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If you are:

a). a Facebook friend I don’t remember actually having any relationship with, online or off, and

b). you send me a link to your Kickstarter or your Amazon author page, or even a request to “like” your website,

c). by private message, and

d). that’s the only contact we’ve ever had since we “friended” each other, then

e). I will unfriend you.

If that was the desired outcome of your promotional activity, then we are golden! But I suspect it was not.

Self-publishers and other indie artists have simply got to learn how to properly promote their brands and their personae online. It’s not about sending random, unsolicited pitches to people you hardly know, if at all. You can’t just hit me with a spam and expect any kind of happy response, even if you “apologize” for spamming in your spam. Extra demerits for

f). typing your message in all caps.

It’s not that I’m angry. I just don’t have time for this kind of “friendship.”

Kickstarter has done a lot of good. But it is also largely responsible for turning an entire generation of artists and writers into spammers. Same goes for ebook self-publishing platforms.

Using social media to promote yourself and your projects is not a bad thing in and of itself. Using social media clumsily and stupidly is the problem. Spam is spam, whether it comes from a multinational conglomerate, a Nigerian scammer, or Suzy Hipster who just finished her first novel, of which she is very ironically proud.

And spam doesn’t work. It is, in fact, one of the most inefficient promotional methodologies ever conceived. Those penis pill people do it because they can sell a couple of dozen units on a couple of hundred million emails, cheaply. If you’re not operating at that capacity, reaching that many people, you don’t have a chance. (And if you are, then you may be looking at a federal investigation, so I’d lay low).

Good, non-spammy social media promotion takes a light touch. It takes sincerity, and believability, and it has to go both ways. Make real friendships. Show genuine interest in your online friends’ projects too, for example — or in whatever else they’re sharing with you (their photos, their thoughts, their political rants). Don’t just collect a bunch of “targets” to push your stuff on. Again: not for any moral reason, but because it just doesn’t work.

In other words, good social media promotion takes a great deal of time — both in the sense of your butt in the chair working it, and in the sense of elapsed time — which is why so many fail. Everybody wants an instant fix. That’s the spammer’s mentality. You have to cultivate your relationships for years, and build strong and meaningful ties to the people you’re talking to online, before you can expect anybody to have any interest in your projects, especially if you want those people to turn around and promote your stuff to their own audiences — and even more especially if you’re charging money for your projects.

Sorry, but that is the way it works.

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