WHY I’VE DECIDED THAT SPAM SHOULD STAY IN THE CAN

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Welcome to the first of my weekly blogs. It’s good to see you – pull up a chair and pour yourself a cuppa. I think there are a few Jaffa Cakes left in the tin, but you’ll have to be quick. The other visitors are gannets!

Now, I’ve been mulling over what to write about in this inaugural post, and after much soul searching – or searching for my soul, which I think I lost down the side of the sofa – I’ve decided to chat about my recent conversion.

Oh-oh! I can see you edging away. Don’t panic! Don’t run off!

It’s NOT a religious thing – I’m not going to make you wear orange robes and chant.

Nor is it anything to do with switching my gas provider.

And I’m not definitely NOT about to extol the benefits of eating raw vegetables or early morning naked yoga. (Or doing both at once – SHUDDERS!)

No, my conversion is about how as an author I should be behaving towards my readers. In particular, how I should tone down my marketing strategy and hard sell – and just give the megaphone a rest…

Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve watched in dismay as some social media outlets have gone from friendly, convivial places to converse with new and old friends, to becoming harried, frantic marketplaces with rival stall-holders screaming to get your attention like carnival barkers on acid.

It feels as though fewer and fewer writers go online to chat and banter. Instead, they go on to pitch and cajole.

“BUY MY BOOK!”

“BUY IT NOW OR YOU’LL REGRET IT!”

“BUY MY BOOK OR I’LL BREAK INTO YOUR HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND READ YOU SAMPLES OF MY MASTERPIECE!”

It seems like the majority of author posts and tweets are hard sell, and frankly I’ve grown a bit weary of reading them.

In fact, I’ve come close to turning my back on Twitter a couple of times this year. It’s really depressing to start to follow an interesting looking writer only to receive a direct message from a ‘robot’ answering service, saying: “Hi (inset name here). Thanks for the follow. Go to www.hardpitchpete.com to buy my latest tome – and while you’re at it, make sure you LIKE my Facebook page.”

How insulting! You’re not a possible future pal – just another schmuck sales prospect. Even when it’s not as crass or obvious as that, some scribblers seem determined to talk AT their readers rather than TO them.

And all this made me wonder how much I was adding to this cacophony of chaos and bad manners, whether I was coming across as just as rude, pushy and insensitive. And I came to the conclusion that yes, without meaning to, I probably was.

In my innocent desire to build my audience, spread the word, and entertain more and more people, I’d inadvertently adopted the worst methods of the spammers and glory grabbers.

So I’ve given myself a good shake and adopted a new philosophy… telling NOT selling. From now on I’m concentrating entirely on sharing good news and snippets of genuine interest with my many great chums online. No sales pitches.

Now, that won’t mean I’ll be posting less. I’m hyperactive and highly excitable (I sprinkle too many E-numbers on my Weetabix) and sometimes I can’t control my joy when something great happens to me or one of my books has been highly praised. I just need to tell the world – STRAIGHT AWAY!

But none of my posts or tweets – or my new monthly newsletter – will contain any instructions to buy or begging entreaties to put your hand in your pocket. The ONLY time I’ll actively urge you to grab one of my books is when it’s on limited free promotion and won’t cost you a penny (or a cent!)

Can I keep this up? Can I be trusted not to fall into ‘salesy’ ways? I truly hope so and I rely on you to give me a swift boot up the posterior if I sin.

In the meantime, have you read my new book “The Art of Slicing Bread”. It’s the best thing since… er… um…

 

 

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Author: IainPattison

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10 Comments

  1. You’re right, of course, Iain. Yet all the advice these days is to hammer away on social media or risk obscurity. To quote Thomas Gray…
    “Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

  2. It’s a tough one getting the balance right, Maggie, that’s for sure. If a writer’s got a new novel out then I want to hear about it. Likewise, if it is attracting great reviews and selling well, I think that’s something to shout about. What is tedious is when there are daily – sometimes hourly – tweets repeating the same desperate call to arms. I’d just like a little less robotic tub-thumping by authors and more interacting.
    I know you don’t mean me personally, but I do like being compared to a flower…

  3. Okay. I’m converted. I’ve already switched energy suppliers, but I’m up early enough every day to chant. Sadly, but my voice usually has the dog crawling for cover under the settee. Shame about the orange robes, though. I’ll leave them in the wardrobe for another day.

    Iain, I’m as guilty as anyone for shouting and shouting (although I’ve never yet said, “buy my book”. Like you, I’m becoming immune to the constant stream of posts on FB and Twitter, like you I’m seeking an alternative.

    I will stay tuned.

  4. Hi David. I don’t want to sound all pious about this because in the past I’ve been more pushy and desperate than most. But, from talking to lots of other writers about the results they achieve, I get the distinct impression that “bombardment” plugging yields very few extra sales and just succeeds in hacking off everyone. So you can view my conversion as enlightened self interest!

  5. Well done Iain! The hard sell is irritating and I switch away from it. I am not going to name names but… Regarding energy suppliers mine has my interest at heart, well they give me some if i am in credit. Few pennies a month but more interest than the bank.

  6. Hi Doug. Glad you liked my blog. I find many of these irritating posts and tweets smack of panic. The writer knows his or her books aren’t selling and they up the decibel level of the pitch to try to catch your attention. It never works.
    RE: you comments about caring energy suppliers, it gives me a warm glow – which no doubt I’ll be billed for!

  7. Hi, Iain, I agree that it’s obvious if someone is only there to sell. I’ll only buy what I fancy reading. David’s murder mystery series are great, and your quirky stories.Im a fan of cosy crime as well.

    • I totally agree, Susan. No amount of bullying or cajoling is going to make me buy a book that isn’t what I’d normally be attracted to read. I really think it’s important for authors to build up a genuine rapport with their readers. I want my readers to be pals, not sales statistics.

  8. I’m useless at promoting myself so don’t do it. Some people are so pushy. There’s one who even manages to get his/her work into comments on my blog.

    • Hi Lynne. I know what you mean about some people being pushy. They just can’t help themselves – every post is a shrill call to action. They never interact, never stop to chat or banter. What’s the point of them being on social media. They might as well stand outside Waterstone’s and hector passers-by.
      I’m shocked that someone is sticking extracts of their work into the comments on your blog – the nerve of it. That deserve a good slap!

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