What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I’ve been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me?

If you’re a regular tweeter (Twitter-er?), you may have stuck around despite Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform. The Who Unfollowed Me tracker is helpful because:

  • It’s free.
  • It shows you who unfollowed you.
  • It allows you to unfollow back.
  • It also allows you to follow back.
  • It shows you accounts you have followed that haven’t followed you back.

I’ll be the first to admit it: if you unfollow me, I’ll unfollow you. Couldn’t you mute me instead? Unfollowing is a decision with consequences. We should all know this. Only blocking is harsher than the dreaded unfollow.

 

It’s Not PersonalIt’s Business

Many of us use Twitter for promotional purposes, not merely as a social media outlet. To compare and contrast Twitter with the Meta/Facebook platform: I have to maintain a personal page on Facebook to keep a Facebook business page going. Fair enough. My business page is purely self-promotion; my other page is 99% not self-promotional. Once in a while, I post something about my books that my friends and colleagues might like. However, I don’t post “Buy My Book” on my regular account. 

Twitter is different. There’s no business page vs. personal page there.

Successful book marketing via Twitter can be an elusive creature. I’ve got book sales here and there directly from someone seeing a tweet of mine. Howeverand this is a big howeverI have never seen evidence of a single sale resulting from a Shameless Self Promo tweet.

 

Does It Sell Books?

That last bit might bear some explanation for the uninitiated. If you’re a writer on Twitter, you may or may not have seen the many Shameless Self Promo hashtags, e.g., #ShamelessSelfPromoSaturday, #ShamelessSelfPromoSunday, and so on. These often get many views, shares, and even likes.

The previous paragraph might tempt you to say, “Hey, Mike: many views, shares, and likes are right up my alley!” I get it. I do.

The thing is, why are we doing this? There are now Shameless Self Promo hashtags for every day of the week. And here’s my take: if you want to grow a following, go ahead and try that. You might even get a random book sale or three.

Also, you might get nothing but “engagement.” That is to say, a few “Thank yous!” from random people….many of whom aren’t even following you.

I’ll say the same for creating your own Shameless Self Promo tweet, where you invite anyone and everyone to share their books, blogs, poems, websites, and even the kitchen sink. Do it, and you might make a few buddies, but I wouldn’t count on your goodwill indirectly translating to book sales.

What do you think? Do you find the Shameless Self Promo hashtag useful? Monday through Friday? Saturday to Sunday? Let me know in the comments below.

MLK Day 2023

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years.

Sadly, it wasn’t really a turn. It’s just that much of the racism that still exists in the U.S. was hiding in the shadows until not long ago. The white supremacy movement, the ironically-named Proud Boys, seemed to have been relegated to the fringes. Two years ago, they stormed the Capitol.

Perhaps there’s some good here. Like a wound that will heal sooner if exposed to the air, maybe it’s best that the bandage has been ripped off the pervasive racism that continues to fester in so many communities. 

Still, it’s painfully obvious we have a long, long way to go. Most young people today don’t carry the absurd racist and homophobic beliefs many of their elders did. But as the new generation comes of age, we have to equip them with the tools to create real, lasting change.

Therein, perhaps, lie our greatest challenges.

So however you celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, take a moment to reflect on how you can help in the struggle in the years to come. We’ll need every voice, every vote, and every action, from the greatest to the smallest, to win the battle over the forces of ignorance and hate. As Warren Zevon wrote, They say love conquers all / You can’t start it like a car / You can’t stop it with a gun.

What’s the Risk to Not Having A Cataloging-In-Publication (CIP) Data Block?

Over the past few weeks, I've been writing about "book-building" for indie authors. By that I mean putting a book together from your perspective as an author. So I haven't covered topics like cover design or interior design - you may choose those, but you're probably...

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...
Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices remain timeless.

Today’s post takes changes on the platform into account: 

1) Don’t put “Aspiring Author” in your profile description – Look, I get it. You’re an aspiring author and you hope to be published some day, whether traditionally, by yourself, or some other way. But to potential readers, it doesn’t look great. It sounds like you hope something will happen. Something will happen, if you work for it. Better option: “Working on my first novel/book/short story collection,” or similar verbiage.

