Throwback Thursday: 5 Mistakes Authors Make on Social Media


Throwback Thursday is a series where we take a look back at some of AWP’s most popular posts. Enjoy!

by Michael Cristiano

I thought writing a novel was the hard part. I thought endless drafting and editing and proofreading involved the most work when it came to being a writer.

I was wrong. My debut novel has been on sale for a little less than a month, and I came to the conclusion very early on in its release that writing it was the easy (and far more enjoyable) part. Why? you ask.

Marketing. Marketing is a hard and seemingly endless process. Why is it so hard?

Let’s put it this way: how do you get someone to care about the color of the underwear you’re wearing? 9 times out of 10, you don’t, and if you do, chances are the person you inform will give you a look and move on. That’s what marketing feels like: throwing underwear at random and hoping someone is a dirty underwear collector.

But I digress. This post isn’t about my trials of marketing at large but rather a very specific aspect of marketing: social media. And instead of telling you what I think works and has worked for me, I’m going to tell you what hasn’t worked and why.


The Insta-Direct Message

Let’s be clear about one thing: the auto-insta-direct message after I follow an author on twitter or like an author on Facebook is not okay. I don’t want to be thanked. I’m following out of interest not because I need to be congratulated for typical social media behavior.

Wanna know what’s worse? The auto-DM TELLING ME TO BUY AN AUTHOR’S BOOK! I don’t care if it’s on sale or has 100,000 5-star reviews or was written when you were spun out on heroin and disillusionment. The minute–nay, second, I get an auto-DM telling me to “check out my book”, I make a conscious decision to never read it. NEVER!

I even had one guy tell me he’d eat shards of glass to get me to read a free sample of his novel. I told him, “video tape it, or it didn’t happen”. He didn’t get my passive aggression.

/end rant.

Unrelenting “Buy My Book!” Drivel

I guess I just don’t understand when publishing became so spammy. Auto-DMs are annoying, but what’s more annoying is an author overloading my Facebook or Twitter feed with “Buy my Book!” or something else along those lines. It becomes even more annoying when said author spends money (this happens!) on “promotional companies” who literally just regurgitate the same message over and over from different spam websites (all of which have little to no followers) and post it on the author’s social media on their behalf.

Here’s the lowdown: I (and other readers, I’m sure) are more inclined to look into what an author has written if the author has posted something interesting and/or unrelated to your work itself. For example, if an author writes an excellent blog post on publishing or politics or the state of endangered iguanas, I may just be tempted to click the “My Books” tab on the website and then decide if I want to read.

Authors should strive to get organic readers that way.


Following to Unfollow

It goes like this: I’m on twitter, minding my own business, when I post something or retweet something with a popular hashtag. I then get a follow soon after by Billy Bob’s Stories about Iguanas. “I like iguanas,” I say. So I follow back.

I get off twitter, get to the WIP I should be working on, and instead of actually writing I end up back on twitter an hour later. But what is that? My follower count went down? That’s odd.

It’s also frustrating when I discover that Billy Bob’s Stories about Iguanas has unfollowed me almost immediately after I followed, and that’s why his follower count seems ridiculously high in comparison to his following count.

How deceitful, Billy! How unbecoming!

With these people, I immediately unfollow back. I find it annoying, rude, and egotistic when authors do this. And the worst part is when those same users follow me again months later and attempt to get me into another follow/unfollow bait and switch. You aren’t J.K. Rowling or Justin Bieber (not that I’m sure you’d want to be). Tricking people into following is annoying and definitely isn’t going to make me want to buy an author’s book.


Responding to Negative Reviews

[ ] Despite the fact that flame-throwing is entertaining, funny, and something I can’t help but watch, it’s also cringe-worthy and unsavory for readers. Don’t make a bad name for yourself by responding to negative reviews (and I mean AT ALL). Do what other writers do: get a glass of wine, read a good book, and move on.



The number one mistake an author can make is acting like they are the only person on social media. These authors don’t interact, they don’t post anything but their own work, and they act like they’re a celebrity like Kim Kardashian who can get attention simply for existing.

The sad news is that you are not Kim Kardashian. At the end of the day, no one will care that you’ve written a book. You need to makepeople care. You need to engage with readers and prospective readers, you need to contribute positively to a community. And guess what? Doing so is easier than ever before thanks to social media.

What’s your biggest social media pet peeve?




Original article here.

Guest post contributed by Michael Cristiano. He works in editing and acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press, and his freelance work has appeared on websites such as Nexopia, FluentU, and BlushPost.


21 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: 5 Mistakes Authors Make on Social Media”

  1. Fantastic information here! I’m really struggling a lot with the marketing right now and would agree that it is much more difficult than writing or editing. I loved the dirty underwear analogy! I had never heard of the follow to unfollow trick, but will keep on my toes about that one. Bottom line…I’ve seriously thought of downsizing my social media activity because I’m tired of hitting my head against a brick wall. My pet peeve…if someone comes to my site and comments, I always check it out and try to interact. I keep interacting, and no response from them. I’ve had people ask me to like their pages, and then never return the favor, after receiving a lecture about how it’s nice to support one another. Ugh! Just seems like a game to me, and there are days I really don’t want to play! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You are spot on with this!
    It took me awhile to accept that’s just the way it is on social media. But also there are some really good people out there who want to see you succeed and are willing to support you. We just have to stay true to ourselves and be more other-centered.
    Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with all of this. The brow beating and direct messaging is slimy car salesman creepy. I also have a big issue with arrogance on social media. People that have kind of a lofty opinion of themselves because they wrote a book. Congratulations, I wrote one too? Lol

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yes. All of this. Marketing sucks. And being marketed to sucks even more. If I hear one more marketing guru tell me I need a pop-up window with a squeeze page connected to a series of form marketing e-mails, I’m going to want to throat punch them. Actually, I kind of already do want to throat punch them. Every single one.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Judging by the comments so far, we’ve all been hitting our heads against the same brick wall. I only took the plunge into social media because some marketing is necessary (eeeek) and you ‘can’ meet some interesting new/old authors that way – but those that keep drowning my twitter feed with the same old self-promotion posts gets pruned quickly.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ahhh, this was glorious! I totally relate! My biggest pet peeve is the self absorbed bloggers who talk themselves up and only post “updates” concerning their projects. I smirk when I see that, no matter how many followers they have, they only get 1-5 Likes and no comments! And I’m like, “You wonder why…?”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. For us newbies, it is trial by error most of the time. I look to other bloggers and authors with experience for help. I have had advice from some that are your complaints. I acknowledge it is a long and difficult project to get your work recognized and your books sold. If you don’t persist putting your name, etc out there, no one will find you. I hear you with this post, there is a right and wrong way of doing it. Thank you for your advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I believe in organic following. I have been facing this follow-unfollow thing since so long on Instagram. One day the followers grow from 135 to 148 and after 2 days it goes back to 136 or 137. It’s frustrating enough to watch the users using such tricks.

    Liked by 1 person

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