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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Author Etiquette 101: Do’s and Don’ts for Writers Using Social Media

“Authors behaving badly” tends to be a hot topic on booky forums and blogs these days. A lot of people blame the indie movement, but some of the worst social media behavior I’ve seen comes from Big 5 authors who are following the dictates of their marketing departments.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers seem to have studied their craft at the “let’s cold-call random strangers just as they sit down to dinner” school of salesmanship.

As a general rule, I feel if someone has the social graces of a rabid squirrel, he’s probably not the guy to listen to on the subject of winning friends and influencing people—which is what social media is all about. So if you have any choice, ignore the squirrels.

Especially if they tell you to follow a bunch of other authors and then spam them unmercifully until you sell a million books. Because hey, if you’re not selling, you’re not spamming hard enough, right?

Wrong. Thing is, other authors probably aren’t your best audience anyway, unless you’ve got a nonfic book of writing or publishing tips. So think twice before you market to other authors—especially authors outside of your genre.

And even if you’re sure you're targeting the elusive “reader” instead of fellow authors, remember fans are not forever. They don’t like to feel badgered. Asking them to tweet and share every promo and blogpost can turn a satisfied reader into an annoyed boycotter.

Keep in mind that social media isn’t about numbers, no matter how numbers-oriented your marketing department squirrels are. Social media is about making actual friends, not about mass-“friending” a horde of random strangers in order to annoy them.

You’ll make a lot more real friends and sell a lot more books in the long run if you heed the following dos and don’ts.

1) DO remember Tweets are casual: Never tweet a query—not to an agent, reviewer, blogger or editor. Here's Peter Ginna of Bloomsbury Press on the subject . Tweets are breezy and fleeting. When you approach a professional, be professional. Whether you want a review, a guest blog spot, or you’re looking for representation or publication, Twitter is not the place to make your pitch. E-mail is the proper medium.

2) DON’T post advertising on anybody's Facebook “wall”.  A person’s wall is how they present themselves to the world. When you plaster the cover of your book on their timeline you seriously mess with their brand.

Put a naked vampire in bondage on a Christian romance writer's page, and you not only are NOT going to make a sale, you're going to lose a ton of sales for that author. And probably make an enemy for life.

And to whoever put the huge pictures of Krishna on my FB page every day for a week, you'll notice it was bye-bye, not buy-buy. You have no idea how freaked my friends and family were. They thought I'd been kidnapped by a cult or something.

Posting on somebody’s wall is like putting a sign in the front window of their house. Don’t do it without permission. This is true for pleas to sign petitions or donate to charities, no matter how worthy the cause.

And it’s especially true for ads for your own books. I just read a lament from a paranormal author whose wall was getting spammed with links by the author of a similar paranormal book. It may have been an attempt at networking, but it came across as trying to steal readers.

The ONLY time it’s OK to post on somebody’s wall is a ) when you know them well AND b) have something to say that will enhance their wall. Like “happy birthday” or “LOVE your book: just gave it a rave review on my blog: here's the link."

3) DO use social media to interact with people, not to broadcast a never-ending stream of “buy my book” messages. People whose Twitter stream is the identical promo tweet over and over look like robots with OCD. They will only get followed by other compulsive robots.

Twitter is a place to give congrats to a newly agented writer here or a contest winner there. It’s a wonderful vehicle for getting quick answers to questions. Or to commiserate when you've had a disappointment. Or if you’ve found a great book you love, tweet it. Facebook is great for sharing fun videos and talking about them. And for commenting on news items and sharing them. (Keeping in mind #14)

Social Media is a party, not a telemarketing boiler room.

4) DON’T make up an email list from people who have contacted you for other reasons. ONLY send newsletters to people you have a personal connection with, or who have specifically asked to be on your list. Lifting emails from blog commenters without permission is considered especially heinous. Cue Law and Order music…

Yes, I know marketers are hung up on email lists. They tell you to snag 1000s of names of people to harass with weekly spamograms filled with the details of your last trip to the laundromat. Obviously marketers aren’t on any email mailing lists themselves, or they’d know that 99% of those things go into the trash without being opened.

5) DO use Direct Messages sparingly. Private messages are for personal exchanges with people you have a legitimate connection with—not for advertising. The fact somebody has followed or friended you back doesn’t give you license to send them advertising through a private message. This is especially true with “thank you for the follow” messages that come with a demand to “like” your author page, visit your blog and buy your products.

I advise against using any kind of automatic Direct Messages. Sending an auto-response "thank you"  that says, “read my blog, and someday you, too, can become a published author” is not going to get you anything but an auto-unfollow from Ruth or me. I must get five or ten of those a week. One-size-fits all responses usually don't fit anybody.

