Rude AuthorSelf publishing has been a wonderful new adventure for many authors and has given the opportunity to circumvent the query and literary agent quagmire and connect directly with readers. Done well, it works superbly and is the future of publishing. However, there are those who are always ready to ruin a good thing.

Everyday I receive a bundle of emails and messages from either naive, ignorant or just plain dumb authors. The messages always start the same. ‘I’ve seen you have written a lot of books and I want to find out more about them, but I have a new book blah, blah, blah that I’d love you to read.’ Or. ‘I just downlaoded your book. So how about downloading mine too!’ The fact that they downloaded my free ebook and then expect me to pay for theirs is simply a logic beyond belief.

At first I answered some of these politely pointing out the folly of their approach. Then after receiving so many, I just ‘junked’ them for some time. But now, and especially after receiving seven today alone, I’m getting really fed up as I have come to realise that they are the ones directly responsible for casting a dark shadow over self publishing. My conclusion is that if you use crappy book promotion, perhaps your book is crappy too. Out of interest, I took a look at a couple of previews of the books on offer from these creeps. I wish I hadn’t as they were nothing short of garbage.

So at the risk of losing a few followers who may think this approach is cool, I have this message for those so called authors who think the ‘You write such great books, I’m sure you’ll want to buy mine too,’ approach is the way to get reviews and sell books.

‘P%&s off’!

I’ve really had enough of your kind and will from now on answer these messages and emails with the above phrase. Minus the polite punctuation.

At the same time I have to say that I buy a lot of books and generally by ‘Indie’ or self-published authors. My Kindle is queued up with a reading list now that is all Indie. So clearly some know how to get their books noticed and bought.

It is worth pointing out too that I have many, many online author friends and am more than willing to help out in any way possible. In fact, without their reciprocal help, I’m not sure I would have got my last five books out. This is the beauty and wonder of the new environment it which we now publish our books. It’s so good in fact, I don’t want these creeps spoiling it for everyone.

Find out more about ‘The Vandal’ aka Derek Haines and his books, on Amazon.

The New Rude And Aggressive Author
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52 thoughts on “The New Rude And Aggressive Author

  • 07/10/2011 at 4:00 pm

    Ugh, so many authors are way too aggressive in their marketing–this goes for Trad authors too, sometimes–but definitely we’re seeing a new breed of marketers.

    Write a good book. <—That should be the focus, not cramming it down people's throats.

    Have a great weekend, Derek! :)

  • 07/10/2011 at 5:51 pm

    Derek mate – good on ya for giving them the flick. I’m not sure I would have been so nice.

    I totally agree with you regarding the “buy my book” brigade – I immediately junk them.
    The real trouble with these cretins is that they think they are wonderful and the world should be grateful that they exist – NOT!


  • 07/10/2011 at 5:52 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. The current thinking among many seems to be that you can sell books that are garbage if you just email, Tweet, blog, and all the rest until people become like robots and click to buy. It’s getting so bad on the social media sites I frequent that I’ve been pulling back altogether from them. When I go on Twitter and Google+ I see authors endlessly hawking their wares. It’s tiresome, and I have never yet bought a book this way.

    • 07/10/2011 at 7:36 pm

      Very true Karen. I just bought a couple of books by an Indie writer. Loving them by the way. But my motivation to buy was from interest in the writer, the subject and having got to know a little about the writer. There was no ‘selling’ involved. I bought because I was interested.

      This is the lesson for some aggressive Indie authors. Build interest instead of annoying the daylights out of people.

  • 07/10/2011 at 6:14 pm

    I can see the excesses on Twitter as well. What I’d like to know is where the balance is. What are some positive suggestions to promote our books?


    • 07/10/2011 at 7:31 pm

      Good question John.

      To me the answer is the difference between marketing and selling. Allowing people to discover that you are an author is a positive way to start. Then if they are interested they will discover your books. Also, putting your books in places (virtual as it is now) for potential readers to find is fine too. That”s marketing. Letting people know who your are, what you do, and what you have to offer.

