A few weeks ago I did a blog post 16 People to Follow on Twitter (if you missed it, you can catch up here), which got me thinking: What about the people you should avoid? I’ve pulled together a “Twitter Unfollow List” of 16 of the people that you should stay far, far away from!
- Pseudo Sam
Something you’ll realize quickly as you begin your journey in self-publishing is that everyone is an expert. It’s up to you to do your research and separate out the experts, the thought leaders, from those who merely have an opinion. Let’s delve a little further into the different types of “Pseudo Sams” you’ll encounter on Twitter.
- Coach Clueless
Everyone is a coach these days, don’t you agree? Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but the problem is the industry is saturated. If you’re looking for a coach to help you do anything from grow your business, to building your social media presence or just simply teach you how to sell more books, make sure their profile reflects their area of expertise. I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but it really isn’t always clear. People launching their businesses may have great profiles, a snazzy website and send out tweets or Facebook updates all day long but take a deeper look into who they are, who they’ve worked with and what they’re doing for themselves.
I often like to tell people that I’m like the cobbler who goes home to kids with no shoes – meaning that I have very little time to market my own books because I’m busy working for my authors. At the same time I do actually find time to market my own stuff, even if it’s just doing small strategies on a daily basis.
- Fast-talking Fred
Fred is the publicist that guarantees you big sales, which always makes my head spin. If you ever see anyone claiming big sales, or a big ROI, run for the hills. I know it sounds tempting but trust me, no one can promise you this. And though you may not see it in their social media updates, if it’s on their website or any of their sales material, I would take it with a grain of salt, or several. No one can promise sales or a big ROI unless they’re buying up your books and even then, this practice is sketchy at best.
- Cheap Review Charlie
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a firm in India and they want to do book reviews, ten reviews for my books for $50 or some ridiculously low figure like that. In theory this may seem like a great idea, you want reviews, right? But here’s something to consider: how good are they? What I mean is, are the reviews written well, do the readers read your book? And, not to offend any international firms but one problem we often have with anything outsourced (and one reason we haven’t done it for years) is that they may not have a good grasp of the English language, and they may not understand nuances that are specifically US related.
Now you may think that the biggest issue here is that you’re paying for reviews and yes, I get that that’s a “thing” now with Amazon – but you may hire blog companies to do a blog tour with a guaranteed number of reviews. The difference here is that companies who offer “just reviews” for a low price are probably flying in the face of every single Amazon term of service, and, again, if reviews aren’t well-written it can really (negatively) affect how your book is perceived by your potential buyers.
- Spell Checker Chad
Much like everyone is a coach, I also see a lot of editors without extensive resumes. To me this is a big problem because a good editor needs to have experience, bottom line. Yes, we can all spot a typo here and there, that’s what the spell check function is for, but when you’re hiring someone to edit your book, you want someone with experience, not just in your genre but overall.
Some things to look for are:
– Other books they’ve edited.
– What’s their background/education?
– Did they come from a traditional publisher or major in English or Creative Arts?
– How long have they been in business?
- Susie Spammer
Some years ago I worked with an author who had bought a package from their publisher to help “Get the message out everywhere.” What this meant was that the publisher was going to blast thousands of media outlets with an email or fax. You know what that’ll do? Absolutely nothing expect piss off the media receiving the garbage messages.
While it’s a nice thought in theory, “I’m going to pitch everyone,” trust me when I say that not everyone is interested in what you’re writing, nor should everyone be pitched.
Targeted outreach is a far better strategy then just blasting the universe with your book.
- Clip Art Carol
So here’s a tip when looking for someone to design your book cover: don’t just hire a designer. Hire a designer who knows the book cover world, there’s a big difference. Take a look at the book covers on their site and if there aren’t any, ask them if they’ve ever done this before. Sometimes cover designers will keep book covers on a separate, dedicated site – but most of them, the serious ones, have a page on their website dedicated to this.
Also, I want to say a word about cheap book covers. While it’s true that you don’t have to pay a fortune for covers, you also shouldn’t just shop by price. Remember your book is your resume, don’t bury a good book in a bad cover.
Sometimes authors will hire cover designers based on price, even if their covers aren’t good – that’s a bad model. If you don’t like their designs, pay a little more for someone who knows what they are doing, you’ll be glad you did.
And finally – though this isn’t technically part of this bullet it’s still worth mentioning – please stay away from hand-drawn book covers. Nothing screams: I’m an amateur! faster than a hand-drawn book cover. Occasionally (very occasionally) an author can pull this off if, let’s say, the book is an art book or a book about drawing or something that ties it all together. Otherwise, stay far, far away from these covers. No one else finds it charming. Just messy.
- Loquacious Louise
Some people will tell you that you must blog daily and every time I hear that, my head spins. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have that much to say. Bottom line is this: you don’t need to blog daily to be effective. If you want to blog daily because you have a lot to say, that’s fine – but if it’s not bringing in a ton more traffic why bother?
