Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When Does Self Promotion Become Spam?

The truth is, I don't know the answer to this question. But it's one that's been on my mind a lot lately.

As an author with two books about to be released next year, I think the line between self promotion and spam is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. In fact, I can't seem to go onto Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, or even check my own email without getting bombarded by it. And, what I don't think some authors realize is that, when they bombard me with spam, not only does it annoy me greatly, but it makes me not want to buy their book purely out of spite.

Here's a list of my top offenders:

1. Automatically adding me to your Facebook Group. No. Just no. You can mention your group on your Twitter feed or your Facebook update but DON'T automatically add me to it. Because if you do, and you live within a hundred mile radius to me, I will spoon your yard.

2. Sending me multiple "Like my page!" emails. Grrr. Again, you can mention your author/book page on your blog/feed and give a link. But please don't repeatedly spam me or yard spoonage will occur.

3. Your tweets, status updates, and blog are nothing but a never ending commercial for your book. There is a reason why there is no channel on television dedicated to nothing but commercials. It's because people HATE commercials. In all forms! SPOOOOOOOOOON TIME!

Here are some trickier offenders:

1. Inviting people to events through Goodreads and Facebook. While I hate these, I understand why authors feel the need to do it. If you're hosting an event, such as a book launch, you're going to want as many people to know about it as possible. But maybe a direct email to people in your area would be a better, more personable option. Chances are, if your launch is in Houston and I'm in St. Louis, I'm not going to show. In fact, if I see an email with "Event Invitation", honestly, I don't even read them--automatic delete.

2. Reposting tweets from a reviewer about how much they enjoyed your book. I can see why people do this. They're excited about the good review and they want to thank the reviewer publicly. But I'll be honest, I have NEVER clicked on one of these review links and read the review. Have you?

Again, this post is purely my opinion. What do you think about these self-promotion techniques? Do you think I'm being too harsh, or do they annoy you, too? Maybe you don't care? Is there something I've forgotten to add to the list? Or is there something an author's done to promote themselves that you thought really worked--such as a contest or anything else? Please let me know because I'm very curious as to what everyone thinks about this.


  1. I agree. If I see someone post in their status that their book is coming out, or are doing a Goodreads giveaway, (or something else is going on) I often click through. If I get an email or event invitation, unless it's someone I personally know, I usually just delete them.

    I have no problem with people using their social networking sites for promotion - that's what they are there for IMO...but yeah, if you don't post anything but commercials, I'm gonna stop reading you. And sending stuff to me is like a telemarketer calling my house. If I see you've got something going on, I'll check it out. But I'd prefer it doesn't invade my space uninvited.

  2. I agree with you, Cole. I have to say, my TOP offender is the repeated "like my page!" messages. NO, I will NOT like your page simply on principle. I also refuse to auto follow people on twitter. When someone follows me, I always look at their profile. If every single one of their tweets is a link to their book on Amazon, I'm not interested.

    I think the best way to promote yourself as an author is to simply be yourself. Provide links to your Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter profiles on your website. TALK to people. Interact. Don't harass, beg, or pester. It takes time to build fans and a readership. It doesn't happen over night. And people will flock to a great personality faster than they will a repeated "like me!" message that translates like a dripping faucet in the middle of the night.

  3. Okay, first off I'm still cracking up over the spoons. Too hard to discuss serious topics when you're spewing Diet Coke on the monitor while laughing.

    Whew, okay mostly better now. Seriously though, I completely agree with you. The whole invitation to book signings thing when you don't even live close perplexes me. I understand the desire to get the word out, but it's highly unlikely I will be able to jet all over the country attending signings of my favorite authors (unless I hit the Lotto or otherwise obtain a ton of money).

  4. I like it best when authors allow me to follow a "Don't call me, I'll call you" approach. When all the information is clearly available on their website (either in the side bar or under a separate tab) but they almost never mention it in their blog posts or on twitter.

    Trust me, if I like what you have to say, I will click around to find out when your book comes out.

  5. It's a fine line. I don't mind the occasional mention, like on Twitter or Facebook, but honestly, the best way to get me to want to buy your book (besides writing a kick ass book)? Let me get to know you. It also helps if you're really cool, but that's not required.

    I auto delete all invitations, group emails, and other mass marketing attempts. If you don't have time to email me directly (BCC is okay) then my time is not worth enough to you. My time is extremely valuable to me, and while I do really give a shit about great books, and spreading the word about them, it's not my job to do it for you.

    Not you, Cole. Obviously. But them.

    When it comes to reviews I'm a bit meh. I don't read them, don't buy books because of them, and don't really write them. When I do like a book I'll recommend it, but that is not a "review." I don't really have a problem if friends Tweet or FB a link to a review of their book, but with some people it quickly gets to be too much.