The Twittered Writer

I’ve been on twitter for quite a while, making my hopefully amusing comments, getting to know people, growing my network, hoping for a nod from a celebrity, all while massaging my massive ego. You know the way it goes.

So here’s two annoying things I’ve noticed that writers often do on twitter.

First thing. Many writers seem to believe than their main purpose on twitter is to mercilessly plug their books. They’ll post several times a day, often the very same post over and over, expecting these blatant ads to increase their sale. And I know this because of several conversations I’ve had with writers of this kind. They honestly believed they’d shift more copies of their book the more often they posted about it, often expecting sales to be directly proportional to the number of posts.

WaitsIt doesn’t take much of a genius to realise this isn’t how it works. People go on twitter primarily to interact with interesting people, or with people who share their views. If I have a person in my feed who’s constantly plugging their own book, I’ll unfollow them fast as fuck, as will many others. Endless spamming means fewer people who listen. The way to sell books is to carefully build up a big network, like the excellent Jen Foehner Wells has done. People who follow you because they find you interesting. And then, very occasionally, inform them of a new book or special price deal.

That works. Battering people over the heads with constant ads doesn’t.

The second thing is kind of related. Often, when I follow a writer, they’ll send me a direct message (a private email, basically) with an ad for their ebook. “Thanks for following! Please buy my book here:”

Again, this isn’t how it works. You do stuff like that, people will see it as spam, and unfollow you in a big hurry. It seems painfully obvious that nobody wants this, and yet people still do it to me every week. One guy, when I pointed it out that it was rude and unwelcome, lost his mind, started flamethrowing me with swears, and blocked me.

So, writers — quit the auto-ads. If I find you interesting, I’ll click on the link to your book whenever it pops up, and, if it seems good, I’ll buy it. Otherwise just make with the funny links and cat videos and amuse me. Yeah?

/ paddy