2) But don’t put “Published Author” in your description, either – This might seem like a no-brainer for authors, but I’m amazed by how often I see this. Again, I get it, you want everyone to know that you’re now published…no longer “aspiring!” However, many people will view that description and think, “What other kind of author is there? When you’re still unpublished, you’re just another writer. An author is someone who’s been published!” I’m not saying people are right to think that, but many will. And nothing turns off a potential reader like a redundant writer.

3) Please do not put “Writer” as your entire description – Unless you are already a household name, we want to know more about you. Your Twitter profile should be the opening gambit in a conversation. Mine begins with “Author. Editor. Publisher. Check out the Metaphysical & Visionary time travel novel #Whizzers, available worldwide: msahno.com.” I’m not saying it’s the best Twitter profile in the world…but it’s not as unimaginative as the single word “Writer.” Who wants to check out a book by that person?

4) Do add something personal – The remainder of my profile says “🚫DMs 🚫porn.” You might not think that’s very personal, but it tells you a couple things about me: I don’t respond to direct messages from strangers. Want to reach me? Reply to one of my tweets or @ mention me. As for porn, I don’t have a personal problem with it; I simply don’t want to repel potential followers by having it in my Twitter feed, and I’m not going to follow back porn accounts anyway. 

5) Don’t #hashtag a #bunch #of #words – Seriously, don’t. It’s annoying and hard to read. If you’re going to hashtag something in your Twitter profile, I’d suggest limiting it to a word or short phrase. I don’t recommend using a zillion hashtags in tweets either, but since my 2020 article, I’ve revised this advice slightly: don’t do it all the time. Once in a while, for periodic hashtags like #FollowFriday or #ShamelessSelfPromoSaturday, it’s probably fine.

6) Avoid the Direct Message trap – I must admit I used to have an automated greeting message that went out to every new follower I gained. It was a rookie move, and I paid the price. First, most of those messages come with a Call to Action. So they’re like, “Hi, thanks for following me. Now that you’ve done me a kindness, please give me much more by following me on Instagram, liking my Facebook page, and buying my stuff.” Uh, no. 

Second, who the heck has time to read all these? If you get a couple hundred new followers per month, and 10% of them send an auto-DM, that’s 20 messages per month. I don’t have time to read all those. Do you? 

And there you have it. A short Twitter tips post for a Monday in January. I hope they help you grow your following. Please comment below if you have an additional tip or want to discuss these.

marketing

Why I Don’t Want You to Buy My Latest Book—Yet

​One of the biggest challenges indie authors face is that of marketing. We ask ourselves a million questions when putting together a marketing plan, often with answers that are hazy at best. Who is my audience? Where do they find books? What marketing services should...

A Vacation Blog Post and a Manross Library Appearance

The following post has been pre-scheduled. I've never tried to pre-schedule a blog post before, so I had to look up how to do it. If you know me well, you won't be surprised by that. Hey, I'm on vacation while you read this. Modern technology! I find it interesting to...
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“I Want to Bang on the Drum All Day”

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Proust in the Artificial Intelligence Era

Let's consider this week’s post as part two to last week’s part one, When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? I know I've been thinking, talking, and writing about this a lot lately. Today, though, I have a different spin—one which both surprised and amused me. Last...

A Journey with A Few Heiresses

Way back in 2016, I got a guest spot on a blog called Writing in the Modern Age by an author named Marie Lavender. Of all the writers I've contacted online, Marie has to be the most prolific – more than 20 books published over the course of 15 years. Marie and I have...
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2020 Vs. 20/20: What We Saw Then, What We See Now

Grinding through the first few months of 2021, I presume nearly everyone wants to shut the door on 2020. After all, the tragic COVID-19 pandemic and—at least in the United States—chaotic election drama left millions exhausted, overwhelmed, and just plain traumatized....

Frustrated By the Publishing Process?

