Dear Certain Authors,
Imagine you went to a party and someone walked up to you unannounced and said, “Hello, my name is Pete, nice to meet you; I’m an author and I’d be really grateful if you would buy my book. Here’s a link for you to follow to buy it.” They hand over a tablet and wait for you to comply. You’re a bit taken aback and don’t do as they ask but, undeterred, this person takes back the tablet and ploughs on. “No? Ok, well, how about you like my Facebook page, then?” Again, they open the link and hand over the tablet. At which point, you hand them it back and walk away, vowing never to have anything more to do with them.
In the real world, nobody would behave like that unless they were unwell. However, on Twitter, some authors behave like that every day. If you send out auto-DMs to new followers, you are that party-goer. No, really, you are. If you think it’s ok for your first interaction with a person (who knows nothing about you) is to send them an email, generated by a computer, asking them to buy your wares or like your pages, then you’re wrong. It’s not ok. It’s rude and it’s needy and it’s short-sighted.
Do you read spam emails from people you don’t know who are trying to get you to buy meds or sexual services? No? Neither do I, so I wonder what makes authors think their spam is any less annoying? Is it because it is art, dahling? Well, I’m sorry but that’s not reason enough to justify an unsolicited sales pitch and, if I get sent one of those, I unfollow. I’m not alone in this by the way – I’ve had several conversations about this with like-minded tweeps.
You have a profile on Twitter. If someone follows you, you can provide a link on there to something you hope they’ll be interested in. If they don’t bite right away, you’ll just need to try something else; be charming, helpful, friendly, amusing or perhaps even controversial; do something that gets their attention in a positive and engaging manner. If you want a favour, try doing one for someone else first. Chances are they’ll reciprocate and, if they don’t, then move on and try making friends with someone less rude and selfish.
I like Twitter, and I enjoy using it, but I hate auto-DMs. Please, if you have one set up, get rid of it. It’s not helping you sell anything and it’s getting on other people’s nerves. Oh, and those generic, impersonal, auto-DMs that just say thanks for following or suchlike? Totally pointless. We all know you didn’t notice we’d followed and were genuinely grateful, so why pretend you did?
First and foremost, Twitter is a social network, so be sociable, and sales will follow.