How to Not Alienate the Potential Reader

I see a lot of tweets when I’m at it. Yeah, I know I’m way tooooo often on facetweet while I should be writing, but I’m an addict. Erm, I mean, I have to for marketing reasons. What? You say I never market my work? Ha! But there you are wrong. Or right really, since I never, or hardly ever tweet the kind of tweets most indie authors seem to favour, i.e. “Buy my Book!” or “I have had a great review! You should buy my Book too!”

This is what I think those tweets are.


I am talking as the reader I am too now. Because don’t forget for a moment I might be an author who needs to market her books, I am a reader too. A reader who needs to be enticed to at least look at you, the author, and the book you are trying to sell me. Let me tell you here and now, sending me direct messages telling me to take a look at your book on Amazon do not work. They put me off because I get those by the hundreds each day and they get deleted upon impact in my inbox. I am not the only reader who does this, and if you’re not careful you will find yourself in the naughty corner for this behaviour, i.e. your messages will fall on dry ground and you’ll have ruined your chances I’ll ever look at your books because you have annoyed me once too often.

This is what I’ll be doing.

bert ernie

Same goes for those who only send out tweets along the line of “Buy me Book!” Tweet about something that catches my eye, something that makes me wonder, surprise me, make me think, make me laugh, make me think. Do not bore me, because if you cannot be creative in your tweets, how can you think I will expect you to be creative in your writing? Offer me more of you, of your ideas, of what makes you tick.

You ask me what should you do then? Well, I’m not the marketing guru to ask. What I can offer you is my view as a reader. We want to get to know the author, the author draws us to his book. Give us your attention, your time. Show us we matter, and not just our money which buys your book. Remember it is the person holding the wallet who buys your book, but only if you can entice us too. You might think browbeating us into submission by bombarding us with your book might work, but it doesn’t. Really, it doesn’t. At least not with me and not with a lot of readers I know.

How I feel when the next “buy my Book” message drops in inbox.

Scully blahblah

So, what do you think you can do different? Authors I challenge you, give me your best. Show me you can do better, entice me to buy your book, but not by bombarding me with pleas to look at the buy site of your book.

Tell, me what do you think you can do different?

35 thoughts on “How to Not Alienate the Potential Reader

  1. As reader I respond to

    *subject of the book, e.g. Jersey, Ukraine, 1939 etc. I bought and read several books because of those words in the tweet

    * Great or catchy quote from a review: “Cinderella with a twist” or something like that for Red Gone Bad

    * friendly author picture. Oooh, they look like they have an interesting story

    • Hi Chris, now those are answers that make sense. Thanks, it gives us food for thought. You know what? I kind of very much like how you used a twittering of mine for Red Gone Bad as an example. πŸ™‚
      And indeed headshots! people, authors! Get that funky headshot done, and make it one that screams, “You really, really want to get to know me and read my work.” πŸ™‚

      • Hi Lucy
        I too am really turned off by spammers. I’m the same with chuggers on the street (I wrote a blog about the same). I’m afraid the screaming mugshot ‘look at me’ won’t do it for me either. Like people who think they look ‘crazy’ or ‘fun’ in their profiles because they’re sticking their tongue out or blowing a kiss.
        The book really has to interest me, or the person.
        One thread I started on Amazon was ‘reverse promotion’. It injects a bit of fun into the tedious job of promoting and stops writers from taking themselves too seriously and also makes writers think of something witty and original to say (showing off their writing skills inadvertently).
        I’m not on Twitter so can’t comment on that!

      • Hi Kate, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Not on Twitter! πŸ™‚ Half of me wants to say, “Good for you!” and the other half want to shake you and say, “Get on there, there’s loads of fun facts to be found, and blogs and people to meet.” But we’re not all people addicts. (I guess I am a people addict, I just love having those snip snap conversations on twitter, or finding a quote in a twittering and following that url to land on a great blog by a photographer, or a foodie. I’ve found great things on it.
        Anyway, promotion. Yes, toss in fun facts, and never take yourself too serious, because when you think of it, I mean seriously, it isn’t that important what we do. We write, we don’t solve the worlds misery.

  2. Lucy,
    I, too, dislike the DMs that say, “Buy my book” and find them to be the BIGGEST turn off. Christoph’s ideas are very good. I always like to use a quote from an Amazon reviewer or someone like Ian Hutson, as his quirky references about the storyline of my book are very funny. Using quotes from reviewers make people think and eventually, they do buy. It’s happened quite a few times for me. Just the other day someone on twitter saw a quote from one of my reviewers and tweeted back to tell me she just had to buy the book because of what the reviewer had said.

    • Hi Rosary, Sounds like a plan, and I’ve actually been doing that on the few occasions I do tweet about my work. Often reviewers have great one-liners in their review, even the so-called ‘bad’ reviews are a source to pluck from. Take the critique and make it your own! Has a reviewer told you they thought the book was too short? Own that remark and dare readers to find out for themselves. Or dig into that ‘bad’ review (I don’t think any review is a bad one, it is someone’s opinion and therefor good in and of itself.) and find the hidden gem. There is alway something.

  3. Thanks for saying this, Lucy. Now, hopefully some of that crowd in “the naughty corner” will take notice. I like friendly authors who let their personalities show on Twitter and don’t constantly tweet about their books. That draws me in and makes me want to read what they’ve written.

