How NOT To Promote Yourself On Social Media

Author Kate Reedwood recently shared this little exchange she had with author Gary Starta:

First of all, I’ve gotten my share of messages like this across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram myself over the years. And, yes, it is annoying. Someone will follow or add me, so after a quick skim of their profiles where if I don’t see any “red flags” (ie posts that I find offensive or just that indicate we have severely different values) then I’ll go ahead and follow or add them back, and then that person almost instantly send me a private message promoting something that they’ve created. It’s usually authors of books or creators of indie comics, and occasionally some musician/singer/rapper, so they’re asking me to buy their book/comic/album, or to sign up to some Kickstarter or Indigogo campaign, or Patreon account, and to “spread the word.”


Listen, in this day and age, social media is an important facet of promotion for many industries. Especially when you’re in a type of “creative” industry, and you’re not backed by some major corporation. If you’re an independent writer, artist, musician, etc., you need to do what you can to promote your work. I go through this, not only with my blog here, but also now with my comic strips. I want to get them out to as many people as possible, and hope that others with read them and share them. But you have to be tactful about it. When you connect to someone, don’t have your first direct interaction then be a message about your work. Take some time. Look around their profile, comment on some post, click like on some pictures. If it’s Twitter, retweet some of their stuff. If you message them, do so as if you actually want to get to know them. Then you can slip in some mention of your work. When I get the immediate message, “hey, check out my-“, I usually just unfriend/unfollow the person without even responding.

There’s another common error I see, when people do nothing but talk about their work online. Go to their Twitter or Facebook and their timeline is nothing but posts about their work. Links where to buy their book or whatever. People don’t want to see that. You need to be judicious in your self-promotion, post about other things as well, and spread out your self-promoting posts. Especially make sure to promote other people’s work, as when you do that for them, those people are most likely to reciprocate.

I understand that, for many of us, this is all still relatively new territory. So, some mistakes will be made. But, getting back to Mr. Gary Starta, his main mistake was his reaction to being called out on his tactics. First, I’ll give him some little credit that in his initial message to Kate that he would do the same thing in regards to her books. That was nice to mention. But, still, her annoyance was justified. And his reaction was just wrong. To start cursing at her like that was crossing the line. And I see that it ended up costing him the support of one of the publishers that had published a couple of his books:

Hey, he wanted Kate to spread the word about him, and now it looks like she did. . .


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