The 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette for Writers

14 April 2014

From author Anne R. Allen:

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

That’s true even in a thread where a lot of people are being snarky and you’re simply going along with the crowd. I’ve done it myself and ended up hurting good people’s feelings. Remember when you’re online, you’re “in public” and anybody can see what you’ve written.

If you’re planning to publish traditionally, the reason to follow mom’s rule is simple. Editors and agents will Google you (often before they decide to read your pages) and if they find a bunch of nasty Tweets, forum flames, and bullying blog comments, your career is going nowhere.

Why do they Google you before reading your writing sample? The same reason any prospective employer Googles you. Most people prefer to work with level-headed, rational human beings who are not prone to drunk-posting, dissing their co-workers, or dancing naked with tighty-whiteys on their heads. Just the way it is.

. . . .

The tech world was invented by young, rule-breaking types, mostly males. So an early Internet culture evolved that tended to be adversarial, snarky, and intolerant of newbies—more like posturing teenagers than adults doing business.

But the publishing world is the opposite. It’s a business that has always been powered by the gentlemanly art of the schmooze.

Making people angry may drive people to your blog, and you may hear that “troll posts” and creating controversy is a way to get traffic. But it’s probably not the kind of traffic you want, even if you self-publish.

. . . .

1) Thou shalt not spam.

I realize I’m repeating myself, and some authors will continue to post endless book spam to every social medium until the whole thing has gone the way of MySpace, but here I go again:

What is book spam?

  • Repetitive links, blurbs, and quotes in your Twitter stream.
  • Compulsively posting your book blurbitude in 100s of FB, GR and Google+ groups and forums.
  • Putting somebody’s address on your mailing list when they haven’t subscribed.
  • Posting endless, non-news, non-informational promos for yourself or other authors. A little promo is good. Nothing but promo…is nothing but annoying.

People want news and personal connections on social media, not robotic advertising.

. . . .

2) Thou shalt support other authors.

Your fellow authors are not “rivals”. Authors who band together do better than antagonistic loners. In fact the number one thing a beginner should be doing on social media is getting to know other authors in your genre and subgenre and making friends.

One of the hottest sales tools in the business right now is the multi-author bargain boxed set with several titles by different authors. These boxed sets are getting on to the bestseller lists and raising visibility for all the authors. Yes. The NYT and USA Today Bestseller lists.

Another is the joint 99c sale. I participated in a 99c sale with other chick lit authors last year and it got my boxed set on the humor bestseller list where it stayed for 8 months.

Authors who band together get their books in front of the fans of all the authors in the group. Supporting each other is fun and profitable.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

How To Measure Success (Discoverability Part The Last)

4 April 2014

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

So, here’s the promised post on how you measure success for your promotions or your discoverability campaign.

. . . .

Before I give you my list, add an early step. Figure out if you’re going to do any kind of promotion or if you’re going to let word of mouth happen and write the next book. (Most of you know that I recommend if your time is short to write the next book and forget all of this promotion stuff.)

How do you measure the success of that? Slowly. Patience is the watchword for this method.

If you continue to write and publish the next book, followed by the same routine for the next book and the next, eventually—over a period of years (not months), you’ll see a slow and steady increase in readership. Particularly if you have a static website so that your readers know what order the series is in or what other books you have (which is especially important for standalone titles).

Okay, you’ve decided for whatever reason that for your next book, you’re going to do a bit of promotion.

Here’s how you measure success.

1. Decide What You Want Out of Your Promotion Campaign

2. Figure Out How To Measure The Results (if you can)

3. Measure The Results at Various Points During and Post Campaign

4. Determine If the Campaign Is Worth Repeating

5. Make Notes About What You Learned—Good and Bad

Note I do not say anywhere in here that success is increased sales or that it’s in winning awards or anything that specific.

Success (or failure) is always based on your expectations of your campaignand nothing more. So let’s start there.

1. Decide What You Want Out of Your Promotion Campaign

This sounds so simple and so obvious, yet no one in publishing ever does it, not even the Big Boys. The Big Boys throw money at their bestsellers, but as I’ve said in previous posts, that money is spent in a wasteful and unconscious manner.

