Authors, Are You Spamming? Stop It!

There’s been a lot of talk around the Internet this past week stemming from Joel Friedlander’s post, “Yo, Author, You Spamming Me?? Cut it Out!” If you’re promoting a book, or if you’re ever going to promote a book, it’s worth a read.

And here’s a funny video that makes the same point:

 

 

Is it tempting to spam people to try and sell your book? (And have you ever put flyers on people’s windshields?)

Have a good weekend!

  1. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the web the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people consider worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  2. Nikole Hahn says:

    If I do that, please tell me. I want conversation, not spam. This video was hilarious. And by the way did I tell you… (just joking).

  3. Very interesting and yeah, funny, but sadly too true.

    I’ve managed to keep Twitter to a minimum, and still not sure of its effectiveness but I have found some great articles from others there. Thanks for the info. πŸ™‚

  4. Maria says:

    This video is great, but not just for authors. This applies to anyone who over tweets their crap. Certain authors are not the only culprits.

  5. Loved this video. I am tired of ignoring New authors spamming Facebook Groups with the links to their books. Thanks for publishing this, I posted this on my wall and tagged all the spamming authors.

  6. And Peter, of course. Sorry!

  7. Joanna Aislinn says:

    This was so cool. Thnx for sharing it, Rachelle and Joel πŸ™‚

  8. Pete Morin says:

    Hi Rachelle,

    Glad you found the video useful! Thanks for reposting it.

    I’ve been having a blast with xtranormal – I’m working on another one now title “Authors Behaving Badly.”

    Uh oh…

  9. As much as I need to promote my own book, I don’t do it as much as I should. I find constantly posting constantly on Facebook, Twitter, my various blog to come and check out my book and catch a sneak peek of what is coming bothersome. I don’t like people constantly promoting their books with little else to say, comments about anything not related to the topic of the post their are commenting on, or ambushing me in email to see their book NOW.

    Twitter, to me, is something worse than leet speak in texts since there’s minimal space to get your message in. I honestly to do understand the lure of it and only let my blogs post links with a few hash tags for people to locate them faster (such as #writemotivation). Honestly, I’m not an overly social or talkative person and too much at once is not good. Still, I do see the need to promote, but only going through better channels than spamming everyone in my address book or facebook account.

  10. Hahaha, oh my word this is all sorts of fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Mindy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have been concerned and wondered what the difference between true marketing and spam is.

  12. So funny! I hope it helps with the problem.

  13. Lynn Rush says:

    HA!!!!! This is so awesome. LOL!

  14. Karen says:

    Love this video and the topic. It’s a bit ironic, but the more an author spams, the less support they are likely to get.

    Social networking is just like any other kind. To be successful, each side needs to offer something of interest and value. And I hate to break it to the spammers, but your blog/book/website link is of no value to me at all the 10th time I get it and if you have nothing else to say.

    On Goodreads, I always check to see if friend requests are from authors. A lot of the time they are, and if we have no books in common and the only ones reviewed are their own (at 5 stars, natch) I ignore the request. Oddly, the authors that do this don’t take the hint and often repeatedly request connections. As it’s only to sell their books, I block them.

    I LOVE Twitter. It’s my real-time, customizable newsfeed where I can create lists of people tweeting on my various areas of interest. I try and ensure my tweets also offer something of value. If people DM me marketing, I unfollow.

    This is not rocket science. Spamming reeks of desperation. It sends the message no one wants your work and that makes me think maybe they know something I don’t and I move on to something else. But if you build relationships, you may find your Twitter followers becoming your promotional ambassadors. Case in point – Marian Keyes, an Irish author. I love her work and follow her newsletter. On Twitter, 90% of what she talks about have nothing to do with her books. She’s funny and on my favourite tweeters list so I never miss a thing. And I proactively tweet about her upcoming books (she even thanked me – that was cool). So relax. If you want to be read then just be real.

