A few days ago I got an update from GoodReads telling me what my “friends” had reviewed that week. I don’t generally read them in depth, I just give them a cursory look to see if there’s any reviews by my actual friends or of books I want to read.

In this particular update, I noticed an author had rated his own book and gave it a 5-star rating, natch. In the actual review he indicated he was the author, so full disclosure, no problem, right?

I don’t know, I kind of have a problem with it. It seems like cheating, you know? I posted this question on Twitter and one of my author friends said the 5-star rating he gave his own book gives it a negligible boost in the overall rating. Said author friend further justified the practice by saying it kind of evens out the unfair, 1-star ratings a book gets, you know, the kind that say “I haven’t even read this book but I’m giving it 1-star because the cover is ugly.”

I’m not convinced. Still feels like cheating to me.

I’m not published yet so perhaps I will feel different when I am. But right now, as a reader, I don’t like it.

What say you?

Awhile back, the super-terrific Steve Weddle invited me to do a guest post on the Do Some Damage blog, wherein I wrote:

Joining Twitter was the best thing I’ve done for my writing career.

About this, I do not joke. Virtually every opportunity I’ve had with regard to writing has come about due to Twitter, or more accurately, people I’ve met on Twitter.

For example, I’ve had four agents contact me via Twitter asking me to submit my manuscript after seeing my profile (which is essentially just a link to my query letter).

At first, my only goal was to learn about the publishing industry and I followed every writer/publisher/agent/editor I could find. I did a lot of listening and a little interacting. It didn’t take long to become a part of the community, but the key here is creating relationships—not just promoting your latest book.

The whole subject of promotion on social media has been on my mind for awhile. Obviously, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with promoting oneself on Twitter or elsewhere online–I promote myself, my own work, and the work of others regularly. I’m tempted to say I’ve earned the right to this since I’ve taken the time to create relationships, as I mention above. But that’s ridiculous. There’s nothing to earn or not earn (well, there is, but I’ll cover that later).

So what the hell is the problem?

Well, I’m not 100% sure there is one. I only know that Twitter is a lot less interesting/valuable for me than it used to be. Let me explain.

There is a certain type of book promotion going on that I find really annoying. It goes something like this:

Pls RT- NEW #REVIEW of THE DIARY OF A FRUSTRATED WRITER by H.M.F. West http://xxxxx #books#reading#readers#Prime#kindle


Great #vacationreading ROUND ‘EM ALL UP: A Larry Miller Hog-Tying Mystery: http://xxxxxx #books#reading#readers#Prime#kindle


What happens when chocolate cake just isn’t enough? GET IN MY BELLY by Tessie McMahon http://xxxxx #Kindle#Books#AmReading#GoodReads

And on and on. Sometimes nearly every other tweet in my feed looks like this. I pretty much follow every writer type who follows me, but it’s led to an influx of these type of tweets and it makes me sad. Then it makes me feel like unfollowing a crap load of tweeters.

It seems to be a result of the self-publishing revolution, which I am, in general, a big fan of. I might very well become a self-published author myself soon. This means I’m paying close attention to what other self-published authors do to promote themselves. Could somebody please tell me what marketing/PR book everyone read that led to the spred of the kind of promotion I’ve indicated above? I want to stay as far away from it as possible.

As judgmental as this all sounds, I am in no way disparaging how people choose to market themselves. I’m only questioning if these particular techniques are effective, because honestly, I can’t see how they could be. The multiple hashtag approach leaves me cold. The cutsie blurbs followed by a link and yes, more hashtags that tempt me to unfollow you, not read your book.

Tell me, people, am I missing something here? Is it that I’m just not the right audience and therefore this type of promotion rankles instead of enticing me to buy?

Let me quickly get back to what I said earlier about “earning” the right to promote. What I really meant was YOU earning the right to promote to ME, not the other way around (although it definitely goes both ways). There are people I wouldn’t unfollow if they tried to sell me swamp land in Florida multiple times every day. Why? Because they’re my homies. We’ve been tweeting back and forth for months now, sometimes years. I don’t hesitate to promote their work and they don’t (seem to) hesitate to promote mine. But I like to think we’re all engaging in “thoughtful promotion” and in between all the “buy my book” tweets there is some actual conversation going on. We support each other, not just on Twitter, but across the Internet and sometimes, even in person.

That doesn’t mean you have to be my homie to promote your stuff to me. It just means that if your tweets annoy me, the decision to unfollow is a whole lot easier to make.

That sounds mean, doesn’t it? I don’t mean it to be. I’m actually a pretty nice person. I still love Twitter. I guess all I really wanted to say is that it’s a little less fun for me than it used to be.