Yo, Author, You Spamming Me?? Cut it Out!

by Joel Friedlander on July 13, 2012 · 68 comments

Post image for Yo, Author, You Spamming Me?? Cut it Out!

They arrive almost every day in my inbox. I bet you get them too. Here’s one that arrived today:

Hi – We hope you don’t mind but we’re giving Kent a hand with the launch of his new novel and we thought you might like a sneaky peak!!

Its a great read and I am including a link to the synopsis here.

Yep, it’s another promotion from an author I never heard of, never signed up for, and have no interest in.

Just another day on the internet?

But why? Why do authors continue to spam people they want to attract?

Are authors so desperate they need to conduct business like Nigerian princes looking for a quick $75,000 loan, or that cousin of yours writing from their hotel in London about their lost passport?

How about this one that arrived just the other day?

Hi,

The Book of Ezekial: A Story of Love and Power is inviting you to join Facebook.

Once you join, you’ll be able to connect with the The Book of Ezekial: A Story of Love and Power Page, along with people you care about and other things that interest you.

Thanks,
The Book of Ezekial: A Story of Love and Power

I don’t know anyone named “The Book of Ezekial,” do you? Who is this?

Social media is supposed to bring a new era of marketing and relating to your readers, one where you:

  • attract engagement
  • foster relationship
  • carry on conversation

What Is SPAM?

Usually, SPAM is described as “unsolicited commercial email” and it’s a real pain in the neck, littering our inboxes with junk we don’t want, didn’t ask for and resent having to spend time with, even if it’s just hitting the “Delete” key.

So why do authors do it?

You can’t really call it marketing, which involves locating communities of interest and communicating with them about your book or the ideas around which it’s built.

Or maybe these authors haven’t heard of the idea of permission marketing, where you engage people and offer something that’s interesting enough that they give you their permission to communicate.

Yep, it’s the permission that’s missing here.

Seth Godin wrote a book on it, and he says:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.—Seth’s Blog

I get these pitches all the time and I bet you do, too. I get them whether or not I know the author, and it doesn’t matter to them that I never buy or read the kind of book they are pushing.

It’s almost like these authors thought putting together a real marketing plan was just too much work, so “Let’s just email everybody, you know?”

Here’s my advice: When you’re itching to just let every single person in your email account know you’ve just published a book, DON’T. Try to find the readers who are actually interested.

They congregate somewhere.

They discuss things and you could get involved with those conversations.

Who knows, there might even be a place to mention that, yes, you just published a book on the subject.

But please, authors, don’t spam your friends just because you have their email addresses.

It won’t help.

Photo by CarbonNYC

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    { 60 comments… read them below or add one }

    Moonshade March 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you for posting this.

    I’ve had fellow writers pull this sort of thing on me for years, and honestly, it’s kind of turned me off to self-publishing. I know that not all self-pubbed authors are like that, but a biased, illogical part of my mind will forever associate that track with those squawking bozos who ask you to ‘like’ their page or follow them for a contest or for support, and then flood your page with seventy tweets in the space of an hour, or your Facebook wall with dozens of “buy my book!1!” statuses in the course of a few minutes.

    I still support the people who self-pub, and I hope dearly that more excellent and professional writers will take the stand and earn self-pubbing the respect it deserves. Because honestly, the squawkers are giving them all a bad name.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Moonshade, we’ve all been there. It’s likely that a lot of this activity, as Karina notes above, is from authors who may be good writers but don’t really “get it” when it comes to marketing.

    Building a robust author platform, on the other hand, takes actual work, a fair amount of time, and a genuine concern for the people you are talking to.

    Reply

    Karina Fabian July 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

    A post after my own heart! I am on many groups that have degenerated into announcements of blog posts, book ads, and requests to vote. I used to do that, too, but stopped a few years ago because it made me as uncomfortable as it annoyed others. I occasionally “spam” my groups with an announcement of a book, a periodic reminder that I have a newsletter if anyone would like to follow it (once every 4-6 months, I mention this) or a fundraiser story like the one I’m doing now for the Colorado fires victims, but otherwise, I try to keep low key, and I never spam my e-mail address list.

