No one is entitled to anything….

Okay, I’m stealing the snark queen crown from KS for a bit. Pardon my ranting….

Once upon a time I was the supervisor for a department of a retail computer electronics company which shall remain nameless. One day one of my employees – we’ll call him Dick – came to me in a bit of a snit. It seemed that another employee, John, wasn’t sharing his tools. Well, John was a great employee. In the Army Reserve at the time, he kept his work space neat and clean, his tools maintained and in place. As a consequence, he had the best tools in the department and he usually shared them. He had only one rule – return it the way you found it. Dick had broken that rule. Well, actually he’d broken the tool, and it wasn’t the first time. So John banned him from borrowing his tools. Dick, feeling he’d been treated unfairly, decided to help himself to John’s tools. At which point John went to him and politely asked for the tools back. Military trained, he used please, explained why Dick couldn’t use his tools, and then said thank you. I knew this, because as supervisor I’d been watching.

So I told John he had to share his tools. It wasn’t enough that he’d explained himself, said please and thank you. Dick was entitled to use those tools too, because they were there. It affected Dick’s livelihood that John wouldn’t let him use his tools, because he couldn’t do his job as well.

Anyone getting a little annoyed at me? Good, because the first part is true, the second is not. Yet it’s the argument I’ve been faced with many times over the last year, as, no doubt, many moderators of sites have.

The site I’m admin of clearly states that it’s for informational purposes, to support authors, to share tips, tricks and ways to become better and more effective writers. Not for promotion, there are plenty of other sites to do that. (Want a list? I can get you one.) We allow one day for self-promotion, have a Free-for-today thread, etc. That’s not enough it seems for some people, they still want more. They’re ‘different’. People get endlessly creative at trying to slip promotion by us – as if posting your book title or titles isn’t promotion.

There are any number of studies and surveys to show that kind of marketing doesn’t work. This was reiterated at the London Book Fair, where a few speakers discussed the growing level of self-promotion, and the ineffectiveness of it. No matter how many times such information is posted, though, people still insist on doing it, and there are still complaints. Enough that there have been times when they’ve driven both myself and one of my mods to tears with the level of rudeness displayed. At times, I’ve seriously considered shutting the site down and letting it all go.  And oddly enough, its usually those who participate the least who complain the most. The only reason I don’t is because of the people we do help. I refuse to punish those good people for the bad attitudes of others.

One of the newest complaints, though, is that I’m stealing food from people’s mouths by not allowing them to post promo on certain sites I manage. REALLY? Somehow I just can’t see it. My one site is going to make your children go hungry, with all the sites that are out there? Seriously?

I know I’m not the only one. Several sites have had to cut back on the self-promotion and make multiple requests to have that request respected.

As writers, we all want to succeed. To my frequent delight I see many authors eager to help others do so. On the other hand, there are a large number who don’t seem to really care about the rules, who think they should have the right to do as they please because their masterpiece has to get attention. Even worse, some of the threats being made are truly shameful on the part of those making them. Most of us are concerned about bullying, but there’s a number of us who really should look at themselves first.

Where does this sense of entitlement come from? All you’re really entitled to is the same chance that each of us has, of getting noticed, of being read. Whether it’s here at Indies Unlimited or elsewhere, there are lots of hands out to help you up without the need to tear someone else down.

So, I have to ask some of you, is this really how you want to do it?


Valerie Douglas is a contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and the writer of the recently released romantic suspense novel Lucky Charm, the epic fantasy series The Coming Storm and the contemporary romance series The Millersburg Quartet. For more information please see the IU Bio page, her blog or visit her web page

35 thoughts on “No one is entitled to anything….”

  1. I'm with you all the way on this one. One response to those who claim you are hurting their bottom line is that your bottom line will disappear entirely if your followers no longer want to visit because they hate all the self-promotion that gets in the way of reading what they came for.

    I think, as a society, we need to get away from the idea that competition sells more than cooperation. It no longer computes. The greater successes come from collaboration and cooperation.

