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Anne R. Allen's Blog


My Photo

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, October 13, 2013

Social Media Secrets for Authors, Part IV: How Not to Spam

If you've ever wondered why unsolicited Internet advertising is named after a perfectly innocent meat product, blame Monty Python. In a famous 1970 sketch, the customers in a café are constantly drowned out by a chorus of Vikings singing "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam... Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!" Conversation is impossible because of the "spammers."

But whatever it's called, we don't want to generate it.

This is because:
As I've said before, social media is social. It should not be used for direct marketing. For more in my "Social Media Secrets" here are links to Part 1: How to Avoid Twitter-Fritter and Facebook Fail, Part 2: How to Blog Your Way Out of the Slush Pile,  and Part 3: What Should an Author Blog About?

Here's the "secret" about social media that marketers don't tell you: it should be used for making friends, not direct sales.

As I keep saying, you wouldn't wear an advertising sandwich board to a Chamber of Commerce mixer, but a lot of authors are doing the digital equivalent.

  • An ideal use of social media is when a digital friend picks up your new book because she loves your genre and she's watched you agonize over getting a publisher or struggle through all the hoops of self-publishing. Then she tells all her friends how the book made her laugh/cry/escape when she was going through her recent crisis. You connect emotionally with people, which is why your book takes on meaning for them.
  • A bad use of social media is when people go to follow you on Twitter and find nothing but a stream of identical tweets saying "buy this book"...and nothing to suggest you're anything but a self-involved artificial life form. 
  • Or they visit your blog and it has nothing but posts bragging about how everybody loves you and your books and you're just so doggone...full of yourself! Yes, it's possible to spam your own blog. Don't do it. 
But it's not always so easy to tell if you're spamming. What is the line between "savvy marketing" and spam?

Truth is: the rules can be different for each site. But finding them can require tech savvy and knowledge of legalese (and good eyesight: they're usually written in a flyspeck font.)

Here are the rules I've managed to discover, mostly by breaking them. As Ruth and I say, we make the mistakes so you don't have to.

How not to Spam on Facebook

1) Don't link to your blog or website from anything but your own page or a designated thread. Links to your blog or website are considered spam on Facebook, no matter how useful. They'll put you in Facebook jail (freeze you out of your own page) if you post links to your blog more than a few times a week, even in a private group.

This happened to me. Somebody in a group asks at least once a week about using song lyrics in fiction. So I used to post a link to our guest blog piece from Michael Murphy that tells you how to get rights to song lyrics .

But I was wrong on that. Unwritten Facebook rules say you can't do that, and a self-appointed vigilante will click the "report for spam" button and you're off Facebook for a week or more and your blog is flagged forever as "spam." Much hoop-jumping is required to get reinstated. Don't take the chance.

2) But Facebook has NO problem with links to your buy page on Amazon or other retail sites. So it's fine to put "buy my book" posts on as many Facebook pages as you like. Just make sure they're promotion sites like Canadian Free and Promoted Books, Authors 99c E-Book Promotion , or Free Books 4 U and follow site guidelines.

3) Don't friend more than a few people a day. Even though Facebook is constantly hounding you to "friend" people, it's a trap. If you actually do what they say, you'll end up in Facebook jail.

4) Don't post a promotion of your book in a group without reading the rules first. Many groups will kick you out for it.

5) Posting promos on somebody else's Facebook page is serious spam. It's a violation of personal space. Nothing will make people unfriend you faster. It's like posting a billboard on somebody's lawn without permission.

6) Never market through a FB direct message. If you're not friends with the person, it will go in the "other" folder with all the proposals of marriage from men with poor English skills and a photo they stole from some CEO's bio page. which means they're not likely to see it anyway. And besides, it's rude. Never use personal messaging for advertising. A direct message is like a phone call. Do you like getting unsolicited "cold calls" from marketers? Yeah. Nobody else does, either.

7) Never add somebody to a group without permission. There's been a trend to add random people to book launch "parties" and other "love my book" groups. Your targets will start to get dozens of notifications about you and your book which will be unwanted 99% of the time. Facebook won't punish you for it, but you're likely to get unfriended. And lose possible sales. Thanks, Tymber Dalton for the addition.

