How Not to Sell Your Book

Man writing on piece of paper

More often than not, it happens like this: I'm puttering around Twitter, following new people and minding my own business, when I get a notification that someone's sent me a direct message. I check my inbox. Sure enough, there's a message from someone I recently followed. I click through to read the message. Here's what I see:

"Love #mystery and #drama? Check out my thrill-a-minute #breakout #novel AT THE EDGE OF THE END OF THE WORLD!!! You won't be sorry! #newreads #bestseller"

Disgusted, I click out of the message, unfollow the user, and make a mental note never to support them or their work.

"What did they do wrong?" you ask.

They tried to sell their book.

Okay, I know. Writers want to sell books. So why do I have a problem with the ones who try to do that? For one thing, it's annoying. It's pushy and presumptuous. I don't know most of the users that do this, and it's frustrating for a stranger to ask a favor of you. Also, these messages are so generic. I don't feel special. Honestly, I feel like you're wasting my time.

You want to sell books? Don't try to sell them. If you want to market something, sell me on your personality. Make people like you. Do nice things. Engage. Get to know people and interest in your work will generate automatically. It makes a huge difference, I promise you. If I don't know you, I don't care about your book. It's your job to make me care about you first.

If nothing else, it'll stop me from unfollowing you.

What do you think about self-promotion? Where do authors go wrong on social media?