Sunday, April 3, 2011


Social networking is a reality for authors these days.  If you want to get the word out about your book, you have to join some social networks and start talking with people.  Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums are pretty necessary for new authors.  But remember, you're not only selling books, you're selling yourself.  It's easy to forget this as we try to get noticed amongst the noise, but being professional is key in getting sales.

One of the big things I see that authors do to 'turn people off' is to spam everyone.  There is a time and a place for talking about your book.  The trick is to do your research first, and figure out where the places are that you can post ads about your book without coming off as a Sir Spam-a-Lot.

When someone mentions a forum they've successfully used to sell their book, don't rush in and post all kinds of messages about your book.  Each forum has its own rules about this.  Take some time to read all of the posted rules, and also read the forum messages to learn some of the 'unspoken' rules.  For instance, on the Amazon Kindle forum, the stated rule is to not post any messages about a product you're selling, but there are some threads created specifically for posting about your kindle book.  If you spend some time on the forum, you'll get to know what is socially acceptable there as far as self-promotion.  You'll also get to see what happens to authors that overstep their bounds.

In some places you'll find there are no written 'rules' about posting ads.  You'll have to either ask the people in the group or use common sense.  For instance, on the Facebook Kindle page the people there will tell you that it is perfectly fine to post a message about your book as long as you're not doing it too often.  I think once a week is fine.  Any more than that and you run the risk of annoying the people there.  And common sense should tell you that if you only show up once a week to post an 'ad,' you'll probably be ignored.  Try posting other messages, really talking to people, or answering some questions.  Then when you do post about your book you will get a much better response.

On Twitter, I have seen authors whose entire Twitter feed is posting ads for their books.  (I've seen this on Facebook too.)  Honestly, this is not going to get you anywhere.  Sure, you can post every once in a while about your book, that's fine.  But who is going to listen to you when all you do is shout an ad every hour?  Turn it around and look at it from a different perspective.  Imagine you're in a room full of people.  As you near someone he starts giving you a sales pitch about his merchandise he's selling.  He doesn't greet you, he doesn't ask your name, he just continues trying to sell you something.  Later on you meet someone else.  She says hello to you and asks you how you're doing.  You strike up a conversation, and find out you have a lot in common.  Who are you going to want to hang around with?

Social networks are like a large social gathering.  Don't be that guy that just goes around trying to sell something to people.  Be the kind of person you would want to hang out with, and you'll find yourself in a much better situation.

Okay, enough talk about ads.  Now you know how not to be that annoying Sir Spam-a-Lot.  That's good.  But if you're not talking about your book... what are you supposed to talk about?  The answer is simple.  Talk about whatever everyone else wants to talk about.  Be polite.  Let everyone get to know your personality.

Sometimes on forums you will see a post that might get under your skin.  Whatever you do, don't post a snarky response.  On the internet you can't hear someone's inflection.  Read over your posts to make sure you aren't coming across as rude.  Use a smiley face if you want to tell people you're not being snarky.  Don't participate in flame wars.  And if someone really makes you upset, step away from the computer.  Don't post a response when you're emotionally involved, you'll regret it later.

Remember, the internet is massive.  Not only could your post be read by potential readers, it could be read by agents, editors, publishers, or your mother.  Before you click that 'send' button, read over your post to make sure it wouldn't potentially offend anyone.  Think about how professional you sound.  Are you portraying yourself in a good light?  Do you come across as a know-it-all?  Could anyone take your post in the wrong way?

If you're new to a forum, make sure you're not jumping in and asking questions that have already been asked a million times.  Most forums have a search option.  Go ahead and do some searching to see if your question can be answered by checking old threads.

And of course, do not respond to bad reviews.  That goes without saying, right?



  1. When I saw the title pop up on my Twitter feed I thought you would go some way with this blog, but only the last line actually seems to refer to it.

    I totally agree with what you're saying. Giving a good impression is very important.

  2. I figured that enough had been said already about not responding to bad reviews. ;) But every day I see authors getting snippy or angry on posts, and it puts a bad taste in my mouth. I don't think they realize that readers do see those.

  3. I know. I've been on the web long enough to know that if it gets on there it will stay there. For me using aliasses for different places is important so people don't get the wrong impression (like a scientist using an alias when writing science fiction so people will still take him serious as a scientist). But even then, always being polite will always be in your own best interest :)

  4. A lot of this is common sense, which, when it comes to shameless self promotion, is not so common. Also, I think the internet is a new way to market for a lot of authors. Readers, it seems, are already settled in, but authors are new to the scene and tend to want to do the typical ad yelling wars. It doesn't work, and I'm happy you're pointing this out.

    I've heard the Amazon Kindle forums have a notorious reputation. Apparently there's a lot of snark going on there. Is it common for authors to be snarky on forums and discussion boards?

  5. I often tell people - what you post on the net STAYS on the net. Not always a good thing. Read twice, think thrice.

  6. Such great advice. I've had to walk away from the computer many times. ;)

  7. Your point about snarky posts is excellent. In a face-to-face situation, most people are sensitive to non-verbal feedback when they're saying something to another person. The absence of that feedback is one reason online statements go way over the top.

  8. Thank you for your comments about not spamming -- I've stopped posting on a lot of discussion forums because the spamming got out of control. They became the cyber-equivalent of the penny-pincher newspapers you find laying around in laundromats!

    Walking away from critical reviews is difficult but necessary. Commenting back never does anything good.

  9. This was a brilliant "How To" girlie, and I reckon best summed up by "Be the kind of person you would want to hang out with..."

    That's ace advice for anybody looking to do anything online.

    Unless you're me. I talk about farts and make up bitchinsweetawesome words.

    In all seriousness, this is a very valuable post, and one I wish more folks would read (I'm sharing it around heaps).

  10. Nice overall post about marketing etiquette. I can't stand the spam posts or the posts that are OBVIOUSLY trying to subtly spam. I try to focus on connecting with readers as a reader. Reading is a big passion for me anyway. If a reader that I'm friends with happens to see I have a book, that's cool, but I never push anything on anyone.

  11. Amen to that!

    I know I need to slow down, pushing my book. Partly guilty. :-)
    What I find mostly alarming, is that authors get involved in the forum and think it's their private persona being one there. A longer while ago, I posted about it, too: the internet, fora, blogging, facebook, you name it, is your reference. Be professional at all times. It doesn't mean you can't have a laugh, but you see so much bitching on fora, authors seeking representation calling each other names. Who wants to work with those people? I wouldn't buy a book from a person who calls others names.

  12. LOL, love the reminder to never respond to bad reviews. Although, I've also heard it said that authors shouldn't respond to good ones either. It's a pity that Amazon doesn't allow only reviews from actual sales. It would help weed out the shilling. As for promotion, it's too time consuming and I'd rather write lol. Keep up the good work and love reading your blog posts :)

  13. I appreciate this post, Vicki.

    Much continued success to you.

  14. As I've been in the process of placing a book on Kindle, thinking about marketing is what has terrified me the most. Thanks for this common sense advice.


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