Don’t Be A Snake-Oil Salesman

Writers need to promote themselves. That’s true, but you don’t have to be in people’s faces, all the time. This is what I see, day after day on Twitter:

“Download my new book. It’s only 99 cents.”

“Hey, check out my new anthology of horror stories on Kindle.”

“Want to read my latest book?”

My answer is always no, and sometimes I click over and unfollow that person. Twitter is not a springboard for shouting at the top of your lungs about your writing. We’re not hawking a bottle of cure-it-all from the back of a traveling wagon. We’re writer’s for goodness sake. Get creative with your adverts.

I can’t blame writers, though. This is what they’ve been told. Platform. Build your readers. Advertise. But hey, you don’t have to be annoying about it.

Here’s my case in point. I had a short story (free mind you) published online. I was stoked. I wanted everyone to read it. Naturally I tweeted with something like:

“Check out my new story, Moth and Rust. #zombie”

Zero responses. I was baffled. I told them them it was story. I even gave the title and a hashtag. Then I realized the value of the Hollywood one line pitch. I didn’t tell readers what my story was about. I didn’t hook them.

When I’m in a bookstore (the few that are left) searching for a new read, I want more than the title. I want to page through it. Scan the blurb. Have an idea what I’m getting into. So I decided to do the same thing for my story. Here’s what I ran next:

You do your wife’s chores for year. Finally you keel over. Yet she still insists you work your butt off.  #zombie

What if when everyone else saw an old man, a little boy saw a creeping zombie? Would he take action? #zombie

Suddenly I got responses. People noticed. Why? Because I gave them something interesting. Now I know what you’re saying. Sometimes you just can’t condense your story into 140 characters. Then don’t.

Too many people are advertising on Twitter and not talking. Socialize. Make friends. Inevitably they will drift over to check out your website or blog. That’s where you can show off your wares and dazzle them with your prose. Plus a blog allows a heck of a lot more than 140 characters.

Twitter is for communicating. Not everything has to be an ad for you as a writer. Maybe just do a quick shout out for your fascinating blog post and then start talking. Tweet and they will follow. Eventually they might even find you interesting enough to check out your writing. Then let your prose speak.

Tim Kane


About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a young adult fiction writer.
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4 Responses to Don’t Be A Snake-Oil Salesman

  1. Tim, thank you, thank you, thank you! Short, sweet and pithy. In other words, it hooked me.

  2. Thanks for the article. I almost always unfollow people if all they do is spam links to buy their book or spam links to their latest reviews. Also if any writer sends me an auto-DM that has some canned line like “Thanks for the follow. Check out my website. Buy my book,” I automatically unfollow that person no matter who they are.

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