  15. Ira Webbe says:

    I’m neither an author nor writer(I text) but maybe I one day will be. And now with the great tips I just got from today’s video, I know that if I do author some ‘work of art’ how exactly to get it noticed.

    Thanks

  16. Oh my gosh, the video clip was hysterical – thank you!

  17. Erin Healy says:

    If I can gripe for a minute: I send out an e-newsletter ONCE A MONTH to people who have signed up for it and/or who have given me their e-mail addy because they wanted a prize I was offering in a promo contest. I think it’s rude when some of these people turn around and accuse me of spamming them with this newsletter, which contains exclusive material not related to book sales. Authors sell product. If readers don’t want to know about it, they shouldn’t give out their contact info.

    • Elissa says:

      I assume your newsletter has an unsubscribe button at the bottom. I think all you can do for the rude people is apologize and unsubscribe them. Some folks are just… odd. There’s no help for it. Don’t let their rudeness ruin your day.

      • Erin Healy says:

        You’re right. I always think it’s weird that people will go to the trouble to notify someone they’ve been spammed when all they have to do is click that unsubscribe link. πŸ™‚

  18. Geoff Veit says:

    What a great little video. If you have published a book, what are the marketing boundaries? Yours? Mine?

    I love your blog

  19. The idea of relationship evangelism still makes my skin crawl. So, perhaps it follows that I abhor building relationships for the sake of self-promotion.

    On the other hand – blogging about things that matter, stuff I have learned in relationship that can help others toward full emotional, spiritual, physical or mental health; that appeals to me.

    • Ira Webbe says:

      I am with you Cherry! I loathe the idea that people stake out other people with long term plan already set up for the relationship! Arghhh!!!!!

      (Wait…maybe that’s why I’m still single)

      I DO really hate relationship evangelism

  20. Lori Lipsky says:

    Loved the video. Great start to the day.

  21. Rachelle, this was priceless!

    As always, thanks for sharing. I’m still chuckling…

  22. Jeanne says:

    Good topic today, and funny video. What I keep hearing is that building relationships is the important thing. Thanks for sharing, Rachelle!

  23. Twitter is an interesting creature to be sure. I have made a few contacts who are genuinely interesting and incredibly helpful. I was even comfortable enough at one point to ask a twitter “friend” to read a query for me. She has been immensely helpful, and I wouldn’t know her but for Twitter. On the downside, there are the spamming lot. I confess a stereotype has formed in my mind that many of the spammers are self-pub authors. I may need gentle correcting on that one, but I find I am a tad more hesitant to accept a “follower” when they fall under the self-pub category. I want to know about the author. I’m happy to read an interesting link to their blog that might be a book promotion, but when I see line after line from their book on Twitter, I cringe.

    That said, I’ve written a really great novel…

    Just kidding. πŸ™‚

  24. Dan Miller says:

    Rachelle – that video is hilarious. Promotion of a book can be a lot of fun if you’ve established relationships along the way. We’re planning a killer book release with my new book with Thomas Nelson. At the Legends Clubhouse in Franklin, TN – emceed by my publisher, catered dinner, live music, celebrity guests and lots of free gift packages with books, special medallions and candy for everyone invited.

  25. I just joined Twitter and I kind of don’t get it. I’ve found some cool links and information for myself. My own tweets so far have either been retweets (I was practicing and figuring it out), or links to my blog. Beyond that, I just don’t know what to add to all the tiny chunks of information already out there. But I’m going to keep working on it — when I first joined Facebook I didn’t get it either, but now it’s a normal part of my day and a place I can truly share my writing.

  26. Ursula Jordaan says:

    As of yet, I’m not on Twitter, and I’m not certain I want to be. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow I’ve never been a big fan of over promotion. It’s like being phone solicited at every night and I can’t stand that stuff.

    I hope the work sells itself, but that could be wishful thinking.

  27. Stephanie M. says:

    I only have 2 followers on Twitter. I try really hard not to annoy them so they won’t unfollow me (and make the holidays so awkward)

    If I had, say, 1,000 followers I might be more tempted to annoy them since I wouldn’t know them anyway.

