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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Douchesm in Book Promotion

Everyone knows how much I love to use the word douchebags. To be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite word. In fact, I’ve spent my whole life trying to stay clear of them or anyone who exhibits any signs of douchesm. But I’ve never expected to be introduced to a new form of douchery when I joined Twitter. It’s true that there are different forms of douchery running rampant on Twitter, but I’m not going to cover them all. Who has that kind of time? Not me. 
Of all the douchery I’ve encountered in Twitterverse, I’m only going to focus on writers. Not all the writers, just some. I must make myself clear when I say that I don’t hate all writers. I am a writer and work with writers all the time, remember? I’m hoping, by shedding light on this douchery, I will help the writers better promote themselves. That is all. Plus, I need to rant, so here goes.
Do you know what gets me stabby besides bad writing? It’s those Direct Messages from new followers that contain links to their blogs. I’m sure you’ve all seen my ranting tweets, but it bears repeating. I do not take any value of their words when they DM me with a message like “Thanks for the follow. I’m looking forward to reading your tweet and getting to know you. Here’s the link to my book/blog.” Do you know what my answer is? Don’t just say you want to get to know me, get to know me. If you did, then you’d know how much I despise those douchey links. By the way, these messages are automatically sent out, and these people rarely talk to you. I digress.
Self-promotion. It’s not a hard concept. You should know that this is not the best way to promote your book. And neither is putting your link in every single tweet of yours. You need to talk to people. You need to read other people’s books. You need to build your audience. Don’t bombard someone’s twitterfeed or their DMs unless you’re just a book selling bot. Psst. Here’s a big secret that every Twitter savvy people know. That approach is very insincere and highly ineffective. NOT TO MENTION VERY DOUCHEY, DOUCHEBAGS. 
P.S. Where’s my stabby coming from? Let me tell you. Me and my book reviewer friends have been bombarded with these links. Mind you, we have only 250 DM limit per day. I think it’s safe to say that some of us want to save it for real private, cozy, meaningful conversations with other people. 


  1. HAHA I love it!
    I have all of my promotions on auto. I won't link unless asked. I write daily stories instead and just post them for others to click or not to click as they will. Even I get "read my book" DMs, and I'm not a reviewer!

  2. I love you. You should copyright Douchesm.
    My DM is full of them.

  3. Right on. I replied to someone who requested a more insidious self-promo. The request to RT already repetitive, annoying RTs and Tweets. I called it tacky, but douche will suffice.

  4. I echo this statement 100%. It's not even the DMs (although that earns an instant block) but its the incessant plugging of one's book that drives me mad. One or two tweets now and then is ok, but multiple tweets every single day...too much!

    But enough of that, I can't wait to get to you know more, here's my blog: ... j/k :)

  5. THIS times a billion! I love it. And it's so true, it's sad.

  6. Girl, you slam dunked it. I'm a writer. I have no desire to spam my tweeps. NONE. It's not like they don't know I have books for sale. One or two tweets a week is usually enough to keep everyone up to date (unless it's release day--then I get a little twitter happy). I don't do it, so don't do it to me.


  7. Couldn't agree more. I got 2 of those douchey links today. I turned off my twitter alerts on my phone because it annoys me so much. So now I have to waste internet time on my phone to see if anyone worth something has DM'd me because someone wants to 'know me' and visit their link. And you are right none of those douches even talk to me. Eff that in the A!!!!

  8. As a newbie to Twitter and a writer, I find this advice priceless. I've made good friends on Twitter and do not want to ruin that with tweeting coupons and links all day...and definitely not the dreaded DM! The online information about self-promotion is misleading, and I think many take it too far. Thanks for the strong medicine, I needed it!


  9. I find getting to know others, checking out their work a lot better use of my twitter time than talking about me. I do however tend to RT whenever the urge strikes me. I do try to promote those I like, have chatted with, or who's books I have bought up to twice in a 24 hour period. Just stab me if I go overboard :) I've been active on twitter just over a month or so - much to learn but I too have gotten those kind of tweets too


  10. Once again you and I are on the same page. I am actually considering doing a blog on social networking etiquette, and this one was on my list! You know what's worse than just receiving these DMs? When you can't even reply to them because they aren't following you! Is it just me, or is it rude to send a private message to someone who can't answer you?

