25 May 2014 by Published in: Uncategorized 36 comments

So you’ve decided to self-publish a book, and you’ve read countless blogs and perhaps a few helpful tomes, likely by people who sell fewer copies in a year than I do per month. You’ve got a cover, which hopefully doesn’t look like some sort of clip-art/stock photo kluge you did with Gimp in your spare time, your tome has been proofread by someone other than a few disinterested, questionably literate acquaintances, you’ve done at least three or four drafts, making it as good as it could ever be (as opposed to as good as you can make it for free in your spare time, because life got in the way or looking after your dozen cats or two kids or whatever was more of a priority than ensuring the product you expect people to pay for was competently executed).

You’ve seen all the stuff about social media, you now refer to yourself as John Doe, Author, and you’re wondering what you can do to alert the world that your novel about a misunderstood student coming of age while struggling with her hormones and the challenges of preparing for a life crocheting sweaters from cat fur while being wooed by hot billionaires, is available.

Here are a few tips: 1) Following several thousand other budding authors on Twitter is about like going to a convention for used car salesmen and trying to sell your junker. You’re pitching to the wrong crowd, assuming you’re pitching anything. Which brings me to my next point: 2) Twitter is largely useless anymore.

Why? If it’s so useless, why do so many books and blogs recommend you use it to “raise awareness” or “broadcast your message?”

Because they’re hopelessly clueless and passing off two to three year old wisdom as current. And it’s appealing to you because you hope to make money investing little or nothing, and Twitter’s free.

Here’s reality. Nobody reads their tweets anymore, or at least damn few do. Why? Because everyone’s got something like Hootsuite software (also free), which enables you to filter the never-ending streams of gibberish from Twitter, and only see things you’re mentioned in or you’ve flagged as interesting. So basically, being self-absorbed and wanting to eliminate the equivalent of junk mail from their streams, everyone filters so they only see stuff with their ID in it, or from specific users whom they’ve decided matter, which ain’t you.

So if you’re putting out tweets trying to hawk your book, a la “Another 5 star: Cat Hair Crocheting called a Riveting Reed!” nobody’s seeing it. Anyone who is will probably ignore you, because you’re doing the equivalent of Twitter telemarketing, but that will be very few, because just as most are automatically programming their tweets so they don’t have to actually interact with people, they’re also filtering them so they don’t have to read your crap. So not only are you wasting your time, whether programming your tweets or not, but you’re also assuming that everyone else doesn’t use Twitter as you do, filtering the overwhelming, unreadable tide of tweets down to only a few interesting tweeters, who aren’t those pushing their books.

Some might say, hey, can’t hurt, but they’re wrong, so ignore them. Of course it hurts to waste your time doing something counterproductive so you lull yourself into feeling like your meaningless action is somehow going to sell books for you. Your most precious commodity is your time. You have a finite amount of it, and being a spam broadcasting station hurts you in the minds of anyone who sees it, unless they’re the kind of person who would pay for a DVD of infomercials. There aren’t many, so stop it.

Now I know I’ll get some comments from people who sell miniscule numbers of books, saying, “But when I don’t spam the crap out of my twitter feed, I don’t sell any!” OK, so you want to master how to sell two books a day, be my guest, follow several thousand people, mostly authors, nearly zero of whom give a shit whether you drown in your own bile or not, and spam them early and often. Let me know when you sell your first million.

Twitter is only good, as far as I can tell these days, for interacting with people who already think you’re interesting for some reason – and hint, putting “Author” next to your name ain’t the reason, unless they also follow several hundred thousand other hopefuls who have the same thing next to their name. (In case you aren’t reading between the lines, that one bugs the crap out of me – it was advised by Locke in his tome where he left out that he bought several gazillion reviews to game the algos back when reviews played into them, and was pure hucksterism, sort of like advising authors to sit in a quiet room for a half hour each day and visualize being Anne Rice or Stephen King – the problem is, of course, that it does exactly nothing, and doesn’t in any way, shape, or form, work, other than to identify to those with a clue that you don’t have one. Of course it’s been widely adopted by a certain type of budding author, exactly NONE of whom have gone on to sell anything of note, because, you guessed it, it gives the illusion of achievement without having actually achieved anything. Sort of like declaring oneself to be John Doe, Human or John Doe, Upright Biped, or even better, John Doe, Psychic or Wizard. Meaningless, and discarded as such by most. Only nobody will tell those doing it that they’re identifying themselves as clueless twats. So I will. There. I said it. Stop it, and start doing things that actually do or mean something.)

