Friday, October 4, 2013

Authors Are Spending Too Much Time On Social Self-Promotion

First, let me point you to the source article I am grabbing my discussion from:

Indie Authors Are Spending Too Much Time On Social Self-Promotion

Note how I dropped the “Indie” on this. I think this applies to Indie, Small Press, Mid-sized press, and all authors who are not top tier sales at a large publisher.

The argument is a simple one. If you are spending too much time on social self-promotion then you are not writing, or working on your craft. The problem is that even publishers don’t seem to care about quality any more. They care – with good reason – about survival and survival is by sales.

The mistake is, in my ever so humble opinion, that this fundamentally insults readers over the long term. Sure, if the book goes viral it will launch your career 50 shaded ways, but your writing won’t improve and worse, what fans you do have won’t get that second, third, fourth book.

I love two quotes from this blog (one pulled from U.K.’s The Guardian—emphasis added):

In a recent article in The Guardian, Nesrine Mailk said, “A distinguished British author and historian recently told me in a private conversation that his publisher had forced him to go on Twitter in order to promote his latest book. Having joined just for this purpose, his timeline was an unbroken litany of self-advertisement. He soon realized that the constant promotion was backfiring, and that his ‘brand’ was being tarnished as followers were beginning to snipe at his hitherto exalted status. Indeed, the whole exercise was creating the impression that he was a pompous bore whose brash self-promotion did not match the profundity of his work – but he did not know how to rectify that.”


…take the advice of Bret Easton Ellis‘s friend, who reportedly told him at the Vanity Fair Oscars’ party: “You need to get off Twitter. People think you’re crazy.”

Now the authors are New Libri Press are going to remember that I said “go out and promote your book, because we don’t have a marketing budget that counts,” and say “what the f*ck? You’re telling me now NOT to promote my book.

No, we are interested in survival too. But, like many micro presses (publishing less than 25 titles per year) we believe in the authors. So, sure, we want it all. We want promotion and another book from our authors. But, for the good of writing in general and a long term focus, we know where we would come down on the question of “I can write, or I can promote, which do you want me to do?”

Write. Keep writing. Get better. Live long and prosper.


  1. This is a tough question with no easy answer, but I agree with you, Stasa. If we accept that some pimpin' s necessary in today's environment, there's plenty of sage advice out there that can help an author create a sensible constituent marketing approach that consists of virtually zero self-promotion and can be automated to a large degree. Jane Friedman, as sort of a clearing house of author marketing content, is a good place to start in my estimation. If you can get a self-sustaining system of some sort that requires minimal care and feeding, and you don't get sucked down a social networking rathole every time you have to `'feed the beast", maybe there's a workable balance. (I'm not claiming to have found it yet...)

  2. Agree that there's a balance to be struck. The key I think is having a publisher who also gets today's publishing realities, and will actively cross-promote

  3. A good example of a publisher who actively builds an audience for their stable of writers, by being savvy and involved in social media is Angry Robot Books, out of the UK.

  4. I'd like to see more promotion of your authors at the New Libri Press social media sites. They provide the content (by writing) and you could provide a bit more visibility for them. Win-win because promoting your authors and books also promotes New Libri Press. A way that both writing and promoting could "live long and prosper".

  5. Kate, We'd love it too, although for books and authors the ROI on the time and effort is rather intangible (and I know you are in the business Kate). New Libri has zero bandwidth, so the idea of leveraging our authors is a great one. Of course if you are talking about advertising as part of the promotion, you have to realize two things: 1) Direct advertising for books on social media has shown zero ROI. 2) New Libri currently (as most micro presses) loses money each year (nothing secret about this--it is the industry standard). The average micro to small press survives 5 years or less.


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