Beep. Beep. Beep. You wake up bright and early to the sound of the dreaded alarm clock. First thing, you brew some coffee and grab your computer. It’s a Thursday, so you have to go to work, but you feel compelled to start each day with a bit of writing. You also...
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Remember The 80s? Placing Scenes in History in My Most Recent Novel

Remember the 80s? How about the 70s, or even the 60s? Of course, I know the old expression: if you remember the 60s, you weren't there. But in my house, it was different. I was born in the 60s, but in my house it was pretty much like the 50s. No discussion of the war...

But What If I’m Sick?

Last month my wife and I went to Thailand for a two-week vacation. This was my first real vacation in over two years, and my wife Sunny’s first visit back to her family in her country of origin in even longer. So we really needed and, I think, deserved it. And...

Feeling A Little Bit Better

There's an old, very bad joke that goes something like this: It was Christmas, and everyone was feeling merry; so Mary went home. Then everyone jumped for joy, but Joy jumped out the window. I know those only work when spoken aloud, and in the #MeToo era, it's a...
Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to reassure myself that I was indeed back on track with my WIP.

You can probably already guess what this week’s post is about, based on the Ozzy Osbourne reference above. For those not in the know—anyone under 30, I’d guess—Ozzy was the lead singer of a heavy metal group called Black Sabbath and had a hit in his solo career with the song Crazy Train.

To reassure you that I’ve not gotten onto a crazy train, let me say this: I was never that tightly wound. Or maybe I’m too tightly wound. Whatever the case, I’m not out to lunch, coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, or a couple french fries short of a happy meal. But my WIP is indeed off the rails. Let me explain.

 

Word Counts vs. Energy vs. Inspiration…?

My life as a writer has been an unusual one thus far. Starting out with exciting but meaningless accolades like Class Poet in high school, and writing a first novel at 24, I didn’t find my first gig as a full-time writer until 2001. Luckily, I’ve been able to make a living as a writer since then, writing thousands of articles.

However—and this is a big however—I haven’t made a living off my novels.

Few writers do.

With a busy freelance business, the time I have where I’m both available and able to enjoy writing fiction is severely limited. Not that I have to be inspired to write dialogue or expand on plotting notes. It’s simply that if I try to sit down and hack away at a WIP with little energy and even less inspiration, the results are…well, subpar at best.

This year, the grey period between Xmas and New Year’s served as a small vacation for my wife and me. During those ten days, I added a grand total of 100 words to my current project…almost all of which came to me in a dream. I know, I’m not going to win any National Novel Writing Month awards for 2022.

Then again, that’s never been my style. I’m better served by laboring over a manuscript when it works, and putting it aside when it doesn’t. Cranking out 50K words of garbage and then trying to turn it into gold would probably kill me.

So there you have it. Somewhat off the rails, but still trying to steer the train back on track. Hope your 2023 (and mine) turns out both productive and enjoyable!

Happy Holidays from Sahno Publishing!

censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
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I Survived Catholic School

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The End of a Good Run

I’ve had a pretty good run the last five or six weeks: last week’s blog post, entitled What Books Cost Their Authors: A Tale of Blood, Sweat & Tears, had the best “headline quality score” I’ve ever attained (yes, I run my headlines through an analyzer for SEO, to...

Writing Based on Experience

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Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea

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running

“When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around”

Like most Americans who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I've got a fair amount of song lyrics floating around my head. Today's post is entitled "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" after the Police song of that name. And I'll admit, I...
perils

Instafreebie and The Perils of Evil

Most of you who read this blog know that I'm not a big one on writing about the perils of evil...at least not at the same level as the serial killers or the kings of genocide. Sure, I've got some pretty bad people in my books: Johnny, the doper and rapist in Brothers'...
fictional world

Creating a Believable Fictional World

When it comes to writing fiction, many authors sweat the small stuff. "Do I have what it takes to write realistic dialogue?" they wonder. "Am I creating a believable fictional world?" Or, most dire of all, "Will anyone care about my books?" These concerns are all...
music

“Music Hath Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast”

So wrote William Congreve in 1697, and it’s still true today. Of course, not everyone today understands that “hath” meant “has,” or that a “savage breast” was another way of saying “wild heart.” And these days, more music is made to stimulate than to calm.My own...
Sahno

Let’s Get Personal: Why Do I Write?

