Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dear Author, You're Annoying.

An Inky Round Table discussion

Barb: As my first novel was released just last week, I, like so many other writers, are struggling with how best to use social media for book promotion. But as readers, we're all bombarded with messages every day through Facebook or Twitter. So today on Inkwell, a few Inkies are talking about all those things that writers do to try to get noticed and sell books, but that might be working against them by annoying potential readers.

We'd like to invite our readers into the discussion. What annoys you? Or you could spin it positive and say what you like to see and what you think works.

Barb: The one thing that drives me crazy is when I log onto Facebook and see the same exact post, copied 20 or 30 times (no lie!) on various Facebook groups. I have one author that I had to block, because I couldn't read anybody else's posts amid all of hers.

Deb: I see frequent tweets that are redundant and seem to be auto-generated self promotion. Yes, we have to promote our stories, but automatically generated tweets that take the place of chatty comments bug me.

I understand that you have to shoot a bunch of arrows to hit the target but for those of us who have noticed you are trying to sell that book... I'd rather hear what you had for lunch.

If you don't have time to tweet, don't use it as a tool.

Barb: Yes, social media is a great opportunity for promotion. But I try to stay mindful that it is still social media. People aren't there to read our ads. They want to interact with us. If we're not interacting with people on a personal level, we're doing it wrong.

I'm struggling sometimes with what to post. I do want to share with my friends when I'm doing interviews or giveaways--after all, that benefits them too. But sometimes I feel even that can go overboard.

Deb: Well, certainly with a new release you have to use every opportunity! those don't bother me (certainly not Bloom and Doom!). The abundant tweets I'm thinking of are the same book title and sentence a year later. once in awhile? But not week after week. Okay, maybe it's worse when it's a book I picked up and couldn't finish. Oops

Susie: I agree. If I see eight tweets in a row promoting an author's book and the author never tweets anything else, I tune out.

Lisa: My pet promotional peeve is when authors assume that everyone in the contact list wants to receive their promotional e-mails or newsletters. Please don't sign me up for stuff. If I want to sign up I will. But you can rest assured that getting an unwanted e-mail will not prompt me to go buy the latest release.

Suzie: I totally agree with you, Lisa. Don't sign me up without asking first.

Niki: I'll pick on Pinterest... Please don't flood my Pinterest feed with multiple mentions of your book release. One, two, even five posts won't bother me, but when my whole screen is covered with posts relating to your book, it makes me not want to read it. Spread them out, tease me with them, make them stand out!

Jen: There's one author I see on Twitter that only ever tweets about her own books. She either posts quotes from the books, or pieces of reviews. Since she never tweets anything else, I have zero interest in her work.

Suzie: There's one lady on my Facebook like that, too, Jen. It gets so exhausting.

DeAnna: Okay, I guess I'm odd man out, but I really, REALLY don't care what my favorite author had for lunch. I don't care what my dad had for lunch, so why should I care what someone I don't even know had?

But I'm not much of a social media person. I tweet and FB because I'm "supposed" to. I don't read other people's stuff unless I just happen to see it. I always reply to anything people post TO me, but other than that, I don't. Who has time for this? How can anyone possibly read the tons and tons of information that scrolls through on twitter or FB or any of the other sites? I mean, if you do it and nothing else 24/7, okay. But really?

Okay, now you can all cast asparagus on me.

Barb: No asparagus, DeAnna. I think that goes along well with what my agent told me. I don't have to do everything. If I focus on doing what I like then I'll do it more consistently.

For me, I like the interaction of Facebook. I probably need to spend less time on it, but it keeps me from feeling so isolated when I'm home alone all day. I even like the games sometimes (I've cut waaay back. Honest.)

Perhaps that's why I see it more as a hang out place than a promotion place. But with some authors, it's like you're at a party, but you got cornered by the dude who's pressuring you into buying something while everyone else is having fun. I think it's OK to say, "Hey, I'm a writer. This is my book." That's different from the posts that almost seem to read, "BUY MY BOOK. BUY MY BOOK. BUY MY..."

Related to that are the writers who are determined that nobody else has fun on Facebook. They'll rant because someone dared to send them a game invitation (Some of them are generated automatically. If you don't want to get them, you can block them.) It's like the person who walked into a party and says, "Is someone having fun here? We'll need to put a stop to that. Oh, by the way, BUY MY BOOK!"

