I thought writing a novel was the hard part. I thought endless drafting and editing and proofreading involved the most work when it came to being a writer.
I was wrong. My debut novel has been on sale for a little less than a month, and I came to the conclusion very early on in its release that writing it was the easy (and far more enjoyable) part. Why? you ask.
Marketing. Marketing is a hard and seemingly endless process. Why is it so hard? Let’s put it this way: how do you get someone to care about the color of the underwear you’re wearing? 9 times out of 10, you don’t, and if you do, chances are the person you inform will give you a look and move on. That’s what marketing feels like: throwing underwear at random and hoping someone is a dirty underwear collector.
But I digress. This post isn’t about my trials of marketing at large but rather a very specific aspect of marketing: social media. And instead of telling you what I think works and has worked for me, I’m going to tell you what hasn’t worked and why.
The Insta-Direct Message
Let’s be clear about one thing: the auto-insta-direct message after I follow an author on twitter or like an author on Facebook is not okay. I don’t want to be thanked. I’m following out of interest not because I need to be congratulated for typical social media behavior.
Wanna know what’s worse? The auto-DM TELLING ME TO BUY AN AUTHOR’S BOOK! I don’t care if it’s on sale or has 100,000 5-star reviews or was written when you were spun out on heroin and disillusionment. The minute–nay, second, I get an auto-DM telling me to “check out my book”, I make a conscious decision to never read it. NEVER!
I even had one guy tell me he’d eat shards of glass to get me to read a free sample of his novel. I told him, “video tape it, or it didn’t happen”. He didn’t get my passive aggression.
Unrelenting “Buy My Book!” Drivel
I guess I just don’t understand when publishing became so spammy. Auto-DMs are annoying, but what’s more annoying is an author overloading my Facebook or Twitter feed with “Buy my Book!” or something else along those lines. It becomes even more annoying when said author spends money (this happens!) on “promotional companies” who literally just regurgitate the same message over and over from different spam websites (all of which have little to no followers) and post it on the author’s social media on their behalf.
Here’s the lowdown: I (and other readers, I’m sure) are more inclined to look into what an author has written if the author has posted something interesting and/or unrelated to your work itself. For example, if an author writes an excellent blog post on publishing or politics or the state of endangered iguanas, I may just be tempted to click the “My Books” tab on the website and then decide if I want to read.
Authors should strive to get organic readers that way.
Following to Unfollow
It goes like this: I’m on twitter, minding my own business, when I post something or retweet something with a popular hashtag. I then get a follow soon after by Billy Bob’s Stories about Iguanas. “I like iguanas,” I say. So I follow back.
I get off twitter, get to the WIP I should be working on, and instead of actually writing I end up back on twitter an hour later. But what is that? My follower count went down? That’s odd.
It’s also frustrating when I discover that Billy Bob’s Stories about Iguanas has unfollowed me almost immediately after I followed, and that’s why his follower count seems ridiculously high in comparison to his following count.
How deceitful, Billy! How unbecoming!
With these people, I immediately unfollow back. I find it annoying, rude, and egotistic when authors do this. And the worst part is when those same users follow me again months later and attempt to get me into another follow/unfollow bait and switch. You aren’t J.K. Rowling or Justin Bieber (not that I’m sure you’d want to be). Tricking people into following is annoying and definitely isn’t going to make me want to buy an author’s book.
Responding to Negative Reviews
There is a lot to say about this topic, but the best way for me to explain this point is to show you. Observe:
For context, this book had something like a 4.5 star average rating prior to this outburst. Look at the star rating now.
Despite the fact that flame-throwing is entertaining, funny, and something I can’t help but watch, it’s also cringe-worthy and unsavory for readers. Don’t make a bad name for yourself by responding to negative reviews (and I mean AT ALL). Do what other writers do: get a glass of wine, read a good book, and move on.
The number one mistake an author can make is acting like they are the only person on social media. These authors don’t interact, they don’t post anything but their own work, and they act like they’re a celebrity like Kim Kardashian who can get attention simply for existing.
The sad news is that you are not Kim Kardashian. At the end of the day, no one will care that you’ve written a book. You need to make people care. You need to engage with readers and prospective readers, you need to contribute positively to a community. And guess what? Doing so is easier than ever before thanks to social media.
What’s your biggest social media pet peeve?