I’ve been on a marketing campaign for the past couple of weeks, and missed my deadline for this blog last Monday…so I just plain skipped a week. Those of you who know me are probably a bit surprised. I’m pretty particular about getting things done on time. I’ve always...
Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post or two, I’ve been reading Remembrance of Things Past, a.k.a. In Search of Lost Time, Proust’s 4,000-page, seven-volume masterpiece. At the same time, I’ve also been writing about artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, and other 21st-century phenomena.

As you can imagine, the gulf between modern technologies and 19th-century concerns seems to yawn wider every day.

That leads me to today’s headline, Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions. I kind of get why Balzac drank coffee by the gallon and Proust was neurotic to the core. Who wouldn’t be jacked up, living in a place like the photo above? I took that picture in 2010 and have been more obsessed with France, not less, ever since.

 

More Current Obsessions (With No Segue)

It seems we are living in the age of the hyphen, not just the age of the acronym. In the past two hours alone, I’ve come across the phrases meta-medium, micro-content, and circuit-miles in my online reading. And those are for freelance gigs. No wonder this post is already littered with hyphens. Circuit-miles? Do people Google this stuff to find out what it’s supposed to mean?

I’m also seeing some incredibly unrealistic pay rates for writers, er, content creators. Fifteen bucks an hour? Look, I know companies need to tighten their belts and so forth. But let’s try to be mindful of the dollar’s declining value and the ever-higher cost of living. What cost seven dollars in 1978 now costs $32. Do those jobs that paid seven bucks an hour then command $32 an hour now? I’m gonna say, No. 

Maybe we should have a premium on hyphens for writers: for every hyphenated phrase you provide in an article, you get a $10 bonus. That should make everybody happy.

I’m kidding. Somehow, between reading Proust and writing about computer programming, I’m learning to straddle a line between Hunter Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut. That should help with my work-in-progress, Jihad Insurance, which is supposed to be funny, after all. Only time will tell. 

Okay, enough rambling for today. Happy Monday, people!

interregnum

What To Expect From An Interregnum

I had a very strange, little-used word pop into my head the other day: interregnum.  Cambridge English defines interregnum as "a period when a country or organization does not have a leader." That certainly seems to apply at this moment. Merriam-Webster's definition:...
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Are Authors Typically Obsessive-Compulsive?

Recently I’ve noticed a trend in author blogs toward the confessional. After all, no one wants to read about your characters all the time, and God knows that readers don’t want to read about marketing. They want to know something about you. Happy to oblige. Although...

All the News

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ebook

A Free Ebook From Sahno Publishing—And An Open Invitation For More

Regular readers of this blog might be surprised to see me write about giving an ebook away. In fact, I wrote a post a few months ago called Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea. So why the change of heart, you may ask? Actually, there's no change...
authenticity

Putting Yourself Out There

I see a lot of social media posts these days about "authenticity." The idea is that clients and customers, and potential clients and customers, really appreciate your authenticity—mainly because so many fake people have tried to sell them something they didn't want to...

A Little Pay Upfront…or A Lot More Pay Year After Year

So many writers think they should never pay for publishing. I don't blame them for thinking that way, but here’s how it really plays out. Authors are natural idealists, so of course we typically figure we can get a deal with a big publishing company, leading to smooth...

How Do You Write A Book?

This past week I had the chance to talk to a fair number of business owners. That's normal for what I do, but the interesting thing this week was the similarity of the conversations. Not all entrepreneurs ask me the same things. Some ask me what I do. Many of them end...
short blog long video

A Short Blog Post, But A Long Video Interview

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cancel

Anyone Else Thinking about Canceling Cancel Culture?

Ordinarily, I’m on the side of the poor, the beaten-down, the marginalized. In short, the outsiders. But this week, what’s on my mind is something a little on the opposition side, or what I’d like to think of as the middle. Most everyone who knows me would describe me...
software

How Hard Is Software Supposed to Be?

So last week I took the Memorial Day holiday off from everything: no blog, no book project...nothing. Just me and my wife enjoying the day off from work. We don't get that many of those together, so it was nice to just hang out, sleep late, and watch mindless TV shows...