Monday 15 August 2011


Just where is the line when it comes to self-promotion?

Since I’ve started using social media to reach members of the writing community I’ve met a lot of great people. Most of the people that I’ve met are aspiring writers like me, but some of them are published writers. There’s both indie and traditionally published authors in the mix.

Now, I have no problem with someone using their blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed to promote their books. Marketing is part of the writer’s job these days, whether you have the backing of one of the big six or not. If I’m following your blog or your Twitter account it’s kind of assumed that I have an interest in what you write, and that information on how to purchase your book could be useful to me. I love reading about new titles, book covers, and all that jazz. What I don’t like is when a writer crosses the line from informing to spamming.

I follow an author on Twitter who is self-published, and she is a lovely person. She was very welcoming to me when I was a newbie tweeter and I like her. I don’t want to have to stop following her. But the writer in question regularly tweets message after message with slogans about her books. When I say regular, I’m talking about multiple times an hour.

So where is the line? What is an acceptable amount of promotion for authors to do for their book? I find the hard sell off-putting, and if someone engages properly with me and tweets interesting things and occasionally mentions their book, then I’m much more likely to purchase.

What do you think?  


  1. Oh, man--I hear you. It is really hard to clearly write the line, though, isn't it. I think there is both a frequency and a ratio involved... like if they promote 3 times an hour but only once every other hour is their own work... that I might see as just a go-getter, helping other writers, hoping for paypack... I wouldn't be annoyed (but I probably WOULD tune out--too much is still too much). But when it is a person's OWN stuff often, that DOES annoy me.

    There are tricks--I look at Elizabeth Spann Craig's blog and she gives writing tips. Often she gives a specific example from her writing (or sometimes life) but they seem relevant and unintrusive, yet I feel like over time I know her characters--she's done it right. But I've also seen the same attempt, but using the words 'in my book, XYZ, I..." and it is suddenly too heavy handed... far easier with "my protagonist has..."--same information, but much softer sell.

    As for heavy promotion... I forgive for book releases and events--sharing good reviews... (that's just encouraging to those of us writing), but there is a window...

    By the way... I have an award and have tagged you in a meme today...

  2. yep, thats annoying. you can discreetly tell her its doing the opposite of her intent by bombarding her followers or can you just lessen the amount of tweets you see from her like on fb?

    good post =)

  3. Tweeting promotions excessively is taking it a little far. It's good to build your platform, but don't flood the market to the point where people are rolling their eyes. Sometimes less is more!

  4. That is over the line! I think more than one mention a week is too much, on any social site. That seems to be the biggest problem with authors using social media - they use it JUST to promote rather than build relationships and network.

  5. that would bother me too. I think that is a bit much. I hope you are having a less pain day!


  6. I think the best marketing strategy is to provide interesting content with your tweets or FB posts (writing tips, informative articles, or even just being funny) and mention your book only when you have "real" news to share -- my book's coming out on Wednesday, I just got a nice review from this blog, etc.

    The "spam my friends/followers" method of book promotion always backfires by driving off the very people you're hoping will support you.

    Successful pros (John Scalzi, Holly Black, Scott Westerfeld, for example) never spam their books and I choose to follow their lead.

  7. I have no idea where the line is, but I do know this is the fastest way to get me to unfollow someone, ick.

  8. It's hard to self-publish and I understand why she's Tweeting about it so much. Buuuuut... (you knew there was one, right?)...publicizing shouldn't take the place of reaching out to your audience. You should have a bit of show and tell about yourself and a bit more of asking their opinions on writing, life, et all. If it's all about your or your project then no one will bite the bait (in real life or web friendships). My two cents. :P

  9. I understand, but I think that that is crossing the line a little bit. Publicity is nice, but when the people are annoying, it has gone too far and the possible reader might just be too annoyed to even check out the book.

  10. Annoyance is subjective, but unsolicited promotion gets to me. Occasional is fine... If I didn't ask to subscribe to a blog and the author sends it to me anyway, I definitely won't read it. I think people have a general sense of what's appropriate,and that some day all the inappropriate people will find themselves Tweeting each other and no one else.