How not to Spam on Twitter

1) Never send those automated direct messages that say, "Now that you've followed me, go like my Facebook and author pages, follow my blog, buy my book and pick up my dry cleaning, minion! Mwahahah."

They're against the Terms of Service as well as causing an auto-unfollow from practically everybody. For more on why not to use automatic direct messaging, here's a great post from social media consultant Rachel Thompson: Death to the Auto-DM on Twitter.

2) Do NOT send direct messages to people you don't have a relationship with. Not even to say "thanks for the follow." A follow is not a relationship. If you must thank for a follow, sent it in a @Tweet. (Not an automated one.)

3) Don't tweet your book more than a few times a week unless you have news like a great review or a sale or freebie run. Otherwise, it's just noise that gets ignored.

4) Don't tweet somebody else's book link just because they ask. Make sure it's in a genre your Tweeps will enjoy. (DO hit the button that says "I just bought [title] by [author] on Amazon when you buy a book. That's a great way to recommend it.)

How not to Spam on Amazon

1) A link to your own book in a review is spam. It can get you banned from Amazon. You can have a title in your signature and post as "Susie Scrivener, author of Scribblings," but without a link.

2) Do not mention your book in the Amazon Forums. Better yet, don't go there. It's troll habitat and very anti-author.

3) Link to your blog ONLY in a designated thread in Kindleboard forums, even if your blog is full of useful information to writers. I learned that the hard way.

How not to Spam on Blogs

1) Never, ever subscribe to a blogger's newsletter just so you can hit "reply" and send an ad for your book. It's happened to me a couple of times. It's insulting and pointless. The ad doesn’t go to the mailing list. It goes to the blogger—who will put you on their list of authors to avoid, especially if the genre has nothing to do with the blogger's interests. Remember this is about making friends, not enemies.

2) Don't link to your buy page from a blog comment. I don't mind links to a blog or webpage—in fact I find them useful—but some people don't like links of any kind from a blog comment, and they'll delete the comment as spam, so be wary.

3) Don't talk up your book or blog in a comment unless it's relevant to the conversation.
  • "I respect your opinion on prologues, but I've got testimonials from readers who love prologues—the longer the better—over at my blog today" is fine. 
  • "This discussion of Marcel Proust reminds me of my book, Fangs for the Memories, a zombipocolyptic vampire erotic romance, $3.99 on Smashwords." Not so much.
How not to Spam on Forums

1) Lurk. Every forum is different. So never say anything in a forum until you've unearthed every rule and hung out for a good long time.

2) Beware "share" buttons. I made the mistake earlier this year of sending out my blog link to a number of sites via the "share" button Blogger provides. This apparently sent it to forums where it should not have gone on Reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg. A nice moderator from Reddit informed me all my posts had been deleted as spam.

3) Better yet, stay out of book-related forums altogether, except small, well moderated, author-friendly ones like Nathan Bransford's, Red Room, She Writes, Critique Circle, or Kristen Lamb's WANAtribe. The bigger and older the site, the more likely it will have resident trolls, bad-tempered vigilantes and anti-author groups.

How not to Spam on Goodreads

1) Don't join a group just to promote your book. Spend a long time talking about other books before you bring up your own. In fact, on Goodreads, it's best not to mention you're an author at all. Take off your author hat and discuss books you've read, not ones you've written.

2) Don't send mass friend requests. This is true on almost all sites. You will be flagged as a spammer.

3) Don't thank a reviewer or someone who has put your book on their "shelf." The new Goodreads author guidelines prohibit it.

4) And especially: never, ever, ever engage with somebody who has given you a bad review or put you on a hate "shelf." Not for any reason. Goodreads reviews are notoriously unpleasant, unhelpful, and snarky. But authors need to learn to live with them.

How not to Spam on Google+

(Updated) Google Plus users seem to be mostly techies and business people who are too busy to engage in a whole lot of childish behavior, so you don't have to be as afraid of troll-vigilantes as on Facebook and Goodreads. But:

1) Posting a link on more than one community page can get you marked as a spammer by Google Plus algorithms.

2) Posting a link without at least 100 words of introduction can mark you as a spammer. Personally, I think that's a shame because I used to just hit the Google + share button along with the Tweet button when I read an article I thought might interest writers.

