Stop The Insanity!

shiningI’m going to take off my writer hat for a moment and put on my reader hat. Indie writers, I need to discuss something with you, something that’s keeping my money out of your pocket.

Ever get one of these things on Twitter? “#[book title here] #mywana #indiepub #thriller #kindle #sjrozanoncetoldmeimtotallyawesome*”

If you’re lucky – and I use the term very loosely – there might be a link to whatever the tweeter is pimping. Or here’s another one: The Facebook invite to like a page three times a day. Let’s see if I’ve figured out your logic correctly. I didn’t take the invite the first time, but maybe after 21 invites in a week, I’ll see the error of my ways and like your fan page, which, incidentally, has zero information. (I know. I neglect my fan page as well. I’m a bad boy.) Did I get that right?

Here’s how I respond to excessive hashtags in my feed: I delete the offending twit. Pester me with an endless stream of invites, and guess what. We’re no longer close personal Facebook friends who likely have never met anyway.

jehovasAgain, I’m speaking as the reader. When you pound on my cyberdoor like a Jehovah’s Witness, you’re going to get the same reaction: I’m not going to answer the door. Fortunately for you, that’s different from the way I used to answer the door: naked. That poor old grandmother just got out of therapy last year. If I see nothing but hashtags, I ignore a tweet. So does everyone else on Twitter. If I’m pelted with invites from the same page several times a day over several days, someone’s getting unfriended, possibly blocked. I’m not a best-selling author or even a moderately successful one. But I am a reader, and I can tell you what turns me off. That’s just as important as what works.

Similarly, just writing an ebook or being an indie writer? How is that a selling point? Why does that warrant me to part company with my hard-earned cash? Sure, you can compare yourself to a band playing clubs and local festivals, but an album takes only forty minutes of my time without demanding my visual attention for more than a minute or two. A song is 3-7 minutes. A book, just a 60,000-word book, is at least three hours out of my life. You need to make a more compelling case.

Kristen Lamb, the social media and self-publishing maven (and finder of fine cat pictures), says that social media is intended to be social. If all you talk about is your book… Hey, I’m watching NASCAR as I type this. I can wait ten minutes if I really need to see some advertising. Google sticks them in places where it doesn’t get in the way with all that Googleness that brings me to their site.

Dean Wesley Smith takes it a step further. He hates social media. He puts a new spin on your mother’s old saw about saying something nice. If you can’t say something interesting, don’t say anything at all.

Ernie Kovacs as a used car salesmanThink about when someone wants to sell you something. I’ll use the local furnace people as an example. About two years ago, we had our furnace tuned up. The technician called me downstairs and showed me a dark spot on the inside of the heat exchanger. “I’m going to have to red tag this. I’ll send my senior tech out with some estimates on a new furnace.” Yes, I was being strong-armed. The year before, another tech from this same company pitched a fit when he could not fit a new thermostat where the old one was and literally complained that we cost him a sale.

We did get our furnace replaced. Who did it? A local independent guy, though we got some nice estimates from some bigger companies whom we almost went with. What made their pitch better, and why did the independent guy get the job? They said, “You likely could squeeze another winter out of this furnace.” Good so far. Then they quoted the price and said, “And for that price, I can do X, Y, and Z.” Two of these companies got a callback. The independent guy could throw in central air. See?

I’ve the odd flyer from one of the companies. I got a free estimate on some electrical work from the other. I haven’t heard from the guy who did my furnace. Why? The job is done. No one from any of those places is going to barge into my house during a tune-up and tell us that the house will blow up any second now!

That’s how you come off when you over hashtag, talk of nothing but your book, and bombard me with invites. Remember, the strong arm doesn’t work. It doesn’t make you a popular author. It makes you an asshole.

*You can’t use that hashtag. I trademarked it. #suckstobeyou


3 thoughts on “Stop The Insanity!

  1. Love the Jehovah Witness comparison. Writers are told all the time to show and not tell in their work. But in marketing all it seems they do is tell and tell and tell.

    Great Post.


  2. I’m with DWS on social media. I hate it, and more and more it seems everyone is there just to sell me something. Bleck! I, OTOH, hate selling as much as I hate being sold to so I am much happier staying off Facebook and especially Twitter, although I do have accounts there. Also I have no cats to post pics of.

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