November 6th, 2012 / 6:14 pm

When people use social media to promote their books, that is their way of saying that they can’t be bothered to figure out how to actually promote their books. When people tell you to use Facebook to promote your book, what they are doing is giving you a way to keep very busy while no one at all reads you.


  1. pauljessup

      This is why I hesitate to follow anyone back on Twitter that has the words “writer” in their bio. 9 times out of 10 it’s just buy my book spam. Why does anyone think this works?

  2. Adam Robinson

      There’s an AWP panel for you.

  3. Brian Carr

      Everyone uses social media to some degree to promote their books. I need an example.

  4. jtc

      i don’t do any promoting right now, because i have nothing to promote. but i don’t like the idea of marketing and advertising, i guess. i’d rather self-promote. not that i want to spam people, but i do want it to be genuine. hey, i want you to buy my book. i’m not spending money on marketing it–i’m just hoping it’s good enough that if you read it, you’ll like it and share it with someone else. i’m not absolutely opposed to other forms of promotion (though i know little about any of it), but self-promotion just seems the least worst way, in a way.

  5. Brian Carr

      Like, is this okay?

  6. Brian Carr

      What happened in the six hours between posting a link to your writing on Facebook and posting the above statement to make you change your mind?

  7. Wala

      I am not sure that I agree with this completely. Facebook has more or less become yet another marketing outlet. How effective it is could be up for debate, But if your book is geared towards a teen audience I think it could be very effective.

      Austin Walker

      Compass Rose Academy – Counseling for Troubled Teens

  8. PHC

      shots fired, rip social media

  9. Mike Meginnis

      Brian — nothing changed my mind. The key here is that I specified that social media isn’t a very good way to promote your book.

      You should absolutely use Facebook and Twitter to spam your friends about your writing, especially your writing that is available for free online — like the story I linked to in that screenshot. You can also talk about how cool you are, etc. That’s a pretty efficient way to let your friends know what’s up. BUT, when it comes time to promote a book, Facebook and Twitter are not your friend; you can post there periodically, sure, but past the first post or two, additional posts will have severely diminishing returns, because your friends were listening the first time. If they chose not to buy your book the first three times you posted, being reminded thirty times more in the same venue will not make a difference.

      That doesn’t make social media necessarily problematic unless you hella spam people, but the illusion that having a lot of Facebook friends and Twitter followers will sell books, or that spamming what friends and followers you have will sell books, is actively counterproductive. It’s not going to work, and it leads to really irritating practices.

      How do you promote your book? I think you do it by being publicly interesting and talking to people as if they were people.

  10. HolidayInnExpress

      You’re conflating separate issues (spamming and using Facebook). A person can use Facebook without spamming. Your post is really about spamming, not “using Facebook.” It’s unfair to conflate the two, but you obviously mean well.

      Here are some other tips I might add:

      1) It’s cool to announce your first acceptance or two, but unless you receive an acceptance from the Paris Review, it’s overkill to promote yourself via acceptances. Wait for the story to appear before you mention it on Facebook. You look silly and insecure when you’re announcing your fifteenth acceptance on Facebook.

      2) Please kill the false modesty and just link the damn piece–the ass kissing “aw-thank-you-editors-for-publishing-me-notes,” or the now pseudo nonchalant phrases everyone uses, “I wrote this ‘thing” (or such nonsense). First of all, it’s not a “thing.” It’s a story, poem, or essay. You don’t need to apologize for writing or downplay art by describing it in dumbed down language. Say, “I have a story/essay/poem in the _____” and provide the damn link.

  11. Brian Carr

      Everyone should just do what they want to because the reward isn’t really worth shit anyway. If you’re thinking about ‘how/why’ it should be done, you’ve already lost.

  12. Brian Carr

      I don’t know, man. Some people have used social media to great advantage: Think about Alan Heathcock and Volt. Some people can hide under a rock: Think about Patrick de Witt and The Sisters Brothers. I think the only thing that we can all agree on for sure is that no one knows how to make a book successful. It generally happens by fucking accident or magic or by accidental magic that is magically accidental.