Yes, I realize the auto-respond DM is #1 on the marketer's list of favorite toys, but if you annoy 1000 people in order to make one sale, does that really help establish an attractive brand? (Don't ask a rabid squirrel to answer that or you'll witness some serious mouth-foaming. So just nod nicely and fail to get around to setting up that auto-response.)

I think authors should be careful about automating social media at all. I know lots of people tell you to automate your tweets, but that can lead to social missteps like the one Kim Kardashian made on the day of the Boston bombings.

As a general rule, if you can’t be bothered to put the recipient’s name in a message and you know nothing about them, you have no business sending them a direct message.

6) DON’T forget to check your @messages on Twitter several times a day and respond to them. It only takes a moment, but those are people reaching out to you. Ignoring them will negate what you're doing on Twitter in the first place.

 7) DO change the Facebook default "email" address to your actual email address. You are on social media to connect with people. Post a reliable way to connect—which that Facebook address isn’t (see #8.)

Last year Facebook erased all our email addresses and put in a Facebook Direct Message address instead. You have to change it manually to get your real email address back in there. I strongly suggest you do this, especially because of the problem with messages getting lost in the “other” file.

I've heard rumors that FB wants to charge for sending messages to anybody not on your Friend list.  I don’t know if it’s true, but be safe. Be findable. Who knows, some Hollywood producer may have just read your book and be trying to contact you to option your book. Don’t let him languish in your “other” file.

Which leads me to…

8) DON’T forget to check your “Other” Folder on Facebook regularly. People who want to contact you for legitimate reasons may contact you through a Direct Message, but if they’re not on your “friend” list, the message goes into your “other” file.

A lot of FB users don’t even know it’s there.

If you’ve never heard of it, go to your home page and click on the message button on the left side of the toolbar (It’s the one in the middle, between friend requests and notifications.) They’re semi-invisible if you don’t have anything pending, so if it’s all blank up on the left side of that blue toolbar at the top of the page, move your mouse slightly to the right of the “facebook” logo in white and click around.

Mostly your “Other” file will be full of spam and hilarious messages from third world guys who think Facebook is a dating site. They’ll say stuff like “You face to be so beautiful. I am want to scam you for everything you’ve got get to knowing you for marriage.”  For some reason they seem to target women who are married and/or over 45. No idea what’s up with that.

But nestled in there you may find a note from a fan or a fellow author who wants to co-promote or is asking you to join a blog hop or something useful. So do check it once a week or so.

9)  DO post links to your website on all your social media sites. And have your contact info readily accessible on your site! Being paranoid on social media makes your presence pointless. Even if you’re on the lam, incarcerated, and/or in the Witness Protection Program, you need to be reachable if you want a career. Use a pen name and get a dedicated email address where you can be reached at that Starbucks in Belize.

10) DON'T "tag" somebody in a photograph unless they're in the picture. This is an unpleasant new way writers try to get people to notice their book or FB page. They'll post their book cover or some related photo (or worse, porn) and "tag" 50 random people so they'll all get a notification.

But here's the thing: a tag means a person is in the photo. Full stop. Yes, you may get a person's attention with this—but not in a good way. It's a nasty invasion of privacy as well as a lie. You're not just going to be unfriended and unliked—if you tag somebody in a pornographic photo, you could get sued.

Remember you're trying to get people to like you, not wish for you to get run over by a truck.

11) DO Network with other writers in your genre. Instead of spamming her fellow author’s wall, that paranormal author I mentioned in #2 could have sent an email (or DM—yes, this is a time when it’s OK) saying how cool it is they have such similar books and how about a joint contest or give-away? Joining up with other authors to share fans and marketing is one of the reasons you’re on social media. You’re not here to sell to other authors, but you are here to pool your resources.

Look how well Ruth and I have done with this blog by teaming up. We met through her comments right here in the thread. Commenting on blogs is one of the best ways to network.

12) DON’T thank people for a follow, especially on Twitter. It may seem like bad manners, but the truth is most people on Twitter and FB would prefer you DON’T thank them for a follow, because those thank-yous have become 99% spam. But if you must, send it in a @ tweet. If you actually want to show gratitude, retweet one of their tweets. Then maybe they’ll thank YOU and you can get a conversation going.

13) DO talk about stuff other than your book. Yes, we’re all here because we want to sell books, but social media is not about direct sales. It’s about getting to know people who might help you make a sale sometime in the future. Consider it a Hollywood cocktail party. You don’t launch into your audition piece every time you’re introduced to a film executive. You schmooze. You tell them how great their last picture was. You find them a refill on the champagne. You get them to LIKE you. Then you might get asked to audition in an appropriate place.