Google+ is soooooo slow that opening my page and writing 100 words about every link means I can't post as many links. But I guess they want more exclusive content written for Google Plus alone. 

There has been a kerfluffle in the tech world this week because Google+ has changed its TOS and is going over to the dark side, and wants to invade your privacy like Facebook, and may even use your comments and profile pictures to promote products. But there is a way to opt out through this link.

Next week we're going to have a guest post from Google+ guru Johnny Base, who's going to tell us everything an author needs to know about Google+

What about you, scriveners? Have you ever been criticized or punished for spamming when you didn't realize you'd broken the rules? What kind of spam bothers you the most? Do you think spam marketing sells books

Book Bargain of the Week

Sale extended! No Place Like Home is back to 99c this month since being chosen as "Book of the Month" by the BoomerLit group. Still only on Amazon USAmazon UK, and Amazon CA ,

"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy-mystery"...Abigail Padgett
"A fun, charming novel about the rich and less so" ...Karen Doering
"A cross of dry British humor and American wackiness, and it all adds up to a fun read." ...Deborah Bayles

Opportunity Alerts

Writers Conference Alert! The James River Writers Conference returns to Richmond, VA on October 19 and 20 with an extensive lineup of big name agents, authors and literary professionals. They're featuring award-winning book designer and writer Chip Kidd, National Book Award-winner Kathryn Erskine and best-selling author Christopher McDougall. Literary Publicity Firm JKSCommunications, Book Doctors and Pitchapalooza founders Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry will be on hand for advice. You can pitch to agents including April Eberhardt, Deborah Grosvenor, Victoria Skurnick and Paige Wheeler. For details and registration, JamesRiverWriters.org

EBUK Bargains UK now has a blog! Get all the most up to-date info on the international book marketing scene from the guys who wrote one of our most popular guest blogposts ever.

The Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award from the Mid-American Review. $10 entry fee for a story up to 6000 words. First Prize: $1,000 and publication. Four Finalists: Notation, possible publication. You may submit online or snail mail. Details at website. Deadline is November 1, 2013.

  NO ENTRY FEE. The winner will receive $500. The winning story will be announced in February, 2014 and published in Dappled Things, along with nine honorable mentions. The word limit is 8,000 words. Deadline is November 29, 2013. 

MYSTERY AUTHORS! The Poisoned Pen Press, one of the most prestigious small presses, is open for submissions for one month. They open for submissions twice yearly, once during the month of October, and once during the spring. During October, they will accept submissions for regular publication. During the spring submissions period they open for the Discover Mystery first book contest. Please note their entire submissions process is electronic via the online submissions manager, Submittable. Mailed or e-mailed submissions will not be read. They will be accepting regular submissions during the period between October 1 and October 31. 

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OpenID paulfahey said...

Hi, Anne, I can't believe I'm first to comment. This is another terrific and informative blog post. But I have to admit, I should have read it first before I linked to my website this AM on FB. Oh, oh. I wonder how long it will take the FB police to put me in jail. I suppose there's no good reason to do this but I just had my website updated this morning to include a list of blurbs for my anthology and this is the first time they were all in one spot. I'll know better next time. If there is a next time...

October 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--You didn't do anything wrong linking to your website from your own FB page. What you get in trouble for is linking to your website or blog from another page: for instance if you linked to your website from the SLO Nightwriters page and you did it several times in one week.

October 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger JM Davis said...

Anne, I appreciate the info in the post, but more helpful to me would be a what to do list on how to market books. After reading the what not to do list, I feel like staying away from social media instead of trying to embrace it. It appears to me Facebook paid promotion is the largest spammer on Facebook. Paid promotion is apparently not considered spam by Facebook. From what I see if you pay a site a fee to send your ad out, that site no longer considers it spam.

I am new to your blog so please forgive my lack of knowledge on social media. For those us trying to learn our way around, all of the rules for socal media can be confusing at best.

Thank you for your post.

October 13, 2013 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

JM--I have links above to my first three Social Media Secrets posts in the body of the text above, just under the photo of the Spam-mobile. #2 How to Blog Your Way Out of the Slushpile tells how social media took me from a dead career to the bestseller list. I think you'll find lots of positive information in the first three "Social Media Secrets" posts.