Anyway, if your plan is basically to use Twitter to raise awareness of your books, you’re about three years too late.

Facebook is a little better, but again, only a little, because in order for it to work for you, people have to come to you and read your timeline, which implies you’ve given them a reason to, which I guarantee isn’t post after post about your book, your writing, your latest review, your book signing, your thoughts on writing, your cover, your latest price promotion, etc. etc. Again, if it feels like hucksterism and spam, it probably is. Do you go to Facebook pages that are unending streams of ads for whoever’s page it is? Neither do I. So why would you assume anyone would go to yours if that’s what you offer? Because you’ve been told it’s a good way to get your “message” out there in one of those books or blogs, I’ll bet.

Here’s what I’m trying to impart: Think critically. Don’t be an asshat. Don’t waste your time with stuff that doesn’t produce verifiable results. Spamming doesn’t work other than to get your name quickly added to the list of douchebags everyone ignores.

I’m not going to try to list the things that I think are effective, because I already have in many other blogs. They are, simply, blogging and interacting on message boards about things you are passionate about and which really matter to you (that’s not the same as trying to figure out how to glom onto some topical item or celebrity and insert your thoughts into the discourse along with a pitch for your book – another piece of advice that immediately announces you as clueless and desperate to anyone reading), engaging with people via social media (not trying to reach readers via social media, engaging with people, some of whom are probably readers, many of whom are not, none of which should matter to you) like Facebook, and generally being interesting and worth interacting with.

The problem is that it’s hard to write a book that says, “Writing well takes years of hard, dedicated effort, and marketing your presumably competent writing only once it’s actually good takes thousands of hours of extremely hard work and application and money.” Because nobody wants to buy that book. Nobody wants to buy, “Cook like a Michelin chef after spending only a decade working to become one!”

How To books sell when they promise a magic shortcut, a way to cut to the head of the line, presumably without paying the dues or doing the work. Or worse, they promise something they can’t deliver, in which case they are simply snake oil, lies, and manipulations to separate you from your money. Be skeptical of all of these, because in case you haven’t noticed, exactly none of the big selling indie authors who have broken out in the last 3 years did so because they put “Author” after their name, or fired off an endless stream of spam at prospective readers, treating them as dolts. They all respect their readers, do their very best to produce work that resonates with them, in many cases put out a LOT of books before they hit (I think Hugh had 7 out before Wool gained traction, and I know HM Ward had at least a dozen out, Melissa had 5 or 6, Elle had 10 or so, I had 10 or 11, etc. etc. etc.), and kept at it, trying new things, changing gears when necessary, and never wasting their time with idiocy that had no impact on their craft or their sales.

If I sound like Mr. Grumpy, I’m really not. I’m just fed up with people being encouraged to slam their heads into brick walls, or engage in pseudo-scientific BS that doesn’t work. And that’s what the books largely encourage – spending lots of time on things that will create negligible results, but will keep you from practicing your craft. Worse yet, there’s a certain type of book out that not so subtly encourages authors to become carny barkers, treating prospective readers as rubes to be conned or duped. Nobody else will tell you how bad an idea it is, and how damaging it is to your career as well as your self-image, so I will. Don’t buy into it. If it feels like you’re doing something irritating or desperate, it’s because you are, and all anyone will ever remember is you covered with a glistening sheen of flop sweat as you perform an epic fail. Don’t be that person. Reject it, and behave responsibly. Develop a following by writing things they want to read. Doing so on your blog is a good way to start. If you’re a decent writer, prove it. Go write. If you have to give away samples of your work and you believe that will get folks to follow you to your paid content, then do that. Do things you can identify as productive and effective, and have zero patience for silliness that doesn’t work.

I know nobody really wants to hear that.


Now on to other fare. I just sold JET in Germany, so it will be translated into German shortly, which I’m quite excited about, given that King of Swords was translated into German by Amazon Crossing and is selling well, and Voynich just sold to Bulgaria. And it’s only about 90 days until my co-authored novel with Clive Cussler is live, which is also pretty damned cool. I’m almost done with Requiem for the Assassin (targeting June 4th for first draft completion), and JET VII will release next month, and has already gotten a massive number of pre-orders. So all in all, can’t complain.

