I Am Not Spam: Indie Marketing and Self-Promotion

Although Spam is the subject of one of my favorite Monty Python skits, I would like to make it clear to my readers, whether they read my post on my blog or in other social media (LinkedIn, Gather, Goodreads, Google+, Facebook, etc.) that my posts are not spam.  Lately the term “spam” seems to be a convenient catch-all for any post or repost that a given moderator doesn’t care for and is too lazy to follow up with an email.

The reason I’m posting this is because several groups have now deleted me from membership.  Two sent me canned emails stating that what I had posted was spam.  Frankly I find that term insulting.  To me a spammer is some sleazebag marketer who sends out a bazillion annoying emails soliciting money for a bank account in Nigeria or some other illicit scheme, usually financially or sexually oriented.

Unfortunately some folks automatically associate self-promotion with spam.  I am an indie writer.  I self-promote.   If I don’t promote myself, who will?  God?  Not likely.  This is how I am self-promoting:

  1. I have a blog.  I post periodically on my blog anything I think might be of interest either to a reader or a writer.  Everything I post is original content.  I don’t repost from other sites.
  2. Whatever I post on my blog, I copy to interest groups on LinkedIn, Gather, Goodreads, and Facebook.  I also post the content to my pages on Google+ and Facebook, then tweet about it on Twitter.
  3. I don’t change the content for each group and site.  Quite frankly I don’t have time to write thirty or so custom posts, or comment every time someone else posts.  As a self-promoter I need to reach the widest audience I can in the shortest period of time.

Having said all that, could my posts really be spam?  Here is the technical definition of spam:

An electronic message is “spam” if (A) the recipient’s personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND (B) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent. (http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html)

To put it another way, spam must meet two conditions― It must be both unsolicited and bulk.

Well, then maybe I am spam.  What I post is unsolicited.  Although I am a member of the group, I was not asked to post anything.  I guess I could just read what everyone else posts.  What I post could be considered bulk.  I do post the same content to multiple groups/sites.  Is there such a thing as micro-bulk?  I post to a few sites with a small volume of posts.

Nah, I think I’m safe.  I am not spam.

But what about the self-promotion?  Of that I am guilty.  I even have a tag at the end of each post with the lead of “shameless self-promotion” stating where my books can be purchased.  Is that so wrong?  Maybe I should have been more subtle, but in order to catch a reader’s attention, you’ve got to get the message out there so it can be heard above the competition.

Hey! I wrote a book!  I want you to read it!

TO THE MODERATOR OF ANY GROUPS I POST TO: Please note that I have no desire to violate your rules or sensitivities.  If you don’t like my self-promotion, just tell me.  Even if you have posted rules and I wittingly violate them, tell me.  (A rule that states something like “If you violate this rule you will be banned from the group forever” is just immature, adults dialogue.)  Heck, if necessary, delete my post, but tell me why you did it.

So where does all this leave us?  Ever since I began this experiment in self-publication I’ve been wondering that exact thing.  This latest brush with the spamming label just makes me wonder more.  I mean, what else can I do to promote my books that I’m not already doing?  My writing, through my blog and other social media, potentially reaches thousands of readers.  My posts have resulted in some followers and garnered some comments (most positive).  I’ve even tried giving Book 1 of the Any Tomorrow Trilogy away as a free download (in fact it’s free through March 1st, use coupon code SR46A at   http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56869).

I use distribute through both Smashwords and Amazon to maximize my potential audience, but I can’t honestly say that there’s been a major payoff by doing so.  Another concern I have is that by publishing my ebooks through Smashwords I exclude myself from KDP Select which, at least theoretically, has the potential to help with marketing.  And Amazon is the big kid on the eBook block.  The problem is Amazon demands ninety day exclusivity for participation in the program.

In the end I can say proudly that I AM NOT SPAM, other than that, I don’t really know.  I’m I doing this right?  Is there something I could be doing better?  If you have insights or suggestions or are an agent who wants to champion my career, let me know.  I’m always looking for a better way.

