Stop doing this on Facebook!

Would you tuck a promotional postcard about your book inside a birthday greeting card mailed to a friend?


Then why would somebody write “Happy birthday!” on my Facebook timeline and include a link to his book’s Amazon purchase page? (Forget that it wasn’t my birthday — that just confuses things further.)

When you gather with a few friends to chat over coffee, do you hand them a bookmark for your book each time you speak or comment?


Then why would an author include a link to her (unrelated to the topic) book’s Amazon purchase page every time she comments on my personal Facebook page status updates?


I don’t understand it. If we don’t do these sorts of things in face-to-face or “real world” social exchanges, why do we think they’re acceptable in social networking interactions?

They’re not. And here’s my advice for those doing this: Stop.

If you know something about me that makes you think I’d like to read your book, please tell me that in a private message via Facebook inbox or e-mail. That way I’ll feel like you’re really talking to me, not trying to use my timeline to get your book title in front of my Facebook connections.

If you’re doing this with others, you’re going to find your friend count dwindling. And that makes me sad for you, because I don’t think that’s what you want.

So, tell me . . .  am I too sensitive about this? Is it OK for authors to promote their books this way on anyone’s personal timeline? What do you think?


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  1. Hi I think it’s very wrong to put your book on someone else’s page! I am about to promote my own book but will only be putting this on my page or inboxing ppl to let them know the link!
    Lets have manners and not be intrusive!

  2. It’s very interesting to note what bothers those who have successfully found their niche in the public eye. With writers being told to self-promote in order to get their collective works recognized and to do so on a broad scale, it seems impossible to do so when they are told thats rude. I myself ask permission to post my blog or books on another website unless I obtain permission to do so. Still, I do not think it’s rude, I think more often it’s simply a way of having their voices heard. The publishing industry is far to difficult today and the chance of a new writer actually becoming a success is next to impossible. Most writers today simply write to see their books in print, I however continue to strive for the ultimate dream and will at some point walk away if there is not a market for my books; not because I stopped believing in my ability as a writer but because it is not enough for me to just see my name in print…

    1. Michele, thanks for taking the time to offer such a thoughtful comment. I will try to be just as thoughtful with my response.

      I disagree that the publishing industry is far too difficult today. Getting a traditional publishing contract w/an advance is harder than ever, for sure, but self-publishing a book, especially an e-book, is easier than it’s ever been. And frankly, traditional publishers can’t provide much promotional support to their authors, so those writers are in the same boat as self-published authors when it comes to book promotion, anyway. No matter what publishing model you use, you have to work incredibly hard to get the word out about your book.

      Also, authors shouldn’t necessarily be promoting “on a broad scale.” They need to focus their efforts on figuring out who is most likely to buy their books, and connect with those people. Don’t just randomly drop your book title all over the internet. Know as much as you can about your target audience because when you do that (see this post: http://bit.ly/V1f7GP), you’ll be better able to know where you’ll find them online. In addition, build that audience for your book long before it’s published (more on that here: http://bit.ly/11Y4j2C).

      I also disagree that it’s too hard for a new writer to be successful. You think it’s hard now? You should have been trying to promote your book before social media was an option. It is much, much easier for a new voice to be heard today than it was even 5 years ago.

      The trick is to learn how to use social media appropriately for this. Too many authors hear “you need to promote your book on Twitter” and then start posting nothing but “Check out my book on Amazon!” tweets. It’s important to take the time to study and learn how to use these powerful tools before using them.

      Finally, I think that if you wouldn’t do something in a real world social situation, you shouldn’t do it in a virtual world social encounter, either. But people disagree with me, for sure, which is why there are so many cruel and mean-spirited comments and tweets on news stories and blog posts everywhere.

      I hope you’ll continue to stop by and comment. It’s good to hear from you.


