Marketing Like a Douche

Shilling is a crappy part of being a writer. Or publisher even, since I technically qualify as that too. I really hate doing it, and when I do shill I try to do it in respectful, non-spammy ways.

I also make no money as a writer and even less as a publisher. So there are obviously some flaws to how I market.

Still, nothing turns me off more than strangers randomly trying to mass network with me. I wouldn’t even think I was worth shmoozing, but it does happen once in a blue moon. (A friend and I were approached after we were on a panel at a tiny convention by someone who wanted to press their business card on us. I had no idea what to do.) Even my tiny little zine, Mad Scientist Journal, gets a bit of spamming from people who don’t know me but want to team up or something.

Here’s an example of something I got on my Goodreads inbox recently, with identifying information removed. He sent this the same day he sent me a friend request.

Hi Jeremy,

Its nice to meet you here on good reads.

I am on facebook, please like my author page at [redacted]
If you have a page on facebook that you want me to like in reciprocation please let me know.

I currently have two books out at the moment and a third on the way.

[Cut 200 words of descriptions for his books.]

I am looking forward to interacting with you and getting to know you better, feel free to message me anytime,

kind regards,


I just don’t understand the idea of going up to random strangers and asking them to spend their time doing favors for you. I hate asking friends for favors. (And, hell, if you can’t write competently in a message then I’m not going to believe your book is good.)

Or then there’s Twitter. I get followed on Twitter by people that follow 6,000+ people. Or 30,000. Or 90,000. 90% of the time they are writers with a book out, probably small-press or self-published. Most of their tweets are about their book. This isn’t someone interested in connecting. This is spamming with a veneer of civility to it.

It’s like there’s this weird notion that you can network en masse. And maybe you can. Again, it’s not like my writing has me rolling in the dough. It just seems surreal to think that the best way to succeed is to be a pest. I feel a little dodgy following people on Twitter with the hope that they’ll think I’m smart, pretty, and awesome, and will follow me back. The thought of just having some app that adds thousands of followers to your list…? Is that even reasonable?

Then you have places like LinkedIn, where writer communities will often turn into spam venues when not carefully monitored.

And this is just writers. Don’t get me started on Goodreads constantly negging me to connect my account to Facebook.

I guess there’s value in putting yourself out there. But at what point do you cease being assertive and start being an asshole? I try to market in respectful and appropriate venues, generally aiming for an opt-in model. Am I making a poor choice?

Am I being naive? Overly attached to my own romanticized concept of “good behavior”? Is this the way of the world and I’m simply choosing to not like money and success?

I’m curious to hear any thoughts y’all have on the topic.

2 thoughts on “Marketing Like a Douche

  1. Justine M

    It’s a numbers versus content problem. A huge number of followers (or likes) looks great, but if those people aren’t engaged, or engaged in a meaningful way, what’s the point? I’d rather have my followers actually care about the content I am putting out, rather than lots of people not paying attention. Meaningful interaction is the most important.

  2. Glynis Mitchell

    I don’t follow people back on Twitter unless they start interacting with me and I find them interesting. And I dump them if they’re too spammy — running a Kickstarter for a month isn’t spammy, but if self-promotion is all you do, I’m not interested. I want to know that you’re a real person.

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