Frankie Sachs on Book Spam

Below you find a guest post by Frankie Sachs – a writer pal I met in my Authonomy days and whom I respect for his candid and sharp-witted opinions.

We all know it’s hard to write a book but even harder to “get it out there”. So far, I haven’t been very successful marketing-wise with my first book so I’ve decided that I will explore some – hopefully- constructive channels, such as doing blogtours and interviews, but first and foremost I will take Frankie’s advice to heart: LOVE BOOKS and WRITERS and be active in our online communities.

I must admit I have been guilty of some spamming too, you know post the links to my book on Twitter and FB and rub my hands with glee when my friends RT my messages. Does it help? I’ve had a handful of downloads as a result, so -no- not impressive. Does it irritate me to have to scroll through the same links over and over again? It is not really irritation, it rather saddens me. It seems like such a huge waste of time and of “virtual paper”.

Anyway, last summer (!) Frankie wrote this guestpost for me and I owe him a huge apology for publishing it only now. Tons of excuses, of course, but I just hope he will forgive me by honouring the saying “better late than never”. Frankie is always very outspoken in his opinions and I truly hope this razor-sharp and helpful post will provoke some discussion. Here you go…

Every time you plug your book, I vomit in my mouth just a little and it tastes like spam.

You hate spam, right?

Me too!

So why would you think other people want your spam?

Forget the automated services that plug your book seventeen times a day across all your social media sites. (I’m looking at you, BookBuzzr.) Forget the spammy comments left on blogs and message boards for the sole purpose of linking your book. Forget the online author echo chamber where all the online authors reblog/retweet/repost each other’s spam.

You know what that marketing plan is designed to sell? Knock-off viagra, barely legal cheerleaders gone wild, and ebooks on how to market your ebook. (Classy!)

Social media channels are saturated — SATURATED — with noise: “Buy my book!” “RT this link!” “Click to save a puppy!”

You need to be signal.

Because goddamn, in an internet full of noise, people love them some signal.

This is hard, this is so hard. It’s as hard as writing your book was, maybe harder, because it takes all the same things: creativity and insight and empathy and wit and a willingness to put yourself out there (metaphorically) naked. And you have to do it in front of a live studio audience full of hecklers and trolls and people that will hate you just because you’re there.

It means you have to be you, and at the same time you have to be not you because it’s the internet and you can’t take it personal. You have to be you with a pinch of Batman thrown in.

It takes time and energy. It takes presence, and really being present. It takes authenticity. You know the thing about authenticity? You can’t fake it. And it takes the unicorn of the writing world: voice.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tweet your Amazon link or spam my blog or post about your book on a message board I read, if your online personality doesn’t have <i>voice</i>, I’m not going to buy.

No wonder we want so bad to believe there’s a magic marketing combo; find the right ratio of retweet to fresh content, the right length of blog posts on the right schedule, hit the right number of Facebook likes, and you, too, will be a Kindle millionaire! (Or, you know, hit triple digit sales.) The truth is, there is no magic formula. No Twitter + Blogger + Facebook + Kindle = marketing success.

Anybody selling you a method is a snake oil man.

Go back to brass tacks. Get out of the writer ghetto and find the communities you love <i>as a reader</i>. Engage in them <i>as a reader</i>. Be excited about books! Talk about books that aren’t yours, books you aren’t talking up in exchange for being talked about in return. Talk about old books and new books and popular books and books nobody has ever heard of. Enjoy yourself and enjoy the company of other readers. And the whole time you’re doing this, in the back of your mind, pay attention to yourself; pay attention to what turns on your inner reader, what makes you <i>want</i> a book you’ve never read.

Because what turns on your inner reader probably turns on my inner reader too. (Hint: it’s not followbacks and automatic DMs.)

After I finished the rough draft of this post last night, a link washed up in my Twitter stream: <a href=”“>The world’s worst social media advice: What to ignore</a>. Read that if your current book promotion strategy makes you die a little inside every time you plug.

Frankie’s very short bio:

Raised by wolverines,
writes stuff on the internet.
Frankie Sachs was here.
Frankie’s blog
Fictionaut profile
Thank you, Frankie!

