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Thursday, 26 July 2012

How not to be a twit (Rant Alert)

I realised something earlier this week. Although I love twitter, and I'm on it a lot - not always posting, often just cruising around - I hardly ever look at my main feed any more.

The reason is pure and simple spam overload. Almost every tweet at a given time is pushing something - usually books, since I tend to follow a lot of other indie authors. They beg, they plead, they occasionally compare their writing to the Latest Big 6 Thang (which automatically puts it onto my DNR list, because odds are - nope, your writing is nothing like whatever the hell you claim to be better than). And it saddens me, because I've met some great people through twitter, and even some of them appear to have been replaced by marketing spam-bots. There is a special place in the seventh circle of hell for the inventors of spam-bots, and when I meet up with you in the after-life I intend roasting a marshmallow over you. Just saying.

I've tweeted links to my books - usually when they're free up on the kindle store, but I tweet the link maybe twice a day. To be totally honest, the last couple of times I forgot about it. The thing is, I love reading. But there isn't a hope in Hades of me clicking the link you just posted, and I'm going to list them here.

1) I'm usually broke. I scrape by month to month, and if I'm very lucky, when pay-day rolls around I have a few square quid in my pocket. I discover new authors usually be downloading a freebie, and if I like what I read, I will hunt down and happily pay for the next couple of books if my budget lets me. Anyone pricing their book at higher than £5 gets a fleeting look of regret, because I'm not willing to blow my budget on a single book when I can get two or more for the price of one. I never buy off a twitter link, and I've been on that site for over a year.

2) 99% percent of the authors tweeting only link to the Amazon.com book, which I can't download here in sunny London. It also means I can't even check out the full description or download the sample. Skip. Very rarely I'll remember to make a note of something recommended by someone else - usually not the author, and check it out once I've dragged my sorry butt home from work.  Most of the time, it's a case of get home and face-plant and pray for Friday so I can actually get some writing done on the weekend.

3) It. Annoys. The. Crap. Out. Of. Me. It annoys me because I check out everyone who follows to make sure they interact a bit with folks, and if all they do is promote, promote, promote, I don't follow back. I'm on twitter because I like to chat to folks, and jabber about everything from my latest fun experience with spiders to the evilness of the London transport system. So I have no idea how my feed is suddenly spam-city, but I look at it, growl, and jump over to my lists.

4) To add insult to injury, some of the folks on my lists appear to have fallen victim to the Great Spam-Bot Body Snatching experience, and all they bloody tweet is ...... links. To their books. No more interaction. No more jokes or chats. Just. Bloody. Spam.

6 months ago I'd scroll through my feed, catch up with a few folks and have a bit of a chat. Now, since I haven't updated my lists in a while, I have to hope and pray I remember their handle and search them up - and hope they haven't turned into the author-spam-bot from hell over night.

My response? Well, I haven't done a tweet about my books in a while, unless you count the last blog excerpt, and I'm seriously thinking about culling down my follow list. I have no issues with losing followers who spam me repeatedly, because all I really want is my old twitter feed back.

If you are an author, or blogger - I have no issue with you tweeting about it every now and then. We live in an on-line world where often the only way to get anyone to pay attention is the internet equivalent of flashing your boobs at the bar-tender to get served,  (yes, it works. Only on straight guys and bi-curious girls, though, and only the first time you do it. Be warned.) but be prepared for the back-lash if that is all you do. If you provide no more value to someone following you than the Duracell Bunny, you lose your voice. It gets skipped over in the sea of links, and screams of "Buy me! BUY MEEE!"  are becoming as annoying as the toddler kicking and screaming on the supermarket floor because nobody will give him the candy he wants.

Mix it up a little. Chat to people. If you get my attention that way, odds are I'll at the very least check your stuff out. I might not like it, and I might not buy it - but I'll still talk to you. And auto-DM's are just another form of spam that make me want to roll on the floor and bite the carpet; don't do that either. It puts you back in the boob-flashing/Duracell Bunny category, and trust me - there's no longer anything unique about either one of those.

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J H Sked is the author of WolfSong , Basement Blues , Die Laughing , and Quarter the Moon  and a contributor to Sweet Dreams, all of which are on Amazon as ebooks.