That’s it for me. Hope you have a productive or relaxing week. I’ll be writing away.



  1. Mon 26th May 2014 at 12:39 am

    You said you had 10 or 11 books out before you got any traction. I seem to remember — and correct me if my memory is failing, because it won’t be the first time — that I read one of your posts some time ago saying your first novel sold only a few copies at first, but (and again, I’m stirring my memory here) during the fourth or fifth month, you sold two or three thousand copies. Please straighten me out here, because two thousand copies a month after just a few months would qualify as “traction” in my book.

    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 26th May 2014 at 10:56 am

      Hey Mike. I started getting real traction January of 2012, seven months after starting my publishing journey. At that point I had 10 or 11 books out. In Nov I sold 300-something. December I want to say I sold 480. In January I sold 6K or so. Feb 12K. I’d argue that selling one a day of each title doesn’t qualify as traction of any sort I’d be boasting about, so no, memory is toying with you in this case.

      Which book did it? Well, it might surprise you. My big seller in January was The Geronimo Breach – my second book. More a function of putting it in Select and running my first free promo than anything. And because I had a slew of titles, I was able to repeat that performance every 10 days for about 3 months, building my exposure in waves, never repeating a title. Obviously that doesn’t work anymore. But other things might and do, for some. Point being to be persistent. Elle and Holly changed genres after a year or so of getting no real traction. Others I know who are making bank started a pen name and that pen name is selling huge in romance. Melissa had a good run with her women’s fiction novels for over two years, but her sales really kicked into overdrive when she switched to contemp romance and started a series.

      All of those stories have two things in common. The authors in question are relentlessly hard workers and refuse to give up, and they did whatever they thought necessary to find an audience. Would that we could all be like Colleen, write our first book and have it go big, write the second and have it be a monster, but that hardly ever happens. As in, once a year, or once every few years, out of hundreds of thousands trying. Hugh had 7 books out. BTW, having a slew of books out doesn’t in any way guarantee success, but it’s certainly a factor that appears in most of the cases I’ve looked at.

  2. Mon 26th May 2014 at 7:34 am

    You’re not hurting my feelings, Russell. Despite my addiction to facebook, I’ve grown weary of the countless number of self-promotions that stream both my fb and twitter accounts. My problem, like many authors, is that the thing we’re most interesting in is writing. So we tend to congregate in social media hives throughout the net. In fact, I see my other interests as a distraction from my writing. Yes, I should embrace them, blog about them, and find my audience, and I will continue to try. If I can stop writing about writing long enough to do so. Great advice, sir. Thanks for taking the time for us.

    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 26th May 2014 at 12:17 pm

      You’ll note that I blog mostly about writing, which is one of my primary interests, but it holds no real allure for 99% of my readers, and I understand it’s doing nothing for my goal of audience building, which is fine because I don’t expect it to do much. If I were interested in trying to reach readers via my blog, I’m not sure what I’d need to blog about, but the fact that I recognize that it isn’t reaching them tells me I’d have to try to figure out what would, which would probably wind up feeling smarmy and fake unless they wanted to read about my tequila drinking and romantic misadventures, so I don’t bother.

      • Ron Estrada  –  Mon 26th May 2014 at 12:32 pm

        My best week was after my terrier got mauled by German Shepherds. I posted about it and updated his progess (and mine with getting the owners to pay for the $2000 vet bill). I don’t know if I gained any readers, but my dog is scheduled for 17 speaking engagements this summer.

        • Russell Blake  –  Mon 26th May 2014 at 1:09 pm

          Hell, think reality TV show. Speaking’s so pre-millenium…

  3. Mon 26th May 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Congratz on Jet in Germany and Cussler. Also, I will never tweet “oMgOmG buy my book plz plz omg omg !o!” again, I swear.

  4. Jan
    Mon 26th May 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Good points, Russell Blake. Ironically, I had to tweet this wake-up call.

  5. Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:32 am

    “Worse yet, there’s a certain type of book out that not so subtly encourages authors to become carny barkers, treating prospective readers as rubes to be conned or duped.”

