Friday, 18 May 2012

Pitfalls to avoid (part 2): How not to sell books and alienate people

How not to sell books and alienate people
Few readers like being actively sold. A hard sell is even worse. Nobody wants an author in their face yelling 'Buy my book! NOW!'. We wouldn't do this in real life, but so many indies do this online, possibly without even realising it.
When a reader connects with you, be that on twitter facebook or one of the many other platforms we listed in an earlier blog post, they're giving you the green light to talk to them - not to spam them.
There are a number of ways that indies spam readers, and these are the most offensive:
·         Twitter Direct Messages(DMs) on follow. As soon as they follow you, send them a buy link.
·         Twitter @ spam - send them links by via @message so they can't ignore it.
·         Robotically tweet the same message dozens of times a day.
·         Email spam - They opt in to your blog, and you then try and hard sell them the book(s).
·         Goodreads 'events' - which are not events. Usually an 'opportunity' to buy a book.
·         Goodreads suggestions - don't spam me suggestions of your book.
·         Facebook spam - again, robotically updating the same stuff (or, worse yet, spam updating your spam twitter feed to spam me twice with the same thing!).
·         Spam other authors asking them to spam for you. Mention spam is particularly annoying here ( this where you @mention the other person in a message, rather than an @message where the name goes at the start ).
·         Mass DMs - similar to on follow direct messaging, but at any time.
·         Linking to your own book on a review of someone else's - how rude is that!
·         Comment spamming links to your own books on other people's blogs - without giving anything valuable in terms of commentary.
·         Liking my facebook page for the sole purpose of adding your own link to the page
·         ... so basically spamming your link, robotically or not, on any social media platform.
All this does put readers off. They want to buy into a brand (see our last post). Brand spam does not have many fans. If you try and broadcast buy links at people, they will block you. They want to buy your book, not be sold it. So treat them as people, and think about how your brand is portrayed every time you put yourself out there. You want to be associated with promotion, not spam. It's a fine line, but I think it's crossed when you do something you wouldn't want another author doing to you. It's pretty much that simple.
Do unto other indies as you want them to do unto you. Buy their books, be supportive and exchange friendly tweets... but stay well away from spam. Your ratio of content: advertising, on any platform, should be outrageously high. People listen to you for what you have to say, not what you have to sell.


  1. THANK YOU! When someone follows me on Twitter I always take a look at their tweets before I follow back. Same goes for FB and Google+. Unless there is something besides buy-my-book prompts, I don't bother with the relationship because it's bound to be one-sided...and what's the fun it that?! ;-)

  2. Hi Dan, I am inundated with these forms of annoyance every day. So much so that it only really registers in the most severe instances now. I will definitely try to avoid these traits when it comes to promoting my own book. Please let me know if I ever fail to adhere to them. Thank you

  3. Hi Anne, welcome to the blog - lovely to see new faces appear :) I totally agree. Twitter is for relationships, not broadcasting adverts. The sooner we collectively learn that, the better.

    Guy, I've not seen anything close to spam from you - the quotes, and replies to other people keep your signal:noise ratio very high. Absolutely no problems there, at all.

  4. *standing ovation* this kind of thing really irritates us and we know from speaking to other authors on Twitter that they fell the same. Though we're pretty lucky that we don't suffer as much as other people do. We've unfollowed several authors who do nothing but auto tweet about their book. It's a huge turn-off. We don't want our timeline filled with the same tweets. Obviously indie authors have to promote themselves, but these spammers seem to forget their manners.

  5. ......ah, I've just mentioned the automated Twitter DMs in another blog comment! "standing ovation" indeed!

    Can I add people who never thank you for RTs and never bother to RT yours back? Oh, and I have one follower than does this - I RT something of his. He then RTs me about 6 times - but he doesn't bother to read the tweets first before selecting one. Thus, I often get my last 6 bits of daft conversation out there again for all to see.... what is the point of RTing "@kamajowa No, really? Blondie, you rock!" or something??? Also, every time I RT him he sends me the same advert for his site.... hmm, think I should stop moaning and just unfollow??!

    To be fair, I think some people don't 'get' Twitter when they first start using it - I didn't. But you need to cotton on pretty fast. However, that should come automatically if you are interested in other people, and not just there to try and flog your stuff...

  6. I don't mind those who don't realise they're overdong it - everyone slips over the line every now and again.

    But those who automate their direct messages, @mentions etc are being rather disrespectful. If I wanted to talk to a computer I'd amuse myself with

    From what you've said, it sounds like they're using some form of automation software to randomly reciprocate. A bot can't tell the difference between a useful retweet, and an inane comment (although, if I was programming one, I'd at least filter retweeting @ messages!).

    Twitter has it's issues, but it's generally self filtering - people unfollow those they find annoying, block trolls, and follow/ RT those they like.