Wednesday, April 23, 2014

But I Don't Like Spam!

An obnoxious email message hawking porn keeps showing up in my mailbox. The subject is always a different gibberish and the body is done with Java or something so the text in it not really text (not an image either). I've set up a dozen filters but it keeps sneaking through.

And it made me wonder: is there a payoff for un-blockable spam? Can you annoy others into clicking your link, buying your product? Are there people out there who after deleting a 100 of these, look at the 101st and go "hm, maybe this is what I wanted all my life?" It must work or the senders wouldn't bother. Right?

spam |spam|

1 ( Spam) trademark a canned meat product made mainly from ham.
2 irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

verb [ trans. ]
send the same message indiscriminately to (large numbers of recipients) on the Internet.

spammer noun

ORIGIN 1930s: apparently from sp(iced h)am.

Too often author promo reminds me of spam. You accept someone's friend request and suddenly his/her latest release takes over your newsfeed. I don't want to sound like an asshole—being excited about a new cover, new book, a certain review is normal. I'll like it, share it, etc.  Possibly. However, when it's post after post and day after day, I get grumpy and find a way to remove the author from my newsfeed for good.

Sadly, I understand the desperation behind these tactics. Promo is the bane of every author's existence. No matter if you're a newbie or well established, you have a nagging feeling there are readers out there who'd just love your book, if only they knew about it.

Being an author is a lot like fishing: you throw your book out there and hope someone will bite. The author's role is reactive. Or at least it used to be.  On Goodreads you can take a more active role—you go the right group and friend everyone there. I don't know how others feel about this, but when it's done to me it rubs me the wrong way. I bristle at the idea of becoming someone's fan fodder.

Deep down I suspect going aggressively after reader must have a payoff somewhere. You cast a wide net, you catch fish. It still feels wrong to me.  With a new book coming out in a couple of months I sure wish I knew the secret of perfect promo, the golden road between spam and tofu. Alas, I don't.


  1. It must be really difficult to find the balance between letting people who would like to know that you have a new book available, and annoying those who wouldn't! Restricting promo to those who have deliberately befriended you or have said they're fans still leaves potential, as yet unknown, fans uninformed.

    I suspect part of the answer lies in what you have implied -- tell people once or twice (at decent intervals) but avoid the blanket, day after day, approach, at least when you're using the same place/list. Spreading it around in different places seems much more logical; I don't mind if I see the same author popping up on different blogs since it's my choice to follow a lot of blogs, but I don't want to hear more than twice on the same blog (unless it's the author's own blog, when she can do what she likes!).

    1. Yeah, my thinking is to put the promo to places were people willingly go for exactly that sort of thing. I probably should put mine to a lot more of those places than I do, but that's another business.

  2. It would be much less complicated if it wasn't so hard to find the places where people willingly go to find out about new books. Or at least it's hard for me. I've read dozens of articles on the subject, but none of them are explicit enough to do me (and maybe it's just me) any good.

    1. I know what you mean. My approach is to submit my books to review sites. Of course, favorable review is not guaranteed, but that's life. May of the sites also do guest blogging, author interviews, giveaways, etc. The links in the left side bar of this place would get you started.

      There are a couple of places I know that are not review sites:

  3. On the other hand, no one else knows either...

    1. It's one big mystery. Though I suspect extroverts have an advantage.