  28. What I dislike the most is authors who tout themselves as a New York Times Bestselling Author. That phrase has become meaningless through overuse. I don’t mind links and spamming because the reviewers I follow can only review a small number of titles. If not for self-promotion how would I find out about all the good books out there. . . oh, wait. I found one author merely by picking a book off a shelf and turning to the middle to see if there was porn. Finding none, I also found a wonderful author whose every book I have read and passed along. The best books will rise to our attention like cream (how’s that for a mixed metaphor/simile!) I usually find the books I want to read by listening to other authors’ recommendations, so no spamming is needed.

  29. I don’t agree that you should never promote your book, that’s just crazy talk.

    I do agree that you should not get carried away with it. That you should be friends with people, have real conversations, and that it’s not just about book promotion.

    I rarely tweet about my book,website,or my blog. I do belong to Triberr which tweets out my blog posts, but my blog posts are nearly all book reviews or author interviews. Those posts that are not, are written by other bloggers.

    Twitter has a place in book promotion, but a smart author knows it is a small place.

  30. O my funny!

    Especially liked how she said ob-noxious tool & that she’d like to cut his fingers off.

    Brilliance.
    Happy Friday, Rachelle!
    ~ Wendy

  31. It’s all about community, or it should be.

    I probably err on the side of caution more than not, but I just don’t want to be a part of the white noise yelling “me me buy my book” – I know it annoys me.

  32. Way back when I was a senior IT instructor I had a student ask, while we were studying spam filter systems, why companies spammed in the first place. After all, IT people furiously fought to stop it, and everybody we knew took what got by our IT filters and treated it like smelly garbage. Why, then, would somebody do something that bore no fruit?

    In researching the answer, I found that the error was our assumption that spam didn’t work. There had been a study done, and it turned out that for every 100,000 e-mails a spammer sent out he could expect to sell 9,000 units of whatever he was spamming. 9% ain’t bad, really. And the cost of those 9,000 sales is pretty cheap.

    So, spam does work. Or at least it did, then, there. I don’t believe that it works now, here. I try not to do it myself (I consider it the dirty way to sell a product even if it does work) regardless, but I’ve read Konrath’s analysis of his own efforts where he makes a strong case that spamming really doesn’t work in this market. At least, not HIS part of this market, for whatever that’s worth.

    I suspect there’s a fundamental difference between the purchase of a book and the purchase of, say, Viagra. It’s worth exploring more.

    -TOSK

    • Interestingly enough, I hit “Submit” on this comment and then went on to spam people.

      Specifically, I’m the Vendor Coordinator for the upcoming James River Writers Conference, and I’m trying to line up vendors for the Marketplace. To me, it’s both a no-brainer and a win-win (and any other horribly cliched business terms I can come up with). The businesses get hundreds of potential clients, and the attendees get to “shop” in one location for the products and services that they really need.

      So–yeah. I’m sending every potential vendor a nice customized e-mail (I only copied and pasted about 90% of each one), to be followed up by a phone call early next week. Spam away! Woo hoo!

      -TOSK

      PS–have you ever tried a burger with a nice crispy slice of fried Spam on it? It’s like a bacon burger, only much betterer.

      • I’ve had a Spam burger. Yeah they’re good!

        Spam used to sell. Now we just trash it or, better, filter it. With so much flying around he internet, a person has to prove they’ve at least acknowledged me before I’ll read their pitch in social media.

    • Joe Pote says:

      Interesting! And it makes sense.

      Non-targetted advertising is bound to have a much lower sales conversion rate.

      But…even a small percentage can be a lot, with a high enough volume.

      But, even if it did work, who wants to be that annoying?

      Not me! I’m annoying enough, just being myself… πŸ˜‰

      • Well, I don’t want to be that annoying, and besides, it doesn’t seem to work to sell books. Viagra, perhaps. Breast enhancement products, assuredly. But not books.