  11. I think I'll just reply with a link to this post the next time I get one of those DMs.

  12. I think I'm going to do what Andy says. I don't know how many of these I get a day, but it's a lot. I laugh at all of them because a) I'm not a book editor/publisher/whatever and b) like you said, they don't even KNOW ME. I especially feel *stabby* when they don't even read/comment on my blog. Bad manners :( (psst. typos)

  13. Some douche left a comment calling me names because of this post. Guess what? I deleted it, douchebag. If you read this post and understood English, I'm not just talking about promoting your book with a link. I'm talking about sending "uninvited" DM to a complete stranger. Say hello first. Answer people when they tweet you. Say something in your tweets without a link once in a while. That is what non-douchey people do, douchebag. And why is that these douchebags won't reveal their names? Oh, yeah.... they're the same douchebags who send women "unwanted" di**pix. Duh....

  14. I'm a newbie to Twitter also. I don't DM anyone because I am learning the twitterverse etiquette. I get some of those DM with links too and ignore them. What you've said here is very helpful to someone like me. Now, if only I knew exactly what a hashtag is and what it's supposed to do...

  15. Will you delete all posts that have an opposing opinion?

    I don't remember calling you names Sirra, just saying that this is self absorbed! Would it hurt you to support someone who has taken the time to write you?

    Besides, even if I had called you names, would it be so inappropriate on a blog post that labels people as douches?

    You want my real name? Ryan Armstrong. I don't use it as a handle... because typically it's already taken ;)

    I await your deletion.

  16. Anyone who names himself Big Daddy is douchey. That aside, Mr. Ryan Armstrong, why are you stalking me and my blog? You don't like what you read here? Then don't come here.

    And if you took the time that your prison allows and read the entire blog, you'd know that nearly ALL of my posts are here to help fellow writers. Also, there's a post here where writers can put their book links to promote their books. Properly. By invitation. Douchebag. 911

  17. Big Daddy obviously missed the point. Self promotion is about putting yourself out there. And I want to read someone's blog, I usually check it out in their twitter bio. All Sirra was saying was that plugging someone and being bot-like is a douchebag move. Also, most of these douchey DM's aren't people who "took the time" to write her, it's usually a standard message they spam all people with.


  18. My standard reaction to a DM from someone I just followed and it contains anything more than hi, thanks for the follow, is to unfollow. If you have a blog or a book, I already know. I followed you. I don't auto follow, I check people out and see if they appear interesting. Once they show their douchiness though, I am. No longer interested. My standard reaction to a DM from someone I just followed and it contains anything more than hi, thanks for the follow, is to unfollow. If you have a blog or a book, I already know. I followed you. I don't auto follow, I check people out and see if they appear interesting. Once they show their douchiness though, I am. No longer interested.

  19. If all that is required to have a claim on someone is to 'take the time to write to them', I would have no time at all.

    I think the threshold for expecting someone to support you is a bit higher than that. To start with, cultivating a relationship with them on a level that says "you are more than just a marketing tactic to me" would help. Reciprocating also helps. But most importantly, before I support someone in promoting a product, I need to believe in that product. I won't promote something that I don't believe in.

    I'm not likely to believe in the product of someone who sends me bog-standard marketing DMs with the only intention of trying to get me to flog their stuff. And when the product is a book, really I need to have read that book, an excerpt of the book, or at least some examples of the quality of the person's writing before I can promote it with some level of comfort in my own integrity.

  20. I'm with Ciara on this. I rarely RT a book promotion or blog unless I've already read the content. I also ignore all these "check out my website" type DM's. As Jezri said, I look at your bio before I follow you and if you have a link up, I will at least look once to check it out before clicking follow. I'm not an auto-follow bot.

  21. Oh my heavens. I just found your blog (and am now following you on Twitter as well, thanks to a well-timed retweet) and I am SOOOOO in agreement! I think I have a blog-crush! LOL ::scooting off to explore more::

  22. "And why is that these douchebags won't reveal their names? Oh, yeah.... they're the same douchebags who send women "unwanted" di**pix."

    This made me laugh out loud.

    That said, I've already plugged this post twice, but I just had to leave a comment. I think it's brilliant advice and I think the only people who would be offended by it are the douches who do this. Like you said, your blog and your Twitter are both mostly about helping other writers (yes, even when you're stabby). Those of us who are new are learning from people we perceive to be more experienced, and when we get those DMs, we might assume that's standard practice. This post and these comments let us know it isn't and that those DMs can get us unfollowed.

