I define auto-promoting as the condition whereby you program your favorite Tweeting automatic application (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Socialoomph) to send out a “Thank you for following” message but you ALSO include a “please check out my (book/collection/trailer/website/Facebook page/etc.)” along with it. I used to be of the marketing, marketing, marketing mindset and though I would not normally say something as bold as “buy my book” I figured an “if you’re interested, please check out my book” was subtle enough, congratulating myself that I wisely left it up to them, depending what their mood might be, AND I said please.
At one point a few months ago I received a reply to my automated response from a lady author who said (paraphrasing from memory):
“I’m an author, too, and self-promoting your work in a thank-you message is a turn off.”
I shrugged it off as unsolicited advice, not because I don’t take such comments seriously, but I had changed my modus operandi and was simply offering a link to my book trailer. The book trailer was (and is) receiving excellent feedback and who doesn’t like to watch a four minute movie? Apparently not this woman (although I’m guessing if it was a dog that says ‘thank you’ or one cat batting another cat off a ladder, we’d have been fine).
Point is, I did nothing. Screw her and her over-sized opinion of her commonsense and her super-inflated view on how much I gave a crap about her personal vantage point. I unfollowed her with all the disgust one can generate by clicking a mouse button and moving along.
A few months later I changed software and never got around to reconfiguring an automated ‘thank you” to followers (I know, I know, I am subconsciously a schmuck at heart) but I keep intending to. A funny thing has happened, though:
I’ve really started to notice the little “oh by the way, check out my goods” messaged tagged on with the (now semi) heartfelt ‘thank you’ at the beginning of the message. I’ve even cringed at the (quaint?) “here’s the ____ I promised you” (for which, of course, I never asked and about which, of course, I was never promised).
Look, I get it. We work hard at our writing. We write and we write and then when our fingers cramp, we write some more. As Hemingway said:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
I know you want to sell your book at every turn; take every opportunity you can. But sometimes less really is more. There are times you DON’T want to attempt the hard sale. And as I have pointed out, I’ve changed my mind—been convinced otherwise on this. So I DO know where you are coming from.
I sometimes wish I could remember the name of the unsolicited knucklehead who took it upon herself to educate me over Twitter DM, not because I would not still like to spit on her shoes but rather because I’d like to tell her “you may be onto something; now stop being such an annoying bitch”.
Seriously, dear readers, I don’t care what you do with your auto-features. This is just one man’s opinion and though not technically solicited, most of you read my blog and know I tend to have opinions about things. So please don’t comment and call me an unsolicited bitch (come up with something more pithy and creative; I love good, well-thought snarky accusations).
I can hear you now: but I offer something FREE (insert excerpt/first book/short story). I’m telling you, even when offering something as generous as a “freebie” I don’t think anything beyond “thank you very much for your follow; it’s much appreciated and I look forward to tweeting with you” is doing you much good. You’ve got plenty of time to sell, giveaway, advertise, lower price, push reviews, etc. Don’t ruin a very nice (and presumably well-meant) Mahalo with a slimy sales pitch.
And yes, “let’s also meet over on Facebook…my page is here” still constitutes ulterior motive. Just thank them! Be sincere. Be glad yet another person in the Twitterverse decided they wanted to follow you. Don’t worry they may be profiling you with the intent to serial murder you later in the month. Neither should you view them as a customer (they might not yet even be a fan, so don’t risk stifling that possibility).
Finally, here’s the good news: if the new follower really is a serial killer and you are the next intended victim, giving them a free book has NOT been proven a way to deter criminal activity (particularly crimes driven by psychological gratification).
Now if your free book is entitled “9 Ways to Quell that Urge to Murder”, sure give it a go.
The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.
Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.)