NOTE: Don't talk politics or religion, though. Save extreme partisan or discriminatory religious talk for a different social media account, or better yet, take it offline. It's fine to let people know your religious or political affiliations, but remember your readers may not share them.

14) DON’T call it “giving back” when you’re actually advertising. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. People who say they’re “paying it forward” or “giving back” by letting you know about their book launch, blogpost or freebie days on Amazon are doing no such thing. They’re giving publicity to themselves.

(And I think Catherine Ryan Hyde should get a royalty every time somebody uses the expression “pay it forward”. Most of us had never heard it before her book came out, and now you hear it dozens of times a day. Often misused by marketers. If you use it, at least use it right.)

15) DO Read the directions. If you’re invited to join a group, and you’re instructed to put links to your books only in certain threads, do so.  Anything else will be treated as spam and you could get kicked out of the group. And don't dominate any site with your personal promos, even if it isn't expressly forbidden in the rules. Taking more than your share of space is rude. People don't like rude.

16) DON’T ever dis a reviewer online. 
  • Not in the Amazon or Goodreads comments. 
  • Not on your Facebook page 
  • Not on their blog. 
  • Or yours. 
  • And especially don’t Tweet it
If you get a horrible, stupid, brain-dead review from some moron who wouldn’t know great literature if it bit his big fat butt, step away from the keyboard. Go find chocolate. And/or wine. Call your BFF. Cry. Throw things. Do NOT turn on your computer until you’re over it. Except maybe to see these scathing reviews of great authors. A bad review means you've joined a pretty impressive club. 

What about you, Scriveners? Have you been making any of these faux pas? (I'm not going to claim I haven't. I have trouble reading directions.) Do you have any funny "Other" folder encounters you want to share? Any do's and don'ts of your own would you'd like to add?

If you're not sick of me yet...
  • THE GATSBY GAME will be featured on The Cheap Ebook on April 23. I'm going to be talking about the new film of the Great Gatsby, and how I feel about a giving a contemporary soundtrack to the greatest story of the Jazz Age. I'll also be talking about the real Gatsby-obsessed man who inspired my novel. (oops. That's not happening until May 7.) 
  • And I'll be getting cheesy at Chick Lit Chat on April 22, helping Julie Valerie celebrate Grilled Cheese month. Stop by and win a free copy of THE BEST REVENGE. 


1) FREE book advertising to British readers from EbookBargainsUK Lots of authors and publishers have had huge successes with their free or sale books by advertising on BookBub, ENT, KND, POI, etc. But none of those target the UK, and their links go to US sites Brits can't use. But now there’s a newsletter for UK readers only. It links to all the big UK retailers like Apple UK, Waterstones and Foyles as well as Amazon UK. They don’t sell books direct or get paid for clickthroughs, so they don't have any restrictions on how many free books they can spotlight like BookBub and the others. So it's THE place to tell Brits about your book when it goes free or on sale in the UK. Since Brits have the highest number of readers per capita of any country in the world, this looks like a great idea to me: Plus: the site will be offering FREE book ads until May 31st, on a first come, first served basis.

And if you're in the UK, do sign up for their newsletter. It brings links to free and bargain ebooks—at the UK bookstore of your choice—in your inbox every morning. You can subscribe here.

2) The Saturday Evening Post’s Second Annual Great American Fiction Contest—yes, THAT Saturday Evening Post—is holding a short fiction contest. Could you join the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald; William Faulkner; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; Ray Bradbury; Louis L’Amour; Sinclair Lewis; Jack London; and Edgar Allan Poe? $10 entry fee Deadline July 1, 2013

3) Find a Writing Group through Galley CatOne of the most reliable and popular news outlets in publishing is creating a directory for writers to network to get critiques of their work You can sign up here. 

4) The 35th annual Nimrod Literary Contest: The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. The Awards offer first prizes of $2,000 and publication and second prizes of $1,000 and publication. One of the oldest “little magazines” in the country, Nimrod has continually published new and extraordinary writers since. For more information about Nimrod, visit their website at www.utulsa.edu/nimrod. Deadline is April 30th.

5) Readwave: A showcase for short stories:
ReadWave is a community of readers and writers who love to discover and share new stories from contemporary writers. Readers can access thousands of stories and read them for free on mobile or desktop--and writers can use ReadWave to build up a fanbase and market their stories online. ReadWave has created a new reading widget, that allows bloggers and website owners to embed stories online in a compact form. The ReadWave widget is the first reading widget to allow readers to "follow" the writer. When a reader follows a writer they are added to the writer’s fanbase and can receive updates on all of the writer’s future stories. ReadWave puts writers in touch with the readers that are right for them. This looks like a great innovative site. You know how I've been encouraging you to write more short fiction? This is where to put it to start building a fan base.