    What’s this book so I can steer clear of it? (I get the sense I should know what it is already, but I don’t.) If you’re just talking about the slew of “get rich by writing crap” DIY books… well… I hate nonfiction so I’m probably safe. I can’t even make it through a Gaughran book without going crosseyed. (Oh god, if you’re talking about his books that’d be really, really funny.)

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I’m not going to pick on, or give any real estate, to the books in question. Just look at some of the top selling “How to sell tonnage” or “How to market your ebooks” titles and you will find plenty of examples. There might be some worthwhile books in that category. I simply haven’t found any.

      But I’ll make this invitation. If anyone is making six figures a year following someone’s sales and marketing advice they found in a How To Sell Books book, step up and share your story. I said that three years ago when Locke’s book was being touted as the real deal. I asked, in a blog, where all the followers of his system who were making serious money selling books were? Nobody has stepped forward. Three years later, not one. Telling, I’d say. To be fair, there could be a universe of authors who followed his counsel and made fortunes, but I haven’t heard of them.

      On the flip side, I have dozens of author friends and colleagues who have taken my counsel to heart, and are making serious livings.

      I rest my case.

  6. Tue 27th May 2014 at 6:15 am

    I’m not just a fan of your books, I’m a fan of your honest down to earth straight to the point observations and opinions. You just make so much sense that it’s freaky.

  7. Tue 27th May 2014 at 8:37 am

    Just found your blog, and I really like your honesty. It touched a chord with me because the first blog post I wrote was on this very topic; specifically about a book by Chris Brogan called “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth,” a marketing book that basically recycles fake insights, steals everything from marketing books that have been around forever, and packages it like this is something revolutionary. As though being a “Freak” were something new. His book isn’t geared towards authors mind you, but I find it representative of the kinds of blogs and books out there that authors are exposed to.

    On the flip side though, I wouldn’t necessarily call people like Joanna Penn and Roz Morris, indie authors who sell novels and books on writing, snake oil saleswomen either. Morris has put a lot of work into books on the actual craft of writing. And whether you like her novels or not (I don’t), she’s not someone who seems to be “out to get your money.”

    For sure, Joanna Penn writes headlines that are designed to get you to click on them, but if you read her blogs fully, she’s not really selling the easy marketing way out. She may be criticized for being somewhat superficial, but I wouldn’t say she’s dishonest either.

    I guess I was wondering if you had specific books in mind when you wrote this? I personally think that there is a snake-oil spectrum out there and that it isn’t so cut-and-dried.

    Overall, though, I definitely agree with you.

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 11:58 am

      I don’t want to go out and dis a list of books. Let me put it this way. If the author isn’t selling a few hundred thousand books a year, and hasn’t been able to manage it for at least two or three years, why the hell would you listen to anything they have to say about selling books? That’s a very simple question. Counsel can sound stirring and make sense to you, but if the author hasn’t been able to make all that great sense work for them, why believe a word of it? Put another way, if they don’t have a slew of books that are moving tonnage (and being ranked 25K-100K, meaning one of each title, if that, per day, isn’t what I’m talking about), what do they actually know about selling books that has resulted in anything I’d call good, if not spectacular, results? That seems like a pretty straightforward test for “How to market or sell books” types of titles.

      Authors need a mechanism to sort bullshit from reality. In book selling, bullshit would be well intentioned books about all the things you should do to sell books, written by someone who sells per year what I do in about a week. Because the result has no proof behind it. Which is a kind way of saying it doesn’t work (or hasn’t so far, which is pretty much the same thing). So regardless of whether you think the book is filled with nuggets of wisdom, or hard vs. easy marketing, the fact that you could earn more working at a doughnut shop than the author does putting their fine philosophy to work should stop you dead in your tracks. I’m not familiar with the works of Roz or Joanna. They are probably fine, right-thinking people. But if their sales advice isn’t yielding sales of a few hundred thousand books a year (and no, being in a box set at the right time and collecting 8 cents per sale doesn’t count, unless the advice is “get into a hit box set and make lunch money”), then it doesn’t amount to much. So to be clear, books on marketing your books by people who can’t make their marketing advice work are worth less than nothing. Just as a book entitled, “How to make your car run on water” by a guy whose car is junked and doesn’t run at all due to his hairbrained idiocy, doesn’t work. Very simple and lucid, I would think.

