Twitter Book Promo

4 November 2011

The following Tweet came rolling by this morning:

Please click ‘like’ and 13 tags of my new book at…

The excerpted part was followed by a coupon for a free review copy from Smashwords, but PG was more intrigued by the Amazon part. It’s a request that can be fulfilled in less than five seconds for the Like if you don’t read much. (If you check out the Look Inside, it’s a pretty amateur book.)

What do you think?

Will a lot of Likes and a lot of tag clicks do anything useful for a book’s sales on Amazon?

Of course, if everybody starts receiving 500 tweets per day asking them to do the same thing for someone’s book, PG won’t be the only one experiencing rapid-onset Like fatigue.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Social Media

33 Comments to “Twitter Book Promo”

  1. Got the same message a couple days ago. Am seriously considering unfollowing that author. Not a fan of twitter DM spam.

  2. Yeah, it’s spam, and I don’t like it. I usually give someone a pass the first time. But if they regularly blast out DMs to all their followers, I will unfollow.

    I don’t think it’s an effective strategy.

    I’m skeptical of the value of “Likes”. They don’t increase a book’s visibility, there is no evidence it feeds into any algorithm. It might have some minor effect for an on-the-fence prospective purchaser, but I would imagine that every single other aspect of your presentation: cover, blurb, price, sample, reviews, etc. are far, far, far more important.

    In fact, I would go as far as to say that the only effect that including the “like” button has had is to decrease the amount of reviews. There is an option to share that “like” on Facebook and Twitter – which is valuable, but in my experience, very few every do it.

    Tagging is a different kettle of fish. They will increase your visibility (somewhat) in searches, but only (if I remember correctly) if I user specifically opts to search by tags (which only a tiny number do).

    There are tagging circles all over the place. Some question the ethics of it. It’s no big deal to me, I just see it as increasing visibility, kind of like SEO. Some say they do get extra sales from having lots of tags – I’m a little more skeptical. It helps, to an extent, if your sales are low, but not much.

  3. Like button spam has been around for a long time – people even have automated programs to do it for sale on certain dodgy forums for $299. Suffice to say, Amazon is wise to it.

    Now, the legal implications are very interesting to say the least. It’s borderline illegal in many jurisdictions in Europe but I am not sure about America.

  4. This is definitely a spam-like request (no pun intended). I’ve often had fellow authors–in writers’ groups or networking groups for writers–ask me to participate in a “liking chain” and I decline when it comes to Amazon. I mean, it’s not Facebook. It’s suppose to bear SOME relevance to the reality of the book’s performance on the Amazon site. If you really liked the book, great, click “like” but if you haven’t even read it….I dislike doctored numbers intensely.

    But then, not that many people care about integrity in general these days. It’s all about making a quick buck. I’d rather trust in the merits of my work. I know the money will come. I just hope I live long enough (LOL)


  5. I agree with the above. It’s spam and I immediately delete all that crap. And if it continues I unfollow an author – and I’m an author. I hate the “Like my book” and “Vote for my book” requests I receive from authors I don’t know and I’ve never read. Even if I’ve read their book I don’t want to receive those emails and tweets. Makes me wish I hadn’t read the book.

  6. My personal opinion is that “Like” button pushing such as that is no better, really, than people who pay for sockpuppet reviews. I got spam recently that offered to review a book of mine for $5. Like they were going to read and write a review for my book for $5. Beyond the fact that I would never pay for a review beyond a no-charge copy of the work, $5 does not even make economic sense. They could never read enough books to make a living!

    It was an obvious scam. “Like” clicks are little better. If someone asks me to “like” their book, I download and read it. The only saving grace is that, from what I understand, “like” clicks do not do much for the searches. I could be wrong abut that, though.

    This is all only my opinion. I just really, strongly believe in the integrity of the reader review system and would like to see it cleaned up and kept valuable. when you see a bunch of one or two line reviews for a book that come in over the course of a day or two, it is suspicious and degrades the integrity of the system for everyone.

    I say that because I have seen books that are obviously getting “robo-reviews”…or the writer has a large family.