  23. Su, this post says it all. This is why I love you. In the stabbiest of stabby ways. Douchebags who self promote by clogging up twitterfeeds with their links of "The most interesting book on the planet..." and autoDMs from douchebags I've never talked to and who have never taken the time to talk to me, save for the lamesauce spam-bot-like messages cluttering my DMs make me want to take a butter knife and just stab something. Stab.

    While we're on a douchebag stabby rant, I would also like to include those douchebags who mass follow and then unfollow when you don't follow back. The ones who never talk to you, who don't have anything on their feed besides link after link after link of "The most interesting book on the planet...". Yeah, those douchebags. I follow people because I find them interesting. Because their content is something that I would find of value and of interest enough that I am willing to see their non-douchey mugs on my twitterfeed. If all you do is tweet links about "The most interesting book/blog/short story/porn addiction in the world...", guess what? STAB. BLOCK. The end.

    I'd also like to reiterate how much I fLOVE you. Because your advice is invaluable, as is the content on your blog. It is ALSO subjective and douchebags who don't agree with what you post should go live in Douchebagland and stop trying to litter your comment box about you having an opinion about certain etiquette on YOUR blog.

    *deep breath* Aaaaaand END SCENE.

    <333 ~Ani

  24. hahaha...I loved this.
    I love using the word douchebag too!

  25. It has gotten so bad with me that I never check my DM's anymore. The douchebags have completely taken it over.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Thanks for all the comments. While I did rant about the promotion tweets and DMs, I think it's okay if done in moderation. After all, that's why we're on Twitter, to promote our work. But let's not forget that we're people. And people don't like to be taken for granted and used as marketing tools. Let's get to know each other and build a network. Tweet your link a few times a day. Tell us about the work you want to sell. And in between, carry on a conversation or two with your tweeps. Who knows? You might make a friend or two in the process.

  28. It's a sort of madness, I think some of them just don't understand how douchey they are being. I myself almost succumbed. Luckily I came to my senses, and I never actually DM'd anyone with my spam. Currently, I might toss out a couple of links a week. For the most part though, I RT other authors in moderation, and my original thoughts.

  29. Okay, I'm a writer who followed you because you edit too. Now you can see that once you followed me back on twitter I visited your blog, followed it, and commented. But I'm confused about why you followed me back if you saw that I do DM a new follower with an invite to my blog for my chocolate contest and a story or whatever is latest. I thought making sure I retweeted helpful advice and other author's promos (for those I read and liked or for charitable cause) at least 50/50 with my own would balance out those invites. I thought that was how twitter helped us get to know each other and build our platforms, but also why I delayed joining twitter so long. How can people tweet all day and get any work done? Bottom line is I joined twitter because I don't think most people go to your blog unless you invite them, and unlike FB, twitter suggests followers who might actually be interested in reading your blog. Fighting that efficiency seems pointless when I've seen the followers show up only after inviting them by DM too often to deny it. Otherwise, considering the fact that my blog comments indicate people enjoy my humor, why would I still have fewer than 80 blog followers and over 200 tweeps? About half of those 80 I got by a DM invite. Besides, you get to know someone a lot faster reading their blog than through short tweets. Worst of all, name calling is bad business. If I see tweets with name-calling, profanity or negativism, I don't follow. The day I followed you, I didn't see any. And private twitter conversations just irk me. Why put private conversations in public? Don't they have instant messaging & FB chat for that? I may be new to twitter, but I know bad guys really love it when they see people put personal info out for them to plan how you rip you off or worse. So think twice about telling all of twitter you're taking your dog for a walk or going to the mall. If my method based on business logic instead of chat logic makes me a bad name, so be it. If you post something retweet worthy and I see it, I'll do so because I believe in the Golden Rule. I hope people who follow me back do invite me to their blog because I'm busy and need a reminder. I've found two authors that way whose books I really want to read. Now I hope you're brave enough to post my very differing opinion.

  30. Dear Sher,

    You have the right to disagree with the majority of the people on Twitter and continue to send DM invites if that works for you. But the fact is most people are sick and tired those DMs. Maybe yours is friendly, but no one wants a DM from a stranger which includes a link. 1. They might be spam that will crash our computer. 2. People don't like being told what to do 3. People don't want to be viewed only as a potential customer.

    I, like most people, like to get to know someone first by exchanging a few tweets. Before I decided to follow, I read your tweets and visit your blog to see if there are any offensive materials (political, religious, and sexual contents) and to see if tweets contain actual conversation rather than links after links.