      Obviously, books by people who did sell a ton of books, but who later are exposed as having sold them largely due to review buying and not at all due to anything in their How To book, should also be discarded out of hand, IMO.

      I don’t discuss books that focus on the craft of writing. That’s an entirely different topic. There are plenty of wonderful books on craft. Start with Lawrence Block. I’m sure there are tons of wonderful writers sharing their tips and philosophies on the web, and if it seems to make your work more readable, hey, knock yourself out. But that’s not advice on how to sell or market books. That’s advice on how to write better, or structure your story, or use language, or whatnot, which is the business of writing, not the business of book selling.

      • Tasha Turner  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:06 pm

        Great advice as always. I haven’t written a book on how to sell books but I do give advice on selling books & I haven’t written or sold a book yet. Most of my advice sounds a lot like yours. I come at it from a readers perspective – what makes me decide to buy some unknown authors work or promote someone’s product. It also comes from spending years hanging out with authors and publishers from across the spectrum and seeing what works and what doesn’t. And it comes from 20 years on the interwens and having people follow and refer people to me for whatever it is I’m doing at the moment which always builds from what I did before. But I don’t believe there is a quick and easy get rich method for anything in life nor do I believe getting rich will suddenly make one happy or solve all of ones problems.

        Hard work, putting out saleable books, some luck, and treating your readers with respect goes further than spam any day. Everyone I know hates being spammed if they are truly honest with themselves.

        • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:27 pm

          The problem is to sell a How To book you have to claim to know how to. And the truth is that beyond writing good books in popular genres, publishing with regularity, being coherent in your branding and marketing, and doing essentially all the things I’ve laid out for free on my blogs, there is no secret sauce. But those who want to sell a few How To books can’t admit that, because if they did, bam, no product.

          I just went and looked at a few things of interest: several well-regarded panelists on a few conferences whose 5-10 books are all in the 25K-500K ranking. These are “experts” on self-publishing or the new world of publishing. Really? Huh? You mean the people who can’t sell enough books to buy a Happy Meal are the ones dispensing the advice? Good God almighty.

          I also just looked at a couple of “how to succeed at self-publishing” books at random. One highly regarded tome, if the reviews are to be believed, features an author whose fiction works are ranked between #125K and #500K. Another is basically a rehashing of the author’s blog posts from several years ago, which basically advise you to do a free run on Select, and then lay back and enjoy the massive sales bounce afterward. Something that hasn’t worked since 2012. That author’s books rank from #50K to #500K or worse.

          So these are people who can’t sell books to save their lives, advising others on what to do to sell their books.

          Blind leading the blind.

          Here’s reality. Anyone selling serious volume of their fiction doesn’t have the time to pen a How To book that won’t make them nearly as much money as their fiction does. They also are unlikely to have abundant time to spend as speakers on the conference circuit, because they can make more by penning another novel. That’s uncomfortable for many to say out loud, but it’s the truth. If your income is being made doing seminars, public speaking, writing non-fiction tomes detailing your book selling tips, etc. it’s because your fiction work isn’t selling, which means you’re a fraud, a phony, a charlatan, and should be run out of town on a rail.

          Not that I have an opinion on this…

          • JT  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:35 pm

            Eye-opening. And you are right on this. I have started to delete such types of eBooks off my Kindle because why would I listen to unsuccessful people telling me how to be successful in the area they have failed in? What a complete waste of money that I could have spent paying for better covers for my own books. It’s a no-brainer.

            I know you mentioned in another comment that you’re not talking about craft books. But you know, they’re the same. I have accumulated dozens of writing books over the years until one day it dawned on me another Duh Moment. With the exception of Stephen King, why in the world would I be listening to those writing “experts” telling me how to write a book when none of them have written any bestselling novels at all, ever? Like you said — blind leading the blind. Wide is the gate.

          • Tasha Turner  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:47 pm

            True. If you can’t sell your fiction or non-fiction well than writing a book about selling books may not meet the grade. Writing how to be a mid-list indie or how to publish a book and sell a few copies might be better titles…

            I don’t tell anyone I’m advising that they will become bestsellers. I’ve been told my intro email is scary and most potential clients walk away as “it sounds like too much work”. I suspect the title to my ebook would be “how to work your butt off and possibly equal your day job income publishing books”. LOL

            I don’t like writing fiction. I have some ideas for stories but going from a technical writer to a fiction writer isn’t my thing. What I am good at is making friends, connections, learning how things work, sharing information. So I don’t know if I’ll ever have fiction out to test my advice. I do know that my advice matches up to those of you making it in the industry and that was true before I got to know successful indies and the constantly changing tools and retail environments.