  7. It’s obnoxious.

    What I said about it was:

    “With so many authors trying to get their books noticed the Internet is taking on the air of a Middle Eastern bazaar. It’s getting so you can’t walk down Virtual Street without being accosted by frantic authors hawking their wares. You’re mobbed not just by authors, but by their friends and helpers, too, with dozens of pleas to Like and retweet and post. The latest tactic is the contest where participants are asked to spam their social networks for chances to win a prize. The more you spam, the better your odds of winning.

    I know it’s tough out there. It’s always been tough. The joke used to be, “If writing were easy, everyone would be doing it.” Well, now it seems like everyone is doing it. (even though it’s still not easy, it just looks easy, but that’s another subject) Quite frankly, the pressure and competition is turning quite a few of you into loons.”

    • Hee hee…99 cents? Your offer for my book, it is too low! Surely you could not cheat poor DeAnna of her payment of $14.00, for she has an ill-tempered camel and several itinerant archaeologists to feed…no? How about $4.99 and this very nice mouse rug instead?

      I’ve been DM’ing new followers with links for free stories; if anyone finds it annoying, they haven’t told me so yet.

      • You know, I’d probably take a look at a book that somehow had that in the blurb! Especially if there’s a mouse rug somewhere. 😀

  8. Nobody around here ever has an opinion about anything. 🙂

    I’m not the most observant type when I’m seeking information on a web page and don’t ever remember noticing the Like button on Amazon before. But I also tend to filter out Facebook Like buttons as well.

    I hope I’m likable, but I’m definitely not liking.

  9. If I got something like that as a DM or with my name attached, I’d immediately report the sender as a spammer.

    For a normal tweet, I might let it pass if it only happens occasionally an the rest of their content is interesting enough, otherwise unfollow.

  10. I hate tagging clubs. By this time, Amazon has got any advantage filtered out of their algorithms, and in the meantime, it clouds Amazon’s data from REAL customers.

    That’s at best. At worst it’s gaming the system, and imho unethical and very destructive.

    Genuine natural data is what makes both Google and Amazon magical. That’s what empowers Amazon to put a not-very-popular item in front of the three people who would be interested in it.

    It’s what makes the long tail work.

    On the other hand, like bargain basement prices, it may eventually become a part of the filtering system. The fact is, no matter what good writers do, lazy writers will use those methods to promote their books, and so things like a disproportionate number of “likes” and tags will be associated mathematically with poor quality.

    That’s one great thing about these enormous algorithms, like nature, they are often self-regulating.

  11. This tactic has a note of desperation to it. I find it sad. I also find it unethical to “like” something you haven’t read. Please read my books before you “like” them.

    Once I publish one, that is. 🙂

  12. Hi! I subscribe to your blog updates and I like what you have to say and enjoy reading your posts.
    I’ve been writing for twenty years, on and off, with lots of rejections, and for my last but one novel I had some agent and publisher interest, which waned after a year of rewrites; worse than rejection! Anyway when the whole ‘e-book thing’ came along I got back into social networking as I’d heard ‘online presence’ was a good thing. I found that I couldn’t bring myself to’sell’ my book repeatedly to people on twitter etcetera as it seemed like really bad manners.
    What did happen was that I started to connnect with some great writers and bloggers and so I tend to read more reviews, blogs and articles than I write. I also write some blogs now and my most ‘viewed’ blog is my reaction to e-book promotion of books on twitter. It’s at this link if you’d like to take a look;
    It’s quite long, but it pretty much makes the point you’re making, the same point, I might add, that other book reviewers I subscribe to and trust, like yourself, have made too. It’s a growing problem, I guess.
    Additionally book reviewer integrity is important. I was reading a blog by a book reviewer I subscribe to the other day who had taken a free copy to do an honest review, hadn’t liked it and had been as nice as possible, but honest. The writer freaked out on her and was rude. Actually it may have been your blog a few weeks back, I’m not sure; anyway, rejection and people not liking my work has been pretty much most of my experience; every writer should expect it and learn to cope with it really and asking to be ‘liked’ is just humiliating.
    I’ve had one review of one of my books on Smashwords and the guy was not only good he was right. I flushed with shame at having got a small number of things wrong. I’ve yet to pull the book and correct them, but it’s on my to do list.
    Anyway I digress, your point about spamming and liking is quite right and it makes me wonder how long it will be before the e-book writers realise that ‘bugging’ people on social media isn’t going to work as means of marketing.