    1. There was just an article in Newsweek, and some comments elsewhere, that say it's setting your brand not selling your book, that makes the difference.

  2. Valerie,

    I read your post a couple of times, to be clear on your points. This is a long reply.

    Linkedin has become rife with this situation. It is often a waste of time – senseless arguments and self-promotional spamming. I have found the IU site to be a breath of fresh air, most of the time. I respect every one of the writers here, and I continue to learn on a daily basis from all of you.

    My post,"Feed Your Readers" was in response to the same question being asked repeatedly by women who read my book. They loved the detail of the food scenes, and I thought it was a good idea for a post. I don't believe you are referring to me, however this was the only way I knew of to illustrate my point. I think it is comfortable to write in this way, referring back to a topic I know well.

    Over-promotion backfires – someone actually got on LI and said, "hey, my book is doing well, come on writers, fork over 2.99 and buy it. Help boost my numbers!" I was shocked. I do think branding is important, and posting a request like this, or calling yourself (not you) a "professional" writer is demeaning to those around you. We should never assume on a thread that we fully understand the past experience and expertise of others. I can only apply the rules I saw in the corporate world to this new adventure. Great post!

    P.S. I am happy to promote any book, of writers I am acquainted with, on my FB and blog. Your books have been featured on my FB, and I will be happy to do so again. I just can't spam my friends, family and business network. 🙂

    1. I don't spam family,friends or business connections either! And no, this blog wasn't directed at you, Lois.

      The problem is the sense of entitlement that some people feel to do as they please on a particular page, and then take umbrage when someone asks them to stop. And some of them get pretty aggressive. Just recently the threat scale went up, with some pretty nasty things being said on our web page. So I thought I'd address it.

      1. I'm glad I missed that. I am the exact opposite, I don't feel anyone owes me a thing. Which they don't.

        I like that you speak your mind. You must be a Jersey girl. 🙂

  3. Oh yes. I'm in several groups. Some allow or encourage promotion. Some don't. I just follow the rules wherever I go.

    I promote people's books on my own Timeline (on Facebook) and on Twitter.

    And I have no idea why people insist on promoting where promotion isn't allowed, or why they get nasty when they're called on it.

  4. Subsequent to the remarks here – I was also not referring to the occasional pat on the back we give ourselves on places like LI. I have no objection to hearing that a fellow writer has reached a landmark or that they have a new book out that they want their 'friends' to know about. There have been a few on LI that have not lasted there because all they did was self-promote. They get weeded out. But personally, once a reciprocal relationship of sorts has been established I actually welcome the opportunity to congratulate and, yes, even support, my fellow participants. When I see another succeed it gives me more hope for my own work.

    But what I think all of us discussing this find hard to swallow, as Valerie says, is the sense of entitlement that says "I can promote and spam as much as I like, you have to put up with it, and I don't have to give anything back in return." It's the 'all about me' syndrome that is so objectionable.

  5. Yvonne, you are ALWAYS supportive and encouraging. 🙂

    I'm glad I missed whatever transpired. And I'm not going to go looking for the discussion, as much as I want to.

    I read a very funny post when I was doing the research for my own post last week. It was about why this writer detests Tim Ferriss, the author of 'The Four Hour Work Week'. I can't possibly do justice to her blog, it is worth reading. She says he lies – that he probably works a hundred hours a week, doing all the things he does to achieve the high level of competency he has. But he apparently was a king of spam, and used this to get to where he is.

    There are those who will say this moxy is what it takes. I firmly believe it is possible to promote yourself with confidence and class, and not step on toes. That's my goal, anyway.

  6. I take a somewhat contrarian view. I think people should be allowed to post signatures with links to their websites and books as along as that's not all they're doing and they're participating in the discussion. Some sites (including this one) are annoying because non-promotion has been taken to the extreme. People write comments and you have no idea who they are, what they've written, or where to find them or their books. Plus who even knows what the rules are. I've broken them inadvertently and been slapped on the wrist which ticks me off. I'm on the ASJA forum, a a juried organization of journalists, and everyone puts their books etc in their signatures if they want to. Is that allowed here? I have no idea.

