Crossing the SPAM line

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

I read yet another announcement on Facebook this morning that said, essentially, I don’t care if your book is an Amazon bestseller, or if it’s been selected for reading by some book group I may or may not have ever known, if you keep posting advertising in this group I will NEVER read your book and I suspect I’m not alone in feeling like this.

We’ve all seen similar posts and maybe have posted similar posts. I hadn’t had coffee yet, but it set my mind whirling. Most marketing experts tell authors to be more active in social media, to tweet their hearts out and make sure they’re posting regularly. And honestly, what is advertising but putting your product information out in venues where it’s likely to be seen by potential buyers?

If I subscribe to a cooking magazine and sit down to read it when it arrives, I shouldn’t be surprised to find advertising in it that is somehow related to food. It’s expected, actually. I may not know the company that’s doing the advertising. In fact, I probably will come across quite a few products that I never knew anything about until I saw it there. I think that’s the point. Whether I like it or not, or will buy it or not, that’s a different story.

If you ask some people what crosses the line from discussing or introducing a book to spamville, the consensus is often whether the poster is known to the group in which he or she is posting. At first thought, that seems logical to most and heads will nod. But can you give me a comparison from general marketing guidelines? Where are the rules?

If you’re talking about groups to join on Facebook or LinkedIn or wherever, maybe that could be compared to those rare occasions when you get to watch a television movie with “no commercial interruptions”. I’m not saying spam is ok. I can get annoyed as anyone when that typical BUY MY BOOK tweet interrupts my feed for the umpteenth time and, no, I probably will not go buy the book.

Society is bereft of the manners with which I was raised oh so long ago, so I shouldn’t be surprised when some trample over any semblance of etiquette in social media situations. But I admit as a publicist I do feel a twinge of regret that this person wants very badly to see his or her book succeed and it’s too bad that he or she is going about it in the wrong way. I’d like to think that if we ranted less and offered well placed advice more, there might slowly be change. But then few take unsolicited advice to heart and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to stick their necks out. Pearls before swine, as it were.

What are your thoughts? When does ill-advised attempts at advertising cross the line to spam?

Off to find that missing coffee…

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6 thoughts on “Crossing the SPAM line

  1. amreade says:

    I think you make a very good point. I try to post information about my books only on my author page and another page devoted to the book business, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that occasionally I was posting my author stuff on my regular FB page. I would consider it spam if I saw advertising on a personal FB page, but then I remember my FB stupidity and try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

  2. nancylynnjarvis says:

    It’s tough call. All I know is that I sent out spammy email to a bunch of people I didn’t know asking them if they would be interested in participating in a cookbook and I’m glad I did. It may have been that more people were offended by my email than were OK with it, but we got a cookbook together. ( I won’t mention the title unless you ask me to; I don’t want to spam, LOL)

  3. Hi PJ/Nancy—There are a bunch of people around now that will complain on every. little. thing. an author does, no matter what. I think it depends on where you’re posting the information. On your own FB pages, a group that’s supposedly formed for promoting books, etc. it is not spam. On lists where everybody else posts BSP and it’s fine with the moderator–it’s not spam. Let the moderator decide, not some individual. And Nancy, I saw the message about your cookbook, but wasn’t able to contribute. I would have never considered that spam–it was an effort on your part to help out fellow authors. If I could remember the title, I’d mention it. LOL.

  4. radine says:

    When a list post begins “BSP,” unless I know the author, I skip it. However, others will surely know the author, and maybe skip the one(s) I am interested in, hence, take in what interests you, skip the rest, and all power to all of you.

    However, when I get promo material in my e-mail from authors I never heard of I am not exactly pleased. Takes time to download, and, on slow Internet, that’s a factor. I often wonder how they found me and put me on their list. Similarly, I rarely read newsletters, even from authors I know and like. Unfortunately the days are just too short for a working author to give time to all we might tolerate or even enjoy otherwise.

    Do others feel this way?

  5. I don’t send out e-mail promo very often at all, but I do use Twitter and FB for some promo. One thing that I have heard over and over from marketing folks is not to just cross-post the same exact messages in a million places. Also, out of every 50 or so Tweets, only one should be promo. The rest should be sharing interesting things or ideas, and even some humor. That way people get to know you and maybe even like you, so the occasional announcement about a new review or a new book is not considered just spam.

  6. I could not possibly keep up with all the tweets, FB, e-mail promos that come my way. I kind of look at all that extra promo, which often is relentless, like the advertisement and post cards that come in the magazines that I subscribed to. They fall out of the magazine the minute I sit in a comfortable chair to look through the publication. There can often be 4, 5, or 6 postcards, all saying the same thing, “buy me”. If I want it, I’ll get it, but no amount of throwing span at me is going to entice me to purchase a book. Indeed, promoting a publication is walking a fine line.

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