  13. Ya, it’s the same as spam and, ultimately, long-term not an effective strategy for increasing sales, I suspect. In fact, as more and more self-pubbed ebooks appear, folks are just gonna turn to trusted sources for good information OR they’ll have a relationship with the author in some way due to that author’s platform. That’ll make the difference. Gaming the system might get a few sales, but in the end, nothing beats true word of mouth recommendations.

  14. It almost seems like it would be a better idea to just write a really good book, and then another one, and another, until people catch on. That can’t be right, can it? I thought best practices meant leveraging your social capital amongst various interconnected networks to achieve the greatest synergistic brand awareness. I mean, that makes so much more sense.


    (I am in a bit of a social media overload state at the moment. I just deactivated my FB ancient, unused FB account, and it was so, so liberating…)

  15. One more gripe, maybe on the other side of the issue for a moment :).

    If you read Amazon’s rules for posting reviews, it says that the reviewer must disclose the fact that they got a free copy of the book if that was the case.

    None of the reviewers I know would let a $3 book change their opinion.

    In looking at some well known books, I see quotes from newspapers and “professional” reviewers praising the book. Do they have a little tag at the end of their review or quote that says they got the book for free? No. But do you really think they went out and bought the book? Obviously not.

    I do not think Amazon means it in this way, but the difference in treatment really “put down” the independent blogger who most indies count on as one of their marketing avenues.


  16. I’ve been hanging out on the Amazon forums again, and readers have actually mentioned the ‘like button’ issue.

    They’re not impressed by a book that has a lot of likes showing, especially when it has no or few reviews and a terrible sales rank.

    So I don’t think that’s a good option in trying to generate interest and get people to buy.

    Tagging parties and review swaps are also obvious to readers, and yes, they view it as gaming the system, from what I’ve seen readers say over there.

  17. I barely read reviews, much less note # of Likes. I find books based on ‘people who bought this also bought’ but, mostly, from the recommendations of fellow reader friends, whether in blog form or ‘hey, read this!’. A free first book of a series never hurt, neither.

  18. Good discussion. Thanks for opening it up. I think David had a good point about the SEO advantage of having lots of tags, and I have shared tagging efforts with a few writer friends. I do, however, hesitate to automatically “like” a book because a writer acquaintance asked me to. When we do that at Amazon, it affects what Amazon recommends for us, and there are some books that I don’t want them recommending to me. LOL

  19. Unless I know the sender and we’ve had a good relationship on Twitter, etc. I report anybody sending me tweets like that for spam (and block them too). I’m not on Twitter to be spammed.

    • I do something similar, but before I report them for spam, I take a look at their tweet list. The professional spammers are getting smarter about putting faux chatty tweets among their spams, but it is still obvious who and what they are.

      But newbies make mistakes sometimes, so I’m more likely to unfollow someone who doesn’t look like a pro spammer.

  20. I don’t want to spam people, or game the system. But writers need readers, or the equation just doesn’t work, and I’m at a loss. How do you get the word out without getting in people’s faces? It’s thirty years this month since my first book came out, and writing is the only career I’ve had. Forgive the self-dramatisation, but having my book on Amazon without people finding it feels to me like looking in a mirror and not seeing my reflection.

    • This kind of strategy is like standing at the top of a busy escalator and forcing flyers into people’s hands. Or robo-calling. Or screaming into someone’s face with a megaphone.

      Blasting a message out like this is the most untargeted form of marketing – and as such, the least effective. Only a small percentage of the people you will hit will be your target market (the only one’s worth advertising to). But because this kind of method is spammy and a turn-off, even the target market won’t want to check it out, and it can have negative effects like someone labeling you a spammer and/or unfollowing you. Not a good result.

      It’s far more effective to target your marketing, but it also requires a little more effort.

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