October 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think spamming on Google+ would be sharing your posts with everyone all the time. Yes, people do that, and after about a week of daily shares, you'll become very good at ignoring them.
There were a couple authors I used to visit that posted only about their books, or how they were selling, or how many. Used to visit is the key phrase there.

October 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

I'm with Alex-- I have quit following a couple people who talk nonstop about their book or, worse, their reviews (good and bad). It's not a good use of the media. To be honest, I even struggle with a dozen or more book tours by blogs in the same reading circle-- I wonder how effective they are (although not necessarily spamming).

On the other hand, I've seen it done really well too and am always impressed by the savvy authors who use the tools well-- I try to make note of what and how they are doing. It's a tough world out there and I'm quite sure navigating the social media to your highest advantage is a learning curve!

October 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—Thank you for such a helpful post, filled with specifics. Love your list of "safe" author-friendly forums and share your feeling about Twitter DMs. What ARE people thinking when they blast you with a "look at my blog" and/or "buy my book" when you don't "know" them and have never even heard of them?

Manners, people, manners!

October 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

Anne, as usual, a very informative post. I had no idea FB was so difficult! Bottomline, I agree with you: social media is for connecting and sharing ideas, discoveries, things about new books, but not your own!!

Since that's the case, one may well wonder why an author should spend any time at all on the Net instead of writing his next book...The only thing that keeps me going with my blog is that (1) it's a good writing exercise and (2) I love to look at the world around me and rant about it, ha ha!

October 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Tymber Dalton said...

Don't forget on Facebook, even though you are allowed to add people to a group (using the "invite" feature also adds them) most people hate being added to groups without their permission. And ditch the game requests, event invites, all of that. Post the info and let people go to it, not the other way around.

October 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress said...

LOVe this post and all this advice. Although I have to disagree with: 2) "Do NOT send direct messages to people you don't have a relationship with. Not even to say "thanks for the follow." A follow is not a relationship. If you must thank for a follow, sent it in a @Tweet. (Not an automated one.)"

I have established and started relationships with DMs. Not just "thanks for the follow" but a compliment about their site or blog. NEVER automated, always personal. Someone has to be the first one to reach out, don't you think?

October 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger JUSTINE said...

This was very helpful––thanks for posting. :)
I had no idea you linking to your site x amount of times was considered Facebook spam, so you just may have saved me from being locked out of my page.

October 13, 2013 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

Half the time Google+ won't load for me. Goodreads is similar to forums in my experience. I have my Author's page and slip quickly away into the cyber shadows!

Thanks for the great posts. Abraham Maslow pointed out that where psychologists got it wrong was that they studied the ill not the healthy. Yours is a healthy blog! :-)

October 13, 2013 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex—Thanks much! I think I do that all the time on Google+. The choice seems to be share with "public" or nobody. So I go with "public." Of course I only post a couple of times a week. Btu I hope I'll be able to find out how to find other choices.

Julie—You sure are right about the learning curve. As you can see from my response to Alex, I'm still learning! As far as the bloghops where the same people endlessly sell their books to each other—I'm with you. Pointless busy-work. What works is banding together to sell to the public: that usually means putting up a sale landing page for a short-term, genuine sale.

Ruth—People don't seem to have a clue that it's bad manners. I just found 98 DMs in my Twitter in box. Twitter used to send me notices and they don't now. Only two merited responses. And one of those asked me if I have a blog. Well, um, yeah. That's usually why people follow me. And the url is in my profile.

Claude—Your work on social media is not in vain. Lots of people know your name now. I have one of your books on my Kindle (hope to read it soon), which I wouldn't have picked up if you weren't a regular here. So being on social media worth it, but not the way a lot of people think it is. (And yes, that's why I don't post links to this blog at the FB BoomerLit page any more.)

Tymber—Good one!! I should put that in the body of the post. NOTHING is more annoying on FB than to get a bunch of notifications about a group you didn't even join. Usually they're book launch "parties" in some genre you never read by some author you don't even know. Thanks for the heads-up!

October 13, 2013 at 1:40 PM  
OpenID villagedrummerfiction said...

