Back before the internet created a fast lane for marketing amateurs and aficionados alike, we used to receive the majority of our advertisements in the mail. Of course, we still get the Walmart roll backs and Popeye’s newest chicken amalgamation adverts in the post, but I rarely hear people complaining about physical junk mail anymore. Instead, the hills are alive with the sounds of “Why is my damn Facebook feed bracketed with bulging banana hammocks and James Patterson’s 105th collaboration?” On top of all that, if you’re a book blogger or member of sites such as Goodreads, you’re set upon by digitalized versions of vacuum cleaner salesmen. “Buy my book!” they all shout. “Money, money, me, me,” they plead. “I’m the next Stephen Koontz and Clive Gaiman!” they wail. I’ve seen some dastardly deeds as of late: from five-star reviews on bestsellers, wherein the reviewer (who’s actually an author) links to a different book in the text of the review, to Goodreads threads brimming with “I wrote something and it’s selling poorly so I thought I’d pop in here and rudely insert the title of my book as well as links to where you can buy it.” It’s all really quite annoying. In this post, I’d like to go over the polarizing effects of spamming, and perhaps shed some light on both sides of the case.
A spammer’s mindset is simple: If I do not spam the ever-lovin-feces out of people, how else are they to find my book? It’s a big, cold ocean out there and I’m an anorexic sea horse who moonlights as the Invisible Merman. What’s an itty bitty guy like me to do? Simple. Write your books. There’s this lovely thing called word of mouth. I’ve built my entire career on it. If you write the best possible stories, pay an editor and proofreader to work on said stories, and then hire a professional graphic design artist to work on the biggest selling point of your work, the rest is downhill. Do good authors go unnoticed? You’re damn skippy they do. What you fail to realize is that you’re not entitled to a readership. If you find fans, bravo, young squire! But inundating potential readers with your panhandling ways is tactless at best. You’re the author equivalent of the poor soul who runs up to cars at a red light to offer them a window wash. Sure, you might make that window sparkle, and some might even toss you a few singles, but most people are simply going to lock their doors.
Now, for the spammee’s POV: They’re sitting there, enjoying a cup o’ coffee and chatting with friends, when in charges a barrel-chested monkey slinging poo in their faces. No one invited the monkey into the home. They didn’t ask for the poo. Now there’s stinky pancakes all over the place, and brown lumps in their Folgers. Not to mention, a layer of crud painting their faces. It’s all over the place. Everywhere they look. And there’s the monkey, grinning, wondering why no one is giving him a banana for a job well done. They try to clean up the mess as best as possible, but there will always be a bad taste in their mouths whenever that monkey’s mentioned. They try not to talk about it, but some errant friend always brings him up, and then that word-of-mouth train starts a-rollin’ again, but this time the engine is running in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, the monkey doesn’t understand what he did wrong, and no one wants to take the time to explain it to him, so he sulks off to the next household.
No one’s ever hollered “Yay, Spam!” when they see some douchepickle bombing a thread with “BUY MY BOOKS!” posts. The overall consensus is clear: Unwarranted promotion does the exact opposite of what the author intends for it to do. It may work with a select few bubbly sorts whom aim to please, but with the recent rise in badly behaved authors and sock-puppet shenanigans, readers and reviewers are more apt to tell you to get the hell out of Dodge. There are better ways to get yourself seen. Make connections with people in these book communities, share your own likes and dislikes, do a blog tour every now and then (Hi, Big Al!), and maybe someone will give you a try. At the very least, you won’t be the poo-flinging primate, and that’s always a good thing.
In summation: BUY MY BOOK!
I’ve been E. You’ve been you. Thanks for reading.