      Selling is different. It is aimed at exchanging money for a product in an instant transaction. This is so not what social networking is about. It is annoying, aggravating and ruins the enjoyment. Selling just doesn’t work in this environment.

  • 07/10/2011 at 7:16 pm

    The whole ‘scratching backs’ business at work here. Sigh. Just sad.

    Anyway, I’ll be writing my book within the next ten years (at some point after college hopefully). So I’ve started spamming for future readers from your blog today. Now. BUY MY BOOK! Lol :D

    • 07/10/2011 at 7:38 pm

      Oh I’m sold Pri. Where can I send my deposit on your ‘to be published in 10 years’ book! :)

      • 18/10/2011 at 1:11 am

        Perhaps that’s a new way for an author to get an advance!!!

  • 07/10/2011 at 7:23 pm


    Your posts always make me stop in my tracks and reevaluate my tactics as an author (self-examination is always good). Thanks, once again, for your insights!

  • 07/10/2011 at 7:42 pm

    I think this is in some ways indicative of a larger problem: once people are on the internet, common courtesy seems to pretty much go out the window.

  • 07/10/2011 at 8:47 pm

    I am SO with you on this. I find all the blatant self-promotion so annoying. (on a hilarious and ironic note, google + tried to attach a link to a blog post about pre-ordering something. Great. Luckily I caught it.

    • 07/10/2011 at 9:20 pm

      Actually Solome, I’m not against promotion, clever marketing or making it known what you do and what you have to offer. It’s the direct selling approach to an individual that annoys me. It’s not the medium or the place.

      I make my living from books, blogs and and online marketing. But I’ve never asked anyone to buy anything. I only inform. There’s a big difference.

  • 07/10/2011 at 9:16 pm

    I am a new author, and while I’ve never sent an auto-DM, I did try loading up my feed with book tweets for 24 hours, just to see if it made a difference. Since this is what so many authors are doing (including some extremely successful ones), it’s very easy to get the idea that this is how you are *supposed* to market your books on Twitter. Fortunately, my friends and followers were very patient with this obvious folly; I didn’t lose too many people. But I didn’t sell any books either.

    After thinking about it, I snuffed the whole idea of selling my book by asking people to buy it (or “check it out”). It’s just too on-the-nose, especially since 80% of my Twitter friends are other writers who are also trying to sell their books. They’re a wondeful resource, but most of them are not my book’s audience, and I’m not theirs.

    Going forward, I’m working on forging stronger personal relationships with readers, improving my book’s positioning through tagging and description, and supporting other authors with beta reading and copy editing.

    Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, you can’t jump ahead in the line. It takes time.

    • 07/10/2011 at 9:25 pm

      So true N.V. I went through the same learning curve in earlier days. What works is becoming known for what you do, what you represent and what you believe in. As I just read the other day in an article by a branding guru, people buy ‘the experience’. For authors this really should hit home.

      I buy a lot of books by self published authors. But I buy what interests me, not what I’m hit over head with.

  • 07/10/2011 at 9:53 pm

    Enjoyed this post, Derek. And the comments so far are insightful. Like N.V., I have to say, most of my Twitter followers are writers. If I bought a single book from each of them for just 99 cents each, that’s still over $400 I’d have to fork out. I could take a modest vacation for that amount of money.

    The idea that other writers are going to be our audience is unrealistic. We have to reach readers. And I think the best way to do that is through conversation and relationship. Readers are getting bombarded by ads too, and they don’t have hundreds of dollars to throw at every writer they see either. So we’ve got to win them over and beat out hundreds of others for their attention. I don’t think a DM to “Check out my book and like me on Facebook” is going to do that.

  • 07/10/2011 at 9:57 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe people would actually do that. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised in this day and age of self obsession.

  • 07/10/2011 at 10:36 pm

    Hehe, I think you certainly got something off your chest there :-)

    But seriously, this is pretty par for the course. How we interact with each other, what each of us deems “good manners”, and how each of us reacts, is based on so many social and cultural variables that sparks are bound to fly. These wallies simply don’t know any better and, as they continue to fail, they will either learn or not.