        That said, you used an interesting (to me) word: “targeted”. (technically you negated it, but same-same) “Targeted” advertising is kinda like “faith-based” services, is kinda like “Christ-like” people. The concept sounds good, but it’s hard to pin down what it actually means. I’ve seen ad campaigns that were beautifully wrought and targeted directly at the right market fall flat. I’ve seen the dumbest ads in the world, blanket-spewed across TV channels and time slots, successfully drive admissions through the roof. Closer to the topic at hand, hasn’t everybody who signed up to “Follow” me on Twitter self-selected to be in my target market? (personally, I’d have trouble giving an unqualified “yes” to that, but I’m making a point)

        The point is: the line between “spam” and “direct” or “targeted” “marketing” is a very fine line and getting finer every day.

        • Joe Pote says:

          Very good points, Stephen!

          Not to mention, I’m still sorting out my intended audience and my focal message.

          You’d think intended audience would be easy with a book titled, “So You are a Believer Who has been through Divorce.”

          But…the more I learn the less clear it is…

          • Yeah, I’d suggest that your target market is a skosh easier to identify and find than mine–which consists of everybody who likes fantasy stories about dragons and gods. And stuff. πŸ™‚

            My lowest grade in my MBA program was in the course on marketing, which is what happens when you get really busy with your day job, do none of the assignments on time, and write the final project (a marketing plan) over the last weekend. One would assume from my transcript, then, that marketing really ain’t my “thang,” but in truth it’s something that absolutely fascinates me. I love doing it.

          • Joe Pote says:

            My perception of intended audience while writing has changed a bit since publishing.

            Now it’s more like, “So you are a believer who has been thru divorce…and perceive conflicts between your faith and the act of divorce…and are serious enough about your faith for those perceived conflicts to be a concern…and you haven’t self-justified special clauses for special conditions…and you hold the Bible as more authoritative than a church position…or you have a friend who fits this description…or you counsel people who fit this description…”

            Yes, definitely fascinating…with lots of learning opportunity! πŸ™‚

  33. Joe Pote says:

    The sad part is that anyone reading the available sites for book promotion could easily fall into thinking it’s all about spamming.

    However, it doesn’t take long, using social media, to realize that none of us like talking to people who are only interested self-promotion.

    • It’s the same of people in general, so why do some folks think the business world is any different? Perhaps the TV commercial age has trained a generation to believe that saying something big and often sells. Shame wow.

  34. EnnisP says:

    It’s a fine line.

    I love to read about people and often follow their links, IF they have one. And it is frustrating when people, particularly writers, don’t leave them.

    For me, the links are the channels for building the relationships Jonathan mentioned.

    Good advice.

    So spamming is “in your face,” advertising isn’t. Fine line.

  35. Bonnee says:

    I hope I’m not too guilty of spamming to promote myself or the little bits and pieces I have published, and I hope I don’t fall too deep into the trap when I have a novel to sell. I figure if I give it a mention here and there, anyone who’s actually interested will go for it. I don’t like being spammed, so I try not to do any spamming…

  36. I’ve come across spammers on my own blog; I always delete their comments right away. I’ve found that both authors and bloggers have been guilty of spamming, either because they’re promoting their book or their blog. It bothers me that they try to use my blog without permission to promote their work.

  37. I think the one up-side to being so private and hating self-promotion is that I’m not likely to do something this obnoxious. If anything, I can see my agent, editor, etc., someday being more upset with me for not doing enough! (I will try my hardest, though. Of course.)

  38. Great post. It’s a delicate balance, as with all marketing, yes? You don’t want to leave flyers on windshields, but you still want cars to be parked in front of your store.

    I agree with all above comments – building and cultivating relationships are key. That said, I Tweet-promote my blog with each post and cross-pub on Facebook to get the most bang for my clicks.

    I mix those tweets with various replies and 140 word (or less) commentary, usually connected to hashtags I relate to: #amwriting #stripper #memoir #addiction #truestory – you get the idea.

