3 Shameful Ways to Lose an Argument & Never Sell a Book

This deviates from my regular posts so I will try my best to tie it back to writing. Specifically, this post is going to discuss the prevelance of political discourse (if you can call it that) on social media and how writers can take it as a lesson in “what not to do” in terms of marketing.

I honestly don’t care if a reader is left or right wing, conservative or liberal, I am exhausted by the constant spam from both sides. I’ve posted a screenshot detailing the description of “spam” below. The primary elements I want to focus on are irrelevant, inappropriate, unwanted, and intrusive. Each of these can be applied to almost every Facebook fight in regards to politics.

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I am not saying that the topics are unimportant, in fact, I have some pretty strong opinions in regards to some current events, but when I keep seeing the same thing over and over, I become annoyed, then frustrated, then I delete the person who continues to spam me. In regards to writers, spamming your newsfeed or social media groups with book advertisements achieves the same result.

Hell, posting too much content will piss me off (but according to the Right, I’m also a millennial snowflake who gets offended at everything, so take my opinion with the unbiased weight of CNN). Social media is often the first place I find an article, so I want to have a broad base of knowledge from diverse viewpoints, not fifty tweets in a row by the same person. It is the digital equivalent of that guy who tries to dominate every conversation.

Spamming Isn’t Arguing (or Marketing)

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I understand that my opinions should not influence anyone else’s political beliefs, but from a logical stand point, people should care how others perceive their arguements. Those in the middle base our opinions on 3 perceived guidelines.

1. The Logic of the Argument

2. Each Person’s Rhetoric

3. If Anyone Sounds like a Blatant Douche

I want to read an argument that can withstand scrutiny, not something echoing amid the din of like opinions. Honestly, what’s the point of spouting your beliefs to those who already agree with you? Isn’t the point of an argument to persuade someone?

In regards to writers, the same concept applies to marketing. We want to persuade potential readers to give our work a chance. If we come across as arrogant, annoying, or rude people will shut down because we are violating rule number 3. Most of us don’t intend to be blatant douches, but sometimes it slips out. Here are a few of the common forms of book marketing that I believe violates rule number 3.

This is a Writing Blog, Let’s Get back to Writing

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Don’t compare your book to a bestseller or the hottest trend.

It makes you look like your are riding other’s coattails and shows a lack of creativity. Maybe, your book really is the next Harry Potter, but since everyone makes the same claim it will only appear that you are another copycat.

Personally, I feel insulted when an author says something like, “Best fantasy series since The Wheel of Time.” Are they trying to say they are better than Sanderson’s Mistborn or Stormlight Archive? Maybe, they mean their e-book only series is better than Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. This marketing tactic makes me defensive (They’re essentially saying they are better than my favorite authors) and will create hostility toward the work they are trying to promote.

Describing Your Own Books as Awesome, Fantastic, etc.

Way before I realized what was happening, I remember being put off by people who brag about themselves. Think back to high school for moment. How many times did someone stretch the truth, just to impress their friends or a romantic interest? Nobody actually believed them, but everyone was generally too polite to call them on their crap.

The author who describes their own work as “amazing” is doing the same thing. If they are right, they violate rule 3 (being a douche) and if they are wrong they violate every single one. They might point to some inflated Amazon reviews or claim they are a bestseller as a way to make a logical justification, but an author has a conflict of interest when it comes to accurately describing their work. They need readers to think it is good, otherwise they are not justified in selling it.

Many new authors see blurbs written on the back of their favorite books that say things like, “thrilling, edge-of-your-seat read,” and believe they can say the same thing. The diffrence is that those blurbs were not written by the author or their publisher. Other writers, magazines, and newspapers are quoted and that is how traditionally published books are able use blurbs as marketing. They are not posting their own opinions, they are marketing the opinions of a third party. Those third-parties know that their name will be attached to the blurb, so if they agree to being used as marketing material, they truly believe in the work they are promoting.

Side Note: Brent Underwood wrote a blog post that details how he turned a book that only contained a picture of his foot into an Amazon bestseller in less than a day. If an author says their an Amazon Bestseller, it doesn’t really mean anything. My personal gauge for judging a book is to check out the negative reviews. If they mention problems with editing or abruptly stopping at the end no amount of marketing will get me to make a purchase.

Back to Spamming

Even if a marketer has a solid ad that has none of the above problems, it will still irritate me if I see it countless times. Traditional marketing theory says that the more times a person recieve an “impression” of a brand, the more likely that they will make a purchase. Though I can’t speak on a macro-scale, personally I feel this doesn’t work with books. I might check a blurb if a book has caught my eye, but I have never bought one simply because I saw twelve facebook ads promoting it.

Often, I have several books in my TBR pile and even something that sounds good will have to wait a bit before I make a purchase. If my feed gets flooded by ads within the first week of noticing it, I will likely block ads from that person, then by the time I have some room in my TBR pile, I will have forgotten about that particular author.

In my mind, the best way to overcome this problem is to create content that stands alone  and provides value to a reader. At the very end, a writer can mention the work that they want to promote, though it shouldn’t be the centerpiece. In addition, special events like a release or award are worthy of promotion because the focus isn’t selling but rather to keep others informed.

Final Thoughts

I know this post is a mess and is essentially just me rambling. Without an outline, I seem to do this a lot, but I feel like sitting down and pantsing on this blogs better captures the clutter in my mind. If you are inclined to read some additional awful posts, considering hitting the follow button or subscribe to my newsletter if you only want a single, monthly email that gives a quick view into the most popular post of the previous month and an article from another writer I found really helpful.

(Don’t forget, subscribers in my newsletter are entered in a drawing for the below books. I will post a video of the drawing sometime in early July since I will pick the winner on June 30th.)

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Thanks for Reading, Following, and Sharing!

13 thoughts on “3 Shameful Ways to Lose an Argument & Never Sell a Book

  1. Great thoughts on spam. I’ve had to unfollow several authors who used their business Facebook page to state their political opinions – sometimes in the most hateful and vulgar ways. Those opinions are better reserved for their personal accounts.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m torn on this because I’m a big fan of first amendment rights. Generally I believe it’s best not post anything political on a business page but if a writer is going to do it, he must keep it tasteful and also be willing to accept that by using his business page to express political opinions, he could lose readers and sales as a result.

        Liked by 1 person

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