    Although I don’t get anything like the spam you do, Derek, so I can probably afford to be a bit more snguine about it…

    • 07/10/2011 at 11:05 pm

      Yes, probably a good whinge Chris. But really I don’t mind general promotion at all. It’s only when I can’t find messages from my friends in my DMs, Facebook messages and Goodreads messages that I get upset.

      Just tonight I had 11 DMs in a row from one misguided fellow. That is what I find unacceptable. I feel it’s an invasion of my privacy. Same goes for FB and Goodreads messages and my email. Plus it is so unproductive and misguided. How do these idiots react when the same happens to them? I bet they react the same as I do. Ignore, junk or block.

      • 08/10/2011 at 8:11 am

        Ouch, I can sympathise. The thing I don’t get is why new writers are targeting other, far more popular writers. Surely they should be going after readers? If these wallies’ books couldn’t make it off the slush pile, the last people they should be hassling are writers whose books do sell. When you think of all the popular sites there are out there for readers… But I think Andrew’s point below is very good, about the adolescent phase of an industry, and with 100,000 hits a month, I think Derek you’re bound to get more than your share of wallies.

        P.S. I’m not very tech-savvy – what is a “DM”?

        • 08/10/2011 at 8:53 am

          DM is a Twitter Direct Message Chris. I enjoy getting DMs from friends, but now miss a lot of them because they’re lost in the garbage that’s filling my DM stream.

          And you’re right about the ‘wallies’ thinking I’m a good potential target to buy their books. Do they think I buy 100 books a week? lol

          • 08/10/2011 at 2:48 pm

            Thank god this is the internet and you can’t see my face flush with embarassment at not being able to work that out for myself… Although I would never DM someone on Twitter with spam as, in my opinion, the only valid reaction is yours. I agree with the other posters here about what is and what is not good behavour, so at least we’re in good company.

          • 08/10/2011 at 5:05 pm

            DM welcome messages annoy me as well Chris. They’re usually automated and fall into a similar spam category as ‘bombed’ messages I think. But then again, we’re in a very open and public forum, so I guess we must accept all fashions of ‘Joe Public’ behaviour.

          • 08/10/2011 at 9:14 pm

            Hi. I just wanted to reply to see if this message block gets any smaller. Nope. Guess not. ;)

  • 07/10/2011 at 10:52 pm

    Great post, Derek. I’m relatively new to Twitter, so I’ve been taking the promos in stride. I just assumed they came with the territory.

    That said, I rarely look at the “Buy my books” tweets, but I enjoy the #novellines hashtag promos, and I’ve actually bought a few e-books based on those.

    How do you feel about that type of promo? I have four books coming out this fall, beginning next week, and I was thinking of using #novellines. This is your chance to stop me if I’m about to do something offensive…


    • 07/10/2011 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Diane. Hastags are a terrific idea. Attracting attention to yourself and your books is what you need to do. In essence that’s what Twitter and social media in general is all about. This is very different from contacting someone directly and yelling ‘buy my book’. That is what annoys me and most people no end. Promoting books in public tweets is fine too, so long as it is informative and not a demand.

      Hope this helps.

  • 07/10/2011 at 11:10 pm

    So true.

    Yet I see one or two indies carpet bombing Twitterland with “Buy-my-books-now”-tweets ad nauseam. Always the same tweets. So much so that for me they become almost invisible, hence non-effective and harmless.

    I looked up their rankings, and while they’re breaking no records they’re doing just fine. Another one continuously tweets about his blog, which mainly is about his latest book. His tweets are funny. Same story.

    I myself will tweet (with link) when I have a good review and re-tweet when fellow authors have similar good news. I look at it as a non-aggressive way of pointing to the shelves. “Look. Shelf. My book. Bye.”

    But the most fun — and probably the most productive — tweet-sessions are those with readers. They can be complete nonsense, or about the weather, or answering questions about characters or what I am writing now.

    I’m always trying to remind myself — and believe me, I need reminding — that I’m in this for the long haul. That my author-name is my brand and that I should be careful with it. My mileage varies.

