Social Media Monday: The Subtle Sell. Learn it.

After reading Suzan Isik‘s “How Not To Be A Douchebag Writer” blog post the other week (and her follow up: “It’s really not that difficult“), I realized something.

The vast majority of these douchebags are indie/self-pubbed authors.

I am in no way bagging on indie writers or self-pubbed authors, however, the fact remains: the majority of idiot, douchebag writers come from them.


I believe the main reason is that they simply don’t take the time to learn how to market themselves. Traditionally published authors may get a fancy publicist and they have the support system of Big Name Publisher’s advertising/public relations department behind them. That’s not to say traditionally published authors don’t market themselves, because they do. They just have more of a support system in place.

Indie/Self-Pubbed authors, on the other hand, only have themselves.

And what many of these indie/self-pubbed authors seem to forget is that the marketing/advertising/public relations aspect of selling their book is just as important as the writing/revising/editing part of their book.

As writer’s, we are no stranger to research. Whatever the topic of our book, there’s a certain amount of research that goes into the writing. For my steampunk novella, Zoraida, I’ve done hours of research on Ireland, Irish mythology and the Victorian Era in both England and Ireland. I’ve done research on pirate ships. I’ve done research on Spain.

In short, I’ve done research.

Research is just as important to the selling of our books as it is to the writing of them. We need to research our target audience. We need to research different social medias and how to best effectively utilize them.

You want to sell your book? Put in the effort, but be smart about it.

That’s where the art of the subtle sell comes in.

As an indie/self-pubbed author, you can’t just get on Twitter and say: “My new book “LA LA LA” releases today! Buy a copy now! <insert URL>”. Well, you can, and while it may even get you a few sales, it’s not the most effective way to sell your book. You aren’t JK Rowling. You aren’t James Patterson. You aren’t any of The Really Big Name Authors. Shouting out: “My new book is out!” is not going to cause a mass herd of readers to go buy your book.

Why? Because that mass herd of readers you are trying to reach have no idea who you are.

You’ve got to sell yourself just as much as you’ve got to sell your book. Kristen Lamb talks about this on her blog. If you don’t follow her blog, you should. She’s full of amazing information.

My Twitter stream is filled with writers, readers, knitters, mommies and a slew of other people with various other interests. I like to believe that when I am ready to sell a story or a novel, the people I have taken the time to get to know will buy it because they like me, not because I’m shouting at them every 30 minutes with a link to purchase my new book.

Cold selling is not (repeat: IS NOT) the way to go. It’s annoying. No one likes it. It’s akin to walking onto a car lot and being surrounded by car salesmen who are all trying to push you into buying a car you don’t want. Another comparison is the telemarketer. Name one person who likes telemarketers. No one likes them. Guess what? No one likes your cold selling techniques, either.

Be subtle with the sell. Talk up your book, sure, but don’t cry out for people to buy it. Announce that your book will be released in a few days and you’re celebrating with some cheesecake and wine. Announce that you’re book is on sale and would appeal to the X crowd.

Once is enough.

You don’t have to truly sell it to your audience, because if you’ve got a strong social media presence your fans/followers will share and retweet your announcement. They will tell their friends and followers to check you out. They’ve been following your progress writing and prepping the book for publishing. They know it’s being released, because you’ve casually mentioned it a few times here and there without pressuring anyone to buy it.

Build the relationships. Maintain the relationships. Stop being a douchebag cold seller. Most likely, you’re just going to get blocked and ignored where ever you go.

What sorts of things (other than your writing) do you talk about with your friends/followers?

2 responses

  1. Barbie Furtado

    Hi, just stalking your blog a bit since we just met and I wanted to "get to know you" 🙂

    I'm really not interested in authors who just say "Hey, my book is out today, go buy it." Because I'm fussy with what I read and I have no interest to read a book by someone I don't find interesting. I met this woman by meddling into her conversation with someone else on Twitter a couple months ago (@DeniseMSwank), and I was just fascinated by her Twitter person. She talks about her kids (all six of them), her weird author life, her friends, being a single mom (a widow!), everything, including, many times, writing. She has the funniest blog about her kids. So, when she self-published her book, of course I bought immediately because she was just the nicest person and super interesting. I guess I'm giving her as an example because I think she's the perfect example of how "marketing" for self-pubs should be done. At least she's the only one I know 🙂

    Great blog, by the way 🙂

    August 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    • Stalk away!

      And yea, that's a great example of subtle selling. Being personal and building/maintaining relationships with your audience/readers is just key. Kristen Lamb had a hilariously true post today on her site about the Twitta Playa. Basically, talking about how the Twitta Playa only tweets when they want something. I think a lot of cold sellers are like that. They pop on to say "Hey! Buy my book!" and then you don't hear from them again unless it's to push their book some more.

      I've read so many new authors because of my interactions with them on Twitter. And other authors will have me as a fan for life because I love their books, and I love that they're personal and friendly online.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm

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