    • Hi Jae, you know? I hope so too. πŸ™‚ And being an author myself I take heed of my own advice. You will only occasionally see a tweet of my hand mentioning my work. I much rather engage with people, friends or random strangers who have indeed interesting things to share. More than just trying to pitch me their book.
      I’m a reader too, and I like to ‘know’ the person behind the tweet/book. How creative is he/she? Are they funny? (Love people with a sense of humour.)
      Anyway, maybe one day those authors who fill our inbox with “Hi, take a look at my book.” finally see reason and stop it too.

  4. Lucy,

    Love the clips you used to hammer home your point, although you’re preachin’ to the choir. DMs that scream “Like me like me like me on Facebook!” also have the opposite effect on me.

    • Hi Valerie, I know! All the people I have spoken to tell me I’m right, and yet most authors keep sending the same twitterings out. Like you I get those DM’s just saying Hi like my page. Almost as bad as, Hi buy my book.

  5. This is really, really good. I don’t think any reader wants to be bombarded with “buy me” but I do think that any advertising person will say that repetition is crucial to a marketing plan. So we need to have a strong presence without being obnoxious. A delicate balancing act!

    • It is Dianne! And you are right the power of advertisement lies in repetition, but that is on TV and in traditional paper advertising. This online bombing and repeating is so in your face it passes its purpose and goes into the realm of being obnoxious.
      Who ever comes up with the ‘golden’ idea is the next indie guru me thinks. πŸ™‚

    • Great! Anne, thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts on this matter. Twitter-Fritter, Facebook-Fail. We combine the two into FaceTwit. πŸ™‚ But still it is a great tool to ‘meet’ people and generally interact with friends, or strangers becoming friends.
      Those likes on the book of faces? I don’t give all that much thought on those. I now and again enter those like-fests, but more to find new people to pick up and befriend than I go in them to pump up my likes. (I have no idea what is so important about your number of likes when you can just go around and ask people to like you. I hand out likes to anyone who asks me for it, and forget about it. That’s how important they are to me. I like it when people like my page out of their own volition, those are the ones that actually mean something. They have sought me out and decided to like my page, or me.
      Anyway, twitter and the never ending carousel of ‘buy my book’, will it ever end?

  6. And that’s why I tend to avoid Twitter. So much of it is meaningless chatter of “buy my book”. It’s boring and wastes my time. That being said, I clicked through your tweet to find this blog on a rare skim through what was on Twitter! Thanks for your insight. I wish more people would follow your advice!

    • Hi Merry, Thanks for replying and proving that my way of twittering seems to do what I say. It wasn’t a buy my book twittering which made you click the link, but something else, something which triggered your human curiosity enough to make you do something you normally don’t. i.e. click the link to make you go to my blog where you might or might not stumble upon other things which kept you cliking through my blog and maybe even made you sign up to follow me.

  7. I try to use Twitter much like I use my blog: to make connections with individuals who seem interesting, one at a time.

    The writers who flog their books endlessly are a complete turnoff.

    • Barb, to make connections with those who take the time to compose a message to us deserves no less. At least that is how I feel about it. That message has to be a message to me, not a sales pitch.
      Seeing all these replies, I wonder why authors still keep thinking that repeating the same message is the way to go?

  8. Late last year I joined Twitter to support a friend of mine who had been told that to be published she needed, “a platform.” In other words, a group of people who liked her and (at least potentially) had an appetite for her work. I whined and moaned about it, but I did it.
    Since I joined, I’ve developed a real love/hate relationship with social media. When I was blogging away to my 2.5 readers over in my own little corner of the ‘verse it was different. I wasn’t DM’d or tweeted at all the time with the Wah Wah Wahings of the needy hordes (the Buy My Book Gang) but I also didn’t meet wonderful people like you and the ASMSG until I I joined Twitter, Lucy.
    I like that you remind people that we writers are readers too, probably the best readers an author can hope to collect because a) we know a thing or two about good writing so we can offer constructive advice and support; and b) we tend to read far more than the average member of the public because our stock in trade are our words.
    You all have my permission to punch me in the gut if I wah wah wah you when I publish. Well…if I wah wah wah you in an annoying or repetitive way. Err…let’s just say I will try my best to flog my book in a fun and interesting way, ok? LOL

    • Doing your best Leigha, is all we can ask. πŸ™‚ And like you I had to get over my iinitial dislike of facetwit, but once on you discover its advantages, i.e. meeting great people!
      No worrie, when you Wah Wah in an obnoxious way, I’l kick you in the shins. πŸ™‚

    • Tweeting your blogs is the way to go! At least that’s how I see it. Your blog content is a part of your writing and if that is interesting enough people/readers/we will find your books and pick them up because we like you as the blogger and want to get to know the author. I think building a ‘fan’ base is better than to desperately flog our books.
      Don’t get me wrong, when my new one comes out I will probably do some flogging too, but I will never daily shout ‘buy my books’ in DMs or even tweets.

  9. Thanks for this, Lucy. You are totally on target. Please send all the whiners and kvetchers to the naughty place. Social Media is sort of like a cocktail party, without anything to drink, of course, unless you hit your own stock, where people are attracted to the guest who is funny and interested in others and where they do their level best to avoid the egomaniac to stands there and blabs about himself/herself the entire time.

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