      1. Thanks Sandy! While it was not my intent to come off as rude or cocky, I wanted to try and understand the view of any new author desperately vying for attention. Again I myself would never impose upon someone else’s site for recognition; but still I can understand the desperation that many new authors feel. I am not in the position to self-publish and therefore have placed all my eggs in the preverbal basket (traditional-publishing). So while I wait for the letter of intent (or rejection), I have to keep positive. I know that I can self-publish and work from there as many writers do, but at this time in my life that is not an option for me. Just knowing that your book is in print is wonderful by itself, but again that is not the case for every writer. Possibly in the future I can self-publish, but for now I will take this time to learn from seasoned professionals such as yourself and if I am lucky enough to land a contract I will go from there. Thanks for your wonderful advice and if I take anything from all of this, I will be considerate of other authors hard work and what was involved in their personal journey. You share what you already learned with the writing community and that in itself is a great help. Keep teaching us new-bees, I for one will continue to follow. Have a great week – Michele

        1. Thanks, Michele. My goal is to keep authors from appearing to be so desperate. It’s not necessary. Authorship is a business. You have to learn how to write a book, how to get a publisher or self-publish, and you have to learn how to promote the book. If you don’t invest the time to learn any one of these 3 areas, you’ll fail. My goal is to help with that 3rd area — promotion — so that there’s far less desperation out there!

          Good luck with your project. I hope you get the outcome you want.


  3. Wow, I doubt the person realizes how rude this is — given that a lot of people are breathlessly clueless about online etiquette — but seriously? This person needs to quickly develop a promotion plan and focus on reaching the book’s audience, not friends and family.

    1. Sarah, don’t you think it comes across as desperate? That’s never good! As authors, we need to take the time to learn how to use each social media network appropriately and effectively. Sure, it takes time, but the investment pays off.

      I’m sure these people are wonderful and kind and never rude in-person, which is why this makes me sad for them.


  4. If you want to promote your book on Facebook, get a page and do events. Don’t spam your friends timeline or their inbox. That is a quick way to alienate people and damage your reputation.

    1. Great advice, A.F.! I also think it’s smart to offer period updates or info about your book on your own personal timeline (“My first book signing is tonight! Wish me luck!” or “I love my new book cover — here it is!”). They will show up in my newsfeed and I can chose to read and comment — or not. But turning your Amazon link into a Facebook comment “signature” — when Facebook doesn’t use signatures — is too aggressive. (At least for me….)


      1. I’ve been running an experiment over on my Facebook page, comparing stats on both my generic posts with links and the ones where I engage with updates and informal chat. I’m getting a lot more views, comments and likes on the more personalized ones.

        1. Fascinating! It would make a great case study. When you’re ready, would you consider writing a guest blog post about it for us here? (Feel free to e-mail me about it at sbATbuildbookbuzz.com.)


          1. If it could wait until November, I’d love to do a guest post. I’m running a book launch next month so the page stats should get very interesting by the end of Oct.

    2. I agree with the suggestion to develop a fan page and create an event to publicize a new book or related event. Please help me to remember this when we publish our book series beginning in December.(Technically, not a commercial). I still plan to send one note to my friends via FaceBook. I do have Author friends who post dozens of duplicate “promos”, “commercials” and related “memos”, everyday. Unfortunately, we got the message on the first post and are annoyed with the constant need to scroll past endless & duplicated promos, in order to get to a personal note from our regular/non-business promoting friends. Is there a way to TeeBo FB and skip the commercials? 🙂

      1. Thanks, Dave. Did you know that you can hide the posts of people who keep sending promo messages so they don’t show up in your newsfeed? It might help your eyes stop burning! ; )


  5. WOW! I was worried when I saw the headline that I might be doing something to annoy my FB followers. I’m relieved to know I’m not.

    I get that a lot on Twitter which is the reason it’s not my favorite social media hangout.