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I ignore automated Direct Messages. I think most people do now.
I have a couple people I have to use Direct Message because they never respond to emails. I can send an email, wait three days with no response, or send a message and get a response within minutes. Don't know if it's a trend, but it seems odd to me. I still prefer an email.
Some of that Facebook stuff sounds annoying. Another reason I'm glad I'm not on that site.

April 21, 2013 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Vera Soroka said...

I am very much a social media wall flower. I just have my blog for now and will stick with that. I might try tumblr one day as it seems to be the place for some YA authors to hang out but until then we will stay at my blog.

April 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I can't tell you how many times someone has asked me to "send this to my email list." I don't have one, and I refuse to have one. When someone leaves an email address on my blog so I can notify them if they win a giveaway, I assure them it will be used for nothing else, and I mean it. Why would anybody trust me if I couldn't keep a simple promise like that? The people who are interested in my work will follow news on my blog or on social networks. They know where to find me.

And people who tag me (and 100 other people) in photos of a flower are a major pet peeve. I untag myself immediately, and unfollow the post. I don't want to be notified when each of 40 people comment, "Ooh, pretty."

Thanks for this good post, and thanks for the tip on the UK BookBub-style service. I'll be looking into that for May

April 21, 2013 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

#12 I had to laugh when I read that. I never said thank you to anyone who followed me. I thought I was being rude at the time, but it seemed so stupid to me.

I'm pretty much light on social media these days. There's not enough time in the day. Although I'm hoping by the end of May I'll have a better grip on my mornings. We'll see how it goes.

As for FaceBook, I won't do it. I've thought about it, but I just don't want to. I hear too many stories, and if "fans" really want to find me, my blog is right there with an embedded link in the back of all my books.

Congrats again on your Writer's Digest badge. That is totally awesome covered in chocolate sauce.

April 21, 2013 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

In regards to #12, I know of a fellow writer who got his FB account suspended due to all of his "thank you" messages that he sent to his followers.

I rarely (if ever) post anything that smacks of advertising on someone's wall. If I post to someone's wall, it's usually due to me needing an answer to a question that only they can answer (i.e. did you receive a copy of my book that I had mailed to you?) or letting them know that I received the book that you had mailed to me or that I had posted a review of one of your books.

On the other hand, its very rare that someone will post something out of the ordinary on my wall. Most of my friends know what I can and can't tolerate on my wall, so they act accordingly.

April 21, 2013 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Stacy McKitrick said...

Thank you for pointing out the OTHER message folder on Facebook. Never even knew it was there and found a message from someone I attended a cruise with! I'm friending her now, so maybe it's okay I never responded (since its months old). Or I could respond with "See, I'm a dork - never saw this!"

One of the things I'm not crazy about on Facebook is being asked to like all these other author's pages when I've never read a word they've written. I'll like your page if I've read your book (and, ahem, LIKED it). Isn't that the way it's SUPPOSED to be?

April 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Inky Fox said...

I hope people take #16 to heart. As a reviewer, I am honest but fair. I have never outright panned anything. I was asked by an author to review a book, which I did. It wasn't the greatest book ever (full of spelling and grammatical errors and unlikable characters) but an enjoyable read to a certain extent. Then I checked her website so I could link to it on my blog. On her blog she had a scathing post about how the idiots reviewing her book don't know great literature. She was awful in her post. It was disheartening as a reviewer who was asked to do this without pay.

So, in essence, authors need to take a step back and take even harsh criticism constructively, even if reviewers are unkind or and rude. Mocking and insulting reviewers will only make readers dislike you and not read or purchase your next book. It will also make the reviewers with constructive and fair criticism and suggestions ignore your future requests.

April 21, 2013 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--You're right about the DM trend. What's wrong with email? I'm going to get it much faster. I don't know how to tell if a DM has been automated or not, so I open them. But I sure don't pay much attention to what they say. FB gets more annoying by the day.

I just got tagged in the most insulting post yet. Some scammer is posting nasty weight loss ads on random people's walls and tagging hundreds of people telling them they're fat. It looks as if the person whose wall got spammed is the one tagging the victims.

Vera--Tumblr is certainly the up and coming site. It's blogging with more pictures. Great place to reach teens.

Catherine--You sure have a great, very engaged fan base, so I'm so glad to hear you don't use an email list and you still keep them involved. I only use email to notify a small group of new blogposts.

Sorry--the UK link was wrong earlier today, but I've fixed it. They look very promising.