    I think a lot of this comes from the fact that writers are often introverts, combined with all the advice about “letting all your friends know” and “repeat yourself–post often!” Creating “relationships” with a large group of people isn’t natural for us, so we default to the simple, direct: “Here’s my stuff. Would you check it out?”

    I’m in the process of rediscovering the joy of my writing career and marketing issues like this are playing a big consideration. I’m glad I came across this blog today.

    Incidentally, the spam phenomenon is growing. Yesterday, I got an e-mail from an acquaintance asking me to vote for him for Credit Union Worker of the Year (or somesuch). I didn’t know he worked at a credit union, and I don’t know what credit union he works for. I’m puzzled at an award like that being based on a popular vote of non-members, yet that seems to be the trend.

    Reply

    Lori July 24, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Joel,
    You make a sound point. Who doesn’t hate and completely disregard emails we didn’t ask for and couldn’t care less about? However, I would like to encourage you, in future posts, not to use real titles in your examples. Behind every example is a living, breathing person. A writer like yourself, no less.

    I didn’t write The Book of Esther, but I can imagine how I would feel if I opened my inbox and found that I’d been publicly humiliated on a blog such as yours. Writers have fragile egos anyway, and you might have caused this one to hang up his pen forever. If he’s tough, he’ll take your point and learn from it. If not, you’ve just knifed one of our own.

    It would have been a simple thing to change the title and still make the point without hurting anyone.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 24, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Lori,

    Of course you are quite right, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I have no desire to humiliate writers and perhaps I should have “changed names to protect the innocent.”

    I also heard from a reader who knows one of the authors involved, by the way, since this post spread pretty widely.

    On the other hand, some people have said that if you constantly spam your whole community you pretty much give up your right to complain about being criticized for it. I don’t know if that’s true, but as always my intention here is to educate. If authors end up learning something from this, that would be a good outcome in my mind.

    Reply

    Eric E. Wright July 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Okay, confession time. I approached the whole social media business with energy thinking it was the answer to my need to market my books. I’ve personally contacted bookstores and maintain a relationship with them, sent out letters to those who bought my other books, and set up book tables at many venues…but costs have become prohibitive. I’ve tried to do a lot of constructive things on my FB and Twitter pages, but once a week or so profile one of my ebooks. Yikes, I didn’t realize I was spamming! Now everybody hates me! I guess I need to join spammers anonymous.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Eric,

    If you’re mailing to people who have asked for the information, or who have signed up on your Facebook page or followed you on Twitter, I would say you’re doing it right. I’m specifically calling out the people who are mailing every single email address they can find or, worse, signing people up to an email list without their knowledge or permission. So no hate here! Good luck with your books.

    Reply

    Eric E. Wright July 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Thanks for the encouragement Joel.

    Reply

    R.A.Savary July 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

    This is very good. I can’t wait for it to get worse, because like many other things in life, “it has to get worse before it can get better.” When people get sick and tired enough, the writers will return to writing and the agents and publishers will again look for desirable reading material. There is nothing wrong with being competitive in a competitive day and age, but it requires doing the work – the work involved in having something worthwhile to sell, not the work required to sell something that goats won’t even eat. The people of the literary world need to wake up, and chase off the skunks from the marketing world before the smell becomes unbearable.

    Reply

    Heather July 20, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Thanks for the heads up. I’m thankful that I have a friend who would be willing to read my book, who is also in PR. Its the kind of rare friendship you treasure, and you hope never to use or abuse, so I’m waiting for the time when I have something truly awesome to send her way. She has tons of tips, and she’s definitely against the SPAM method. But its not just books being sold to me. This should also apply to all of the people out there who are also creating online Magazines, or events that they want people to attend. Simply spamming everyone is not the way to get people to come, they also need targeting marketing.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Heather,

    Yep, and targeted marketing is so much more satisfying. It’s great to know you’re sending your stuff to people who are very likely to be interested. Rather than a nuisance, you can feel like you’re actually doing something that they will appreciated.

