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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.