Subtitle: Self-promo, Spam and Sockpuppetry.
Let's talk a little about promotion, shall we?
There's a huge difference between self-promotion, the hard sell, and spam.
Here, have some examples. I love examples. I'm borrowing part of a piece I wrote on Skyla's blog about Twitter douchebaggery here:
Good Writing Tweet: "Hey, my new book just came out. I'm so excited! http:// linketylinklink"
Douchebag Writing Tweet: "Hey, my new book just came out. Buy it! http:// linketylinklink"
Next day: "Hey, my new book just came out yesterday. Buy it! http:// linketylinklink"
Day after: "Hey, my new book just came out a few days ago. Buy it! http:// linketylinklink"
Until finally: "Hey, my new book just came out...last year. Buy it! http:// linketylinklink"
These are not tweets. This is SPAM, or spam-linking.
Now, self-promo is essential in the writing industry. If people don't know about your work, they can't buy your work, and word of mouth is still a huge deal in the literary world. But there's a HUGE difference between promotion and spamming. No one likes to be bombarded with bullshit.
Speaking of bullshit, let's talk about sockpuppetry. Not sure what that is? I'll tell you.
Sockpuppetry is when you create multiple accounts (or use a friend's/family's/coworker's) to leave glowing praise (like Amazon's 5 star reviews) on your own work. It's obvious to everyone who's not a complete dumbshit what you're doing (if they bother to look at the reviews themselves instead of just the star rating), especially when you use THE SAME WORDING in every "review." This is just low, desperate and completely pathetic. You're not clever. Socking has been done since marketing began (you know – just get a bunch of your friends or family to say good things about your shit so other people will buy it!), and it's always been bullshit. I understand why people do this, but really…is your self-esteem (and sales - you're not fooling anyone) so low that you have to pump yourself up by kissing your own ass? Because that's what you're really doing, you know. Well, that and lying. Yeah. Lying. Just because it's done under a username that's "not yours" doesn't mean it's not STILL YOU saying it. Dumbass.
Of course, if you're not comfortable with lying, you can always pay people to leave you 5 star reviews. Just $5! Note: This is also pathetic and lame. Just sayin'.
Also, the hard sell? Yeah, you want to know what that is? That's "BUY MY BOOK!" posted EVERYWHERE you visit. Every e-mail you send, every tweet, every Facebook status update, every blog post…everything you do will have something linking a prospective reader to buy your shit.
In the words of Pink Floyd: "This will not do."
The hard sell never works. It just doesn't. Maybe you know it by another name. Pressure sales. Imagine it like this:
You have a friend. This friend sells cars or insurance or coffee. You see this friend all the time for whatever reason, and you can't get through an evening without them trying to sell you their product every time they open their mouth. Everything you do they find a way to tie to their market. Depending on your level of tact and patience, you put up with this for however long. But eventually (this may be sooner rather than later for the more stabby amongst us *cough*me*cough*) you get tired of it. Now, how you deal with it is, again, however you deal with it. You might tactfully change the subject (which they'll find a way to bring back around to their sales pitch). You might slowly back away from them/stop spending time with them/make excuses to not be around them.
Me? I get right in their face about it and say something about how fucking rude they are and how I'm not spending time with them to buy their shit, in fact they've made it so that even if I were remotely interested in whatever shit they're trying to sell me, I'm NEVER going to buy their shit/patronize their establishment, and if they're just going to try and sell me something the whole time they have my attention, we're gonna have a fight and I'm gonna win it so get the hell out of my face with that shit before I stab you with a fucking knitting needle, thank you!
Of course, that's just me. I'm not known for my tact or patience or bullshit tolerance. Or, as I once said to a coworker when she asked me why I smile all the time, "It's not a smile. I'm imagining their < our customers > heads on pikes out front, serving as a warning to others to not piss me off."
She laughed and thought I was kidding. But I digress.
So, there you have it. To recap:
Self-promotion: Good, necessary, tactful. Use on release day/sparingly. If people want to buy your shit, they will. You don't have to beat them over the head with "I'M A WRITER AND I WRITE STUFF AND I HAVE BOOKS GO BUY THEM!" every single time you open your mouth. They can perfectly well ask you or visit your website or even a bookstore and find your stuff for themselves!
Sockpuppetry: Bad, pathetic, lies. Getting your friends or your mom (or just using their accounts) to cut and paste a fake, glowing "review" of your work that YOU WROTE for the sole purpose of upping your star/rating so people will buy your shit is just lame. Don't do it.
Spam/The Hard Sell: I hate you. Die in a fire. And take your bullshit work with you.