Shameless Self-Promotion: My novels, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, Any Tomorrow: The Curse, and Any Tomorrow: The Culling are available from leading eBook distributors such as Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

If you would like to share your ideas about what I’ve written, feel free to contact me here, on my blog, or using other social media.  Thanks.

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About Kevin_Fraleigh

I am a novelist, and much of my writing is predicated on the concept that within each of us is a hole. For some of us, the hole is a divot, shallow and insignificant. But for many of us the hole is a cavern, deep and expansive. We try to fill it with sex or drugs or religion, but the cavern has an insatiable appetite. This is where the dark things live―the things that fill our nightmares. The things that claw at our minds. The things that inspire the stories of horror, madness, and twisted realities. From the depths of that cavern come the seeds of my stories. Won’t you join me in the dark edges of reality? Learn more about me from my blog at anytomorrow.wordpress.com. You can find my novels at amazon.com, smashwords.com, and most eBook retailers. You can also read some of my full length short stories at http://www.wattpad.com/user/Kevin_Fraleigh
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5 Responses to I Am Not Spam: Indie Marketing and Self-Promotion

  1. Atiya says:

    Oh wow that happened to me on Google+ a month ago. Some how I wasn’t banned but I did get a stern warning. I wonder if there will be a new catch phrase coined to differentiate. I know there are a bunch of people in the same boat.

  2. It sounds as though people may be a tad jealous or they have no idea what spam or spamming actually is. I aim to do exactly the same thing as you have done and publish my work though an epublisher. I too am self-promoting as best I can. I have not had this problem yet but as I told myself after reading your blog, it’s still early days.

  3. Self-promotion is a tough gig, much more difficult than actually writing. I find myself spread very thin and it’s difficult to generate something that seems original for each audience, so all you can do is to keep on writing and let the marketing work itself out.

    Thanks for the comment and the re-blog!

  4. Ape says:

    If you were actually adding value to the site, then I can see the ban being premature. But if every one of your posts had some link back to your stuff (even in a self-imposed signiature), your signal to noise ratio might have been too weak.

    From my experience 90% of self promotion is just a one-man spam team. Most of it look probably looked like spam and so the post was reported by the couple of hundred people who saw it.

    Don’t take it personally that they banned you, most of it was probably automatic. I agree that they may have banned you too quickly, but that is another problem entirely. You may need to contacting an admin and show them where you’ve added value. If all your posts are poor signal to noise and you can’t convince them, then maybe the ban was legitimate after all.

    To me a spammer is some marketer (self-marketer, or otherwise) who sends out annoying communication that is soliciting people to go to a page on their website, or some other place they are trying to promote. This may be a continuous stream of solicitation, or just something sent through the incorrect channels. No matter how good intentions as they may be, it is still annoying and unnecessary. Its often referred to as junk-mail for a reason.

    Getting your name/message out there is not about getting on a bullhorn and copy/pasting it to every corner of the web. Its about creating great content and adding value. People should be able to come to you; its not about pushing it out to them. Artificially increasing your traffic by blatantly advertising yourself, blog, book, or whatever, is spam.

    What you really want is OTHER people linking to you and sharing your stuff because they find value in what you’ve created. If you are just self-promoting left and right, all you are doing is masturbating.

    There are rare cases where referring to a something you’ve wrote or shared may be appropriate, but do it tastefully.

    Here’s my rule of thumb: if I could replace what you wrote with a spambot, then what you have written is likely just spam. It is definitely spam if you are writing this stuff in other places with the intention of trying to get people to click a link or go someplace, or “like” you. or whatever it is that you are trying to solicit them to do.

    Relevant comic: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/facebook_likes

    This top 10 guide from 2007 is still relevant today: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/08/29/10-ways-to-hurt-your-blogs-brand-by-commenting-on-other-blogs/

    if your posts looked like what is described in either of these two links, you might as well be shooting yourself in the foot.

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