Anne--Thanking for a follow seemed dumb to me, too. FB is less attractive all the time. You're not missing anything. See my comment to Alex above.

G.B.--VERY interesting. FB kicks people off for very minor infractions and doesn't seem to bother the real crooks at all. They won't let me post links to this blog, because I posted it to both my author page and my personal page every week. They called that "spamming."

Sometimes posting on a wall is the only way to communicate. My first publisher's spamblocker blocked all my emails and I had revisions due. He didn't check his DMs, so finally I had to post on his wall and say his email was screwed up.

Stacy--The "Other" file is a revelation isn't it? I'm so glad I helped you reconnect with your cruise friend! When I first found mine, I had messages from fans and reviewers that had been sitting there for months. I felt awful.

I agree about those requests to "like" everybody's pages. I don't like certain genres and it bothers me to be expected to say I do. Thanks for that addition!

April 21, 2013 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—That badge is for you! You do all the heavy lifting and you deserve it. Congratulations!

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble reading all the "rules," "directions" and "guidelines" that sprout everywhere. Since when has KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) gone away? Meanwhile, MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) and I probably break all kinds of rules. :o

I'm another FB drop out. In fact, I never even dropped in to open an account. Tweeting, blogging & pinning is plenty for me.

April 21, 2013 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

So agree with you that networking is just that and not just advertising your book. And thanks for telling me about the Facebook Other message box. I didn't know it was there and had a message there I needed to respond to.

April 21, 2013 at 2:35 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Wow, Anne. This is such good information. I am thinking of framing this post and hanging it on the wall above my computer for reference. In my innocence--read ignorance here--I know I've personally asked you almost all of these questions re: social media. Thank you again for such a wonderful, timely and informative post.

April 21, 2013 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger ED Martin said...

Great advice. I'd add to #16, don't somehow convey to your readers that it's okay for THEM to dis a reviewer. I gave a one-star to a self-published book (full of copyright issues, plot holes, random shifts from 1st to 3rd POV, etc), and the other reviewers (who were self-admittedly his friends) responded with lots of comments about how I was naive, mean, too nit-picky, rude, etc. The author didn't respond, but I feel it reflected badly on him that his friends and family made personal attacks on me. If you disagree with a review, make it about the book, not the reviewer.

April 21, 2013 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Inky--Amen. Reviewers are not paid. A review is a gift. I wish more authors realized that. A lot of people think I'm a reviewer, because we're listed as a "book blog" and I can't believe how demanding and rude authors and their publicists can be. Thanks for all you do!

Ruth--No way would this have happened without you!

Natalie--I'm so glad I'm helping out with the heads-up about the "other" inbox. Why do you suppose FB makes it so secret?

Paul--We were all beginners once. It's our job to pass the info along to the newbies. You'll get the hang of it.

ED--You bring up a good point. With customer reviews, it's OK to ask your fans to write reviews when a negative one has brought down your ratings, but they should NEVER reference another review. That's against Amazon policy and I'm sure the other retail sites as well. And reviewers and authors alike: remember--personal attacks are always tacky as well as being un-useful to the reader.

April 21, 2013 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger John Wiswell said...

What person thinks they're paying it forward by promoting their own work? That's pushing yourself forward. I have to do it from time to time, but it's not selfless, even as much as I do my work hoping to edify and entertain. It might be paying it forward to promote someone else's work when you think they're great, regardless of friendship. Those sorts of tweets tend to establish your tastes as well as you as more of a real person.

April 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Lexa Cain said...

I loved the article. I have one pet peeve that wasn't mentioned, so maybe it only ticks me off. I get annoyed when an author puts excerpts of their novel in blog posts, especially when it's a whole chapter. Do they really think that people have nothing better to do than spend 10-20 minutes reading one blog?
Is it just me or does this annoy others too?

April 21, 2013 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Stina Lindenblatt said...

When I check out someone's Twitter profile and it's filled with a long stream of '@xx Thank you for the follow', I don't follow the individual. And it's an instant unfollow if someone sends me a DM to buy their book or check out their website.

Great post, Anne.

April 21, 2013 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Congratulations on the honor and the most awesome cool badge!

I read your list of dos and don'ts and think, "Well goodness, this is about having good manners and social graces. My mama taught me those!"

April 21, 2013 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

Congrats to you for your inclusion in such a list! Like Alex, I prefer emails. There is little social manners in today's social media -- just greed. Sigh.

April 21, 2013 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

AHoy ANne & Ruth,
#8 out of the top 101 will do, but in my book you're#1.
Keep up the good work.

April 21, 2013 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Anne OConnell said...