So how much should you blog? Twice a week at the most – in fact we’re dropping our weekly blogging down to once a week. Better to have great content once or twice a week, than five days of so-so posts.
- Social Media Sally
There are going to be some experts out there that say you don’t need a website – just a social media presence. They’re wrong.
Why do I say that? Authors ask me this all the time: do I need a website? I answer them: Does your book need a book cover? YES. So you should have a website. It doesn’t have to be extensive and complex, but you should have one. Consider it your home base, it shows you take yourself seriously – which is the first step to becoming a success.
- Hyper-connected Helen
Similar to Social Media Sally, there are some experts out there that say you need to be on every social media platform there is.
How many of us have the time to devote to multiple platforms? Here’s my advice: don’t be everywhere, just be everywhere that matters. It’s nearly impossible to be effective if you’re on every single social media site, so why would you even try?
- Cookie Cutter Carl
Full disclosure: we have a catalog of services we offer – we don’t “invent” new programs for every author who comes to us for marketing – but we do customize everything. Most reputable marketing firms do this. Buying a one-size-fits-all program generally doesn’t work – or doesn’t work well.
Though we may work with 12 books in the same genre, each of them has different characters, or in the case of non-fiction, a different hook or (for either genre) a different backstory. Having a set of programs is fine, cookie cutter generally isn’t.
- “Good Enough” Guy
A few weeks ago I had an author come to us for marketing, she’d been interviewing several companies, one of whom told her that she doesn’t need a lot of reviews on Amazon, just a few will do it to get the buzz going.
Unless you are a celebrity author with a huge following, this is not even close to being true. Reviews matter. Lots and lots of reviews matter. Think 100 or more to really show you’re a powerhouse in your genre.
- Disconnected Dean
Occasionally, you will run across a social media expert who has a gazillion followers, but zero engagement online. How did they gain all of those followers with so little engagement? Some years back there were a lot of people buying followers and a lot of companies selling them. So, you could go from 5 Twitter peeps to 50,000 almost overnight. Sounds great, right? Well, not so much. Having a lot of followers with very little engagement is not a good sign, it means that your followers are either bots or dead accounts or people just not interested in what you have to say. Don’t pay attention to social media experts, or so-called experts, with thousands of followers and very little engagement. This is also true of people who just spend their days pushing tons of content without responding to retweets/shares or commenting on what other people are sharing. There’s a reason that the first word in social media is “social.”
- Traditionalist Tom
Traditionalist Tom is someone who completely discounts any alternative forms of publishing outside of the traditional publishing house. Of all of the people on this list, Traditionalist Tom is the one that bothers me the most. Traditional publishing is great – I have a lot of friends at traditional houses but here’s the thing: it’s not for everyone. The ones it works for know what to demand and know how to get a contract written in their favor. Publishing and how you publish should be your choice based on the options for your genre, your platform and the current market. Do your research and look for the best options. Traditional publishing may seem more glamorous to you now, but is it really the right way to go? Don’t follow someone who says it’s their way or the highway – about anything. Yes, some things are non-negotiable like having a good book cover, a well-written and well-edited book – but how you publish it should be your choice.
- D-I-Y Dave
There are some experts out there who really put the self in self-publishing. They’re the experts who will tell you that you need to do everything on your own to save money and be successful. While I appreciate the spirit in which this advice is offered, unless you are the most multi-faceted, multi-talented person to ever get into publishing, you’re probably not great at all things, nor should you try to be.
When I was first in business I did my own accounting and let me tell you, I suck at math. My dad was a math genius and the apple, as they say, fell pretty far from the tree. I realized that if I didn’t hire someone to do my accounting, I’d never be able to grow my business. When I hire someone that’s always the factor that helps determine whether I need to bring in a new person: will it help me grow. If the answer is yes, I’ll hire – if it’s not, I’ll reconsider whether it’s even important for me to keep doing this.
- Bestseller Bob
Bestseller Bob is the expert who has a library full of tips to make your book the next bestseller, but has no bestseller of his own. When presented with claims such as Bob’s, you should dig a little deeper and see if this is just a sales pitch, or a statement based on experience either working with bestselling authors or having one of their books hit the bestseller list.
I bought a book recently, about how to hit the bestseller list – I was curious you know, to see the slant the author had taken as well as the tips they offered. Turns out, the author had never hit any bestseller list, nor had they worked with a bestselling author – ever. This was just a book about tactics they’d read about, or others had shared, cobbled together in a book. No, I’m not making this up.
When it comes to the “experts,” it’s vital that they practice what they preach; if they aren’t taking their own advice, why should you?
There are a lot of “experts” on Twitter, but this list will help you to separate the experts from the Pseudo Sams.