In fact, at our weekly professional writers lunch this past weekend, we were discussing the various campaigns that all of us had with our traditional publishers, and we realized that the publishers paid for those campaigns out of “advertising dollars.”

In other words, they had a big pool of promotion and advertising dollars, and they bought group promotions with that money.

But they never allocated the money to each individual book title. So, for example, that promotions campaign that I mentioned last week which Sourcebooks did on A Spy To Die For most likely never had the cost of the Kindle promotion charged against Spy. That cost just went into the overhead cost for the book.

. . . .

You, however, are running your own business. So you must allocate your advertising dollars per project. That’s how sensible businesses run anyway.

If you’re going to plan your promotions per title, then you do the same with the money you spend and the results you want. You determine everything per title—or, in some cases, per series.

. . . .

Your promotion campaign needs a set purpose. You might want to increase your sales numbers. You might want to introduce your series to a new audience. You might want to enter a new market.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

PG agrees with Kris that much of the advertising and promotion he’s seen from Big Publishing is extraordinarily lame. But, of course, most of these people are located in New York where, if you’re any good at advertising, you can walk down the street to a real advertising agency and earn serious money with your talent.

Entertainment Weekly’s disgraceful decision puts “prestige” over paying writers

28 March 2014

From Salon:

Entertainment Weekly, the venerable consumer-friendly magazine about movies and TV and the like, is under the same crunch as the rest of the media industry; its parent company, Time Inc., has recently gone through a series of layoffs. But the manner in which the magazine is attempting to build out its brand is the absolute worst-case scenario — bad for authors and for readers.

Lucia Moses at Digiday reports that Entertainment Weekly is to launch an online “contributor network” that is to feature readers as writers, particularly on “TV and eventually other areas [...] staff reporters don’t cover deeply.” In other words, anyone can now write for Entertainment Weekly, but they shouldn’t expect a check.

. . . .

In an ideal world, writing for free would never happen — it’s work and should be compensated — but perhaps there is an argument that a community platform could give rise to particularly innovative or exciting takes. So far, the beta page is just recaps of TV shows in the EW house style. There’s something deeply disingenuous about opening up a website as a platform for young or eager writers to ply their trade for free when they’re not expected to do anything new. Why would Entertainment Weekly hire any of the people contributing to the community page when they’ve already shown they’re willing to do the work of a writer for free? Pardon me — not for free, as they’ll have the “prestige” and “access to editors” that Entertainment Weekly promises. Prestige entirely aside, how helpful or receptive will be editors staking their livelihoods on writers not waking up and demanding money for labor? How can any writer producing identical content to their counterpart distinguish herself enough to make exposure meaningful?

Link to the rest at Salon and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

This is the same thing that Forbes blogs does.

PG is not offended so long as contributors understand they’re doing it for free and retain all rights to the content they create. EW gets content for nothing and the work of contributors is shown to a much larger audience than would ever see their blog.

Some traditional magazines are laying off staff because advertisers and paying subscribers are leaving in droves. PG never likes to see anyone get fired, but if the magazine is going to disappear should it continue with its present payroll, those jobs are going to disappear at some point anyway. If the magazine collapses completely, everybody gets fired. If it continues in a different form, at least some people (maybe not the most deserving ones) do get to keep their jobs.

Indie authors are part of the freelance economy, usually operating alone or with periodic assistance from other freelancers like editors, cover artists or book designers, selling on common markets like Amazon. While PG has held some very good jobs, all-in-all, he prefers the freelance economy for himself.

A former compatriot of PG owns a PR agency and she helps clients write items for Forbes blogs as a means of promoting their businesses and personal brands. She writes a very popular Forbes blog to do the same thing for herself. She doesn’t feel exploited in the least.

The Book Release: Now the Work Begins

27 March 2014

From author Tee Morris at Agent Savant:

 Dawn’s Early Light, the third book in the award-winning Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, was released into the wild today.

Welcome to the glamorous life of a modern-day author.