    But I wonder. Aren’t these the typical growing pains of a young, emerging industry? By my reckoning it is now in the obnoxious adolescent stage. Don’t you think we’ll grow out of it?

  • 08/10/2011 at 8:57 am

    100% correct Andrew. They are all signs of an immature industry. I don’t think anyone can honestly say they have mastered marketing ebooks and self-pubbed books. Not even the major publishers. The attraction to ‘Twitter Bombing’ is that it is free so there will be those who abuse it.

  • 08/10/2011 at 11:38 am

    I don’t get these at all, Derek! Is it because I have a fearsome reputation, or because I don’t follow authors who are always banging on about their books?

    I don’t do spam, as I find it so tedious when others do and can’t believe pestering people works.

    • 08/10/2011 at 5:00 pm

      I’m sure you’ll get your fair share of spam soon enough Lexi. But don’t be too impatient! lol

  • 08/10/2011 at 1:05 pm

    I completely sympathize with this post. It is a bane of every profession. I am a minor figure in the world of mathematics, but even I get pestered by amateur mathematics, and it takes a lot of time to reply. I seek reviewers for my work, but I always send a request first and a free copy if the reviewer shows interest. But this is the me, me, me generation, and it is simply a price we must pay for this fantastic internet medium.

    • 08/10/2011 at 4:59 pm

      It is a real ‘me, me, me’ attitude David. Perhaps if they reflected for a second and thought, ‘Hey, if I review one of his books, he might review one of mine!’ But I doubt this thought has occurred to some.

  • 08/10/2011 at 6:53 pm

    I think readers are looking for authors rather than individual books. They want to feel that they have found a respected, competent wordsmith who can bring them an exciting new experience.
    Authors who stand at the corner of twitter and blog with a big sandwich-board ad are missing the point.
    Nobody wants to read you when you reek of desperation.

    Natural selection will sort them out.

    • 08/10/2011 at 8:03 pm

      You’ve hit the nail on the head Andrew. Well, let’ say you share my belief. It is about authors and not individual books. I read my first book by Debbi Mack (@debbimack) recently and just had to buy her second. Now waiting impatiently for her next book.

      But I bought the first book because I knew about her. That’s the real big difference. So now I’m hooked. And did Debbi ever push her book upon me.? Of course, no way.

  • 08/10/2011 at 11:35 pm

    I haven’t spammed anyone about my book because I don’t have one (cunning, see…) but as a reader, I don’t mind people letting me know about their books. I’m very busy and sometimes I’m grateful for a heads up on something new. Having said that, I have less traffic than you and don’t receive seven DMs when I log on in the morning…

    I do object when people ‘tag’ me on Facebook so that their book is advertised on my page, or fill my blog comment section with links to their book/site, etc. I don’t like advertising other people’s books without being asked (although I’ll happily give blog space to a friend’s book…).

    I do like to read excerpts. I’m a sucker for a free paragraph and quite often that’s all it takes for me to buy a book — and follow a new author.

  • 09/10/2011 at 7:44 am

    I am an avid reader, and I do tend to look for specific authors and mainly those that are currently published by a major publisher, although that doesn’t always mean that their latest novel is going to be good (Stephen King’s later works are a prime example).

    I have tried some ‘Indie’ authors as I’ve communicated with them on Twitter and decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. One book was passable, but one was unreadable, I just couldn’t subject myself to it and gave up. I think a lot of these authors are like a lot of bloggers (me included), we think we have a great blog and we want everyone to read it – but just can’t see that it’s nothing special, or it’s all been done before, and probably a lot better by someone else! I’m still prepared to give an ‘Indie’ author a go, but only via recommends, I wouldn’t base a must read on the amount of tweets on Twitter or tags on Facebook telling me it’s a must read!

  • 10/10/2011 at 11:50 am

    I’ve only been at this for a couple weeks, so I really know nothing about anything, but my thinking about marketing goes pretty much like this:

    – People will not buy what they don’t know is for sale (i.e. sorry, but you have to market somehow).

