Sunday, January 19, 2014

10 Ways to Piss off Potential Readers

Potential readers are the bread and butter of any indie author's career. Finding those readers is often a daunting task, and so most of us turn to Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/etc. Reaching new people is the goal, yet many authors think that social networking really means let's-annoy-the-crap-out-of-complete-strangers-by-beating-them-over-the-head-with-my-latest-promotion-or-event.

Who thought that was a good idea?

Here are the top ten ways to piss off potential readers using social networks:

#10. Go ahead and send that Direct Message on Twitter. You know, the one that starts with "Hey, thanks for the follow! Please check out my latest book here (http://whatever), or better yet, find me on Facebook! (http://notinamillionyears)

Yeah. Because twitter lovers have nothing better to do than to click on EVERY site sent in a direct message. 

#9. Be sure to use a call to action tweet with new followers. 

Sad thing is I think someone actually told this author that this is a great idea. Demanding something of someone you just met doesn't exactly set the tone for a good start to a new friendship, does it?  

#8. Promote one event on every single group/site/page you own on Facebook. You know this campaign is a success when Facebook finally suspends the URL due to spam. 

Here's the thing. Chances are the people that follow your fanpage also may be one of your coveted 5000 friends or are in the same group you're in. You're preaching to the same choir, just in a different loft. And no one enjoys listening to the same sermon twice. Best to stick with putting it on your fanpage only. If you want the extra exposure, ask some close friends to share it in a group or two.  

#7. People love a narcissist.  Only post stuff about your work. They'll follow you in droves.  

If you make the NYT's or USA Today's bestsellers list, or if you hit anywhere in the top 100 on Amazon by all means, shout it from the rooftops! But otherwise, post reviews and updates in moderation. People would rather see a post about the deer in your backyard or a picture of your laptop at Starbucks over an hourly updated screen-shot of your Amazon sales. 

My buddy, Hope Collier, has a fantastic fanpage. I thought I'd share an example of a great post that brings some convo to the table: 

#6. People admire snarky authors that put other books down. Don't be afraid to state your opinion about other author's work. 

Riiiight. Like that won't completely offend the faithful readers of that other author, will it? Too, it won't make you look like a pompous ass ... not at all. 

We all have different styles of writing, and not one is any better than the other. Putting down someone else's work makes you look like a total douche. In the words of my grandmother, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  

#5. People want to hear your political views. No really, they're riveted. 

A well written book is loved by all. Why on earth would you want to alienate half the reading population by taking a political stance on a controversial subject? Love Obama? Hate Obama? Tell you family, your close friends, but by all means keep it off your social media feed. 

#4. Be sure to make it as difficult as possible for people to contact you. Readers love a good challenge, and they'll feel privileged when they finally get through. Oh, and be sure to wait at least a month before getting back with them if you reply at all. 

Twitter validation services, contact forms instead of email addresses, and putting people off to an "agent" does nothing but distance you from your readers. Contact info should be front and center on every site. And if readers take the time to contact you, respect that by contacting them back. Preferably in a timely manner. 

#3.Don't follow people back on Twitter. Having 10,000 followers while you are only following "The Chicago Manual of Style" sets a precedent. Readers love a writer that is standoffish and aloof. 

The whole "mystery persona" is a crock. Sorry, but it's true. While movie stars and professional jocks may get away with it, if you're a writer and your numbers are this out of whack, people think you're a snob. 

#2. When a reader wins a signed copy of your book, mail it whenever. They can wait. 

I know we all are crazy busy, but when a reader takes the time to participate in a giveaway and they win, they're excited and want their book. Chances are if you get it to them ASAP, they'll bump you up on their TBR. And please, take a second and write a small "Congrats" email and then a follow up of "Hey there, I just sent your book via USPS. Here's the tracking number." A little consideration goes a long, long way.  

#1. As soon as someone so much as says "hi" bombard them with information. Be sure to ask if they'd like to help make Pinterest pins. Oh, and ask if they'd like to join your newsletter. Street team anyone? Hey, do they have a blog? Because you'd love for them to run your blog tour, right? 

This one's a doozey. By overwhelming new contacts, writers are not only losing a reader for their current work, but probably every work thereafter. 
Readers are smarter than your average bear. They also share the same passion that writers do: the love of a good story. We should appreciate that, not try to take advantage of it. In this ADD world, the art of listening is sadly being lost. When someone takes the time to reach out to you, reach back. Shake their cyber hand and listen. 

Remember, social networking isn't about hocking your wares. It's about reaching out and making new friends. Take time to get to know someone, to really care about them and foster friendships. For when something really great happens with your work, those are the people eager to shout it out on their network. They want to participate in your blog tour, they cheer when your book hits #1 on a list somewhere. 

More importantly, your life is enriched because you took the time to get to know them.