I would love to say “Life goes on…” but this is the part where people think “Okay, the book’s out, let’s kick back, bury our toes in the sand, and drink Mojitos until the sun stops setting and the tide ceases to roll in and out.”

. . . .

See, the hard part has only begun. It’s not writing the book. It’s not getting the book published. It’s getting people to buy your book.

Yes, young Padawan, your journey has only begun. In today’s modern world of the blue collar author, amidst the dinosaurs bemoaning technology and lamenting for the days of wine and roses, we young upstarts of science fiction, fantasy, and things that go boom in our books, are refusing to go gently into that good night. What you should have done up to this point, as the modern-day author, is build up anticipation and momentum on your title. You wanted to get people excited about your new book; and depending on how you look at the activity on your social media channels, you should be getting pinged hard and pinged often with activity and interactions. No matter how you cut it, a publisher has made a gamble on your latest work and on your series. They are expecting this gamble to deliver. This is what it means to be a professional writer in today’s publishing industry.

. . . .

You can’t kick back and enjoy a few years between titles. You’re measured by your last book, and even if it’s been a day like it has been for Pip and myself, that last book now includes that one-day-old title currently sitting on the bookshelves.

It’s your job to get it off the bookshelves and into readers’ hands. What do you do?

Keep the Blogging Pace You’ve Set. The best thing about recent blog tours I’ve participated in has been the habit of blogging I’ve developed. I’m figuring if I can keep up the pace of two blogposts a week at and the Ministry blog, this will keep people tuned in to what’s going on with me and Dawn’s Early Light.

. . . .

Continue Podcasting Appearances. Something I’ve seen often with podcast tours is once the book is out, the promotion stops cold. Truth is the key time for promotion is a month before and a month after a book’s release. Make sure that when you schedule interviews on podcasts, you have some appearances reaching into the weeks following the book’s birthday.

. . . .

Continue to Post in Social Networks within Reason. This is a hard avenue to traverse because you don’t want to turn your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ accounts into noise as enough writers tend to make this mistake. However, promotions on these channels are key.

Link to the rest at Agent Savant and thanks to Toby for the tip.

Social Media Part 2 – Have Fun

1 March 2014

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Boy, there are a lot of misconceptions among writers about social media and a few of those misconceptions cropped up in last week’s post.

. . . .

The thing that cropped up—of course—is the fact that Facebook has “limited” your friends. Facebook says that only a subset of the people who friend you will see your comments. This means exactly nothing. Same with the boosting of the posts (the Facebook wants you to pay for). So what if only a fraction of your Facebook friends see your post? That’s how Facebook has always worked.

If you’re good at Facebook, then one of your posts will go viral. (Yes, the posts that go viral are usually about cats, and not about your latest book. Deal with it.)

People will respond in large numbers (over 50) to your viral post and those people move into your feed subset, for a while anyway. The fact that Facebook has limited who can see your posts, based on “interest,” is an algorithm, nothing more. In the past, the people who saw your posts were the people who either went to your page and looked at them, people with a small group of friends who saw everything, and the people who were online the moment you wrote the post.

Now, after the change and the “boost,” who sees your post? The people who go to your page, the people with a small group of friends who see everything, and a subset of the people who were online the moment you write the post.

Really, not a lot of variation there. So stop worrying about it. If you’re worrying about it, I would venture to say that you’re using Facebook incorrectly.

. . . .

Now, the overall misconception:

Just because you have 3,000 Facebook “friends” or 10,000 people coming to your fan page, just because you have 25,000 Twitter followers or the biggest community on Google+, does not mean that all of those people see or even care about everything you do.

On Twitter, you only see the posts of people you follow and even then, you rarely see ones from a few hours ago. It’s the same with the other social media sites.

That worry about Facebook’s limitation of the posts? It comes from the misconception that you’ll reach all of the people all of the time.

Not going to happen—no matter where you go.

Here’s how I think of social media.

It’s a party or a convention, depending on size. Treat it like a public gathering of some sort.

Going to the largest social media “convention,” Facebook, and complaining that it limits who sees your posts is like going to San Diego Comic-Con and fretting that the room you’re speaking in only holds 1,000 people. That means 129,000 people won’t see you! Oh, no!!!!

