Author Don'ts (Part Eleventy Thousand – SPAM Edition)

I’m not an expert on promotion. Or on writing. Or anything really. But I know what I like and I know what I don’t like and I hear what readers say too.

Promotion is a big job. It is. It takes up a lot more time than most people assume. There’s a lot of pressure out there for an author to do well, to sell well and to be honest, most of us aren’t sent on book tours or have any real promotional budget in our contracts. So the huge majority of promotion falls on the author do to. There’s a lot out there. Websites and blogs, facebook, magazine ads, banners, review sites, swag to send to readers and bookstores, etc.

Believe me when I say, before I begin my ranty little screed, I get it. I know what it’s like to worry over sales and numbers. I worry all the time. Yes. All. The. Time.

When it comes to promotion, I’ve never felt that in your face, BUY MY BOOK announcements work. And I really don’t think it works when the 400th author at facebook “invites” me to her “book release” works. I’m not talking about a party, or a loop event or contest, though I don’t want to be invited to a contest either. Because first I unfriend them and then I never buy their books. Your book release is an event to you. Only to you. Now, you can celebrate it at your blog. At your website and your loop. On your OWN facebook page even. But do not clutter up my inbox with “invites” to your book release because that is spam. SPAM.

It doesn’t matter if you try to sell me ED pills or your book release – unless I’ve asked for it, you sending me, or anyone else unsolicited commercial mail is spam. It’s not effective. Think about who you see doing that sort of thing. Now think of successful authors – do they do things like this? Does Nora Roberts invite her entire facebook friends list to her book release? Does Heidi Betts or HelenKay Dimon? No.

And while I’m on the subject of spam emails – just because we emailed two years ago once about something unrelated does NOT mean I want to be on your newsletter list. DO NOT add people to your newsletter list unless they’ve asked you to be on it. If they went to high school with you, or you know them from the neighborhood, or you share a publlisher or a loop doesn’t give you license to spam them with your newsletter. This happens to me all the time. And it makes me insane.

First of all, I have a newsletter too. It has a process to sign up for it, and a positive check – as in you sign up and get an email making sure it was you so you won’t get added without your permission by someone else. Because while I’m happy to send out a newsletter (though I do fall down on the job and don’t do it regularly) I don’t want to send you one unless you actually want it. Call me crazy.

So to recap – don’t send people mails via facebook or email that they didn’t ask you for. If you do, you’re a spammer and no one likes spam.

Goodreads – sigh. Okay, listen, don’t recommend your own books to me there. Truly. I hate this and it makes me sort of feel sorry for you as I unfriend and block you. To me, and this is just me and all – but it seems sort of sad. I mean, my assumption is that every author thinks his or her book is awesome. I don’t need you to give yourself five stars, refer to it in glowing terms in the third person and email me about it. Really. Automatically I think, *why*? Why is this person having to do this instead of letting her book stand on its own?

READERS and other authors recommending books to each other is powerful. Important. IMO, one reader rec’ing my book to another is a thousand times better than me sending out an email at goodreads saying XYZ book is the hottest fucking in space EVAR (though it totes is). When it comes from someone else, it means something. When I say it, it robs the importance from it.

Same with authors inserting themselves and their books into every single Amazon thread. Just ask yourself, again, if people who are successful at your chosen profession do what you’re thinking of doing. If not, then is it because the idea is so awesome but they hadn’t thought of it, or if, which is more often the case, it’s a bad idea.

10 comments to “Author Don'ts (Part Eleventy Thousand – SPAM Edition)”

  1. Lillie A
    August 6th, 2010 at 12:01 pm · Link

    When I first joined yahoo groups, I didn’t realize there is a very important preference that needs to be checked. I found out about this preference when, in the span of 2 weeks, 5 authors that I had never heard of signed me up to join their yahoo groups. WTF? They went right to the top of my I-wouldn’t-read-this-book-even-if-it-was-free list. (Yes, I do have a list.)

  2. Sabrina (about happy books)
    August 6th, 2010 at 12:40 pm · Link

    One guy at goodreads always recommends his own books and this is just weird. Guess I have to unfriend him soon.

  3. Andrew Shaffer
    August 6th, 2010 at 3:44 pm · Link

    Are there people that fall for these spam-artists, though? One “author” who spammed me on goodreads (one of many, many self-pubbed authors who spammed me, BTW) has hundreds of reviews for his book based on a PDF that he sends out “for reviews”. Just by the sheer number of spam messages he sends (to everyone on the site), he gets a few bites and now appears to have a “following”. I hope that publishers and agents see through this type of crap.

