UK looks at that link, they’ll see your book, but Amazon won’t let them buy it. They need to find your book at amazon.co.uk. But they aren’t going to do that, are they? It’s a minor miracle that you got them to click your link in the first place. No way they are going to go typing in a search to a different website to find your book in the right store. Not. Gonna. Happen.

The solution (which I’ve mentioned before) is to use mybook.to (there are other services, but I like this one best). It’s basically a link shortening service like bit.ly, but it is smart about geography and all those Amazon stores. It looks at where the person is clicking from, and sends them to the right place. Also, because they haven’t been around for 100 years like bit.ly, you can get pretty much whatever short link you want. I’ve never had any trouble getting the exact titles of my books as my short link.

Their links work for both Kindle and paperback books, so if you’re doing both, you’ll generate two links. These are the links I use:

When you set up the link you want to make sure that the Amazon link is like this:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/{ASIN or ISBN}
Be sure to use https (not http) and you don’t need your title in there. If you copy the link from Amazon, just delete the junk between .com and /dp and if there’s junk after the ASIN/ISBN, delete that, too. Obviously you should test the link to make sure you didn’t delete too much.

“I messed up and put in the wrong link, how do I fix it?”

After you create the link at mybook.to and you test it, if you find that you messed up and didn’t put the right link in there, you can fix it as follows:

  1. Delete the short link you created
  2. Create the link again, not making a mistake this time
  3. Go to this address mybook.to/clear-link-cache.php?url={your nickname} for example, if you created mybook.to/warandpeace you’d need to hit mybook.to/clear-link-cache.php?url=warandpeace

That’s not documented anywhere. The nice guy who administers the site told me that trick when he and I were debugging another problem which I’m about to tell you about.

“My tweet doesn’t have the preview of my book!”

So you’ve created your short link and tested it and it works great. Now you tweet it, but all that shows up is the short link, not the pretty cover and blurb and star rating from Amazon (known as a “Twitter Card”). Why is that?

This happens because when your book is brand new, Amazon doesn’t generate the right “meta tags” on the page for the Twitter card. No idea why, but it pretty much never does. So you have to hit the page over and over, and eventually it starts generating the right tags. But there’s a catch. Twitter saves the first version of that page it sees, so even once Amazon is generating the right meta tags, Twitter ignores them.

You can actually address both of these problems with one simple trick! There’s a tool that developers use to make sure their meta tags are good. You can use this tool to both force Amazon to re-generate the page, and to force Twitter to pay attention to the changes.

Go here: https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator and enter the mybook.to link. Be sure to start with http, like http://mybook.to/warandpeace. If you forget the http, it won’t work, and the error message is confusing. Click the “Preview Card” button and you’ll either see a card, or you won’t. If you see the card, you’re done.

If you don’t see the card, count to ten and click preview card again. No card? Count to ten and click it again. You may have to do this many, many, many times. Trust me. This will eventually work. Once you see the card, you’re done. Go look at Twitter and you’ll see that the tweet which didn’t have the card, now suddenly does have the card.

“You didn’t answer my question!”

Ask in the comments. I can probably help.

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15 thoughts on “The Black Magic of Getting Your Book Tweet Right

  1. Thanks so much for this. Been meaning to make the bit.ly links forever now and just didn’t find the time to research how to do it. Great explanation and helpful tips 🙂

    • Either they changed the label on that button, or I hallucinated that it used to say Validate. The button is labeled “Preview Card” now, and I’ve updated my post to have the right word there. Once you see the preview correctly, you’re done. If it looks right on that page, it’ll look right in a tweet using that link.

      • It didn’t look right – there was no image of my book cover on the card, just a bit of the blurb – although Amazon said it was ‘whitelisted’ (which I presumed meant there shouldn’t be a problem with it) and there was no other indication of errors. I couldn’t find any answers in the FAQ and when I went to the forum I couldn’t understand the jargon. There was something about images not appearing because of ‘robot.txt’ blocking something but it didn’t say what ‘robot.txt’ is or how to get rid of it. I’m afraid I’m just too clueless about these things and this site was beyond me. The trouble is, the card it came up with is now attached to my book links and I don’t know how to ‘detach’ it, which means I can’t use my book links on Twitter without looking unprofessional because the card is incomplete.

      • They both look like they are working now. There is a picture of the cover, your star rating and a few words of the blurb. The Magic one you tweeted looks good. Your pinned tweet has a picture, so it won’t show the card on that one.

      • As I said in the post. All you need to do is just keep on clicking that “Preview Card” button and eventually they will look right. Patience and persistence.

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