It doesn’t matter how big the convention you attend is in real life. I learned this long ago. Half the time, the fans who attend the World Science Fiction convention have no idea who the Guests of Honor are. Those are the people who theoretically the fans have come to see.

The theory isn’t true of course. The fans have come to the convention for a variety of reasons. Some fans arrive to play games, others to socialize with their friends in fandom, still others to go to the masquerade. A subset will come just to see the writer Guest of Honor, but only a subset.

Even the large media conventions like DragonCon won’t get 100% of the attendees seeing the big media guests. 90% of the attendees probably don’t even know who the guests are.

People go to social media for the same reason they attend conventions in real life. Some go to meet like-minded people. Some visit to see their friends. Others come for an education. A goodly portion come to promote something.

. . . .

Here are Kris’s rules of social media:

1. Have fun.

If you hate parties, do you go to them? Back in the day when your publisher forced you to go to conventions, did you spend most of the time hiding in your room? Do you hate the way that Facebook works and get annoyed every time you go?

Then don’t go.

It’s as simple as that. Participating in social media is truly not required. Remember Scott William Carter’s WIBBOW test. Would you rather be writing? Then write.

I really can’t stress this enough.

In 2010, I interviewed a group of people who were using social media very well at that moment in time. I did it for the Online Networking section of The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. While some of the information shows its four-year-old roots, other things stand out.

Everyone I interviewed stressed that they enjoyed what they were doing. Neil Gaiman said it best:

I’m not sure if any [of what I do online] is networking. I mean, if it is, I never did it to Network.  I did it because it was fun, and because writing can be a very lonely profession.  It’s fun to have people to talk to, fun to have people who talk to you, and great to have people who will answer your questions (even if they’re wrong).  I also feel that it levels the playing field, which I like.

It’s pretty clear, if you follow Neil on Twitter, that he enjoys this stuff. In fact, when he does do a marketing post or something about himself, he gets a little cute for my tastes. He always puts WARNING:Contains me  on the post. I would hope he posts about himself. That’s one reason I follow him.

The other reason? His tweets are always interesting—and clearly were four years ago as well.

I go on Twitter several times per day—not because I feel the need to or because I’m trying to hit a quota, but because I now use it as a news source and a way of seeing friends. Often, I don’t Tweet at all. Twitter is my favorite social media site.

Last week, others mentioned Google+ and Pinterest as favorites. I personally like Google+ and am afraid of Pinterest as a time-sink, so I avoid it. Those are my preferences. Those are the parties I want to go to, with the people I want to see.

I have fun there, so I visit out of enjoyment.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

PG will second Kris’ advice to have fun with social media. He has fun with The Passive Voice but he doesn’t have fun on Twitter (although he has over 50,000 followers). He spends time on The Passive Voice, but doesn’t on Twitter.

PG tweets a lot, but his tweets are tied to his blog posts and automatically created whenever a new blog post appears. The purpose of the tweets is to let PG’s followers know there’s a new blog post on The Passive Voice. He does the same thing with Facebook.

As he’s mentioned before, a significant minority of PG’s blog traffic comes via Twitter, so he makes certain the TPV to Twitter connection is working and he keeps tweets in mind when he creates blog headlines which is what comprise his auto-tweets.

Blogging vs. Building

23 February 2014


Hiten Shah recently shared these words with me on MessageMe:

The more you blog, the less you are building.

I’m currently parked at blogging HQ, Philz Coffee, writing. I write frequently, dedicating 1-3 hours every day and publishing up to three posts each week (I have a dozen unpublished essays finished in my “queue”). Many people have asked why I spend so much time writing, sometimes criticizing this daily routine and questioning its value.

. . . .

For 95% of us, blogging is very time-consuming. The attention it brings is also distracting, as one’s Twitter stream and email inbox flood with ego-boosting appreciation.

Blogging takes focus away from other things, including your startup.