    Erica Manfred

    author, Interview With a Jewish Vampire

    1. Erica, folks post comments with their signatures (which include links) all the time here. I'm not sure why you feel we take non-promotion to the extreme. Indies Unlimited is dedicated to celebrating, supporting and promoting Indie Authors, so it would seem to me that we do exactly what you advocate.

      1. Judging by the growth of this site I'd say whatever you are doing is working. I see a good balance. There opportunities for promotion and others for discussion. We choose where we want to participate.I like that there is not a lot of cross-over from one to the other.

          1. Yvonne, I couldn't agree more.

            I have friends who have nothing to do with the writing profession who have visited this site, particularly for the freebie Fridays, and of course my posts. 🙂

            The site has a comfy yet professional feel. The breadth of the article topics is impressive, and the tutorials have been commented on by many LI users. I like to post links there to share this info, and to highlight what can happen when a group of people band together with a purpose. People are not stupid – they quickly figure out who is only out for themselves. This site is, for many Indie writers, a beacon of encouragement, information, and hope.

            Group hug!

    2. On my site, as opposed to Indies Unlimited, we have the Mission Statement as the banner on the same page, and the Group Charter in Docs. Each new member is directed to both so there shouldn't be a misunderstanding, but of course there is.

      The problem is exactly as you state – most of the people who violate the rules are NOT participating in any discussions. They just come on the site to spam and move on. Or they pop on to make one little comment with their link attached, and then disappear. Which is unfair to those who do follow the rules – who then quite justifiably also complain.

      1. OK, so why haven't you posted links to your books Lois, Valerie? I also think this is a great site that celebrates Indie books. I just think a little more self-identification is in order but people are so wary of self promotion that they don't bother to give a helpful signature. My post had to moderated, I assume because there were links in it. In a way that makes sense, in another way it's annoying. Anyhoo, I've suggested to the site owners that they start a forum on this site. This would make a great forum topic. Hope we have one soon.


        author, Interview With a Jewish Vampire (no links)

        1. Erica, first-time posts are moderated because we are literally and constantly slammed by spam-bots. It had nothing to do with your links. Once someone's comment is approved, they can then post subsequent comments without moderation, until they either clear their cookies or their cookies expire.

        2. Ummm, there's a couple of reasons why I don't promote here. One is that I'm a contributing author and I don't want to abuse my privileges – any more than I do on my own site. Although, strangely enough, I've been accused of promoting myself there pretty freely, something I don't actually do. (My books are also in Amazon's Kindle Select program – so although I do open freebies on it, my books aren't available to all e-readers.)

          Second, and this is just my opinion, if people read me here or on my other sites and get to know me, they might just go check out my books themselves. Just because they're curious. And that's better promotion than anything else.

  7. When I was writing my first novel, the critically acclaimed 'Joe Cafe', I gave this issue a lot of thought. How would I approach it with my second novel, the as yet to be probably made into a movie, "The Biker". It does bear consideration. I try to keep most of my stuff centralized in one place at "Bad Book", the book I wrote with Kat and Hise…that's a whole other ball of wax entirely. But I just wanted to say, good post! 😉

  8. Here's something I don't get: let's say you write genre fiction. Let's say you love sci-fi, in particular. So, naturally, you end up joining a handful of groups dedicated to your interest, on Facebook, Goodreads, wherever. Science Fiction Writers and/or Readers Groups. Something you might well have done even before you wrote your first novel.

    So you make friends and have interesting discussions and when your novel is published, its release fits naturally into any conversation you have with those already established friends.

    Here's what I don't get: where were all the fly-by spammers before? If this is their passion, why were they not *already* part of at least one community, whether it be sci-fi, chick lit, paranormal romance, whatever? And if they weren't, how deep does their love of their chosen topic go? Like, why are they even writing?

    It's a headscratcher, for sure.

  9. Clearly these people have only caught half the message – the bit about needing to promote their work. The second half of the message though is that you need to promote yourself in order to be effective.