    Reply

    Helen W Mallon July 20, 2012 at 6:58 am

    You just earned yourself some gooooood karma with this one.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 20, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Hey, thanks Helen, I think I can use some!

    Reply

    Sundi Jo July 20, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. I was just introduced to your site through Rachell Gardner. Looking forward to reading more.

    Hey – have you read my book…. Just kidding

    Reply

    kathryn Magendie July 20, 2012 at 4:41 am

    A-doubledanged-men (and I’m an author – it’s ironic when I’m spammed, really).

    Reply

    Eva Rieder July 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Great post, Joel. It is getting out of hand, and I’m glad to see someone pointing it out. It’s a bizarre marketing “plan” that is utterly useless and quite frustrating for the recipients. I’m also enjoying the comments on this thread (and automatic Twitter DMs must go!). Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 20, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Yes, I could have included dozens of examples of the dread Twitter DMs. I guess it sounds like a good idea when you first get started on Twitter, and there may be a presumption of interest since you followed the person, but I have to believe that authors using those DMs just don’t have many contacts on Twitter or they would also be innundated with them and would come to the conclusion that maybe they should just STOP. Thanks for the comment, Eva.

    Reply

    Laura Pep Wu July 16, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Joel, this happens WAY too much and seems to be getting worse by the week. I’m so glad you drew attention to this simple fact: it is SPAM and doesn’t achieve anything. Thanks!

    Reply

    gold account July 16, 2012 at 5:20 am

    When I launched my book that coined this phrase 9 years ago, I offered people a third of the book for free in exchange for an email address. And I never, ever did anything with those addresses again. That wasn’t part of the deal. No follow ups, no new products. A deal’s a deal.

    Reply

    LJCohen July 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you for this. Among my soap box issues is the auto DM when I follow someone on twitter with a message ‘buy my book–here’s the link.’

    I’m not stupid. If I’m interested, I know how to click on a profile and see if they have published something. If they’re engaging, interesting, and post content other then links to their own work, I”m likely to at least download a sample of their writing. But if they immediately send me a plea to like a FB page/buy a book/etc, it’s an automatic unfollow for me.

    I’m getting so frustrated with twitter, or at least my mix of folks I follow. Too much self-promotion, too little engagement.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I wouldn’t enjoy Twitter nearly as much if I didn’t use lists and #hashtags to filter my Twitter stream. They make it so much more focused and manageable. But yes, let’s throw the Twitter auto DMs into this mix, Lisa, they are terminally idiotic and probably do exactly the opposite of what’s intended.

    Reply

    c9cREVIEWS July 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Joel, completely agree. I have recently reclaimed my Twitter stream by un-following an IAN member because of their following the IAN company-line and re-tweeting everything they receive with an #IAN1 tag. I dearly wanted to hear what this author had to say, but the spam made it impossible. IAN seems to be author-helping-author gone way off the scale.
    -Andrew Thompson
    http://www.c9creviews.com/blog/2012/07/14/spam-and-ian1

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Good point, Andrew. Those re-tweeting and link sharing circles can get out of hand very fast, and all of a sudden you’re knee-deep in stuff you have no interest in. Don’t apologize, just unfollow.

    Reply

    Katie McAleece July 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I couldn’t help but laugh about ‘The Book of Esther’ part – “Who is this?” That was funny!

    Totally agree that it is ridiculous and lazy to solicit readers via Spam mail. Give us a break. And please stop making the writers that are working hard for their business look bad!

    Reply

    Gary Roberts July 14, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Yup, it’s those sleaze “book marketing” firms at work again. They take the cash of unsuspecting or simply naive authors who think they’re going to get real marketing and in return, they get garbage spam.

    In an apology to Spam, I did like Spam as a kid when I lived in Post WW II housing and we ddn’t have any money. Fried on toast please.

    Even though I use Typepad and iCloud with lots of filters, the garbage gets through. Hard Hearted me dumps it all.