            So maybe I should be run out of town. I don’t know. Is being a bad fiction writer reason for disqualifying my knowledge? It’s a question I ask myself frequently and one that I’ve been known to ask publicly more than once.

          • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 2:58 pm

            It depends on how you represent yourself, I suppose. There’s no law against representing yourself as an expert on anything at all, that I know of. Certainly not in Meheeco. It’s up to the buyer to be skeptical. Buyer beware. If what you’re telling your clients matches up to what I espouse, then you’re telling them the honest to god truth, at least as far as I can tell, because I’m transparent about how I got successful, and have continued to be successful. More importantly, I’ve advised more than a few fellow authors, and those following my counsel have gone from selling a few hundred bucks a month to many thousands, consistently. So the approach works. Perhaps not 100% of the time, but it certainly does enough to be reproduceable – and there’s always the variable of how good the books are, and what genre they’re in. Following my counsel with crap books probably won’t work well. Following it in a genre that isn’t large enough to support an author unless they’re one of the top 10 probably won’t do much.

            If you do write a book advising folks how to sell loads of books, I’d expect to be asked how many books you’ve sold doing so. That’s always a good litmus test.

            Non-fiction is complete greek to me, in terms of how to sell decently. So got nothing to add to that.

  8. Tue 27th May 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Hello, Blake,

    Taking marketing advice from writers who haven’t done anything but jawbone is the literary equivalent of believing ANYTHING politicians advise.

    Your anger is ascerbic and well directed, but you might consider contacting Nicholson for a refresher on Anger Management.

    OR…you might take the following Chill Pill:
    Ingredients: One glass. Ice Cubes. Jack Daniels.
    (Note: no tequila needed…)
    Directions: You know what to do.
    Frequency: As directed on label.

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 12:25 pm

      I find the Mexican equivalent, which is really just four fingers of Don Julio anejo, to be effective. I highly recommend it. That and lying on the beach immediately afterward. With sunscreen, of course.

      • Larry Bonner  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:22 pm

        OK, you twisted my arm.
        I’ll try the tequila route, but if a wheel comes off, you gotta post my bond…

        • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:31 pm

          Softly, softly, catchee monkey…

  9. Tue 27th May 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve also noticed the panel of experts on some of the Indie seminars don’t have bestselling books either, which left me scratching my head. It’s kind of like a workout video. I’m only going to buy it if the person on the cover is fit.

    I agree that I don’t see many of the tweets, just see my mentions and the tweets of a few that I find interesting.
    So other than not tweeting book links all day, do you think it’s worth tweeting about anything book-related, like if a book’s on sale, or an author interview, or do you think Twitter is just a total waste of time now?

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 3:03 pm

      I think posting a sale tweet occasionally is fine, as are author interviews. It’s why I rely on others to do tweeting about me, and I occasionally tweet my own new blogs, and retweet those mentioning me.

      Look, if Twitter was a viable marketing tool, authors with half a million followers should sell like Thunderbird on Skid Row. But they don’t. I find it mostly meaningless EXCEPT to interact with readers or other authors, when I have the time. I have never bought a book because the author tweeted or Facebooked about it unless it’s an author I wanted to read anyway and it’s a new release being announced. So if others work the same way, I’d assume they don’t either. Meaning tweeting about your own books is silly. Beyond some highly specific targeted promotions, where you’re alerting anyone interested that you have a special they might be interested in, it’s bogus. Tweet about stuff you find interesting or care about. Tweet about other authors you’ve read and like. In other words, interact, don’t pitch. Nobody likes being pitched.

      • Kim Cano  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 3:28 pm

        Okay. Thanks.

        I’m trying to think if I have ever bought a book off a tweet. I don’t think so. It’s either been featured in a BookBub ad, ERN, or an Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal, or I saw a FB friend write a Goodreads review and it caught my eye.

