What Can An Author Do About The Endless Spam?

:-PThis weekend, there were two things that drove home, to me, the need to extricate myself from this endless stream of spam aimed at authors, indie authors in particular.

First was a thread started on kboards. To summarize, the OP is offering a service on Fiverr, where she will tweet your book four times to her almost 30k followers, and she states that she can pretty much figure that the book will get retweeted by all of them. This was met with skepticism by a number of regular kboarders but a couple of people booked the gig with her. Their results varied, and as of this writing, there was one who took a chance that has seen some results, but has not posted them yet.

The second was my own endeavor, almost an experiment, if you will. I don’t typically tweet about where one can download The Inventor’s Son: The Beginning because I think these tweets are pretty useless and just add to the mass of Twitter spam already clogging the place up. But yesterday, I tweeted a couple of links to my book on Amazon and iTunes. That was it. Two tweets about a #freebook. I got 3 followers almost instantly. Now one of them may be legit (a fellow sci-fi author) but the other two most assuredly found me using bots looking for certain hashtags.

However, even the practice of following other authors who started following me has created a sort of vacuum in my feed. Now, all I hear about are other writers, and often, they are writers who have thousands of followers. Those followers are authors like me, who followed them back. In the kboards thread, the author offering the gig even stated that

I belong to writers’ groups that retweet each other.

This is possibly why not very many authors have seen results with her Fiverr gig so far. Tweeting to writers’ groups who will retweet may get a “viral” tweet (no, not really) but that tweet has been sucked up into the vortex of authors retweeting each other rather than by people actually interested in buying books. It’s becoming more and more apparent that this is why Twitter ads and Facebook ads are becoming the thing for an author to do to legitimately get the tweet or post in front of relevant, book-seeking potential readers. This Fiverr stuff is quickly becoming stale and ineffective.

I book one gig fairly consistently on Fiverr. Fellow authors might have heard of bknights. This email list and blog link goes out every day, and I can use it however often I want. It’s fairly consistent for results. I’m waiting to promote until I’ve got new covers on my books, and then it’ll be showtime.

I may also attempt a Facebook ad (God help me). I’m looking for something way more targeted than the scattershot downloads and purchases that I get from the bknights gig. I’ve been looking into Mark Dawson’s methods for making up Facebook ads, and I think, with the devoted Steampunk crowds on Facebook, I might be able to get my ad in front of real potential fans. I’m waiting for Book 3 to be finally done, but I might test the waters with a Facebook ad to get people to sign up to my mailing list once I have my PO box ready to go.

But I doubt very much that I will be feeding this machine that had begun on Twitter. It’s one thing to follow a lot of people and use the follow-backs to tweet your services to them, especially if you are a book cover artist, social media guru, or offer editing or proofreading services (now oddly enough, I don’t see a lot of that on Twitter). Instead, I’m getting a load of tweets in my feed about #99cent books. They’re advertising to the wrong crowd, even if I am a reader, and even if I might actually download the book.

So, from now on, if someone follows me, I don’t automatically follow them back. I will look over their feeds and see what they’ve been tweeting lately, then decide. If I’m already following someone who’s tweeting endlessly about other people’s books, I may just mute them. I go on Twitter to read and interact with people that matter to me, or who I get useful content from, not the endless spam spew that seems to be going on now.

Let me tell you something about social media, and the power a single post can have, if made in front of the right people. Last month, I got a boost from Steampunk Tendencies on my Tumblr blog. I’m still seeing the results of the increased traffic, both on Tumblr and on Wattpad (which is possibly why the downloads of The Inventor’s Son: The Beginning have decreased from Amazon in particular). You cannot buy that kind of exposure from a Fiverr gig from an author who is curating a following of thousands on Twitter consisting of people from other writing groups. Chances are very high that those followers have authors following them back, and you see where this is going…

This would be like me offering a gig on Fiverr for me to post a link to your book in my Google+ with over 4 thousand followers! Not kidding. I think I’m being followed…



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