Spam Spam Spam

Author Valerie Douglas
Author Valerie Douglas

… Otherwise known as BSP or Blatant Self-Promotion and SSP, shameless self promotion. Now, I have to be honest here, I have a real problem doing any kind of self-promotion. Yeah, yeah, I know, a little hard to believe from me but there you go.  I’ve actually been told a time or two that I don’t do it enough. I want to have my books stand on their own, for some magic fairy to come out of the sky, tap them with her fairy wand and *poof* they’re on the best seller list.  (Oh… and just so you know… that doesn’t work. )

So self-promotion is a necessary evil – how else do we get our names known, get our book or books out there where people can see them?

Still, there is a difference though between self-promotion and BSP. Studies and polls have also shown that BSP doesn’t work, that readers don’t like it. Yet some writers still do it. They’re like little spambots. On Facebook you can watch your notifications scroll while they go from site to site copying and pasting the same blurb on every site. Some spam multiple times on the same page. They wind up sounding like a cheap used car salesman trying to sell a lemon, which doesn’t make their book look good at all. (And yes, I know I’ll take some heat for this.) I’m on several sites where there are repeated requests for people to not spam the page.

So, what does work? How do you keep from having to wear one of those ugly sports coats?  Well, I don’t have the magic formula any more than anyone else, but I’ll give you a few hints.

The first one… relax. breathe.  Nothing good happens quickly. Think about that.

A good book works. There’s nothing that can beat that and you’ll see it in your reviews, individual or professional. Note about reviews – not everyone will love you, and there are mean people out there. Just sayin’. However, if multiple reviews mention bad spelling/grammar, then fix it quickly. And don’t argue. These are your readers. Potential fans. A good book has good grammar and spelling.

Time. You need to build a following. Doing that takes time.  The oft-repeated mantra that ‘this is a marathon not a sprint’ is true. Except for Justin Bieber every overnight success spent a lot of time honing their craft. Even Amanda Hocking went the traditional route, first, and then it still took several books before she really took off.

More books. There is little better at promoting one book than letting people know they can find more by you. Very few indie writers have succeeded on just one book. Releasing a new book will boost the sales of your first book.

Social Networking. Judicious social networking. Not copying and pasting, but forming relationships, especially in groups like Indies Unlimited, etc.  I’m a quote freak, so I post quotes that appeal to me. Show who you are, promote yourself. Post items of interest or milestones – “My book just did this!” – rather than endless ‘buy my book’. Respect the rules. Being asked not to spam the page is not the time to ask yourself if you’re doing too much. Better to cut back on your own terms. A few times a week, different books if you have them. Do blog tours.

Reviews. Just please don’t expect all five star reviews, you won’t get them and they can work against you. People get suspicious about all five-star reviews, they think they’re all from family or friends.  (They’ve obviously not met my mother. I absolutely understood Peter Dinklage at the Golden Globes when he said his mother told him she thought someone else would win. My mother would have done the same thing. *laughing*) There are books that deserve a five star review – almost anything by Dickens, To Kill a Mockingbird (one of the few examples of a one book wonder), Shakespeare, Tolkien on a good day. Several reviewers have said to me almost apologetically that they don’t give five star reviews. I had a great three star review I’m still proud of, and a couple of fours. I’m good with that. Don’t get me wrong, I like the folks that felt strongly enough about my books to give them five stars,  I’d give them a big whopping hug if I met them, and keep ’em coming!

Be professional. The creative artist thing  really doesn’t cut it. Going off on tantrums, crying the blues on a page about a bad review, it all looks bad. Remember that unless you’re in a secret group, everything can be seen by everybody. And people will remember. If you make a mistake, apologize and move on.

Just remember that spam is a canned meat “product”. Is that how you want people to think of your book?

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Valerie Douglas is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and prolific writer in multiple genres. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and her blog:  [subscribe2]

15 thoughts on “Spam Spam Spam”

  1. If only "everything can be seen by everybody" ! The potential's there, of course, but the reality is that whatever we do online is largely hidden under a pile of other people's stuff. Or seen by the same twenty loyal dudes who hang on, hoping you'll do the same.

    I agree with a lot of what you say here, Valerie. It's good advice. We have all raised eyebrows at those who keep posting the same message over and over. The Kindle 'Meet Our Authors' forum threads are so full of such messages one wonders whether it's worth sticking around.

    Reviewers who do not give five-star reviews are wise. There are too many given and are almost meaningless. A fine, considered review by an experienced reviewer, who is not a relative or another author repaying a favour, might become a rare thing unless we all realize there is no such thing as the perfect book that pleases everyone… or a book that hits all aspects one looks for, in exactly the right way, at the highest level possible.

    I look forward to more of your articles.

  2. Auch! I felt the wuusj of the whip far too close to my typing fingers!

    Well, I don´t think I use promotion too much, as I too get annoyed when counting up to 20 tweets with the same message (yes, that actually happens from one of the people I used to follow on twitter – used to…)

    The reason I feel that breeze from the whip is that I sometimes find myself typing some promotion and when I compare the twitter version with the facebook version, they are almost the same… Gotta work on that… Thanks for the heads up!


  3. I agree, Valerie … about the canned meat product thing … it's distasteful, lowbrow and down right sleezy. All that said, what'll it take to put you into my shiny, new book, today?

  4. Good advice, Valerie. I always enjoy your thoughtful blog posts. I think my book must be immune to reviews. I just cannot get any. Social networking is definitely an art, and I appreciate your advice on that.

  5. Thank you Valerie,

    I have been coming to this site lately like a religious zealot. Several threads on LI are distracting to say the least and not very helpful for a new author looking for encouragement.

    I suppose self-promotion is like anything else in sales, people buy from people they like which is why I am out and about as much as possible offering to sit with book clubs and women's clubs rather than annoying my friends and networks with spam.

    Thank you for your synopsis on reviews. I took a bit of heat for my comment on LI regarding how happy I was about a 3 star review on my book because I know the person who wrote it. It was unsolicited. I have given one 5 star review on Goodreads for "The Shadow of the Wind."

    Great insight!

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