DeAnna: Heh heh . . . no, I think the people who like it should go for it. And I do enjoy chatting with people . . . IF they happen to say something to me (besides "buy my book"), but I have trouble thinking anyone would be interested in what shoes I'm wearing or what I'm fixing for dinner. And I'm certainly not interested in it enough to post about it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I have plenty of time sucks that I actually enjoy. Especially if you're supposed to say 9 non-marketing things for every 1 marketing thing you say. Not that I don't think that's a great idea, but who really has time for that?

Barb: This is probably a leading question, but what do you all think of the "I'll like your page if you like my page" strategy?

Lisa: I've always disliked that. It feels shady. Just playing the numbers, not legit.

Suzie: I agree with Lisa. I don't like it. My friend had a promo blog post where she would enter people in a drawing for "liking" her page. What's to stop them from un"liking" the page as soon as the drawing is over.

What does it even mean if thirty people like me because I liked them? To me it's empty.

So, writers and readers. Time to add your thoughts. What do you like to see? What do you hate to see? What works? What's just annoying? We know you have an opinion. Share.


  1. Asparagus. hmmm. yes, it's the season!YAY!

    this is going to be toe-stepping. When I read a blog post and I am interested in the book.. and my chances to get that book mean I have to do RAFFLECOPTER, I walk away. I don't want to go through five steps of non-personal interaction (which invariably lead to more social media in my face) to have a slight chance of winning a book. I'll either not read it, wait for it to go on sale, or once in a great while actually buy it!
    Imagine all the books I could read if I wasn't writing?

    Liking your page... hey I don't have a 'page' and when I do, you'll have 400 pages you liked and won't want to like mine. I 'like' pages on FB but it doesn't feel very genuine. Of course to get to some level of facebook recognition, an author is supposed to have a certain # of likes, right? so we don't have a lot of choice but to go begging.

    what happens is, there's a great blog post or a writer's conference where someone says 'do this'. and then 300 of your writing friends run home and 'do this' to widen their platform, build their tribe, blah blah blah.
    we are always in catch-up mode. I agree it's better to just do what feels comfortable and fun. and write a good book.

    anyway -- not a fan of rafflecopter though it makes perfect sense as a marketing tool.

    1. The first time I saw rafflecopter, I was kind of awed by it. It looked like a great way to gain new followers who were interested in what I write. But the second and third time I saw it, I think the novelty wore off. I'm not sure I like promotions where it seems like you make your entrants jump though hoops or run mazes.

      Does that build a following? Or does it just add to your following those same stalwart readers who don't mind jumping through hoops or running mazes to get free books?

    2. Good question! half of the hoops are ways to follow the author. Perfect if you are looking to do that and really want the book. If you are already following that author, you have fewer chances (or you have to go through multiple levels to prove you are). I don't know how it's going nowadays after being out for a number of years.

  2. It's so hard to do what is expected of us as authors without being annoying. Ugh! Sometimes I feel like a raggedy little British girl on the street corner selling pencils. "Buy my books please. Please, please buy my books."

    1. Exactly. And books are something we're also going to be excited about, along with everything that goes with them: good reviews, new covers. Right now I can't go into a book store without looking for my book, taking a picture, and posting it. We are writers, and we will post about our books. But I think that's different than spamming people with our books.

      At least I hope it is.

  3. I like the posts that are about the author's excitement over their process and production, because it's like a glimpse into that secret world of creation. That's different, to me, because it's personal, not automated. Maybe that's the key, keeping it real and personal.

    1. Yes, Niki. I think you're right. Being personal and genuine goes a long way.

    2. That's true. I do like that too.

  4. as a reader (and lover of book give aways) I DONT like rafflecopter - too much to do. just being in a draw is sufficient for me. i also try to be sure i read the post and write something more than only: "I want the book". if i can't contribute something, then i won't try to put my name in the proverbial hat. but that's just me.

    i like being able to sign up for a monthly/quarterly newsletter or getting a link to the author's blog where there's an exerpt or writing tip, using examples from her latest book. those are always cool.

    and i really really really really really like the week-long celebrations you ladies do here at the Inkwell. You always add background, history and extra information that whet the appetite for reading the book being celebrated. i think more authors should utilize you ladies - you know how to celebrate a book.

    i don't have a twitter account and only occasionally wander over to FB. but yes, those BUY MY BOOK authors tend to get ignored by me. i'm the type who enjoys a little of "did you know?" trivia that gets tied into the book.

