Message to self-published writers: please can the spam

can of spam

Beware. There be uncouth language.

This post has been coming for a while and I have finally reached the point where I’m screaming ENOUGH! Enough with the spam and the overzealous tweeting and Facebooking.

Does the following sound familiar to you?

#FREE #Read of Chapter 1 from my #SCI_FI #kindle #Book #militarySCI_FI #fantasy #Amazon

I just copied this randomly off Twitter. I left the link off, for obvious reasons, but I’m sure you get the gist. A useless message, screaming into the void, taking up space in people’s feeds, with ridiculous and stupid hashtags. No one looks at this stuff. How do I know? Well, open an account with and you can track clicks on links. Try a few of these daft tweets. Track the links. Who clicks on them? Not many people. Who buys the books?


Yet, some people’s feeds are 100% full of this shit. Often they’re otherwise nice and sane people, else I would have ditched them as contact long ago. But the bucket is full and I’ve had enough, so I’ll be unfollowing the accounts of people who do this. I’ll be stepping out of the Facebook groups that are 100% spam and unfriending people at goodreads who “recommend” me their own books, constantly.

I totally get that social media is kinda fun but not very useful when you’re following a writer and all she does is talk about her cat (I don’t even have a cat). If you have a Facebook account or Twitter account with a decent number of reader-followers, it would be stupid if you never mentioned your books, your new releases, award nominations, sales, nice reviews. But not all the fucking time, OK? And not while using Tweet-bots that retweet the same fucking message every hour.

And then try to tell me that this “promoting” is necessary.

No. These people are annoying the crap out of everyone. And it doesn’t work.

Suppose you were friends with a publicist in a company that sold phones. How would you feel if they constantly cluttered your feed with spam for their products? People: COMPANIES DON’T DO THIS. Companies have worked out that people hate this shit. So, self-published writers seem to think that they can because they are downtrodden souls, and even seem to think that they have to cross-spam each other’s shit under the misguided illusion that this is what is meant by “supporting other indies”.

You know that I loathe the word “indie”, and its use above illustrates why. Self-published writers are not some ghetto, and no more need to “stick together” than other writers do.

PLEASE GIMME A BREAK! Write good books. Eventually, books will sell themselves.


I like interacting with writers and lovers of genre. Twitter is a great way to do that, but the relentless spam threatens spoil my enjoyment completely.

So let’s set out a few of my guidelines:

– There are many professional, wonderful self-published writers whose work I have read and will recommend and support in a heartbeat. But I will not recommend any work I haven’t read simply because the author self-published. Sorry, but that notion is ridiculous to me.

– I do like writers’ Facebook pages, if I like that writer’s work. I don’t like many because I don’t want to clutter up my feed. Yes, I know I can stop Facebook showing updates, but seriously, what sort of sucker-upper would I be if I did that? Anyone who comes to my page or blog expecting a return-like, well, tough. I may, but if I don’t know you, I will not.

– I do not retweet people’s promo tweets unless, again, I’m actually familiar with the writer’s work.

– I have no issue with the occasional promo tweet. Specials, new releases, that’s all stuff you followed the writer for in the first place (or at least stuff you shouldn’t be surprised or annoyed to hear). Blog posts? Awesome! That’s what Twitter and Facebook are for. That’s how these platforms work and how they can be used to sell books indirectly.

Just do me a favour: CAN THE SPAM!


33 comments on “Message to self-published writers: please can the spam

  1. Damn.

    I actually LIKE Spam.

    You slice that up, fry it in a fry pan, maybe dump a tin of beans on – BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK – top of the Spam – maybe slice up an onion or fry an egg or – BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK – serve it on toast with some good pepper sprinkled on and…


    Not THAT kind of Spam.

    My mistake.

    Say – talking about my book…

  2. It gets old in a freaking hurry, doesn’t it? It happens across the social media multiverse. Even traditionally published authors are doing this, as traditional publishers are expecting their authors to do their own marketing at this point. It’s not limited to indie authors.

  3. I’m new at self publishing, and as such set up a FB and Twit account. I don’t use them much at all because they are just too damn noisy with people doing not much more than saying ‘Buy My Book’ and thinking they’re clever or something.

    As an indie author, you have to spend time doing promotion for your book- either self promo, or else hiring someone. Either way, the goal (for me) is to get potential readers to consider my stuff.

    My experience has shown me that 80-90% of the indie pub’d work available is not very good at all. The stuff that is good is really, really good though. Stuff like Konrath, Rusch, Howie… ummm… and yours. And gee whiz; none of those names Spam. They worked on their craft and sent their books out into the world and are doing pretty good.

    The spamming is now, for me, a sign of an amateur, and has never, not once, led me to buy and read a book.

  4. I am 100% on board with you, Patty. Promotional spam is the visual equvalent of white noise. I’m more likely to pay attention if someone is promoting another author’s work, or posting a review (then I have a chance to judge if it’s for me). Sadly, few people get the message.
    Just read a similar message on lit agent Carly Watters’s blog in which she, too, says “write a good book” first and foremost. It will sell itself and the author.
    Social media spamming is the lazy person’s route, not to fame, but to annoying potential readers.