Hey Anne,
What a wonderfully comprehensive list of dos and don'ts. They all match my list of 'cringe-worthy' behavior on social media. Two of my other pet peeves on Twitter are: loading your profile and tweets with tons of hashtags and having a verification requirement for new followers. If you don't want me to follow that's the best way to ensure I won't. Also, I hadn't checked my 'other' messages on Facebook in a while and it was a real ego boost. I had about 20 guys saying how beautiful I was and a handful of marriage proposals... and, yes, I am over 45 and married!

Great post. Thanks!
Anne :)

April 21, 2013 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

John--You're right that tweets and "likes" establish your own persona/brand, so even though you may be helping a fellow author, you're also "putting yourself forward". But it's also why it's not right to ask a fellow author in a very different genre to Tweet or "share" your book.

Lexa--That's a pet peeve of mine too. Probably #1. I've blogged about it a lot. See my posts in the sidebar about How Not To Blog and 12 Social Media Mistakes. But you've made a point I haven't zeroed in on: blogs should be skimmable in a minute or two. When you demand more time of a reader, you're being rude.

Stina--Me, too. I used to follow back any author who followed me, but no more. I always check their tweets. If there's nothing but self-promo--or worse, paid tweets for various products--I'm gone.

Julie--Thanks. And you're so right. I almost wrote this post as a "Manners Doctor" list. My sleuth, Camilla, is an etiquette expert who writes the "Manners Doctor" column, And all her advice is the Golden Rule. Too simple.

Roland--You're so right. E-mail is the business letter of this era. The DM is the inter-office memo. Don't confuse them.

CS, AKA the Wordmonger--Thanks bunches.

Anne--Oh, boy you've hit on some more of my pet peeves. All #those #meaningless #hashtags! And I say people who "protect their Tweets" are like somebody going to a Hollywood cocktail party in a burka. An exercise in futility, as well as a great way to annoy pretty much everybody.

And I'm so jealous. I have a feeling my "Other" suitors have been proposing to you, too! :-)

April 21, 2013 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Charley Robson said...

Eep, I'm almost glad I don't use Twitter now. I like the idea, but the character limit is far too irritating, and the sheer amount of expected norms and behaviour . . . ugh.

That said, thank you SO MUCH for the british Ebook spotlighting thing! I have a wonderful feeling that this might be helpful in helping the UK side of my co-authored novel. We're working on the US bit, but advertising on the Brit side has been so much more difficult, and as Brits ourselves we're keen to keep our home audience alive!

April 22, 2013 at 1:14 AM  
OpenID governingana said...

Fantastic post. I have put together some thoughts about ungracious author behavior, but this is a wonderfully comprehensive guide that should be required reading for all new authors.

One thing that particularly annoys me is when authors create Facebook events as a form of self-promotion. I can't find any way to opt out (and this should be an opt-in function, anyway) without declining (which publicly lists me as having refused to "attend"), and so I am spammed with relentless notifications from dozens of "events".

I will quibble with you about the "giving back", however (or perhaps I have seen it used differently). To me, giving back is when an author, editor, or publisher offers services for free (albeit receiving some nice PR) as a way to help new authors. An example would be offering a consultation, edit, or other type of service...with no strings attached. In that case, I happily publicize the effort because the focus on community building.

Finally, the auto-DMs on Twitter are enough to drive anyone crazy. It's sad that people find it acceptable manners to demand follows, likes, or subscriptions from someone who has already done something nice (following them).

April 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM  
OpenID governingana said...

P.S. So sorry, I forgot that OpenId shows my blog name instead of my name. I'm Anastasia Vitsky. Nice to meet you. :)

April 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Ellie Heller said...

I love this post. I ran into #4 with a blog tour promoter, so it's not just writers who need to learn these!

April 22, 2013 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Charley--Actually, Twitter is way easier than FB or any of the others social media, once you get the hang of writing in 140 characters. It's the least evil social media platform IMO. You actually have to go out of your way to mis-use it.

I'm so glad you're signing up for the EBUK site. I hope you'll spread the word among your friends about subscribing. It's all about free ebooks for Brits!

Anastasia--I actually devoted a whole post to those fake "events" a few months ago. HATE them. Especially since you have to explain why you're "not attending". Like, oh, um maybe you have a life hate zombie erotica and don't even know this person?

I don't have any problem with using the expression "giving back" when you're actually giving something. But I often get DM's saying "I want to give back to my 5001 close personal FB friends so I'm letting you know that my book is free today." No, you're using your freebie day to boost your Amazon rankings just the way all of us do. That's not giving back, it's giving to yourself.