    Another educational and thought provoking post, Rachelle. Thank you!

    • I don’t think some self-promotion with Facebook and Twitter are bad. After all, if you never mention you have a book, nobody will know to buy it. And it generally doesn’t annoy me when people tweet a link to their latest blog post, etc., as long as that’s not all they do. Your strategy sounds pretty good: mix those promotional updates with other interesting things, so your readers don’t feel they’re being hit with sales pitches every 10 minutes.

      • I agree. We’re on Twitter to promote. I would not go there just to make friends. It’s the friendship building business that ultimately creates a dialog for success for both the consumer and service provider. Spamming is a monologue by a moron to mutes, but promotion which interacts with the people creates win-wins.

  39. The only way I can see to promote my book is to write an interesting blog (at least, I hope it’s interesting), and hope that those who read it will have a look at the book, and spread it by word of mouth.

    I don’t really know how to use Twitter, I’m afraid. Don’t know what to say.

    I’d hate for anyone to think that I’m using them for promotion. It’s diametrically opposed to what I write about, and the principles for which I try to live.

    Jonathan Livingston Seagull took off by word of mouth. It’s the best way.

    • Joe Pote says:

      Andrew, I don’t really get Twitter either.

      Everyone says Twitter should be used for building relationships, but it doesn’t seem to lend itself well to relationship building.

      I do browse Twitter now and then. I do comment on some tweets. I do post a few tweets, myself.

      Thus far, none of it has made me feel any more connected with anyone than I already was outside of Twitter.

      Maybe it’s just because I have a lot more friends using FaceBook..

      • Rachelle Gardner says:

        Joe, I can attest to the fact that Twitter can definitely work for relationship building. It takes a lot of time and interaction, but it really can work.

        • Joe Pote says:

          Thank you, Rachelle, for the input.

          Maybe I just haven’t figured out the right balance between DMs and public tweets.

          Public tweets don’t seem to ever be noticed except by followers who happen to be on Twitter within a few minutes after the tweet.

          DM’s are tagged to the specific person and are likely to be noticed, but aren’t seen by other people.

          RT’s are cool, in that they are a way of helping others spread news, but don’t seem to generally do much to build my relationships.

          Any tips on how to learn to better interact on Twitter?

          Or is it more a lifestyle thing, that some people are just more suited to FB and others to Twitter?

      • Joe, although my Twitter use is quite lazy as of late (so busy at church), I’ve made some friends using it. The key is “Lists.”
        Twitter is a massive ticker tape running at the speed of a mudslide. By the time I read a few tweets, there are 33 more in the wings. By putting people in lists, you can view only their tweets, which makes relationship building much easier.

    • Timothy Fish says:

      To me, Twitter seems to work best for people who either already have a bunch of fans or people who want to know what people with a bunch of fans are doing.

      • Joe Pote says:

        You may be onto something, Timothy.

        When I encounter people who say they love Twitter, I ask how they use it.

        Most often (though not always), they are tracking tweets by well-known individuals with a huge fan base.

    • Andrew, Jill Kemerer (http://www.jillkemerer.com/) is a great Twitter go-to gal. She loves to help fellow writers and no question is deemed too silly–we all have to learn. πŸ™‚ Also, Mike Hyatt has covered the topic in great depth on his site, as well as Rachelle.

      I actually prefer Twitter over FB. If you approach it from the right standpoint (to connect with like-minded folks) it can be a lot of fun. I’m more intentional about who I follow back than I was in the beginning, & have extensively weeded out auto-spammers or those just looking for another “number.”

      Happy Tweeting!

    • Andrew, in a way, Twitter is a source of creating the word of mouth and introducing people to your blog. Every time you post on your blog, the title can go to Twitter and let people know it’s there.
      There are some, however, who just flood the place with their adverts and the coffeehouse discussion is quickly turned into a Mardi Gras for mutants.