    – No book is right for everyone

    – Even if a follower/friend will never become a reader, fostering a relationship with them is still worthwhile because 1) making more friends is never a bad thing and 2) their positive personal feelings may translate into them eventually putting you in contact with one of their friends for whom your book *is* right.

    – We’re sowers, not gamblers. Even someone who sincerely intends to buy your book won’t necessarily do it after their first contact with the opportunity. I have samples on my Kindle for a month or more before I have a chance to read them and make a buying decision, and I think it’s safe to assume that potential readers do, as well. A wall of spam doesn’t hasten the decision to buy (well, it may hasten the decision *not* to buy), but the occasional reminder that “hey, there’s that book I’ve been meaning to read” prevents you from being completely forgotten.

    – I seriously don’t know anything and will have to take a wait, see, and try not to piss off everyone approach to marketing

    • 10/10/2011 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Eric. Welcome to The Vandal and thanks for your detailed comments.

      My take on this (after a lot of trial, error and clanging mistakes) is that the author is more important than an individual book. Promoting yourself as an author is in my mind a far better way to achieve the aim of achieving book sales and is a softer approach to marketing.

      If the focus is on the book itself, it becomes simply aggressive selling, which is not what social media is about. But by interacting and becoming known (marketing yourself) people who are interested will find your book without any trouble at all.

      When you think about how people select books to read, a large proportion begin by recognising the author more that a book title. This to me is a better place to start.

      • 11/10/2011 at 9:21 am

        I think that’s true in all cases, but I suspect it’s especially true for indies, since there’s no marketing or “gatekeeper” engine to give them a boost. Not that the boost is a guarantee of success, but every little bit helps.

        It’s more natural for people to develop an attachment to a person (author) than a book they’ve never read. We’re by no means selling like wildfire, but I can hear the buzz growing and spreading as friends, family, and even people who I didn’t realize still thought of me so fondly are out there letting their friends and family know about our book. And they’re not doing it because they’ve had a chance to read it, yet, but because they think it’s cool that they know an author personally.

        That last feels kind of weird for someone who has been through the whole process of “gaining confidence in identity as author –> being too arrogant about that identity to even listen to criticism –> shedding much of that ego for the sake of becoming a better writer –> taking that identity as much for granted as the color of your eyes and hair.” It’s nothing special – well, no more special than all the cool things other people do that I can’t.

        Anyway, I think my first point stands (not that you’re disagreeing with me about it). Even if all a potential reader knows about what is for sale is that you are selling it, they can’t buy what they don’t know is for sale. Extroversion is a handy thing to pair with a good (and suitable) product and a sunny disposition.

  • 17/10/2011 at 7:03 pm

    I would like to pick up on something Chris James writes in an above comment: ” How we interact with each other, what each of us deems “good manners”, and how each of us reacts, is based on so many social and cultural variables that sparks are bound to fly.” All this social media stuff is so new that standards for behavior and politeness have not been firmly established. One recipient of self-promotional stuff might respond with “We all have to make some money.” Others will feel their privacy has clearly been invaded. We need to accept the fact that, if we promote at all, we are going to piss some people off and probably get blocked by them.

    • 17/10/2011 at 8:13 pm

      Good point JP. It’s a bit of one man’s meat is another’s poison, Finding a balance or a means of getting your book ‘out there’ without sounding like a used car salesman is a tough ask.

      Clearly social media has become the prime medium for author promotion, but as it is so new, the rules have yet to be refined.

  • 27/10/2011 at 5:41 pm

    Ease of publishing should never be an excuse for lack of etiquette. Sorry you have to deal with a lot of this – as they say, a few bad apples spoil the bunch; I just hope certain growing trends in the self-publishing field don’t end up dragging down the rest of us!

    I’ve seen people with Twitter pages, for example, that do nothing – and I mean *nothing* – but promote. Honestly, I don’t understand how they, as writers, still have the followers at that point…as they say, with self-promotion, you’re supposed to build an image, and if in an hour I get reminded 20 times of your new book, all I can say is that the opposite effect looms – I want to bring on the silence of a block. But I suppose that’s the problem – ease of marketing/ease of obtaining an audience/ease of getting published has set some people to “the crazy.”