This is great advice. One of my pet peeves has become the auto-responder with a request to like or friend their site. I admit, when I started using social media I went onto various sites that facilitate a like for like, and similar trades with each social medium. They your numbers increase, but they probably are not valuable contacts. I realized I was thinking of the requests I got as spam. I stopped using the "trading" sites.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

October 13, 2013 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Girl in the Jitterbug Dress—Actually, you're lucky you got responses to those. Twitter DMs are so notoriously spammy most people never check them. It's best to reach out with a @Twitter message, not a DM, to initiate a conversation. That lets other people join in and it doesn't feel like an invasion. It's like chatting at a cocktail party instead of saying "let's go get a hotel room." Also it won't get buried in 98 pieces of spam the way my messages were last week.

Justine—Neither did I until I got shut out. Awful feeling. And the irony was it was my helpful posts that answered people's questions that were considered "spam" while "buy my book" posts were perfectly OK. I still don't know how many links get you in trouble. It may just depend on when a vigilante decides to report you for spam.

Roland—Why does Google+ take so long to load? With slow Internet, it's probably impossible. I'll have to ask Johnny B. next week. As you know, I went into the GR problems in last week's post. The safest thing is to stay away, but I like my Boomer group. Boomers don't have as much time to be trollish. We're too busy trying to remember our passwords and find our computer glasses. LOL

Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Coming from a health care professional, it's nice to get that "diagnosis." We're mostly trying to help authors stay safe and not waste time so they can write their books and be creative.

October 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

village drummer--You caught onto that early, sounds like. Buying or trading random "followers" is like renting a bunch of empty safe deposit boxes and saying you're rich. It's got to be about the quality of your followers, not the quantity. Do they relate to you? Do you have interests in common? If you don't, no way are they going to buy your books.

October 13, 2013 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger pat said...

This is useful - but the Facebook part baffles me. I didn't know you could even post on somebody else's page! All I ever post is status updates - sometimes linking to my blog -- and replies to other people's posts. When I am replying, am I actually posting on their pages?

October 13, 2013 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

pat--No worries. You have to go to another person's page in order to post on it. Anything on your own page is just fine.

October 13, 2013 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Susan Stuckey said...

Excellent series of posts, Anne. I appreciate your sharing your experiences and knowledge.

October 13, 2013 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Such excellent advice. When I follow someone on Twitter, and I get the auto reply, it instantly lowers my opinion of that person. Maybe it's not fair of me, but it's true.

October 13, 2013 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Susan--Thanks for letting me know. As I say, we make mistakes so you don't have to :-)

Julie--I feel the same way. I have an automatic negative reaction to an auto-reply. Then I realize somebody probably told them to do that, and they're just following some weird "marketing guru" advice. Sometimes I even reply, telling them that they'll make more sales in the long run without a spammy auto-follow, but most of them think they know everything because they read it in some marketing book written in 2009. Sigh.

October 13, 2013 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 14, 2013 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips, Anne. I don't think I've spammed, but it's great to know what not to do.

October 14, 2013 at 3:02 AM  
Blogger Amani Baysan Rahal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 14, 2013 at 3:20 AM  
Blogger M.L. Swift said...

I mainly share other people's posts on Twitter, which is connected to my FB and shares on that, too. But I interact a lot on FB. Twitter, not so much. My WordPress acct is tied to Twitter, FB, and Google+, so it auto shares those ONCE when initially posted.

I usually add a link to my comment sign-off on Blogger comments, because the link associated with my name above doesn't get you to any blogs. Adding a link to my sign-off allows the blog owner or another commenter to find me easily.

Good post, Anne.

M.L. Swift, Writer

October 14, 2013 at 4:48 AM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Whoot !!! I finally got your post in my new email. Okay and a good thing too. One thing I thought was innocent was linking my weekly blog post on my Facebook page. How sad that we can't at least do that.

Okay ... then I link my new Etsy.com shop on Facebook as well. Some of my friends on Etsy also do that. Is that because they have an Etsy/Facebook page??

Oh, the horrors of "spam" and to think I might be considered one of "those" who are guilty ); Thanks, Anne ... it's so good to be back :):)

October 14, 2013 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Churadogs said...