    Reply

    Barb July 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I’m so thrilled you posted this. I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have the guts to contact people I didn’t know. I feel uncomfortable even telling my friends that I wrote a book. I don’t want them to feel like they have to buy it just because they know me. I’ve had so many people tell me to get over it and that I need to market market market everywhere to everyone. I know the book won’t sell itself without a little help but thanks for making me feel that discretion is a normal thing.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Hey, Barb, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s normal to be wary of connecting to people we know in a new way. By talking to people who you know are interested in the same subject it will feel a lot more natural.

    Reply

    Matt Syverson July 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    This echoes a post on Publetariat yesterday, and it’s something I’ve been thinking and saying for some time – “Stop Marketing Your Book To Other Authors”. Authors have got to get out and sell their print books to the public. There are numerous options for doing so, and I always find it to be a rewarding experience, both socially and financially. Thanks for yet another fine post, Joel.

    Reply

    Elaine Olelo Masters July 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Would you be so generous as to give a few details of how you do market your books? I”ve had children’s books published by Island Heritage in Honolulu, and I marketed them through schools as well as book stores. But now I’ve had an adult narrative non-fiction published about Thailand and am casting about on how to begin marketing. Please help!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Elaine,

    You might want to take a look at this video I just posted the other day, since it bears on your question:
    The Book Marketing Continuum

    I’ve written quite a bit about marketing for authors, for a sample of some of the articles, try this category link:
    Articles on Book Marketing

    Hope that helps!

    Reply

    Tahlia Newland July 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I’m always a little forgiving of spammers the first time they do it, but not if they keep doing it. I figure that no one really wants to be a spammer, they just don’t realise that what they’re doing constitutes spam. It’s like you say, they think their book is as important to their email list as it is to them. Hooefully they will learn that it isn’t the way to sell books.

    After I started the Awesome Indies, I got emails I didn’t want from authors who automatically added me to their lists. That annoyed me. People who get my info about new releases have signed up for it.

    An author contacted me about a month ago and wanted me to put a promo up for them. I did, even though I hadn’t read the book (usually I don’t promote anything I haven’t read or isn’t on the Awesome Indies list) but I wanted to be helpful. Then I got a newsletter from the author, so I wrote back and asked if they would do the same for me, ie post a promot of my new book on their site. No reply. Now that really stinks! Surely, if I do it for you, you should do it for me. Needless to say, next time I get their newsletter, I will tell them not to send me any more. I’ll not be accpeting any more such promtions either. best not to encourage that kind of thing.

    Reply

    Shaquanda Dalton July 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I hate spam. I always wonder how they get my email address.

    Another spam I hate is being mentioned on twitter to check out this or thatroducts that I am in no way interested in. And with twitter, you don’t have to be following the spammer for them to be able to mention you.

    Thanks for the post Joel

    Reply

    Ilana Waters July 13, 2012 at 9:13 am

    “The Book of Esther?” That’s the signature? Wow. I didn’t know a book could write an e-mail! *shakes head*

    Reply

    Nadine Feldman July 13, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I just got a request from someone wanting to use my blog to promote several authors. All I had to do was e-mail them for details, and I could win an Amazon gift certificate. One the one hand, I felt bad saying “no,” because I like to promote authors on my blog. However, I ONLY recommend books that I’ve read and enjoyed. Also, had they actually visited my blog and read it, they would realize that I’m an author, too…no mention of inviting me to participate. After reading this blog post, I’m feeling pretty darn good about turning them down!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Unfortunately, there are so many genuinely nice people out there that spammers and scammers can rely on lots of people saying “yes” out of some vague sense of obligation or not wanting to say “no.”

    I bet if you knew exactly how many people received that solicitation you wouldn’t feel bad at all, so congratulations.

    Reply

    Anna Erishkigal July 13, 2012 at 7:39 am

    It’s true!!!

    Thank goodness I’m not the only person who cringed away from all the ‘social media marketing 101′ dogma after spamming my family and friends just once with my first novel. I -do- let people know I also publish 100% original novels available on Amazon now, but only after I’ve published a certain amount of free content and got a dialogue going with my freebie readers letting them know I’ve got other stuff available if they feel like plunking $2.99 for an ebook.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Anna, the irony here is that social media has made targeted marketing easier and more accessible than ever before. Your content marketing strategy is a case in point, since the people who are attracted by your freebies are exactly the people who are likely to be interested in your books!

