Nobody likes a braggart, but all of us want to brag…at least a little. As we writers move into the Digital Age publishing paradigm, we often find ourselves in the position of having to market. Ah, but here’s the pickle. If we toot our horns too much, we can risk turning others off.
I’ve been coaching writers for social media success for quite some time, and I tend to see two distinct camps on the social media front—Obnoxious Ollie and Super Secret Susan.
Obnoxious Ollie is easy to spot. Who could miss this guy? He has four different Twitter identities, so he can tell us how awesome his books are four times MORE. This guy is everywhere on social media (and often automated). His tweets generally look something like this:
@OllieAuthor Man of the Year is hailed as the best book since the Bible. If you love Twilight, Harry Potter and Dianetics you will LOVE Man of the Year, a memoir about the world’s most interesting man. Too interesting for Big Six publishers, so now available for FREE! on KDP.
@AuthorOllie Man of the Year is hailed as the best book since the Bible. If you love Twilight, Harry Potter and Dianetics you will LOVE Man of the Year, a memoir about the world’s most interesting man. Too interesting for Big Six publishers, so now available for FREE! on KDP.
@ManoftheYear Man of the Year is hailed as the best book since the Bible. If you love Twilight, Harry Potter and Dianetics you will LOVE Man of the Year, a memoir about the world’s most interesting man. Too interesting for Big Six publishers, so now available for FREE! on KDP.
@OllieWriter Man of the Year is hailed as the best book since the Bible. If you love Twilight, Harry Potter and Dianetics you will LOVE Man of the Year, a memoir about the world’s most interesting man. Too interesting for Big Six publishers, so now available for FREE! on KDP.
Yeah, because we didn’t realize these tweets all came from the same dude. Really? Just…really.
Obnoxious Ollie doesn’t understand that social media is social and he looks for every opportunity to
shove his book up our nose self-promote and let us know how amazing he is.
Super Secret Susan
Super Secret Susan, on the other hand, rarely tells people she is a writer and she would DIE if people knew she had a book for sale. Super Secret Susan is sweet and interesting and genuinely kind…she just never tells anyone that she has a book for sale. Often this writer uses a cutesy moniker @WriterLady and her blog, Rainbow Kitten Fairy Dreams never lists her NAME or her BOOKS. In fact, if you want to actually purchase Super Secret Susan’s books, you will need to contact the FBI and they will get a message to her…maybe.
There are way too many Super Secretive Susans, but this gal is actually at far less risk for poisoning her on-line presence. Her social media might not do anything to drive book sales, but at least it isn’t going to make others want to stab her in the face.
So let’s talk a little about Obnoxious Ollie, because many of us are so afraid of being THAT GUY, that we shy too far to the Super Secret Susan extreme.
When is It Okay to Brag? Don’t…
Advertise Our Personal Awesomeness
Unsubstantiated self-praise is just annoying, and highly likely to
violate social norms make people want to shove you in a microwave.
“My books are sheer genius. Why wouldn’t they be? They were written by a genius. ME.”
Use Someone Else’s Glory to Make Ourselves Look Good
Let the other person shine. When we try to share the shine, we just spotlight that we are an a$$clown.
“You liked Piper Bayard’s book? I gave her all her ideas. In fact, she is lost without me.”
Fixate on One Achievement
“Can we talk about how I made #1 in the Men’s Midget Sci-Fi Steampunk Romance Category on Amazon?”
Use a Disclaimer to Talk About Our Success
“I’m so sorry your Aunt Myrtle passed on. Well, not to brag, but my book has helped people cope with grieving. They were so caught up in its AWESOMENESS, they forgot to cry…well, until the end when they realized the book was OVER. Now free on KDP *elbow nudge, wink, wink* Free all week, but time’s running out .”
Make False Claims
Okay, DUH. Writing our own reviews is just D-U-M-B. Don’t do it. Don’t say your book is the best thing since The Hunger Games. If other people, readers, reviewers want to say that, then fine. If we say it, we are not objective so it is automatically a false claim.
Talk About Money or Sales
It’s gauche to brag you make six figures at a party and it’s gauche to do it on-line. If people want to know your sales, how much money you made, how many books you sold, they can marry you. It’s tacky to ask and tacky to tell. I know this is a fine line for some of us NF folk, but we will talk testimonials in a moment.
I’ve seen some authors blunder this BIG TIME. If you are using your blog to tell the world how you sold zillions of books and now you don’t take WATER baths, when you can just scrub yourself in crisp Benjamins, we all just hate you. There is a time and place for this. Just trust me.
I remember when I first indie published.
My first royalty check could have covered a really nice dinner…if we bailed on the check. The day after I got my wimpy little check another author bragged on his blog how many books he was selling and how much money he was making.
I cried for three days.
In this new paradigm we all need each other, and if our behavior is turning our fellow writers into cutters, it’s hard to get their support when we need it.
