Twitterspam, and How Not to Do It

You know how sometimes you click the follow button on somebody’s Twitter profile, and before you know it, you’ve got an e-mail saying they’ve sent you a direct message on Twitter?

You know where the rest of this is going, right? If you click the link in the e-mail, nine times out of ten, the direct message will be a buy-my-book request. Here you are, not knowing this person from Adam and/or Eve (except maybe you ran into them in a like-fest), and already they’re pestering you to buy their book. You have no idea whether their book is: 1) in a genre you like; 2) about a topic you’re interested in; 3) readable. And yet the first thing this other author says to you is, “Hi! Thanks for the follow! Be sure to buy my book!”

Um. Thanks, but no.

D.J. Lowbridge wrote a blog post containing six reasons why you shouldn’t DM people to buy your book. You can read the whole post here. But my favorite is number 3: If you’re sending people direct messages to buy your book, you probably aren’t writing your second book.

Many, many indie authors – from heavy hitters like Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey on down to, well, me – recommend that you have more than one book on offer. Why? Because if somebody reads one of your books and likes your writing style, they are likely to go looking for another book by you, and buy it. And if they read that one and like it, they’ll be back to look for more books by you, and buy those. Lather, rinse, repeat. Pretty soon, instead of selling your books one copy at a time, you’re selling multiple books to the same person. And you know what we call that person, right? A fan! And fans tend to be vocal about the things they like – which means their word-of-mouth can gain you more fans. And so on. Pretty soon your fans are doing your marketing for you. Sweet, huh?

And if you can come up with a plot for a series, it’s even better. Hook your reader with the first book in the series, and you’ve pretty much got a guaranteed readership for all of your subsequent books in that universe.

But first, you have to write all those books. Which means that if you’re pestering every person who follows you on Twitter to buy the one book you have listed on Amazon, you’re wasting time. Get off the internet and write, already.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

21 thoughts on “Twitterspam, and How Not to Do It”

  1. Yep, had one of those as soon as I became active on Twitter. Didn’t buy the book. 🙂

  2. Never sent a DM tweet yet. Don’t plan to unless I know for a fact the person I’m sending it to is either on fire or already soaked in gasoline and thinking about lighting up a Kool.

    1. I’ve sent a few DM tweets but I knew the people elsewhere and it made sense to say something privately rather than publicly. I’ve deleted a number of followers for DMing me… Sometimes if I’m in a good mood I first DM them with a twitter etiquette lesson :/

  3. Personally, I agree with you. I never, ever, send direct messages that ask you to buy my books. However, do you realize that there are many, many “mavens” who give the exact opposite advice? Who are we to believe? What is the real recipe for success? In my opinion, there is no recipe and no advice is going to help everyone. It’s luck, and it’s who you know. Period. As it has always been, in some way or other.

    1. True enough, Ilil. The only thing I can say in response to those mavens who think you should bug the ever-lovin’ out of your every Twitter follower is to quote my daughter Amy: “Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it’s wrong.” 😀

    2. Way too many mavens who give that advice and automated tools to help you send the DMs. Those are “mavens” not to follow as theve not caught on to the “social” part of social media.

  4. A big ‘Here Here!’ to both Helen and Rich. And a very pertinent post at this time, Lynne, there’s a lot of that getting around at the moment.

    I couldn’t agree more with you by the way: time better spent writing that next book; although anyone would be hard pushed to be as prolific as you are, Lynne, power to you.

    1. Well, thanks, TD. I feel like I should take a little break right now and concentrate on selling books for a while. But I still won’t be DM’ing Tweeple. 😉

  5. Those things irk me. You’ve just met someone, and they’re shoving links at you. Not cool. Off to write more…thank you, Lynne!

  6. 100% with you Lynne. I never had those automatic DM messages. No matter what they say, they feel impersonal for what they are: a bot message. I’m editing my 2nd novel, a sequel. I’m eager to verify what we all know. More books sell more books 🙂 and create fans.

    Can’t wait, and the wait is now only a matter of two or three weeks. 🙂


    1. You’re right, Massimo — when you get one of those DMs, you know you’re talking to a machine. 😉 Good luck with your launch! (Daimones is still somewhere in my TBR pile. I need to catch up…)

  7. Very, very good advice, Lynne. When someone follows me I go through a bit of a discernment process before I follow back. It’s probably the reason my followers and following list are taking a long time to grow but I feel it’s the only way I can have some assurance about the people I connect with. Very few of the people I’ve connected with have sent those kinds of DMs – thank goodness!

    Always enjoy your posts :))

  8. When someone new follows me and I have time I go to their “page” and retweet something. It is so much more effective in creating connections than invasive DM “buy my book” from strangers.

    Great post as usual. I’ve not been on Twitter much lately and forgot how annoying they can be. This past week I cleaned up my following list and was able to start following a number of my followers and boom my box was full of buy my book or like me on FB auto DMs. Since they are automated its not taking time from their writing its just ticking off their potential fan base.

  9. I just tweeted a link to the “Fat Assassins” book. That is how I typically use Twitter.
    Twitter is still not a major social media site for me and maybe this is why – my stream is over-run with self-promotion, sometimes the same author tweeting the same link ten times a day. I don’t get it.
    Every once in a while I see an interesting tweet and I re-tweet it.
    Thanks for this post, great job.

    1. Thanks, Lois, and I hear you. Someone recommended to me that I try checking in three times a day, and reviewing only about the last hundred or so tweets. I figure that out of those hundred tweets, only ten or fifteen will have interesting content that I will actually want to look at, so the task isn’t that bad at all. 😀 And still I’m lucky to get there twice a day…

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