April 22, 2013 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

An excellent post, Anne, as always! Useful info too, I didn't know about FB's other folder...

One (small) disagreement: I do write about politics on my blog - not partisan politics of course - but social justice. I'm afraid I'm very committed to that and would LOVE to see a better, more just world. I know what you're going to say, I risk losing readers, but since I have so few, I think the risk is rather low, LOL!

Not only that, but I prefer to come out up front with my beliefs or else people might get annoyed when they pick up my books. My latest one, 2213: Forever Young, is even worse that way than my previous books: this time, I've invented a world the way I think it's going to be 200 years from now. And I think it's going to be a hugely divided unfair world between the One Percent cornered over there, in a comfortable angle "looking young forever" (or at least till they drop dead), and the rest of us breathing in pollution, aging fast and dying young in droves! Ha Ha! (That was highly cynical, I know...sigh)

April 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Bh said...

This is better than Emily Post. Thanks so much. I'm sure I have broken some of the above; but, not intentionally - I know, "ignorance is no excuse."

April 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ellie--You're so right! Blog tour promoters seem to get their "rules" from the same book as the marketing squirrels. Thing is: most "salesmanship" begins with the premise that customers are prey to be stalked and conquered. But that doesn't work in social media.

Claude--Blogging is a little different from the "drive-by" type social media, and you can be yourself more on your blog. (Which is why I promote author blogging) Lots of authors, like Catherine Ryan Hyde, support social justice and tolerance on their blogs. Nothing wrong with what you're doing at all. For people who are against freedom and justice for all, I wouldn't share that with potential customers unless you've got a specifically targeted white supremacist book.

But that's very different from "sharing" 100s of political screeds and petitions on FB and Twitter, especially the extremely partisan ones. Or ones that openly advocate hate in the name of religion.

Bh--Actually, ignorance is an excuse. :-) Some of these things aren't really intuitive, like not thanking for a follow. We're brought up to thank people. That's why I'm posting this stuff, because a lot of people are coming across as rude when that isn't their intention at all.

April 22, 2013 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Thank you for another terrific post.
I didn't know about the OTHER button on FB.
And congratulations on being chosen for the best 101 websites. I couldn't agree more. :-)

April 22, 2013 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Debra Eve | Later Bloomer said...

Just stopped by to admire that new badge, Anne :) Actually, I haven't jumped into FB as an author yet, so your tips there are much appreciated. My newest pet peeve -- authors whose Twitter streams contain nothing but what they think is witty dialog from their book and a link to Amazon. Half the time, the dialog is out-of-context, so I have no clue (and unfollow). Great points!

April 22, 2013 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Thanks for the great information. You are amazing. I do so little social networking but do appreciate the advice for when I get off my lazy bum and start. Actually, it’s not laziness it’s reluctance to subject myself to the negativity that I hear so much about. I’m really sensitive to what floats around in my personal space: noxious noises, ugly colors, weird smells and creepy comments. Ah well.

April 23, 2013 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tracy--Thanks!Isn't it amazing nobody tells you about that "other" file?

Debra--Good luck with FB. I may be closing my account. I'm getting stalked and somebody's reporting all my links as spam and there's no way to contact a human and complain.

But yeah: what is up with the tweeted lines from books? I don't know if it's bad manners, but it seems so pointless. Unless you've got a quote that's destined to go into Bartlett's Quotations for generations, those quotes don't do anything for the author. They just sit there in the stream. I'm sure somebody told these authors to do it, because I see it so often. But I don't think it's having the effect they want.

Christine--You're right that there is a lot of negativity, and unfortunately that's what I tend to stress in my advice here. But the majority of people are helpful and kind. I have met so many great people on social media!

April 23, 2013 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Fabulous post! Especially for those of us who haven't done anything other than blog as of yet...I've feared FB for years as something way too intrusive, but Twitter is beginning to intrigue me and I appreciate knowing the protocols in advance ;-)

And Congratulations on the Award! AWESOME badge!

April 23, 2013 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Ellie Heller said...

Oh, I have to add to #12 - Don't thank someone for friending you on Goodreads with a list of where they can buy your book, where reviews of your book are and where they can enter a contest for your book. This is especially true when the author initiates the friendship request then floods their new 'friend' with this spam.

April 23, 2013 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--I think that a blog and twitter and maybe a site like Goodreads can establish author platform very well without having to use the increasingly user-unfriendly Facebook. Twitter is fun and easy once you get the hang of it, and it doesn't take much time. A big plus for writers!

Ellie--OH YES! Goodreads etiquette might need a separate post. People do so many stupid things there. And people who "friend" in order to spam are the worst. Also when they add you to a group that's just about promoting their own work. Right. Does anybody really believe that other authors want to drop all their own projects so they can be your unpaid publicity agents?