    Reply

    Dane Zeller July 13, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Thank you, Joel. So true. I guess now would not be the time to mention my new book. :)

    Reply

    Tracy July 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

    If the book is about a Nigerian Spammer who lost his passport in London and needs $75,000 to get a new one.. I think this is the perfect place and time to pitch it.

    Reply

    RD Meyer July 14, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Ever want to have some fun with the Nigerian Spammers? Try answering one(from an anonymous email address, of course). What follows can provide hours of entertainment. ;-)

    Reply

    Tracy July 13, 2012 at 6:09 am

    Spam, or at least, Guerrilla marketing, is steadily becoming another piece of ammunition that traditional publishers are using to disparage self-publishers. With a large marketing budget and a series of set, tried and true marketing channels, traditional publishers rarely make the same mistakes that new self-published authors make. For the self-published, many have little to no budget for any real advertisement. Even legitimate low-cost avenues, like sending ARCs for review, are severely limited for the self-published author. With this, traditionally published authors and their mouthpieces can beam with pride that they won’t have to spam you, as a self-published author will.

    Without resources for low cost marketing, this leads to desperation for those that want or need their title to be found in a sea of other work that has more access to acceptable marketing channels. I believe that there is also a naivety inherent in some self-publishers that their work is rare and not the commodity that it is. Certainly, some titles are niche, however, there are hundreds of thousands of novels published each year (according to Bowker) and many new authors just do not realize this. That assumption confounds the issue greatly by assuming a work has initial value, which it does not.

    Lastly, the power of viral marketing has become oversold and is highly oversaturated. In the early days of web 2.0, a new creative work with an edge could gain a following through some cleaver sharing. Today, little is remarkable enough to be remarked upon by the masses. Aside from building some form of fantastical advertising that is unique enough to catch attention, the average media and social media consumer is satiated with failed attempts at viral glory.

    There is no simple solution to the problem, as the risk/reward for this behavior still just high enough to perpetuate it. However, counting on these tactics is a very poor way to attempt to market a product with any certainty. In the near future, I do see a time where authors are shunned for using these practices, such as with this article. When the heat from more moneyed or traditional publishing and marketing outlets begin to expose these guerrilla marketing practices for what they are, there may be some change. When bloggers and other media outlets, as well as the general public begin to push back, the practice may finally end for the most part. Nevertheless, it will never go away. We will always be plagued by “attention muggers” robbing us of our time.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Tracy, thanks for your thoughtful comments, and you are right on target.

    However, I’d like to point out that guerilla marketing, to my way of thinking anyway, has absolutely nothing to do with spam but refers to “below the radar” and inexpensive do-it-yourself marketing.

    Also, there’s no reason why self-published authors can’t run a very robust review campaign including ARCs, press releases, and creative ways to get noticed. In fact, many self-publishers, including me, having been doing this for years because it’s quite effective.

    And lastly, I’d like to remind readers that there are hundreds of free and low-cost ways to market books intelligently. Spamming people is a sign of confusion, laziness and desperation. For niche subjects, self-publishers are capable of being more effective marketers than large and ponderous corporations.

    Reply

    Tracy July 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks Joel. You are right, the concept of guerilla marketing is much larger than the spam and jam technique that has become the norm lately. The issue of ARCs, in fiction, seems to be a bit of a problem though. Doing research and building a list of review sites, many, probably half, openly state that they will not accept self-published books. It’s not quite as bad as publishing houses requiring agented submissions, but there are a lot.

    On the positive side, there are several credible review sites springing up that only handle self-published books. I am hopeful this trend will continue into the future.

    There is room to build a solid marketing plan with targeted areas to approach. However, there are several walls in place by some large players in the fiction review community.