Link to the rest at and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Indie Author Insider: Hugh Howey

21 February 2014

10 mistakes to avoid on your author website

4 December 2013

From Help with Publishing

2: Using confusing navigation links
Although you might enjoy thinking up imaginative names for your navigation links, you risk confusing your visitors. They might not realise that “Shelf Space“ is your Books section,  “Inside Secrets” means  “About Me” and “Out and About” contains information on your speaking events. The situation gets even worse if you decide to use pictures instead of words.  Remember that the visitors to your site are just one click away from going elsewhere, and that’s what they will do if you ask them to play a guessing game in order to find their way around.

3  Not providing a way to buy your books 
There is no point in putting time and effort into promoting your books on your website if you don’t give visitors a chance to buy them.  Unless you are selling books directly from your website, the simplest way to do this for print books is with a link to Amazon or another internet bookshop that stocks your book.  Investigate whether the site has an associate scheme that pays income on sales as that can bring in some welcome income. For ebooks, you can link to link to the Kindle edition on Amazon and the epub edition elsewhere.

We always link to Amazon as our first choice as this allows potential customers to see reviews, sales rank and other information. Also many of your potential customers will already have an Amazon account so they will be more likely to buy from them than from a shop they’ve never used before.

. . . .

6: Having a hit counter on your site
Hit counters look amateur and don’t serve a useful purpose – do you really want to tell someone they are only the tenth person to visit a page? Although site statistics can be useful (and addictive), use a system that your visitors can’t see.

Link to the rest at Help with Publishing

This article reminded PG of some author websites that aren’t so good, but he would rather turn the thought around.

What are the real killer author websites? Not just good, but astoundingly awesome tools for building an author’s readership.

PG has to admit that, offhand, he can’t think of many and he would like to see some.

Drop your suggestions with links into the comments.

Peruvian writers ‘duke it out’ for a book contract in masked competitions

22 October 2013


By Annie Murphy, Correspondent / The Christian Science Monitor

Lima, Peru

On a recent weeknight, a tall, masked man going by the pseudonym “Joto” sat in a cramped backstage room, along with seven other people in their 20s. Some were nervous; others appeared composed. Every one of them wore a Mexican wrestling mask. But instead of wrestling, they were there to write.

 “The mask gives you a sense of security. When you know nobody’s going to recognize you, it makes writing easier,” says Joto.

This was one night in a series of popular literary “matches” known in Lima as Lucha Libro – a play on the popular Mexican wrestling event known as Lucha Libre. In the Peruvian version, instead of headlocks and body slams, aspiring writers compete against each other by writing short stories in front of a live audience, all for a shot at the grand prize of a publishing contract.


The concept is simple: Each writer gets three words they have to incorporate into their story, a laptop connected to a large screen, and five minutes. Their writing – including errors, deletions, and deadends – is projected in real time before a packed room. At the end of each round, the judges pick a winner.


A half hour before doors opened for the Lucha Libro event, a line had formed outside the venue, and it snaked around the block. People in their twenties and thirties came straight from work to stand in the cold, waiting for a chance to watch.

Vanessa Vásquez was one of them. Like many attendees, she says she’s also an aspiring writer, and was even a contestant last year. Ms. Vásquez sells some of her stories abroad, but says there’s not much of a domestic market for her writing. She works in advertising to pay the bills. But she adds, the environment for writers is improving in Peru, thanks to events like Lucha Libro.

“You might come just to hang out and have fun, but you still end up reading what people are writing. You start to realize that you’re living in a place where you’re surrounded by talented people. And this is where they get a chance to push themselves, and show off their work.”

See the rest here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

Some reality TV that I would actually watch. This is what the Peruvians get, we get Honey Boo Boo.

Ether for Authors: Is It Time for Publishing to Call a Truce?

20 October 2013

This is a relatively long six-part article by Porter Anderson.  You can read it in full here.

  1. When We Hunkered Down in Frankfurt

  2. A Keen New Development From the Frankfurt CONTEC Panel

  3. That “Sprint” Word and Book-Writing Projects 

  4. Not What Traditonal Publishing Advised: A Hybrid Author’s View 

  5. Conferences

  6. Last Gas: Jumping Genres and Prancing Pen Names

Julia Barrett


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