This morning I banned someone from my Facebook page. It's only the second time I've done that, and it was for the same reason - some random indie spammed me with his own Facebook page and book link without so much as the decency to even introduce himself.
Don't. Do. It.
I don't barge into a private party and start trying to sell cars to the first person I meet without so much as introducing myself first. The poor recipient would be quite within their rights to throw me straight back out the door, which is what I will do if anyone spams my Facebook page, one of my blogs, Goodreads, or anywhere else (you can do it on Twitter - I really don't care what you do there because Twitter is just one long spam feed anyway). There are no second chances.
In indie publishing, making contacts is vital. I've spent more than a year getting to know other indie writers and I've learned a lot from them. I hope some of them have learned from me. Approaching someone you don't know is just as difficult on the internet as it is in real life - if you do it correctly. It's a thousand times easier to be a dickhead and flood their inbox with your book links or post them on their Facebook wall.
If someone sends me a private message saying they've looked at my books and would I be kind enough to look at theirs in return, then there is a pretty decent chance I'll do it. I'm a nice guy. I'm far more tolerant than most people I know. And I've met some cool people this way. As a general rule I don't do the "I'll follow you if you follow me" thing. I get plenty of likes on Facebook without doing anything and in general I see no point in "liking" something I couldn't care less about. However, if you ask nicely, there's a good chance I will.
But if you post random links to my Facebook wall or write "that"s nice" (here's my link) on my posts, I'll ban you. I don't care if you're the next Charles Dickens, you're a dickhead and I'm not prepared to give you the time of day, let alone look at your book.
There are a lot of self-published writers out there of varying quality. I have a lot of time for the nice ones, regardless of how well they write, because they're following their dreams and they're not being a douche to everyone they meet on the way. I have time for those people. I'll talk to them, I'll help them out, I'll even read their books (eventually - I'm a very slow reader!).
However, there are a lot more that are pushy and spammy and nine times out of ten these people can't write for shit, almost as if the two go hand in hand. If you want to be an asshole in this business you'd better be the next Shakespeare because otherwise you'll get nowhere. Only one person out of a thousand that you spam will actually click on your book so unless its so good that they'll immediately go and tell all their friends about you rather than rolling their eyes at the spelling mistake in your first paragraph, then you have even less chance of getting noticed than if you'd just been a nice guy (or girl) in the first place.
There are ways to get noticed without spamming people. On Goodreads, for example, you can set up an event to notify the people on your friends list. They get a small, non-intrusive line on their news feed to say they've been invited and its quite easy to ignore if they're not interested. I get loads everyday, and while I ignore the vast majority I'll occasionally check one out. However, if you send people personal messages that's likely to irk them. I had some guy send me a personal message with a spammy link to his book EVERY DAY. After a week or so I told him to stop doing it. He actually refused - he said it was a social experiment and that he would be doing it for a month. Of course I blocked him, but by doing that what he achieved was negative publicity. I would rather shove chopsticks in my eyes than read his book. Just for sake of argument, I did click on it just to have a look at the Amazon Look Inside - and no surprise it was poorly written rubbish. It almost always is, because people who have not taken the time to learn correct etiquette tend not to take the time to learn correct writing either.
Building up contacts in this business is extremely important. You want people to help you and read your books. So be nice about it. Don't be a dick, or you might as well just shoot yourself in both feet and go back to bed.
21th April 2013