    On the topic of spam, there is another angle that is making larger and larger waves. Reputation pumping is starting to get out of control, and is just as bad as spam in my opinion. People are now available to hire to pack Amazon with plenty of false reviews. Some services also offer packages to pump up Facebook likes, twitter followers and Google +1s. It seems that with enough money, an unknown could churn out a title and have thousands of reviews, fans, likes, followers and similar inside of a week. It’s almost like you can buy a “rock star in a box” package. Social media and the strength of reputation looks like it is going to soon be just another commodity with no trust. Then what do you do to ferret out the good stuff?

    Reply

    Tahlia Newland July 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Packing Amzon with false reviews is appalling & unethical & will degrade the whole system.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus July 13, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Authors who use self-publishing companies should be aware that marketing packages may include spam sent to potential readers and reviewers.

    You can get a “Complete Internet Marketing package” from iUniverse for $9,999. It includes an email campaign to ten million recipients.

    iUniverse says that you’ll save thousands of dollars with this package.

    If you do the important parts yourself, you can probably save $9,000 or more of the $9,999.

    If you don’t buy the package, you can avoid causing ten million spam recipients to hate your guts and shun your wonderful new book.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.bookmakingblog.blogspot.com
    http://www.SilverSandsBooks.com
    http://www.BookFur.com
    http://www.Facebook.com/SilverSandsBooks

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

    That must be it, maybe “The Book of Esther” published with iUniverse?

    Reply

    Maryann Miller July 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    LOL, I loved the comment, Michael, and your response, Joel. Some time ago I heard someone equate social media marketing as the same thing as going to a cocktail party. You don’t walk in with a pile of books in your hand and start trying to sell them. The same thing applies to joining Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, as well as to whom you send announcements that you have a new book out.

    Some authors I know, like Terry Odell, Tim Hallinan, and a few other up and coming – although Tim may already be up (smile) – have a real pleasant way of engaging people on their blogs and on lists, and then when they announce a new book, it is like a friend calling with some good news. I think that is the best of what we are trying to achieve. Thanks for starting this discussion, Joel.

    Reply

    Pete July 13, 2012 at 5:00 am

    I did a satire video about this very thing.

    The Anti-spam Public Service Message:
    http://youtu.be/VL31OIktdZ4

    (I have your email address, Joel – mwaaaahahahahahaha)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

    LOL, very good, Pete, thanks for the link.

    Reply

    Maree Anderson July 13, 2012 at 4:36 am

    THANK YOU! I am so very very tired of LinkedIn for this very reason. Someone asks to link with me. I accept. And a large number of people take that as unspoken permission to email me with every single new blog post or new book or product or whatever release. And if I politely ask to be removed from the “mailing list” I seem to have been “accidentally” added to, they get cranky with me. Wow.

    I even have a polite permanent message on my profile stating that I’m happy to accept links, but please don’t take this as permission to add me to mailing lists. I point out that I’m an author, and I know how hard it is to sell books, but I don’t sign them up without permission because if they want to hear all about my books and blog posts, they can sign up for my newsletter or RSS feed. But alas, my pleas fall on deaf ears. (I was beginning to think it was just me who had a problem with this.)

    Honestly, when I do get spammed without permission–and yes, I do view unsolicited messages about new releases etc etc as a form of spam–I’m even less inclined to click a blog post link or a buy link than I normally might be. It’s like those annoying ads on TV turning potential customers off so they won’t buy the product on principle.

    Yes, it is hard to market our work in this day and age, but I don’t believe unsolicited marketing or mass emails is the answer. You might think “hey, it’s only one email, where’s the harm?” but those on the receiving end are getting loads of those “one” emails and wading through our in-boxes becomes a “how fast can I hit the darn delete key?” and “Grrrr. If I get one more message from that person about their new whatever I’m gonna unlink/unfriend/un-something them!”

    OMG, that turned into a mini-rant. I do apologize! It’s a hot-button topic for me, I’m afraid.

    Great post, Joel. I do hope people take notice and take your message on board.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 13, 2012 at 9:50 am

    No need to apologize, Maree, we feel your pain. Adding people to an email list without their permission is, in general, a really bad idea and one that won’t work anyway, for all the reasons you just said. Not only that, if you do it enough, you stand the chance of getting “blacklisted” and then your mail won’t go anywhere.

