Your Book Is Not Pepper Spray That You Must Fountain Into My Eyes
Dear People Who Have Written Books:
I don’t want to be advertised to.
Or, put differently: I don’t want to be strapped down while you advertise all over me in some acrid, splashy golden shower version of “marketing.”
I awake daily now to find that someone has posted a photo of their book to Facebook and tagged me in the photo. Not because I had anything to do with the book. Not because I even know this person, but just because they want me to see it. I am frequently tagged with other writers as if to say, “Hey, guys, look! I wrote a book!” And the book is frequently some dubiously-covered author-published book which may be awesome, or may be a total cube of wombat poop.
(Yes, wombats poop in cubes. THE MORE YOU KNOW.)
Listen, I get it. I understand. It’s hard out there for a penmonkey. You gotta scrap and struggle and kick and scrape to get noticed, lest your book — released with a publisher or released on your own — land softly and unseen, as if it had never been written at all. And you think, I have these social media tools available to me, so I must use them to their fullest.
I’m sympathetic. As I noted yesterday, I’m an inky-fingered dude trying to make it, too.
The problem is, the social media tools you’re using?
They’re hammers. And I don’t want you to hit me with a fucking hammer.
Now, I get it, someone out there will say that familiar refrain of first world problems, and yes, this is very much a first world problem — and is in fact a small subsection of the first world problem, an artist’s first world problem. People are starving and economies are stumbling drunkenly through gauntlets of paddling politicians and people keep writing open letters to Miley Cyrus, I know. Just the same, niche as it may be, it’s a problem, and here’s why:
Your little advertisement isn’t the only one I’m getting today.
I’ll get more of the same on Facebook throughout the day.
Someone will “invite me” to their book launch on FB.
Or they’ll “invite me” to the same on Google-Plus (sometimes both).
And inevitably someone will DM me on Twitter about his book.
Or spam me on Twitter along with 1000 other writers HEY @CHUCKWENDIG HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COOL SPACE OPERA BOOK CALLED STARWRATH OF THE STARWRAITH WOW I TOTALLY DIDN’T WRITE IT WINK WINK.
Or they’ll email me at one or two or even three of my email addresses.
(All from people I don’t even know.)
So, your one little piece of advertising detritus gloms onto all the other rancid bits.
And by the end of the day I have a vertiable fatberg of your spammy spamness clogging up my social media feeds and, worse, filling my brain with rage.
Admittedly, this practice seems to come up more often with author-publishers than it does with traditionally-published authors, but the trad-pubbers do the same shit, too, sometimes. And worse is when actual publishers or publicists choose to try this same dubious bullshit which is just, ugh. (A new favorite is writing me as if I’d be blessed by some divine librarian’s hand to review a book or host a guest blog by an author or write a guest blog for an author — no free book, no it’s not a favor, it’s just my good fortune to be receiving this request.)
To reiterate: I get it. I do!
This realm of social media is relatively new and we’re all just trying to find a way to peddle our creative wares and, you know, not starve to death. I genuinely understand that.
The trick is, stop being a sentient spam-bot.
Start being a cool author person.
I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t talk about your book. You can! And should!
You have an audience and whether it’s 300 or 300,000, and presumably the people in that audience follow you with some understanding and expectation that you talk about your work and occasionally — not always, certainly not every fifteen minutes — drop a link or ask them to buy or review a book. I do it. Other authors far more impressive than I do it. There you’re talking to the audience that has gathered around your soapbox. Instead of, say, running out into a city park and bludgeoning random passersby with your book.
Your book is not a fist, a hammer, a Taser, a stream of hot urine.
You do not make me want to read your book by clumsily thumping me about the head and neck with it. FUMP FUMP FUMP READ IT IT’S A BOOK LOOK AT IT NO SERIOUSLY LOOK IT HAS WORDS YOU LIKE WORDS FUMP FUMP FUMP. Ow! No. Not cool, author-person. Not cool at all.
Write more books.
Write fewer invasive advertisements.
Thank you, and good night. Er, good morning.
WHATEVER SHUT UP I STILL HAVE JET LAG