10 Responses to “Frankie Sachs on Book Spam”

  1. Diane Nelson says:

    More timely than ever. The noise level has ramped to ear-bleed volume. I fear readership will fall off because people will tire of the noise and find other, less annoying entertainment options.

    I know I have…

  2. MIke Church says:

    Yes, I liked Frankie’s advice to get involved as a reader, or whatever you feel passionately about. Nice piece, Hannah!

  3. Marj says:

    Beautifully written. Wanna buy my book?

  4. Terry Tyler says:

    Posting your links to your books on Twitter is only ‘spam’ if you actually post it TO someone, like tagging someone in it saying ‘please look at my book’ or ‘please RT my book’. That’s awful, agressive, pathetic and pointless, I agree If you just tweet your links that’s not spam. Completely different thing. Are you a bit confused by this, Hannah? In your post (before Frankie’s, which I have yet to read), you describe posting your own links as spam, which it isn’t, it’s promoting your book. I do it daily, as do thousands of others – it’s how we sell our books!

    Messaging someone with the links to your book is spam. Going on someone else’s page and tweeting to them about your book is spam, unless they’ve said they want to know about it. Auto follow DMs with added links are spam. I hate it, and so do most people, too. Tweeting about your book is advertising. Very different thing! I hope you don’t consider everyone else’s book tweets to be spam???!!

  5. Clive says:

    You’re quite right, Terry. The term spam is incorrect, but I took it to be the feel of the promo now flooding across the social media, that the ‘advertising’ is now so relentless that Facebook and Twitter just look like billboards. I gave up looking at my follower stream because it was so hard to find any conversation. I only looked there to find promo material for RTing! Obviously, if it’s working for you then fine, but I realised that I was having less and less real interactions with people, and for my work that’s what gets the little interest it garners – or used to before I flooded my timeline with dross no one ever read.

    I should have known better, so I’ve only myself to blame, but if I purposely avoid looking at tweets from followers then it’s not unreasonable to think that maybe they’re doing the same. Maybe before, when the noise level was far less, promo was accepted, and maybe even stood out, but I think it’s getting far less so. Just my two pennyworth, for whatever it may count.

  6. Terry Tyler says:

    Thanks for reading and replying, Hannah and Clive! Clive, I have to say that I hardly ever look at the main twitter feed. I see other people’s tweets via the pages I go on to RT, or just clicking on them if their bio interests me. However, your feed is only what your followers make it – if you want less followers who only tweet promotional stuff, then you can always unfollow them – or block their RTs. But I sell my books via my tweets, it’s how I’ve found nearly all my regular readers – and I chat to people, too! And (and this is a big one) I buy books because of tweets. I must have bought about 20/30 in the last two months, because a tweet has interested me enough to look further. I DO know what you mean about the relentless stream of promotional tweets, but there’s good stuff too – and I try to look on it thus: I might discover a really good book! Happily, so do some others, or we’d never sell any books via it!!!! And we get to read lots of interesting blog posts via it, too. And to ‘get to know’ each other a bit better via author interviews.

    My Facebook news feed doesn’t remotely resemble a billboard, because I don’t accept friend requests from writers unless I already ‘talk’ to them a lot; I don’t post about my books on my personal page, either, unless I have a promotion on. I don’t think some of my Facebook friends (about 60% of whom I know personally) are even particularly aware of what I do! You’re right, you don’t want it EVERYWHERE, do you? My author page is for book stuff. My friends don’t want to hear about every bloody new review I get!!! 🙂

    I know that your books are going to appeal to a more niche market, we’ve already talked about this, so endless tweets are probably not going to work as well for you as for someone who writes yer average crimer thriller or chick lit book. Thank you, Hannah, for hosting this discussion on your blog!!! 🙂

  7. yes! I love it. your online personality must have voice. I enjoyed reading this post.

  8. Aura mayfair says:

    This was a good post as usual buddie

  9. Della Sigre says:

    Frankie Sachs is a brilliant writer. However, SHE is a woman, not a male as was indicated.


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