    1. I'm glad you like our celebrations, DebH. I'm on the fence out a newsletter. I might end up developing one--or I might not. But I agree with the earlier comment. I hate being signed up for them just because the writer has my email for some reason.

    2. I just went to a 'virtual' workshop by My Book Therapy on marketing. They did suggest newsletters. I have to admit I am not a fan but I think they work for readers/fans. The few I get, I usually don't have time to read. Time is so precious. (of course I waste enough of it on social media when I'm bored -'read' avoiding my manuscript.) I think if you offer a newsletter to people that's great. If you go out and try grabbing people to get on your list--not good. And I feel like I've seen that too often.

      thanks Deb H. We love our celebrations too!

  5. Good post, ladies. I think social media is a two-edged sword. We as writers are very fortunate that we have it and if used correctly it can be very beneficial. But then comes the annoying part — when you start seeing the same thing over and over again. If I see another "how to" article on self publishing I'm going to scream. And I agree about the FB likes. I'm don't want you to like my page just because I liked yours. I want you to like mine because you're interested in what I'm writing, not as a favor. The same thing with Twitter. I know it's common courtesy to retweet someone who retweets you, but when I have to spend five minutes scrolling through page after page of nothing BUT retweets to find something that's not already a RT...grrrr. Thanks for letting me ramble :)

    1. The I must be offending people, because I didn't know you were supposed to retweet someone who retweeted you. I do follow most people who follow me--if it appears they have an interest in something I'm interested in.

  6. I usually only post about my books if there's something new happening. Not just a new book, but a new cover or "Hey, it's an audiobook!" or "Oooh, it's going to be in German!" And, y es, I think that goes into being real and being really excited. As a reader, I enjoy knowing about the process of publishing. "What went into your book cover?" "How did they choose that title?" That sort of thing.

    I don't think that's boring at all!

    I hope MY readers like it, too.

    And, yes, I LOVE chatting with actual readers. That is genuinely fun and one of the big perks of writing. But that's different from "Buy my book!"

    1. Sounds like you're engaging with readers on a meaningful level. :)

  7. I'm liking this post! Okay, I'm just reader and may be a little ignorant on the writer side of things. I have gotten where I don't even pay attention much to author Facebook pages anymore. Or Twitter for that matter. I'm not really a big fan of Pinterest either. Tweets can be redundant and Pinterest just annoys me for some reason.
    As for Facebook, I personally could care less about how many words were cranked out for the day. And if you ask your readers for some feedback or a question. How about interact with them? There's been several times where I will answer them but then they don't even acknowledge you. Why ask the reader the question if you don't care?
    I'm a member of many groups with some authors. There is one that posts the same thing on all of those groups, MANY times a day. You know, the book really sounds great, but I REFUSE to buy it because I'm THAT annoyed with the author.
    Recently, I have gotten where I don't even care to look at the author pages anymore. I just sign up for blogs and newsletters. If the author has anything to say, then they can let me know that way.
    Sorry, I think my rant is over..... Well for now. I may be back if I think of something else. Ha ha.

    1. Oh, Facebook groups. That's a hot topic with me. I think Facebook groups can be a great place to post book news. And there was a group I joined, with over 1,000 members, that prohibited self-promotion--just before my book came out.

      And I know why. It was those annoying drive-by posts. People posting the same book, multiple times a day, every day of the week. BUY MY BOOK.

      Yes, I understand the prohibition. Those ads are annoying. But they kept me and other writers from posting new covers and book releases and giveaways that members of the group might have enjoyed.

      The moderator did make a subforum of sorts for self promotion, but only a couple of dozen people had joined it by the time my book came out. And I don't blame people for not joining. They're basically signing up for a stream of ads--like the all commercial channel.

      Author pages--I'm still working on that. Ideally, I'd post personal things on my personal page and book news on my author page. But FB has limited how many people see the author page, so I end up posting the same thing on both.

    2. Yay - we love reader opinions. Of course we are all readers but I worry I lose my objectivity at times. I think we're all in agreement that the broadcast method of marketing is rather annoying. If you are only on one thing, it's okay, but most of us see those things in multiple places as you've said. and now I'm just repeating myself as well! Thanks Amy!

  8. Well everyone, welcome to what a conversation in the Inky cave looks like! Hope we're not stepping on anyone's toes too hard. Everyone has different things that set them on edge. I do think it's important not to just focus on what we've been told we're supposed to do by the PR and marketing gurus, but to get the perspective of regular readers and people who interact with us.


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