April 24, 2013 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Jill Haugh said...

Goodness! What a trove of information. I really admire how you take the time to outline these important points. Thanks for giving us newbies an opportunity to gain from your experience. I always get such a warm fuzzy from more experienced writer/bloggers that will actually take their precious time to help others just starting out. Mil Gracias!
(I shall never look upon another zombie vampire in bondage again without first thinking of you.)
~Just Jill

April 25, 2013 at 6:08 AM  
Blogger Amy Lamont said...

Had no idea about that "other" folder on FB. Who knew? Just checked mine and now I'm feeling guilty for missing a pile of messages.

I also have to add--no adding people to your private FB group. If you would like me to join, invite me. I hate when I look over at that bar and see myself added to a million new author promotion groups.

Great post!

April 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jill--Welcome. I always say I've made a full set of mistakes, so you don't have to. Sorry about the kinky zombie vampires! :-)

Amy--A couple of other commenters have mentioned that one, too. I have addressed it in other posts, but I should have remembered it here too. Who told these people that was a good idea? The worst part is FB demands that you tell why you're not going. "Um, because you're being rude and pushy and I don't even read your genre, maybe?"

April 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Sandra Gore said...

Point 7 - Went to settings on Facebook and see that my email address is the one listed. Is there another place to change the default one mentioned in pt 7?
Point 8 - THANKS for tip on 'other'! I had 31 messages. Unfortunately, no movie deals.

April 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger LD Masterson said...

I'm one of those who never noticed that "Other" folder. I just popped over and checked it. First message? A very nice gentleman who thinks I have a nice face and wants to get to know me better. LOL

Thanks for all the good advice.

April 26, 2013 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Louise said...

Terrific post...I also didn't realise about the 'other' folder, and missed a couple of good messages...sooo frustrating! I would have carried on in ignorance if it hadn't been for your post! Some great advice here, thank you :)

April 27, 2013 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sandra--I only know of the one spot on your "about" page where you post your email address. Sounds like you took care of it. Sorry about the movie deals. :-)

LD--Sounds like one of my "Other" suitors has been cheating with you, too! Those guys are hilarious, aren't they?

Louise--Glad to know my advice helped you save some messages. I don't know why FB doesn't alert people to that folder. It's like they want to keep it a secret.

April 27, 2013 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Kim (YA Asylum) said...

This is a really great post. I like the idea of two authors getting together to share fans through giveaways and such, I hadn't thought of that before.

Isn't it sad in some ways that these 101s need to be shared? I would've thought authors would know it won't help them to rant about bad reviews on twitter, and yet it still happens. The one I remember clearest is what happened to Wendy from Midnight Gardens over her bad review of The Selection by Kiera Cass. Cass's lit agent attacked Wendy on twitter calling her a "stupid b*tch" at some point. I mean ... in what reality is that not going to hurt you? I know I won't pick up that series, or anything I know that lit agent represents, because of that incident.

Direct Messages on twitter don't bother me that much, but I do ignore them when they are sent right after I follow someone.

Really great list, I'm going to have to bookmark it for future use :)

April 29, 2013 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kim--You're right that it's sad that these rules have to be articulated. You'd think the Golden Rule pretty much covers all of it.

But Cyberia is a strange place, and a lot of people are way out of their comfort zones, so they're not quite sure what goes. Somebody tells them to tweet their book 20 times a day and they do it because they think that's what's done.

I remember vaguely that attack by the literary agent. Kind of shocking when coming from a professional. Equally shocking this week was a cybermob attack sparked by Anne Rice, who sicced her fans on a young reviewer who wrote a less than glowing review of one of Rice's backlist titles. Totally out of control vitriol. Those people are going to be really embarrassed when they wake up with a rage hangover and realize what they've done.

I'm going to be blogging about this next Sunday.

April 29, 2013 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Juli Page Morgan said...

Fantastic post, Anne! I'd forgotten about the Other button, but it seems it doesn't matter in my case because it's missing on my FB page!

One other thing I'd add - those with an official author page really need to add a link to their website in the About section that shows up under their photo. Yes, visitors to the page can find it by clicking on the About tab, but most people won't do that, and why make your website hard to find?

May 5, 2013 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Juli--Every FB account has an "other" file--both personal and "like" pages. But it's not on the main page. You have to go to messages. Then look in the upper left corner. It's there in a tiny, very light font, but it's there. You'll probably have some proposals of marriage :-)

Great idea to put your blog/website address on your main page!!

May 5, 2013 at 9:43 PM  

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