Bragging is Okay When…
We Brag About Others
This is one of the reasons I feel we need to actively participate on social media. We meet people and get to know them, so we quickly see who deserves a pat on the back. We can use bragging to forge relationships and help others navigate the murky waters of meeting others on-line, by being a Connector…
“How are you? Have you met @KMHuber? She is one of my blog followers and she has the biggest heart I have EVER seen. You really should meet. She will help Twitter be more fun for you.”
“You have a hard time plotting? Get to know James Scott Bell. He is an AMAZING author and teacher.”
“Oh, sure. Jillian Dodd has been super successful as an indie. Talk to her for some business tips. Doesn’t hurt that she’s super nice and works her tail off.
People can’t get enough of this type of bragging so long as it is genuine. We can spot a phoney from a mile away, so fake praise, even if we are praising others, can ruin our credibility. I NEVER praise a book, a blog or an author unless I have vetted them first.
I once had a friend who got very angry with me because I wouldn’t RT his blogs. I told him (nicely, gently and delicately) that, if he wanted me to RT his blogs, then he needed to write better blogs. Sometimes we have to use tough love and if the person stops being your friend, then so be it. They weren’t that vested in the relationship anyway, and they shouldn’t put us in that spot if they can’t take an honest answer.
Protect your name, protect your brand. Don’t just praise anyone. If people can’t trust our praise, they won’t trust us (our brand) and that’s bad juju.
But, if you engage on social media, it shouldn’t be long until you spot someone worthy of your praise. Often when we see someone who is always actively praising others, it makes us curious to know more about them. Why? Because we can’t help but LIKE them. We support who we LIKE. Not rocket science, here. It’s the Law of Reciprocity and it works wonders.
Bragging is Okay in Our Bios
Want to tell people you made a best-seller list? Want to tell people you sold 10,000 books? 100,000? A MILLION? Go for it! Put it in your author bio, web site bio, social media bios, as part of an e-mail signature or even on your blog in the About Me section or in the footer. You can also brag in a testimonial for someone else. Those are natural places we will look for people to list their achievements, sales numbers, rave reviews and praise.
For instance, we WANT to know if someone went to Harvard, their degree, achievements, clubs, titles…on their resume. THAT is a good place to tell us about achievements.
I graduated top of my class from Harvard with a 4.0 and was voted Most Likely to Succeed.
See? Natural. But if we put this same sentence on Twitter or at a cocktail party when no one asks? We just become That A$$ from Harvard who graduated top of her class, voted Most Likely to Be Unfollowed and Talked About…in a BAD Way.
Same with our books. People want to know if we are a best-selling author and they won’t be offended to see it in our bios. But if we tweet about it all the time and never shut up about our achievements and how much money we are making?
This is one of the reasons that reviews and testimonials are great to have for our website. So, if you want to highlight some reader reviews on your web site, go for it (so long as they were written by REAL reviewers/readers and not by you).
Bragging is Okay ONCE, Just Keep It Quick and Keep It Brief
Social media is social, so if you win a contest, grab a #1 spot, land an agent, or get a publishing deal, we DO want to hear about it and celebrate your victory. But, after that initial announcement? NO MAS. When we keep tooting our own horn, we really risk becoming an Obnoxious Ollie. Writing a tweet about major sales? Awesome. Writing an entire blog? Eh…watch it.
Also, I would never brag about money. If you want to brag, feel free to tell people how many books you sold (and let them do the math), but even then BE CAREFUL. I know sometimes this is necessary for those of us teaching “How To,” but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t handle this with some class. Those who brag about money will quickly turn others off.
The cool thing is that, if you are doing social media properly, then you will have forged some great relationships, so WE can brag about you because you deserve it…and also so we aren’t bragging about ourselves .
Brag if Someone Asks
If someone asks, then go ahead and tell (only if you feel comfortable with it). There are situations, especially for the NF expert, where people will want to know why we are qualified to give an opinion. THIS is the time to tell them about your #1 best-selling slot or how many people you have helped, etc.
If someone asks you how much money you are making, you don’t have to tell them that. They were rude for asking. And you don’t need to tell them your weight, age, or bra-size either. They should know better than being so gauche.
What are your thoughts? Are you tired of the non-stop self-promotion? Has an agent, publisher or marketing consultant put you in this awkward position? Do you disagree with me and don’t feel it is never wrong to talk about our accomplishments? Am I being too old-fashioned? What are some other situations that might be considered rude/offensive/sticky? How do you recommend we handle those situations? Have you ever found yourself at the blunt end of Obnoxious Ollie? How did you handle him? Are you an Obnoxious Ollie or a Super Secret Susan?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of December I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
WINNER OF OCTOBER CONTEST 20 pages of edit is THE HOOK. Please send your 5000 word Word document to kristen at wana intl dot com with WINNING in the title so I see it.
WINNER OF NOVEMBER is LISA WEIDMEIER. Please send your 5000 word Word document to kristen at wana intl dot com with WINNING in the title so I see it.
WINNER OF MANSFIELD MAGAZINE (10 PAGE EDIT) GRACE. Thank you for supporting my new blogging venture. By the way, the contest at Mansfield Magazine has AWESOME odds of winning. Please send your 2500 word Word document to kristen at wana intl dot com with WINNING in the title so I see it.
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.