So if you post a blog link or announce your new book, with a link to your blog or to buy your book, or whatever on the main "update" FB page (the page with everybody posting all kinds of "chatter" and pictures of LOL cats, etc on their updates,)that's o.k.? Or are you allowed to do that only once a week? Or is that "update" page open to whatever you want to say and whatever you want to link to?

and Oh, I hope your next guest will 'splain Google + because that totally remains a mystery.

Excellent post. Sounds like these rules are as arcane as complex and "unwritten" as those of the Byzantine court.

October 14, 2013 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

Excellent and spot on info! Cannot stand those when people write on my wall or something on FB with something spammy.

SO glad you're having a guest about G+. I went to a one -day blog conference this weekend and everyone was like, " you have to get on G+." I'm on it but don't know what to do with it. I learned a bit there, but not that much really. Will be ready for your post!

October 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Wow. Very informative post!

Fwiw, I've posted links to my blog as well as other blogs and websites (home page, author page, and in comments) on FB several times and have never gotten put in 'jail.' *shrugs* Not sure what's the difference. I don't auto-post, though.

I'm looking forward to the Google+ guest post. I am way at the bottom of the learning curve on that venue.

October 14, 2013 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Daniel and Amani--You both posted perfect examples of spam on blogs. This post is not going to remind anybody of dating sites or seo tactics. In saying so, you not only spammed, but showed you didn't even glance at the topic of the post.

Natalie--Thanks! If you stick mostly to your own blog and pages, you probably won't spam.

M.L. Yes. I think having a link in your signature is a help. I often want to find out more about a commenter or contact them in person and it's so nice when the contact info is right there. Sounds as if you're doing everythingright. I have a program that auto shares new blogposts to FB and Google+. It used to work for Twitter, but for some reason it stopped.

Fois--As I said to Paul, it's fine to link to your blog from your own FB page, but what people don't like is when you post too many links on other pages, like writers groups. There may not be an official limit to how many times you can do it, but somebody will probably report you for spam. I don't know about Etsy groups, but certainly if you link to your blog often from an Etsy--or any--group, somebody may complain.

Churadogs--You can post buy links as many times as you like. The problem is with links to your blog or websites. The links need to be from your own page, not group pages. If you don't belong to any groups, then you don't have a problem. But you're right that the rules seem a bit Byzantine.

Nina--I hope all will be explained about Google+. It's a mystery to me, too.

Melissa--I've never autoposted, except for a weekly link when this blog goes up, but I used to post links in groups that provided answers to questions. Somebody reported me for spam. If you don't get reported, you're probably fine. This is a high-profile blog, so we tend to attract trolls, which is probably why we got reported.

October 14, 2013 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Anne, you've absolutely nailed it. I wish every author on social media was required to read this post before they began!

October 14, 2013 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Louis Bertrand Shalako said...

I will have to read this a few times to digest it properly. One of the reasons I began posting stories on my blog was because I think it is better than just direct buy links. Freebies, as you say, are okay...? Once you get a few titles, you can always have something for free. Posting them fifteen times a day is definitely spam. This is just my opinion, but 99 % of authors will probably fail. That sort of accounts for the desperation of spamming. In the past I always used my blog URL when commenting, but it does seem to bring some traffic to the blog. I used to use Networked Blogs. Now I have Twitter set up to post automatically to FB. Are you saying not to do that?

October 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Annie--Thanks much for the endorsement and the tweet!

Louis--Posting fiction on your blog is another issue. Most publishing professionals advise against it. Not because it's spam, but because 1) you are giving away "first rights" and you can't sell it to traditional publishers and 2)People don't tend to read fiction on blogs.I know a superstar author who tried to give away stories on her blog and nobody read them. But when she self-published the same stories and charged money for them, the collection became a bestseller. Most people skim the Web for information, rather than settle in for an entertaining read.

But if it's working for you, and you don't intend to traditionally publish, it can be OK if you're getting readers.

Auto-Tweets and FB updates are a different issue. Most people advise against linking them, because tweets are different from FB updates and have a different format and interest different people. If it's just notification of weekly blogposts, that's fine, but if it's every fifteen minutes, your FB friends will be hitting the abuse button you pretty fast. I hope that answers your question.

October 14, 2013 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Louis Bertrand Shalako said...

Okay, I understand what you are saying.