  5. I could not agree more. I’m not sure where the idea that self-published writers need to constantly promote, promote, promote — that marketing as opposed to good stories told well are the key to success. Wherever it came from, it’s absurd. A book succeeds not because its author promotes it but because its readers do, and they do that if it sets fire to their souls (in one way or another). Beyond a bare minimum needed to let those who might be interested know your book has been published, marketing is at best useless, at worst self-defeating and a steal from time writing, which is what you SHOULD be doing.

  6. I try really hard to make my posts interesting and yes I do the occasional here are my books posts. Still most of the time my blogs are intereviews, reviews or just general writing (or dog) blogs. I don’t have the time to set up endless promotions, nor do I think they would actually work. To me being out there and interesting should be the best way to sell more books. I also htink helping other authors is important, hopefully they return the favour and then we are all happy.

  7. If you can’t use your words creatively enough not sell without spam, you are not good enough to write a book I’d want to read…

  8. Yep, I’m with you. Recently I pruned from my twitter account every person who spams me with their book selling points. I’m down quite a few twitter followers now, but at least my feed isn’t cluttered with junk.

  9. In a nutshell, Amen.

    I think the ignorant and the foolish and the just plain lazy perpetrate this wickedness because they have some notion that throwing a bucket of water over someone’s head will inspire them to want to drink. That notion is, clearly, madness. No doubt it comes from any number of phoney internet marketing gurus. Gah!

  10. There are ways of letting folks know about your work — offer something of value. A thoughtful post or an intriguing discussion, not to mention personal interactions, can do more to arouse a potential reader’s curiosity than any amount of BUYMYBOOKORIKILLTHISPUPPY nonsense. And you can make some great friends by being a genuine person online.

  11. While I do have my own ebook, no, I don’t promote it all over the place. A couple times I year I remind my FB wall. Mainly my website is filled with other stuff, which people frequently some to reference. I write for my own entertainment, since I can’t stand all this bullshit vampire nympho crap. If others like my stuff, I am pleased to chat with them.

  12. Yes! I found your blog through a Facebook link, so I think we may belong to some of the same FB writers groups. People are constantly begging other writers to Tweet spam for them. Why? My readers aren’t going to read a book of a wildly different genre from mine, even if they were hypnotized zombies who bought every book I tweeted. Twitter is for communication, not direct sales. I’m not “supporting” somebody by annoying people with their sales spam. I’m making enemies for both of us.

    Thanks for this, Patty!

    • Totally! Thanks for replying. I get annoyed when people say that if I don’t RT their book spam that I’m not supporting them.

  13. Patty—you have no idea how perfect your timing is! It’s not only self-pub writers who are doing this, I spent yesterday cleaning out my twitter feed. I found your link when Anne shared it on twitter. Social media is about building relationships. A million thank you’s for writing this!

    • Thanks for visiting. People don’t tend to realise how annoying this spamming is. So far, I’ve only seen it in self-published authors, but as you say, anyone can jump on the spam-wagon.

  14. Never a truer word spoken. As an unpublished writer, it gets to the point where I don’t want to be on social media anymore, which is a shame. I’m on social media to meet and talk to other writers, not listen to a whole lot of white noise. Thanks for this Patty! 🙂

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  16. They’re not “indies,” either. Independent publishers are PAYING markets (not a lot of money, but buckets of resume fodder), and include some of the toughest editors on the planet. Some selfie presuming to call himself an Indie is a double fool.

    • While I agree with you in sentiment, I disagree with the polemic language.

      The horse that self-publishers can’t use the “indie” label has well and truly bolted. Sadly, to me, yes, but it has. I won’t ever describe self-publishers as “indie” but there are many who do and while I dislike it, there is not a lot anyone can do about it.

      Secondly, there are many self-published writers (dare I say the more successful ones) who don’t spam and seem to be doing just fine. They are not fools and they are not presumptuous.

      There are also many small (“indie”) presses who are not worth the pixels expended on their website.

      Let’s not be judgemental.

      • I will judge any writing anyone presumes to try to sell me, all day, every day, until the horses come home from bolting. (I also judge ethics, theological precepts, theoretical arguments and political candidates. Judgmental and proud!) I stand by everything I’ve said. Anyone who is self-“published” who calls himself an “indie” might as well have the phrase “Illiterut idiott” tattooed on their forehead. I have never, ever, seen anyone come right out and describe themselves honestly as “self-published.” If they’re not ashamed, and they’re not in the bait & switch business (i.e. presenting an amateur work as a professional vetted and edited product), then why are they working so hard at being dishonest? The whole “business” is sickening. It’s impossible to get a book club or a writer’s group together without it immediately being overrun with selfies who demand to be treated like real writers. Yes, I said “real.” Selfies are not “published.” I was fed up with the whole mess ten years ago. Like this culture needed more narcissism…

  17. I hate it when you follow or like someone, and they send you a ‘buy my book’ direct message. But you know who else is spammified? PR and Marketing people. They’re relentless. I’ll check feeds and will unfollow anyone who is only posting spam — or anyone who sends me a direct message, pushing me to buy, buy, buy their product.

    FB isn’t spammified as much as Twitter, but I wonder if that’s because people are still trying to figure out how to use Twitter. But anyone who’s using any of their social media accounts solely for promotional purposes, is going to wind up annoying people. But for me, that also includes the buy-buy-buy emails that marketers keep sending out.

    It would be nice to see a little more emphasis on content and a lot less emphasis on the BUY NOW OR LOSE OUT FOREVER type of hype.

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