THE BLOG

The Dark Side of Selling Books

02/28/2014 10:53 am ET | Updated Apr 30, 2014

No doubt you're as tired of all the "Buy my book!" tweets and posts as I am. And I'm an author, with books to sell, too.

I've researched quite a bit into this whole "hard sell" approach (on Twitter, or really, any other social media), and have invented a name for when an author blasts spammy book link tweets: The Dark Side of Sell. (Rhymes with... Well, you get it.)

Let's deconstruct (using actual tweets and situations).

THE PROBLEM

Example A: A RARE GEM! More 5-star reviews for (insert book title and link)!!! Buy now!!!! RT! Tell all your friends!!!!

Example B: Download a FREE excerpt from (insert book title and link)!!! You need this book now!!!! RT!

Example C: Review my book (insert book title and link) and share with your following!

I'm clearly not the only person who finds this annoying (and don't even get me started on the cheerleader exclamation marks and SHOUTY CAPS). This particular person constantly sends these tweets out to hundreds of individuals. And sadly, she's not alone--I see this all over social media, all the time.

Before I follow people on Twitter, I check their feed to see if they are spammy. Because this person was, I didn't follow back or retweet her. In fact, I referred her to this article I wrote, to suggest that perhaps a different, less salesy/spammy approach might prove more effective.

The problem with this type of hard sell approach is threefold:

1. It puts people off. We want to feel a connection to the person we're buying from. Demanding a sale does not create a relationship with your readers/buyers.

2. It creates a void. We as consumers are fully capable of reading authors' bios, clicking on their links, and purchasing their books if we so choose. Authors who choose to spam links appear to have little to no faith in readers, and are, in effect, calling them dumb.

3. It lacks interaction. People who spam links to their books constantly are severely limiting the many benefits of social media and how well it can work.

THE CHOICE

Just as authors choose to spam links, we (consumers, authors ourselves, readers, bloggers, reviewers, etc.) can choose not to comply with their demand. I'm not sure about you, but my Twitter feed is very well branded. I share information, resources, news, and yes, some promotion (of both myself and others). And while I often promote others' work, I do so because I want to, not because an author tells me to. I make a choice to do so.

THE SOLUTION

If you want to connect with readers, you need to search for and follow readers. This isn't rocket science. Targeting other random authors you don't know to do your promotion for you is ineffective because:

• We are busy with our own writing and promotion, and
• We are happy to share a tweet (or Facebook share, or Google+ mention, etc.) if we know you in some way--if you've retweeted us, talked with us in other places. In other words, if you've developed a relationship with us rather than just demanding something of us.

So if you've been living on the Dark Side of Sell, there's a simple way to break from the hard sell approach you've been using. Stop doing it!

Instead, change your paradigm. Take the time you've been spending on spamming links, and refocus your efforts on curating interesting content (pictures, quotes, news on your topics of interest), occasional links, and being open to learning about your readers. In essence, shift from "me-focused" to "others-focused."

How do I know this approach works? Because all three of my books have hit #1 of various paid lists on Amazon (my current release, Broken Pieces, is, as I write this, #1 on Women's Poetry). By not hard selling to people on social media, I sell a decent amount of books.

Get out of the Dark Side of Sell and join the rest of us who are being social on social media. See you there.