Four years ago I wrote a blog for Inkspot called Blatant Self Poisoning. It was a commentary on BSP, which in the writing world stands for blatant self promotion.
As authors we all need to do our share of BSP. It's a necessary evil. Without BSP readers would not know about our books. Some authors hate doing it, others love tooting their own horns. Personally, I fall somewhere in between.
In the past year I've noticed BSP running rampant on social media, much more so than when I wrote that blog in 2011. Twitter is horribly filled with it, and I've unfollowed a lot of authors on Twitter because my feed was filled with their constant shouting about their books.
Here is the beginning of my previous blog on the subject. I feel it bears repeating:
Recently I was having a meal with a friend – another author. As always, our conversation turned to discussing books we’d read, those we were reading and those added to our To Be Read Pile. When I mentioned a book I’d recently picked up, she groaned. “I wanted to read that book,” she said, “but if I see one more word about it or even the cover again, I’ll vomit.”
Yeah, isn't turning people's stomachs the goal of every author when they're pushing a new book?
Yet, it continues. And continues. And continues. More so than ever.
Listen, I well understand that with the thousands of books out there you need to be heard above the shouting. Really, I do. I have books I need to promote too.
Be nice, no matter what. Hostility and general ass-holiness will result in lost sales and your name put on a shit list.
This past week an author sent me a promo bomb via a Facebook private message. I didn't know this author personally. He was one of the nearly 3,000 friends I have on my personal page. I unfriended him and then posted something to my page about how I hate it when authors do that. A discussion, as always, ensued, and even spilled onto another author's FB page since it seemed a lot of us received the same PR bomb.
One author posted a comment about how maybe that author was a newbie and we should gently advise him how not to do BSP. Okay, I agree. In fact, over the years I would take the time to nicely tell an author who employed such annoying habits that it wasn't a good practice and would end up with them losing support instead of gaining it. My niceness was met with mixed results. Some thanked me, saying they were new to the process and were just learning. But many countered with hostility and a smugness that made me want to smack them into next week. The negative reactions ranged from them calling me a bitch, to claiming I was jealous of their books, to telling me to fuck off. (Yeah, one guy did say that.)
Hijacking other people's pages will only get you unfriended and your name put on a shit list.
Another DO NOT DO THIS approach is posting your PR to another author's Facebook page. Some blatantly do this. Others think they are being coy by tagging a list of authors in the post, thereby spamming many pages in one blow.
And please do not friend another author and when they say thank you, counter by placing a link to your webpage or author page on their FB page. Really???!!! Quit being so lazy by piggybacking onto another author's friends lists. Build your own.
Again, as with the PR bombs, I started out by speaking to the offenders, saying this was a no-no. Again, I was met with some nice responses, but the majority were ugly or argumentative.
Now when someone PR bombs me, I simply unfriend with no further interaction. If they tag me unnecessarily, the tag is immediately removed and the post deleted. If it continues, that author is unfriended.
I love helping other authors promote their books, and do it often by posting PR for other authors on my FB page, but I do it. That's the key. It's my page. I place the PR I want on it. Sometimes I do it on my own. Sometimes an author will write and ask if I will help them promote their new book. Whether I do or not depends on my relationship with that author and if I think my followers will enjoy their book.
From the mouths of readers. Remember them?
(aka I couldn't say it any better myself)
When I wrote that first blog about Blatant Self Poisoning a lot of great comments and opinions were posted by readers. Readers, remember, that's who you're trying to reach. You can't reach them by hitting them with a stick. Here are just a few of the comments from readers re BSP:
For me, the promotion becomes off-putting when an author is on every list, every day, sometimes more than once.
If you're on social networks be there consistently and interact with people whether you have a book coming out or now. And when I say interact, I mean interact, not shove your writing at everyone constantly. Care about what your followers are saying, respond when they ask you a question, be involved in fun conversations.
...when your book comes out, mention it is out. You can mention it multiple times, you can link and show where others have talked about it - miminally. Don't link to every review and don't let your conversations ONLY be about your books.
If the only time I hear from a writer "friend" is when s/he is self-promoting -- no good.
The author who turns every single topic into a reference to his/her book...SO offputting!
There are authors whose future books I have little or no interest in because they pounded their followers on Twitter and Blogger so hard the first time around.
BSP is over the line, for me, when that author gives nothing back to the community of writers that supported and nurtured them. There are authors who never comment on other's blogs, or talk about others books, or respond to a post unless they can give BSP about their own blog, book, website etc. Very noticeable and off-putting.
Remember, a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. If you burn your bridges early on, how are you going to get across the river and build a solid, long-lasting readership