I recently wrote a rather ranting post about writers who spam me on Twitter with invitations to try their free ebook. Well, this week I had a similar thing on Instagram. One DM was from a writer with an invitation to read their book. One was from a book promotion service. But my reaction to each of them was totally different. One worked, one didn’t. So I thought it might be helpful to analyse the two messages and find out why. Because, let’s face it, however much effort we put in to making genuine connections on social media, at some point we will have to mention the thing we are marketing. We will have to say the equivalent of- ‘hey, you know I have a book out,’ or ‘I’m an amazing editor if you’re looking for one,’ or ‘you should check out my social media management services.’ But the way we say it makes all the difference!
So, just to emphasise, this post is not intending to ‘name and shame’ anyone, but just to provide some helpful feedback for all of us!
Let’s examine the bad example first:
“Hello , I see you are a book lover. Please check out my novel. it received 5STARS from professional editorial reviewers. Reviews are on Amazon.com. A story of heartbreaking and hilarious escapades of Zara. Please help me spread the word of my Novel amongst your friends. I can do with support from book lovers like your self. let me know what you think ?”
(Identifying details have been removed.)
My reaction to this message was simply to unfollow. Why?
Firstly, it’s very impersonal. It’s perfectly easy to find out my name from my Instagram page. This person didn’t bother. Even though they must have seen it in order to send me the message!
Secondly, notice any grammatical and punctuation errors? I did. That may not mean there’s any in the book, but it tells me there could be.
Lastly, this person is asking me to do on awful lot for them, without offering me anything in return. I have a book coming out too, do I not deserve any support? They hadn’t even interacted with my posts on Instagram before this. It’s true that the writing community is a very supportive one, but most of us view our writing as business. And a business has to be founded on a principle of give and take.
Now the good example:
“Hi Abi, we wanted to wish you good luck with your upcoming book! Write on! 💪”
This message is personal. The person has taken some time to inform themselves of who I am and what my circumstances are. It’s brief but positive. It doesn’t ask me to do anything.
After a moments thought, I replied to this with a simple ‘thank you.’ Having opened up the communication, I expected the sell to come in the next message. But I didn’t mind, because I’d been given a choice whether to respond or not.
As it happened, there was no other message. No sell at all. The result is that I now have an excellent opinion of this company and feel it’s one I could work with. It went to the top of my list of book promotion services to look into.
So maybe the lesson is that it’s enough to just make people aware of who you are and what you do. Then give them the choice whether to follow it up or not.
And, above all, be personal.
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