October 14, 2013 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 14, 2013 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

What a fabulous article, Anne. I've shared it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Now we just need to figure out how to spam the spammers with articles about how not to spam. Thoughts? Should we spam the spammers?

October 14, 2013 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

P.S. I'm attending the James River Writers Conference in Richmond, VA this weekend. This will be my third year - it's absolutely wonderful. Great people behind the organization. Thanks for the shout-out in your blog post. Any chance you're going?

October 14, 2013 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Louis--Glad that made sense to you.

Julie--Na. Two wrongs never make a right. They'll usually catch on eventually.

Have a fabulous time at the James River Conference. It looks great. But alas, I haven't been to the East Coast in many decades. Hard to pry me away from Paradise on the Central Coast of CA.

October 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger JeriWB said...

The G+ spam that gets annoying is when someone in your circles sends an email of a post link that they've also posted on their G+ page. It's jut blatantly abusive of email. Also, there have been more than a few authors who have added me to their newsletter mailing list because I left a comment on their blog at some point. Um nope, that's not the same giving permission to send me an email. Just the other day I woke up to such an email and tried to calmly give the author a piece of my mind. I had no idea who they were. We all comment on a lot of blogs, some stick and most don't.

October 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM  
OpenID 0213a606-08bc-11e1-bca3-000bcdcb471e said...

I've been in Facebook "jail" twice for friending 2 people in one session--even though I'd been prompted to friend them.
--Sue McGinty

October 14, 2013 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger kate whitaker said...

l absolutely love your blog- i found it so engaging and beautifully written.
lt would mean a lot if you could check out my blog. Maybe we could follow each other? :)


October 15, 2013 at 12:51 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jeri--Actually, you can solve that problem with Google+ by turning off the email notifications. It's not actually wrong to post in several groups on Google+ and people should be allowed to do that. But I agree nobody wants to get all that email. So turn off the email notifications and just check in your gmail account for the little bell icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen. It will have a little number in it. That's how many notifications you have. You can click on it if/when you want to see the notifications. And no huge clog in your inbox.

Thank you!! You've hit on a MAJOR no-no for newsletters: Never put somebody on your mailing list who has not subscribed! Taking a commenter's address off your blog and sending them newsletters is SERIOUS SPAM!! Thanks for the reminder.

Sue--It looks as if Blogger made you jump through some serious hoops to comment, so I really appreciate your effort. You're not alone in being duped by FB into doing something and then getting punished for it. Facebook can be so user-unfriendly I expect a mass exodus once a more customer friendly site appears. Maybe that will be Google+.

kate--Thanks. I'm going to leave your comment, but it comes across as a little spammy. I do indeed try to visit our followers' blogs when I get a chance. But with over 2500 followers by subscription, rss feed, networked blogs, etc, we can't reasonably follow everybody. I'm more likely to check out a blog if there isn't an implied quid pro quo.

October 15, 2013 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Kristine Rudolph said...

Good stuff here, thanks.

One more question about FB: Do I understand correctly that if you post a link to your blog on a thread on someone else's status, you are okay?

For example, I have a lot of recipes on my blog and people will solicit ideas for meals. I usually post a link to my blog. Is this putting my page at risk?

Many thanks for the wisdom, even if it was hard-earned in FB jail!

October 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kristine: No. putting a link anywhere but on your OWN FB page is what will get you in trouble. That's what happened to me. Even if you are linking to something the page owner has requested.

Somebody would ask whether they could use song lyrics in their fiction. I'd respond with a link to my blog post that had a detailed answer to the question. That's when I got reported for spam. (Not by the owner of the page. Anybody can click "report abuse" in the feed.) You can probably do it a couple of times a month, but any time you link to your blog from somebody else's page, you risk being reported for spam. So instead it's best to post it on your own page and say "the link to this recipe is on my FB page here."

Annoying, but it's the way FB is set up.

October 15, 2013 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Mary Weber said...

Okay, your admission of Google being a mystery made me laugh. But you're my social media guru, Anne - you HAVE to know!! Ah Google...

I'm liking this series - seriously SOOO helpful. And yes on the Twitter PM spam. Good grief, I get a few of those a week, and I feel bad for the well-meaning folks, but it definitely comes across spammy. :0(

Great post.