  4. Mary G
    August 6th, 2010 at 4:43 pm · Link

    Smart post. You’re not the only author who feels this way. It is sad to say that if people are going to spend their hard earned dollars on books they will not choose someone who annoys them or is unprofessional.

  5. michellekCanada
    August 6th, 2010 at 5:02 pm · Link

    I feel kinda bad for writers trying to make a go at it. I am not a writer just a fan so I am not defending by no means.

    I would imagine it is frustrating for you to get all these invites and things that you consider spam. I probably wouldnt want them either but how is an unknown to get their name out there? Getting a book published and to become a “known” author seems like a devil of thing to get into.

    Sure Nora doesnt need SPAM but she had a million fans and just the announcement that a new book is published is enough to have someone walk to a store and buy or download right away.

    I am a fan of yours so I follow your blog. Your book was recommended by another author I follow and then purchased from there. (and loved) But here is another example that you were already apart of a community of supportive friends willing to help you out and get the word out.

    So we know what a newbie is not to do, what exactly is a newbie to do? 🙄

  6. Tina Gerow
    August 6th, 2010 at 5:55 pm · Link

    Great blog, Lauren. And I totally agree. No one likes spam and I’ve never attended an author’s event from one of those unless I know them already.

    Michelle, I hear your frustration. It’s a tough thing to build a following. I think Lauren touched on the “how to” as well as the “how not to” in her post. Promoting on your own blog, website & loop is great, but I know you’re thinking, “How do I get people there?” It starts with people you know – friends, family, co-workers etc who read your book and like it and recommend it. From there, you can chat and be yourself on places like Twitter & Facebook. I’ve had tons of people say they started reading my books because my Tweets made them laugh on Twitter, or something weird I said on Facebook made them go take a look at my website. For me – that’s just being me, not really marketing.

    Joining your local writer’s group and networking, attending book signings, conferences and a thousand other things can help you in the right direction also. Don’t be afraid to ask other authors, and learn as much as you can.

    I’m not as “known” as Lauren, or a lot of other authors, but I’ve watched my following grow with each release – and even between my two pen names. It’s a process, but it’s part of this crazy life of being a writer, and can definitely be done. Hang in there!

  7. Shiloh Walker
    August 7th, 2010 at 10:59 am · Link

    On your OWN facebook page even. But do not clutter up my inbox with “invites” to your book release because that is spam. SPAM.

    THANK YOU! Man, I went on a mini tirade about this on FB a few days-I’m sorry after you have to come thru your inbox for 20-30 minutes and doing mass DELETE DELETE DELTE because some writers don’t get what ‘savvy promo’ is… it’s gets annoying.

    One dude actually had the gall to tell me to ‘deal with it’ because people are on FB to keep up with each other. Um, no-I’m on FB to keep up with readers and to let them know when I’ve got stuff coming out. I’m not on there to get spammed by every Sally Sam and Sue-especially if they also want me to… “oh would you please help me spread the word…”


  8. Shiloh Walker
    August 7th, 2010 at 11:02 am · Link

    COMB thru your inbox, by the way, not come thru… 😯

  9. Cindy
    August 7th, 2010 at 11:15 am · Link

    Most of the reading loops on Yahoogroups have promotion days where authors are welcome to announce releases, include excerpts, etc. Here’s the thing that bugs me and I actually ignored an author for two years because of this…every promotion day, they promoted every book they had published, some weren’t even in print anymore. After days of seeing their name fifty thousand times in my inbox I screamed and put them on my do not buy list.

    Now, admittedly, I recently shifted most of those groups to another email (which I should check soon, lol) so I haven’t been seeing this author’s flood of promos, and since Medievals are so hard to find, I broke down and bought her newest one.

    I also hate the “event” thing on Facebook. I read the statuses that come through my wall, I know when most books are coming out (or I have a good idea) and what I want. Events get clicked ignore 99% of the time by me, so they’re not effective.

    Go to good reads, Shelfari, Visual Bookshelf on FB, find the readers who write reviews for books. Ask if you can send them an ARC to review…most readers will be most willing to. Join the Romantic Times message board, get to know the readers, we have a few authors that hang out there. They also have a promo thread. Hold contests for free reads and gifts…readers love those.

  10. Tori [Book Faery]
    August 7th, 2010 at 11:16 am · Link

    Worst part is when you get those annoying authors who decide to send you 450943583495 billion group invites… to the same group you keep denying.

    Also about the book rec: I find that feature almost annoying now because one author abuses it so damn much. 👿