    Reply

    Tahlia Newland July 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I’ve stopped using Linked In for this reason. The discussion forums were either people abusing each other or leaving trying to sell you their book.

    Reply

    Laura Libricz July 20, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I’m lucky to have found one small group of writers on LinkedIn who still ‘discuss.’ All of the other groups I’m in consist of spam, ‘job offers’ and people trying to push their services.

    Reply

    RD Meyer July 13, 2012 at 1:17 am

    The only people I’ll email are people I know who I think will like what I’ve written.

    However, I do have a serious question – how does a writer go about trying to gin up publicity outside of their circle without looking like a desperate pain in the ass? Spam is not the answer, but you have to try and solicit reviews and get the word out, so what would you recommend to break that barrier?

    Reply

    Tracy July 13, 2012 at 7:11 am

    My advice would be to follow the same rules of etiquette and marketing you would use in the real world. Spammers who cast wide nets are like those people that leave leaflets under your windshield wipers at the mall. Attention getters who shout out to everyone on their email lists and facebook pages are like the guys standing out on the corner with a sign reading “the end is near!”. Viral marketers are like the dancing sombrero in front of Del Taco, amusing, but easily forgotten.
    You get my drift.

    If you want to market, do it in a personable way. If you are broke, start small with small groups and maybe even work local and small book stores. Look for groups of people that are interested in your content, just as Joel suggested. If your work stands on its own, it will grow. If you have the budget for legitimate marketing, do that. Be smart and reach out to people that might enjoy your work for what it is, don’t reach out to someone simply because you can.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 13, 2012 at 9:47 am

    RD,

    Your question is the reason it’s a great idea to have a marketing plan before you publish your book. Who are you publishing it for? Where do they like to buy books? What are they looking for? What will they pay? Who already has an audience of these people? What are the most effective ways to reach those particular people?

    Publishing without knowing any of this stuff is frustrating and leads to the kind of spam we see all too often. If you can’t answer any of these questions, maybe hold off on publishing until you can, you’ll have a much happier experience in the end.

    Reply

    RD Meyer July 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Joel,

    i understand your point, but isn’t connecting with fellow writers a valid part of that plan? I don’t mean spamming 10,000 random websites and hoping you score with three, but what about those folks with whom you’ve had a larger relationship? Maybe you’ve been interacting with them for a couple of years or they’ve commented on your own site about they were looking forward to your work.

    I don’t mean making this an exclusive part of your plan, as there are so many other parts(free giveaways, workshop networking, smaller publications, etc.), but where’s the line drawn between spam and hoping to entice someone you know to give you a helping hand? With rare exception, none of us has actually met the folks we know through these blogs, but we all feel part of the same community sometimes.

    I realize I sound like a pain in the ass, but I’m not trying to come off as facetious or annoying. My own work is a ways off and spam won’t be a part of it, but I’m looking for teh etiquette on asking others you know who might be better established to help you out. What do you view as spam versus a legitimate request from an acquaintance?

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    RD Meyer July 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Sorry for the typos. One day I’m going to learn to proofread BEFORE I hit submit. :-P

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

    RD I think that’s totally different. You’re talking about people who you already have a relationship with, and who have already shown an interest in your work. Certainly we rely on our friends and colleagues when we’re getting the marketing engine started. What I’m objecting to is the wholesale slamming of every address in your email program with sell copy. Thanks for helping to clarify that.

    Reply

    Steve Vernon July 14, 2012 at 4:42 am

    It’s simple. You’re next book is always your best advertisement for your last book which is likewise your best advertisement for the book after the next.

    I know that sounds like something you’d find in a fortune cookie but it is the bone-hard truth.

    I blog. I Twitter. I Facebook with the best of them – but there is nothing more effective than that dude who picked up your book just because he saw it sitting somewhere – read it and raved about it to all of his buddies without any prompting what so ever.

    Writers ought to write, right?

    Reply

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