    So, I don't need someone's invitation. Once we follow each other, it's up to us to go an explore. While you might find my way not very affective, I have gained nearly 2000 followers and 200 followers on my blog without once sending an invitation. However, if someone I've been chatting with asks me or reminds me to visit there blog, I have no problem doing so. I just don't want the first message from a new tweep to be "buy my book" or "visit my blog." I believe in karma.

    I thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment. Although we don't agree, you have expressed your opinion without using foul language as some did (which I deleted) or personally attacking me. I wish you all the luck on Twitter. Bye~~~

    P.S. As for name calling? This is my personal blog (not my business blog), and I have the right to rant like everyone else. And believe me, some of them really deserve the name douchebag. Especially the porn bots.

  31. Yes, it drives me nuts, too.

    I hate to say it, because I totally support self-publishing and even bought a couple Kindle self-pubbed books just to suppor the principle (I chose wrong-- they were not very good)

    ... But now I completely steer clear of following Kindle authors back. Why? Because they almost always spam me about their books. And the second a mainstream pubbed author does, I stop following them, too. There just seems to be a disprorportionate number of them among the Kindle ones.

    The worst is when they DM you about their book. Jesus.

  32. I haven't installed any twitter "tools" because they seem pretty douchey. I'm pretty generous with my follows, but if someone's irking me, I'll unfollow. Not that you asked, but here are my twitter pet peeves:

    People tweeting about how they haven't been on twitter lately. Uh, so?

    People tweeting about other people they've just blocked.

    People tweeting about cupcakes when I'm hungry.

    (Kidding about the last one. Or am I?!)

  33. I'll be honest I started using twitter again because I had taken my thoroughly rejected novel and put it up as an e-book. I read this article that said it was a good way to promote. However I watched other e-book authors doing it and didn't like it and I felt like a 'douche bag' when I self promoted just once. Anyway I ended up following book blogs, which I'd never read before, and so I wound up reading more books, reviews and blogs and I get a lot more out of it than being a douche bag. Anyway I only DM people in conversation. The thing is I decided to just put out 1 general tweet when I post to my blog or put a book up on an e-book site, which I preface with '1 time only self promo/ advert..' because I feel like a 'douche bag' doing it more than once. I wrote a blog entry about this, which I won't link here because I'm averse to being repeatedly 'stabbed', even by sharp well aimed words, in which I said that repeatedly advertising an e-book on twitter is the social media equivalent of 'chugging', (agressive street charity collecting if you hadn't heard of it), and I call the social media aggressive promoting 'Bugging'. Anyway I'm not guilty of doing what you write about, but I feel guilty by association, (I'm Catholic so guilt is a lifestyle!), and I agree with you it sucks.

  34. Thanks for your comments!

    I honestly don't know what the "correct" number of plugs on Twitter. I just do it once a day for either this blog or my editor blog. And I do it at different times each day to reach different audience. When I write a new post, I'll do it 3-4 times a day for 2 days. But I'm also lucky in that so many of my followers RT me. That's saves me from plugging myself shamelessly.

    You do need to promote yourself. After all, this is the right platform for it, and you have something to sell. But! There has to be a balance. I think if 10% of your total tweets is about fair. It's not that noticeable yet enough to catch someone's eyes.

    And the other way I was talking about. Getting to know people. Making friends. Building a network of friends and fans. And karma. Do for others. Help promote their blog/books if you feel they're deserving. They'll do the same for you. Soon, you won't have to self-promote at all because you'll have enough people doing it for you.

    2 things remain the same. No DM and no spamming!

  35. I enjoyed your post and agree 100 percent. First of all, I never auto follow someone. I always check out his or her tweets to make sure they don't spam. Next, I look at his/her blog to see if it's interesting.

    If everything looks good to me, I will follow. I don't like DMs with link (promo) messages. They are a turn off to me most of the time. I find them generic.

    I don't need a link to his/her blog because I have already looked at it before I followed. I like to follow people who are interactive. I retweet posts/websties that I've read and interest me.

    I know that people are wondering, "How do I promote my blog or book then?" But the truth is they need to interact and get to know other authors' work and visit their sites. Be part of the online community. Promote your posts and books a few times, but not a lot. If you interact with other people, they will promote your work too. And before long you will have others doing the promoting for you.

    Twitter has been a great resource for me. I have found so many talented authors.

    Thanks again for the great post.