    1. Whoops — didn’t mean to make you paranoid, Elke!

      I get a lot of automatic “check out my book!” messages when I follow someone on Twitter, but it doesn’t bother me because it’s a one-time thing and because Twitter feels far less personal to me.


  6. I promote my book, The Eye of Adoption, by engaging in online discussions with folks who share an interest in the topics of adoption, infertility, and open adoption. I do post links and updates for my book on my pages, but on no one else’s. I am proud of my work and my goals with it (a ministry to help others) and sometimes I do take “chances” in social media. I think if your motivations are pure and your communication is genuine, people will understand. Marketing is tough, especially for artists!

    1. Thanks, Jody. Marketing is hard for anybody who doesn’t do it for a living. Plus, some people have an instinct for it and some don’t. A good rule of thumb is if it’s tacky or inappropriate in a face-to-face encounter, it’s tacky or inappropriate online, too.


  7. Hello Sandy, Have been reading above comments! So ‘so’ – Interesting! I totally agree with your comment: ‘If its tacky or inappropriate in a face-to-face encounter, its tacky or inappropriate online, too.’ I have always kept my Facebook Pages separate (I run ‘3’) My personal Friend Page – My updates, comments and discussions – Book Page and my third Page is all about the other love of my life – Dogs and Rescue! I joined Twitter just a short while ago (being advised to do so) but I don’t care for it – I was just bombarded with adverts for books anywhere I
    followed! So, for the Moment I have simply backed away! I do have a Webpage(currently in the process of being updated as we have moved into ebooks on iTunes – removing the Shop Page for Teachers to be replaced with a Blog! And putting back the free DVD Story and the Previews! Like Michele Kunz’s comments, I just love writing stories-lyrics – jingles! Whether edutainment or plain fun – I’m in my element watching children’s faces light up as I narrate and sing! I too am self-published and fully appreciate all you have to say on this only ‘too’ well! I may never be another Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton but does that really matter? Surely opening a doorway to an ‘adventure of words and imagination’ to a child is the most wonderful gift you can give!

  8. I find this confusing. If we can’t post our books and notices of reviews, etc. on facebook and other places, what is the purpose of facebook? I work with a group of writers who all promote each other’s work on twitter, fb, Linked In, Google and other places. So far on facebook, particularly, I get peope commenting that they liked my post, even when it’s not about me.I don’t want to waste the huge amount of time this takes if it is counter productive. I’d like to hear more of your thoughta on this.

    1. Micki, I recommend that you re-read the blog post. We aren’t talking about the same behaviors on Facebook. What you’re doing is fine — and it’s not what I’m referring to.


  9. Wow,thanks I always send a message instead of putting a link on people’s personal pages. I have noticed authors friending me on my personal page and was seriously thinking about unfriending them because promoting your book is not what my personal page is for and I prefer they not. Good to see I’m not alone in this.

    1. Yvette, have you thought about sending them a private message asking them to “like” your book page so that they can stay current with the book/author-related information that you share there?


  10. I have a question about FB and fan pages. I’ve read that a post only reaches a small percentage of your friends, not all of them. If that’s true, how else but multiple posts, in my case about my book, would reach my own friends. I hate blast emails, and even individual notes can be annoying if done more than once. I just disconnected my twitter posts from FB so they aren’t redundant. Am I wrong about the FB algorithm? My FB fanpage records number of people reached. My last post showed 11 people, out of 300.

    1. 2 things, Michael.

      First, that is correct. Only a small percentage of the people who have “liked” your fan page will see what you post there. (They do not have to be your friend to have liked the page so those who see your fan page posts are not necessarily “friends.”)

      Second, your goal is to put content on your fan page that is not “buy my book” content. It’s images, links to information that’s interesting to your target audience, something that makes you smile or is in keeping with your personality somehow, interesting info you uncovered while researching your novel, etc. You want to help people get to know you and your subject matter, but you also want to engage people on your fan page, not sell to them. Ask questions. Quiz people. Get some conversation going.


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