Saturday, July 6, 2013

Spam and Authors

"If variety is the spice of life, marriage is the big can of leftover Spam." - Johnny Carson

Hey!!!  I like Spam!!!

Then again, I like marriage, too.  At least, I like the institution of marriage.  I also like the practice of marriage, at least one time out of three. 

That said, boy, do I like Spam.  I especially like it sliced thin, then fried, and placed either atop a hamburger patty or beneath a poached egg.

I don't like it in my mailbox.  Now, that's not to say that if you sent me a can of my favorite processed meat food through the Postal Service, I'd be upset--I would not.  In fact, I'd likely call you to thank you.  Yes, it would probably cost more to mail the can than to buy one here, but still, as they say with most wonderful gifts, it's the thought that counts, right?

On the other hand, just because I changed postal service addresses does not mean I am interested in comparing insurance rates at my new digs.  And back when my stepson got a parking citation, you'd'a thought every lawyer in town wanted direct access right into his wallet, the way the cards and letters poured in.  Don't need that, nor do I need home refinancing.  And no, by the way, I don't want a new car.

Well, that last is a lie.  I do want a new car, I do, I do.  I just don't want the new car payment that goes with the sexy new car smelly-smell. 

Electronic spam is even worse, isn't it?  That's in part thanks to how cheap it is to send it.  It costs so little, in fact, that it doesn't need to be targeted at all!  I have received over the years an amazing number of e-mails offering me a great deal on breast enhancement, for example.  Nope, you got the wrong guy for that; I wanna go the other direction.  Meanwhile, I just checked my spam folder in my e-mail, and I've got an offer for a longer-term (than what?) loan.  And oh, Lending Tree wants to lend me money for home improvements on the house I'm renting.  Not to mention the excitement I received when I read that I could receive $2500 in a direct deposit immediately!

And according to this one, I can "follow my instincts and have sex with...."  Oh, my.  And "Hi, it's Chandra, wanna be my...." oh, no, I really don't even know you well enough to send you e-mail, and I'm perfectly happy with...well, never mind.

It's incredible to me that they get people to respond.

Evil spammers, they are!  I would never, ever, not in a million bazillion kerjillion years, never ever spam people!

...except, I have.

Fellow Indie author Sinead MacDughlas recently used me as an example in her blog post "Spamming Spammy Spamerson."  A good example, I should add, not a bad one.  Please, though, clicky over to her blog using my clicky linky thingie, and do her the justice of a read through the entertaining way she discusses the topic.

She's entertaining, isn't she?  Oh, and she's right.

I've been guilty, in fact.  Not as much in my primary social medium, Facebook.  I like Facebook.  Granted, my personal page always gets me in trouble with old friends who have different political views than mine, but I do love the ability at a single glance to catch up on old friends, old classmates, young folks I know through school and work, and other people.  Plus, I get to look at cute kitty pictures, which are kind of like bacon for the eyes.

Thus, I tend not to spam on Facebook.  Worst I'll do, normally, is link my most recent blog post to my main page and my author page and the blog post challenge I'm in.  A new book comes out and I hit a few links to it, too, but I don't think I'm bad about it.

No, it's Twitter that I've been bad at.  I, honestly, can't bring myself to partake in real conversations there.  I log in, and blam!  A whole series of various comments, all 140 characters or fewer, fill my screen with a wide range of dissimilar topics.  Then I toss a link or a quote into the turmoil, and it just disappears.  And then I run away, screaming.

For a while I was scheduling posts on Twitter with the publishing group I used to be a member of.  Every week, sometimes multiple times a week, I would--or I was supposed to, anyway--schedule a series of Tweets regarding each member of the group.

No, that's not unusual; back when I was with Trestle Press they asked the same thing of us.  The world of advertising calls it "cross promotion."  They say it's very effective.

I call it "cross spamming."  I say it's stupid.

Thursday of this week, the Fourth of July holiday, I was invited to an awesomely awesome dinner party.  The owners of a local restaurant, Gus's Fried Chicken, (no, sorry, I mistyped the link--it's Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken) put the party on, and boy did they feed us incredibly.  I can only say I've never had fried catfish that was so consistently delicious. The fish was juicy and flaky, the crust crunchy and just a little spicy.  It was--well, I literally licked my fingers.

It was a fun party, indeed.  Did I show up with copies of my book?  No.  Did I miss out on marketing opportunities as a result?  Possibly, but I don't think I missed out on anything real or important.  People don't go to a party to make business or reading connections.  People go to meet people.  If a business, or a reading, connection is made, that's great, but it's generally secondary.

I noticed that even in the James River Writers group in Richmond.  I showed up, excited as all hell, to a Writers Wednesday event with fresh copies of my books as soon as they arrived from the printer.  Very few people expressed any interest at all in reading them.  One person was even laudably honest in refusing a copy, explaining that he had plenty to read and wouldn't do a copy justice.

Bottom line, I've come to believe, is that people rarely read things just because those things are shoved under their noses.  Whether the shoving is physical at a writers event or electronic as a Tweet into the megaverse, it doesn't seem to matter; my sales don't seem to see an uptick at all.  

I will say this, though.  I also follow a bunch of authors on Twitter, and many of them are far worse than I.  As soon as you click Follow, they have a little robot in the background that tosses a direct message at you that goes something like this: "O hai thx fr follow buy my book The Best Book Ever buy here www.theURLtoPurchase."

Ick.  I can count on zero fingers the number of books I've even looked at due to such a Tweet.

On the other hand, last night I followed a fellow author who sent me a personal message in response.  "hey, what genres do you write in?"  Hey, that's kinda cool, even if it might be automated.  I doubt this one was, but you never know.  Regardless, the Twitter user and I have been carrying on a conversation since, and it's been fun.

I guess Twitter can be useful for conversing.

And remember: Spam is bad.  Unless it comes out of a can, and then it's good.



  1. Haha! Excellent! I'm so glad the post reached you in a meaningful way. Twitter scares me, too. It's like yelling into an empty room and hoping someone hears the echo. Or like fishing during a thunderstorm. ;P
    I'm as awkward in there as I was in high-school, but I'm trying...

  2. I couldn't get the hang of twitter... If it isn't a place to post a discussion of your last post, then... What's the point.

    Spam can be good... Matter of fact, there's a play making the rounds... Spamalot...

    1. Ah! I love Monty Python! :D
      I'll take their kind of spam any day!

    2. I agree with Sinead. Monty Python movies are awesome.