    • Thanks to everyone who commented on my comment! I have a lot to learn, and I’m grateful to have been pointed in the right direction.

      Twitter, here I come, wings a flappin’…

  40. I’m fairly new to Twitter, but I’ve already discovered which authors are on there for relationships and which ones are on there for promotional purposes. I skim over the promos and look for pertinent information or fun tidbits from the others.

    I don’t have a book to sell, yet, but I’m watching and learning from others who do. And, no, I’ve never put flyers on windshields!

    • Jeanne says:

      I’m right there with you, Gabrielle. πŸ™‚ Watching and learning.

    • It’s difficult to maintain relationships on Twitter even with friends from elsewhere. I liken it to trying to carry on a conversation across the aisle at a pro football game.

  41. I used Xtranormal for a school project a few years ago. The guy in it was definitely oblivious.

    I unfollowed a second person on Twitter since most of the tweets I saw of her on my feed were promotion for her backlist-and I already had one of her books on my iPhone. It’s likely I’ll probably not going to read it for a long time.

    Speaking of which, I have been cutting back on promoting my blog, although I still need to approach it more strategically, to make sure most of my followers wouldn’t see a tweet pop up for the same article twice in the same day. Or two days, if ideal.

    Speaking of which, I don’t follow links in DMs. It’s not a cause for an unfollow, but they ten to not be interesting in the first place.

    • Uh, questions…

      How do you get a book on an iPhone? Isn’t the screen kind of small?

      And – what’s a DM?

      I’m not trying to be cute with these questions. I’m really not up to speed with a lot of this stuff, and would truly like to know –

      • There are Kindle and other e-reader apps for iPhones (and Droids, etc.). Some people don’t mind the small text. You just scroll a lot since not a whole lot will fit on the screen.

        A DM is a direct message on Twitter (basically what’s called a private message on any other site).

      • My iPhone is my favorite way to read books now. I prefer it over my Kindle, my iPad, and my paper and ink books. Small, always with me…a library of a thousand books to choose from…

        You can set the font to a large size, too.

    • Many of the links on DM’s are to hijacking sites. If someone wants my attention on Twitter, the they’ll have to mention me by name. I NEVER read DM’s anymore.

  42. I only have 3,400 followers on Twitter and most are people. (Some I’m not so sure about. If you’re on Twitter, you know what I mean.) To spam my book is to say I don’t care about you; I’m here to use you. There’s a saying that seems applicable: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Perhaps in the literary world it could be paraphrased: “People don’t care about your book if the author is a snook.”

  43. The very first piece of advice I give to writer friends on Twitter is “NEVER pitch your book.”

    Instead, build relationships and a tribe, by interacting and giving out fascinating and relevant information links about your world and your genre.

    Your followers will then do the promotional work FOR YOU.

    • MariaB says:

      Great advice! On Facebook there are several Author “promo” pages where all authors do is hawk their books and provide links. They say it’s what you’re supposed to do – “promote, promote, promote!” I think it smacks of desperation. Some say it works for them.

    • Jonathan,

      That’s great advice. Marketing to me is about sharing your passion with people who have the same interests. It’s about relationships and avenues of communication.

      And thanks to Rachelle for the very funny video. Had a good laugh!

  44. THANK YOU for saying this. Twitter is rife with writers who tweet their blog links and Amazon self-pubbed ebook links every hour on the hour. Oy. I don’t follow them for more than a day once I realize that’s all (or mostly all) they tweet, and I certainly don’t hit their blogs (I’m stubborn like that).

    • Sundi Jo says:

      You’re not stubborn, just managing your time wisely. πŸ™‚

    • Too damn funny. Yeah, I guess I’m guilty… Never looked at it from the other person’s point of view before. The video hit it perfectly. Good news is I had already stopped “spamming”. Glad I did now. besides, it hasn’t helped me at all.

    • I’m really glad for lists on Twitter. It’s the only way I can make sense out of the thousands of posts in the giant spam sandwich.

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