    All of us can be identified by our blogsites – if readers like what we say and are prepared to go look us up. I never bother with hardcore promoters because they never have anything interesting or worthwhile to say.

    I propose a 2 strikes and you're out rule. First time gets a warning and the second time just gets a delete. Can't do much promoting if your promotion can't be seen.

    Apologies for being so harsh but my tolerance levels are a little low at the moment.

  10. The whole thing is one doesn't even have to mention anything. Being interesting makes people wonder what you have written. Say something controversial in a thread, or slightly edgy, and people ask themselves "Who IS this interesting woman? I wonder if she's written any romantic thrillers!" And off they go on a google rampage, looking for your stuff.

    All I have to do is say, "Boo" and my sales go up. I don't even have to list my links or titles. Magic. Say boo over and over again, and people reply to your outrageous, pithy, controversial, or just downright TRUE comments, and there's a rush on your wares.

    Isn't there, Valerie?

  11. People are so rude! Anywhere you go it seems that people are "entitled" to something. Just last night, at the place I work which will remain nameless, we did a "members" night. Because members pay their dues to the club, we treat them to a free meal once a month. What they are getting is clearly stated on the advertisements we do, no more no less. AND STILL people want to sit there and whine, and moan, and say they are "entitled" to something which is not offered. I can't tell you how many times I had to tell people there weren't any desserts offered last night and how many of those same people sat and complained and told their friends and other patrons that it was "crap that the — didn't have desserts", "we pay our dues, we deserve dessert". Never mind that there is a profit/loss margin that needs to be observed. Nope. People wanted their damn desserts. Or stuffing. Or some other nonsense.


    Anyway. People are greedy. And those who complain the loudest are usually worthless. Not as people necessarily, but in that they don't want to do the work themselves. Yes it's nice to be promoted on a website like this, but people can't use it as a "catch all". No one is going to lose their meal if their $2.99 book is not bought RIGHT THIS SECOND. It's ridiculous that people should even sit there and write an email like that. I respect people who want to do their own promotion, if I like the book I'll promote it myself insofar as social media goes. But, that should be all that's expected from anybody, really. Narcissism is one thing (technically we're all a bit of a narcissist) but demanding something just because you're an indie author and everyone should buy/promote your book because you're just so frakking awesome why can't the world see it? is crap. Telling people so on every website that supports indie authors and then expecting instant promotion? Absolute crap.

    I like IndiesU because you guys keep it low key without being under the radar. It's an easy-going environment while still maintaining a sense of professionalism and responsibility. The articles (and rants) are great, and I've quickly lost space on my iPad because of the Freebie-Fridays. I come back every day and I'll keep coming back because this place is great and, blessedly spam-free.

  12. Boo! 🙂

    I've written a few posts here about what I called personal branding or the soft sell. Today, a woman stopped me in Yoga class and said she bought my charity donation, a basket containing my book, a bottle of 'Sin Zin', wine, etc., at a benefit for American Vets. Bridget talked about this is front of two other women, both asked for my book card, which I keep handy, and she basically sold my books for me. Her comment was, "when you said you were self-published, I was skeptical. I've read some awful stuff. Hey, would you mind looking at the new line of lounge wear I'm designing to match my linens?" She owns a company. We sat down for 20 minutes after class, and I read through all her marketing material, and made a couple of suggestions.

    She wants to know when the next book is coming out.

    This was the point I was trying to make in a couple of previous posts, and the point is echoed in the comments of some of you. You can self-promote with style, confidence and class. To become known as an expert at something, or simply as someone who has a great sense of style and a knowledge of what a niche wants, that is good too. If you don't care about these things, the fun side of promotion, then my posts won't be for you. I love doing this, writing and promoting, but in the way I feel will be most successful in attracting the readers I am trying to reach.

    Ac and RJ, you are right – your comments and presence on this thread is welcomed by the contributing authors at IU. This is an honest, supportive environment. Personally, I thank my lucky stars for these people every day.

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