October 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

Good stuff here.

The only time I really share my blog links is if I post it first on my author's page then share it on my personal page.

I've never really spent time in FB jail, but I did go through an extended warning period in which I had to use the word verify when I was posting a link to either my blog or something personal (i.e. my book or trailer).

October 16, 2013 at 3:32 AM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Thanks, Anne, for another useful post.

October 16, 2013 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mary--All will be revealed in next Sunday's post. We're even going to have mini-webinar made just for us to walk us through signing up for Google+ and the basics of using it.

I feel sorry for the people who misuse DMs too. They're just following bad advice.

G.B. That's just what happened to me--having to use word verification forever. That was after I was allowed out of jail. I think I only finally got OK'd for no word verification when enough blogpeeps reported the blog links as "not spam." Since you didn't post in groups--and only on your own page, that suggests FB vigilantes don't want to let you post blog links even on your own page more than a few times a week. Who knows if it's actually the Facebook policy, but these vigilantes think it is. That's when it's good to have that appeals email address.


October 17, 2013 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Linda Adams said...

I'd also add one for Twitter (though Facebook might also qualify): If you ask a person to review a book and they turn you down, don't throw a hissy fit or have a meltdown. Politely say "Thank you," and be done.

An author Tweeted me, asking me to review a book he called an action-adventure thriller. I looked the cover, which was fantasy-like, which wasn't thriller, and read a few sample chapters that were available. It was a fantasy detective novel, not an action adventure thriller. I knew right away that he was probably not going to get a good review because I would be expected a lot of action, and the early chapters had no promise of that whatsoever. So I tweeted that he really wasn't for me.

He then got all hissy and said something like, "Well, your profile says you're an action-adventure writer. Is that true or not?" I finally ended up telling him that it didn't have enough action, and he had a 140 word meltdown. He could have just said, "Okay, thanks," and it would have been fine. Instead, he made me say, "No, I will never buy any of your books."

October 19, 2013 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--That's not spam, but it sure is bad behavior! It's guys like that who feed the anger of the vigilantes and bullies.

Tweeting a request for a review is bad form to begin with. Send a QUERY, people! If you get a polite refusal, move on. You've been given a gift.

I probably should add that to my post on the LAWS OF THE AMAZON JUNGLE. Not only should you not respond to reviews, you should not respond to a refusal for a review. Why would anybody want a review from somebody who doesn't like the genre or has already formed a poor opinion of the book? Little gray cells, people! Use them.

October 19, 2013 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Emma Watson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 20, 2013 at 2:57 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was a really helpful post, Anne. Great tips!

October 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM  
OpenID redclayandroses1 said...

I got into trouble with a not a fan person. I boosted a post on Facebook. paid to boost this post. No clue who they boost these to except that it mentions "friends of friends and others". Got a personal message from a guy that said "Please remove me from your distribution list." I messaged him back to say that I would I had a distribution list. i explained that I "Boosted" a post through facebook and had no control over who they sent it to. I apologized, and I told him that I did not intend to disturb him. He did not message back, but I will NEVER boost a post again...even though it got our website for Read Tuesday (an author's book event like Black Friday page) a massive surge in both "likes and responses of people signing up for the event. It just made me feel bad.

October 21, 2013 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Elizabeth--Glad it helps!

redclay--Thanks for the warning! I've never heard from anybody who did a FB "boost" so this is useful feedback. FB must have an algorithm that tells who gets the boosted post, but like all algos, it isn't going to be entirely accurate. Even though you got a mostly good return, it does feel bad to know you've paid good money to spam somebody.

October 21, 2013 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Writer in a Foreign Land said...

Awesome post! Thank you for these insights!

April 15, 2014 at 4:02 AM  
Blogger Nathan Caruana said...

I got limited access because Google+ told me I was spamming. All I was doing was sharing my posts once to all my different community's.

February 17, 2015 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nathan--the rules keep changing. I just got hit with a CAPTCHA on FB just for linking to my Amazon buy page. And Google plus keeps getting stricter--they don't want you to post the same content on more than one page. That's probably why they limited your access. You have to change the wording for each community. Big pain.

February 17, 2015 at 9:55 AM  

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