Five Ways Not To Market Your Book On Social Media

Since this has become something I’ve been feeling out lately as I research for the launch of a book I’ve been working on (not mine), I thought I might share some of the lessons I’ve learned studying marketing. While not every author makes these mistakes they’re some of the ones I see over and over. I know my blog is a small corner of the world with a modest reach, and most of you will just be agreeing with me, I hope these lessons reach people who could find use for them.

1) My #bestselling book #99c #onsale #kindle #omg #amwriting #hashtagcity

We all have seem this Twitter feed. Every single tweet has about seven or more hashtags, a link to their Amazon page, and maybe the title of their book. And every tweet on their feed is like this with few variants.

That is not how to use Twitter to market. There’s nothing there to engage or interest me. I don’t care that your book is on sale unless it’s a really good one from an author I *really* like. And in that case this kind of tweet happens maybe twice a year with fewer hashtags. Hashtags are visual clutter; they’re ugly and irritating. Don’t use more than maybe three per post if you can. If you’ve got a message for a specific group of people then use a hashtag to reach them. It’s a good idea to check and see if a hashtag has a following, too. If you are just using hashtags that have no one watching them then you’re just wasting space. #iamsuchajerk

2) Using automated “BUY MY BOOK PLZ” messages.

I ranted about this recently, but it’s still in the running for the top things that irritate me until I need to rant to someone about it. Anyone. If you have it set up to automatically spam everyone who follows you with a message like that (or you do it via Facebook which is almost worse) then you need to reconsider your tactic. What you are doing is SPAM. It’s not actually marketing, and it only succeeds in turning people off.

Seriously, if I’m following you, and you use this I report the messages to Twitter because it’s rude and presumptuous. I also know if you’ve got them automatically set because I have several Twitter accounts I’m using, and if they all get that same message after following you… well that’s just ducky.

3) Dropping an advertisement for your book in a discussion group and then toodling off to another group to copy-paste the same message.

Also on the list of things I’ve ranted about in the past is this behavior. You aren’t doing yourself a favor by engaging in this behavior. Like the Twitter statuses I mentioned there’s nothing there to engage people. Social media marketing is all about relationships. You aren’t going to build relationships if all you do is drop book ads on people and move on.

That kind of marketing is also not reaching your target audience (readers). You’re trying to sell cut flowers to a bunch of florists who have their own shops. While they might occasionally take interest in your arrangements they are mostly focused on their own work in those places.


Let’s be honest – we all get excited when we release our book, and typos are a reality of blogging/Twitter/Facebook/email/… you get the picture. However, if you are writing an official advertisement or press release and you write it like your boss writes those annoying memos you are just going to irritate folks. Your advertising and online presence is a reflection of your writing.

I know it sounds mean, but I do judge people for how they post in writing groups and in general conversation. If they post using “u” and “y” and so on rather than spelling out the whole word I think less of them. If you write your advertising like that it will make you look amateurish.

This isn’t to say the occasional typo isn’t forgivable. I know this blog has typos in it, and I’ve gone back to repair them on occasion. But if what you are sharing is consistently of poor quality (and does those visually annoying things like crazy font colors, overdone punctuation, etc.) then you are just going to turn people off from your writing because it isn’t polished or professional looking. I know a lot of people will say It’s just Facebook or Twitter or whatever your social media du jour is, but if you are trying to gain recognition it’s about appearing smart and well-spoken. No one wants to buy a book from someone who posts like an uneducated stooge.

5) Forgetting the content rule: post more about things that will benefit others than things that will benefit you.

I know there’s a percentage somewhere out there – likely in Kristin Lamb’s book – but I’ve forgotten it. That said, the overwhelming majority of your content should be something that will engage others. Something that will be useful for them. For example – this blog doesn’t really do me any good as far as selling my products directly or marketing my books. In fact, I don’t really talk much about my endeavors in that arena on here because this blog is meant for one thing: to help my readers. I started this because I have information that I can use to help people. And because it makes me happy to be able to discuss all of these things in a coherent place.

By benefitting others you are, actually, helping yourself. People will rely on you for information, for content, for entertainment. And those folks will be your base for reaching out. It’s networking. That’s one of the reasons I provide free advice to almost anyone. There aren’t any secrets I hold out on people for because I don’t believe in that kind of interaction. Publishing isn’t about “secrets to success”. It’s about hard work, putting in the time, and passion, so why hold back?

I hope those of you reading this find my list helpful – I know there are other things I have neglected to cover, I’m sure. But this covers what I believe to be the most obnoxious marketing techniques on social media. Are there any you think I should have in here? What are your social media marketing pet peeves?


2 thoughts on “Five Ways Not To Market Your Book On Social Media

  1. Ember Leigh says:

    Excellent post! When I first entered the publishing world (cough cough, not that long ago), I got swept into the current of posting in romance-related groups. I saw a lot of other authors doing it and figured it must be part of the route to success i.e. ANY sales.

    But I began to notice that everyone was just flinging their promo at the group and leaving — there was no interaction. It felt like we were all just screaming into darkness, together. Furthermore, all of the people IN those groups are other authors trying to sell, not exactly readers looking for a book to buy.

    There’s a lot of poor methods out there, and it’s really, really difficult to get your head above water. Thankfully, I found trustworthy resources (like Kristen Lamb!) that have helped direct my own efforts. It’s tough though. Thanks for sharing this post!

    • E. Prybylski says:

      Definitely. There are so many problems with the “set it and forget it” style promotion that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of it without beginning to twitch!

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