        On a separate note, I noticed Publisher’s Weekly is launching some new site for Indies. I hope it’s going to be a place for ads that brings results like Bub. That would be nice.

        • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 5:11 pm

          I’ll keep an eye out for flying pigs. Would that these mega-corps actually figured it out and created value for readers and authors instead of eyeing them as sheep to be fleeced. And we could all use another good outlet. Viva competition and capitalism!

        • Old Git  –  Fri 30th May 2014 at 7:51 pm

          So why bother Tweeting RB’s books then? (you Tweet them often)

  10. Tue 27th May 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Your blog has become the new place I send all newbies and sycophants. Your brutal truth-telling is better for them than my nicey-nice.

    That said, I’m in Triberr and considering quitting after 1.5 years of tweeting other people’s stuff, 5 posts of theirs to my weekly one! What do you think of Triberr? A lot of the content I’ve been tweeting/Rting is good, but I think it’s effectiveness has peaked.

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 5:06 pm

      I don’t use Triberr, so have no opinion. I do find that retweeting stuff I find genuinely interesting is far better than RTing out of trying to be nice to someone, because my feed quickly maxes out if it’s just an infomercial for books, mine or anyone else’s. I think being judicious in any social media is key. Put simply, what do you like to read, and who do you pay attention to? Is it other authors who endlessly pump their circle of friends’ books interspersed with their own, or is it people you feel a connection with, even if it’s just an agreement with their stance, or their philosophy, or because you find them funny or interesting? Bluntly, the best advertisement for your books is yourself. Be yourself, don’t take your followers for fools, offer up posts of your own when you feel like you have something you want to say, and repost the posts of others when you find them interesting. That will make for a far more palatable solution for your followers, and you’ll feel better about yourself. That’s what I try to do. Who knows if any of it winds up selling books or not? All I know is that when I stopped using Twitter at all for three months as an experiment (I’d suspected it was all pointless and stupid for a while), my sales actually increased some. So all those hours I’d spent programming and RTing and #FF and all the other crap was either having a negligible, or even a negative, impact on my book sales. So I just started posting when I felt like it, about whatever I felt like, or if I had a new blog or something newsworthy, and went on with my life.

  11. Tue 27th May 2014 at 4:24 pm

    *Fist bump!*

    I deleted my Twitter account several months back. Sometimes I get a shiver of happiness, just knowing I don’t need to check it. Ever.

    I also got a shiver of happiness reading your epic post. 😉

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 27th May 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Glad it resonated. I’d say RT it, but that would be kind of pointless given that you’ve opted out.

      Perhaps we’ll eventually get back to where social media is actually about being sociable, and not being a 24/7 sales and marketing engine? Who knows. Stranger things…

      Anytime I can make a woman shiver with anything but revulsion, cold, or apprehension, is a good day indeed. So WIN on that!

  12. Kathie
    Fri 30th May 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Astute advice. At Twitter all of 30 days with about 1500 followers I realized last week it was so distracting that I’d have to ‘quiet’ down. When I first saw how many authors there were tweeting I was confused. I thought how could everyone be an author. It was mind-bending. So I’ve come to your conclusions intuitively. You have synthesized everything I was beginning to suspect!

  13. Old Git
    Fri 30th May 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Well, that was a load of bollocks, in my humble opinion, RB.

    Social media is a cow for whatever your brand (big or small).

    And I know that fellow writers endorse you, having enjoyed your wares. So I’m guessing they like to read a bit now and then when not writing.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Social media is fine if it’s not you doing your tweeting about your product. Nobody is all that interested in reading a tweet stream from someone that’s all about them hawking their own wares. That’s an infomercial.

      Infomercials have their place and do work. I just don’t do them on my own stream, unless I’m tweeting someone else’s book, or someone else’s tweet about one of my interviews or books. I’ve used tweeting services before and seen good results, but that’s not in my stream, that’s in theirs. We all have our own methodologies, and I don’t find Twitter valuable anymore for much besides interacting with readers, for the reasons stated. There are many that do find it valuable. I have no beef with them.

  14. Wed 04th Jun 2014 at 11:13 am

    In response to your comment – “I know nobody really wants to hear that.” I did. I like your honesty, always have. Thanks.

  15. Tue 03rd Feb 2015 at 1:32 am

    Hi there, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s in fact excellent, keep up writing.


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