    We need to promote, but we need to find ways of doing so that don’t spark the rage. Or the “‘P%&s off’!”

    Nice post, by the by.

    • 27/10/2011 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Chris!

      Regarding your promo blasting point, it does work for some. Hard to understand, but it does. I suppose with Twitter, this type of marketing have a chance because of the ‘stream’ effect. Rarely do Twitter users read the stream of a single user, so these promo tweets just pop into a mixed stream. Then they can work on the ‘repeat often enough and it will gel’ effect.

      Detergent companies have been doing this for eons with TV and radio advertising. Some things never change huh?

  • 27/10/2011 at 7:16 pm

    I read this post with great interest. A longtime author, I’m nonetheless new to Indie publishing and marketing, and thus, eager to avoid offensive practices. You’ve pointed out quite a few “don’ts.” Thank you.

    Re: Indie book reviews: I was wondering what your thoughts are on something I find particularly discouraging in the Twitter universe—that is, poorly written 5-star reviews of e-books equally lacking in quality. I’m constantly noting tweets touting so-called ‘credentialed’ reviewers and/or review teams. However, when I follow their links, all too often I discover grammatical nightmares in praise of writing that is obviously—sometimes even egregiously—sophomoric.

    I don’t wish to sound the snob, but as a writer who sweats bullets in an effort to produce writing that does not dishonor the English language (as much as my limited talents will allow), I can’t fathom the how-and-why of these reviews or the writers and writing that ‘inspires’ them. Why are the standards often so low? Do venues for obtaining a serious critical review—of the kind necessary for a successful Indie marketing campaign—even exist?

    • 27/10/2011 at 7:58 pm

      Not everyone has the privilege of a great education or natural writing skills, but irrespective of that, it is EVERY reader’s prerogative to choose the book they enjoy, and to express their opinion as they see fit.

      • 27/10/2011 at 8:29 pm

        I would never dispute the facts or the rights you champion above, Martha. My concern has more to do with finding critics whose reviews will best lend credibility to me as an author (in so much as my work deserves any credence). I guess I’m bewildered by this new (to me) universe where every work seems to be a masterpiece. A former editor once reminded me (usually when I’d objected to her criticism) that “if everything is ‘great,’ then nothing is ‘great.’

    • 27/10/2011 at 8:22 pm

      This is one of my pet topics Jack. Book reviews are a catch 22. A book needs reviews to sell. No reviews, no sales. Simple. Old standard practice of traditional publishing having incredible reviews from the NYT or famous authors on the back of a book before it is even printed.

      So the practice is as old as Adam. Although I don’t like it, nor use it, there is no escaping the need for many to get some great reviews to help sell books. Even if they are from mum, dad and auntie Joan to get things started.

      However, what I am not a lover of is paid reviews. These I think are more in your line of fire.

      • 27/10/2011 at 9:10 pm

        Goodness, no! No paid reviews for this Indie author. The various other marketing expenses one incurs are onerous enough–and far less ethically compromised.

        • 27/10/2011 at 9:57 pm

          I hate the term “vanity publishing,” but it certainly fits in any case where someone pays for a review. As both an author and book reviewer, this practice is laughable to me. The mere fact that someone chooses to review a book (unless they tear it apart, which rarely happens) is something of an endorsement of the book. When authors submit a book to me to be reviewed, I always have the right to pass if I don’t think it merits one. I get more books than I could possibly read/review in a year, and I’m forced to pass on many quality books, let alone poor ones.

          Any author who pays to have their book reviewed must know themselves that there’s something improper about it. To proudly Tweet about your paid-for review is a curious practice. I’d be ashamed. I know it’s tough sometimes to catch a reviewer’s eye, but if you can’t, don’t try to fool potential readers into thinking you did by buying a review.

          • 27/10/2011 at 10:08 pm

            Unfortunately James, paid book reviews are as common as mud. Just tap ‘Get paid for book reviews’ in Google and you’ll find out how common. And not just used by Indies, but also by traditional publishers.

            But it’s not a new practice at all. Just an extension of what has been happening forever in book promotion.

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