PR advice: don’t be a douchecanoe

Hiya, peeps!

I see there is a scary POLAR VORTEX that has descended upon parts of the country. This sounds like some sort of freaky space/time conundrum that involves cold. Regardless, it’s butt-ass cold out there for a lot of you, so take precautionary measures.

I will now provide authors with some hot air advice to warm you up regarding marketing and promo. This list is by no means exhaustive (nor is it meant to be), and I’ve mentioned a few of these points at varying times on my varied blogs. Just a few quickie tips that hopefully will keep you from being branded Sir Royal Asswipe of the Douchecanoe in readers’ and writers’ circles.


Continue onward for tips to ward off douchecanoeing.

1. Do not bombard social media with a constant stream of “BUY MY BOOK” Tweets/updates.
Social media can be totally cool. You can meet people, learn interesting things, and get exposed to an author’s work. However, too many authors use social media as nothing but a constant ad for themselves. That is, a constant stream of “buy my book.” You know what I’m talking about. Authors who post nothing but appeals to buy their work, to check out the links to their books, and bits from blurbs about their books. That’s it. Nothing else. After about 5 of those posts in a day, guess what? People tune you out. Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s author Jonathan Gunson on the rampant promo feed that some authors think social media is.

He sums it up nicely thus: “No matter how interesting you may think your book is, relentlessly shouting about it without Tweeting anything else at all will be viewed as annoying spam, not entertainment.”

Apply to Facebook, as well. Or any other social media platform you’re on. Use Gunson’s advice. Engage first, sell second. Hit that link above to see what he means.

2. Do not respond to reviews.
Mostly, this means bad reviews, but I recommend not responding to any reviews, period. Especially not publicly. There are NUMEROUS stories out there of authors who have taken to the comments sections in reviews and ended up looking like either an asshat or batshit loony tunes. Or both. Either category alone will cost you sales and readers. Do not get a reputation as an asshated batshit loony tunes writer. Do yourself a favor and do not respond to reviews. Want more? See my blog here.


And to see what happens when authors do not heed this advice, click here, here, and here.

That said, there are a very few exceptions. Obviously, if someone sends a link to you with a positive (or negative) review of one of your books, it’s rude not to say anything in response to that email. So thank that person for the link. That’s all you have to do. Don’t get into specifics about the review. If someone is attacking you personally in a review (as opposed to ragging on the book and writing alone), then that’s another matter entirely and could warrant that you contact the site admin on which the review is posted to discuss the matter. If the site admin happens to be the reviewer, then you have two options. Drop it entirely and let the reviewer’s personal and non-related writing attack speak to his or her own douchecanoeing or try to open a GENTLE dialogue with the reviewer regarding the personal attack. The latter approach, however, runs the risk of feeding more attacks, so be advised. If the personal attacks in the review are threatening, then you might consider getting law enforcement involved.

3. Mind your manners.
Along the lines of number 2, above. This is ol’ skool advice, friends. Manners require self-awareness. I got that drilled into me by my elders when I was growing up. Self respect and self-awareness help you negotiate an increasingly crass world. Yeah, I’m a little old-fashioned in that regard. Manners can go a long way, though. Even in the blogosphere. Assholery is guaranteed to get you tons of the wrong kind of attention. Manners, however, can keep on giving the good stuff. People will remember you for assholery and in the future they won’t want to help you out.


They’ll also remember if you were kind and accommodating, and they’ll cut you slack in the future or offer you more opportunities to work with them. So use basic manners and etiquette. When someone interviews you, send a thank you email or card. Thank them in some way. If you post the link to the interview on your own sites, put a little “thank you” therein. When a reader contacts you about your work, respond promptly (unless it’s a threat — if it is, don’t respond at all and contact law enforcement) and graciously (I like that word,”gracious”). Oh, and give credit where it’s due. Provide a shout-out and link to a blog or site you’re referencing in your own blogs or posts. Hat tips go a long way, friends.

4. Don’t use social media as a “dissing ground” for people you’re pissed at (either wrongly or rightly).
It’s okay to be pissed and irritated about something (see number 2, for example). In PRIVATE, and OFFline. Slamming people on social media will garner you a reputation for not only douchecanoeing, but also for airing your dirty laundry to a big audience. You run the risk of becoming your own reality show. Unless that’s what you want, of course…

5. Don’t make stuff up about you and/or your work and post it on your site (and minimize spin)
Okay, let’s think about this a bit. Everybody exaggerates about themselves now and again. In academic speak, we call that “padding” a CV or résumé. It’s media spin, plain and simple. What I’m talking about is stuff you flat-out make up about yourself like saying you’re a veteran when you’re not. Claiming you have an “extensive background” in law enforcement when maybe all you’ve done is read a few books and gone on a couple of ridealongs.

Sort of along those lines (and along the lines of “spin”) is if you’re going to claim that your work is “award-winning” but maybe it isn’t really quite that. If it is — if you have scored a super groovy award, supply the specifics. That is, the name of the award, the year you got it, and the title of the work(s) that got it. Readers are savvy. Some might want to know what award you got, so they can assess whether or not it lends itself to your work as an example of particular awesome-ness and thus warrants a further look. The Lambda Award, for example, carries a bit more weight than, say, the Tami Sue list of fave awesome lesbian books 2014 on Amazon. Not that there’s anything wrong with making Tami Sue’s list. She might have lots of followers, after all. But don’t say you’re “award-winning” if her list is the only recognition you’ve got. However, give a shout-out to Tami Sue, and note that you’re on her list (refer to “manners,” above).


I will now give a shout-out to urban fantasy author J.M. Gregoire, whose “Open Letter to Indie Authors” carries much wise advice for ALL authors, whether indie or not regarding covers, editing, and professionalism. And a lot of it is about not being a douchecanoe (also, shout-out to one of my FB contacts, Henriette, for tipping me to this link).

Summary? Share the luv. And don’t take your douchecanoe into the water. 🙂

Happy reading, happy writing.

13 thoughts on “PR advice: don’t be a douchecanoe

  1. Excellent advice. I recognize authors are struggling to balance writing with self promo, but I do get tired of writers posting on social media only to shill their books. As a reader, I am more interested in the blogs you post. Much like a short story or novella, if you can get your thoughts on page in less than 5,000 words I will be all over your longer work.
    Loved the links. Thanks, Andi.

  2. There’s that one story I linked to above, about that one author that took to the comments section after a not-so-great review of her book and oh, boy, it’s ugly, what that author said. O_O And the author kept going! Until the reviewer finally closed the comments! YIKES!

    The link to the piece by Jonathan Gunson, I think, is good stuff regarding not bombarding people on social media with “BUY BUY BUY ME ME ME.”

    Thanks for reading and hope you’re staying warm out there if you’re in the POLAR VORTEX!

  3. This is becoming a real annoying problem, one would think that an adult is able to conduct him/herself with some social grace…that other authors or writers need to wrote a specific vademecum to help other authors to understand how they need to act to be polite is appalling…kudos to you Andi for helping the so not enlighten ones

    • One would think, right? 🙂 Hey, I understand that authors want to get the word out about their work. But like Gunson says, if all you’re doing is pimping your book and not talking about anything else, it starts to feel a lot like spam. Sigh.

  4. Your advice in #1 is excellent. As a reader I was turned off by a certain author bombarding two of my yahoo groups with daily buy my book posts. Even though it was several years ago every time I see her post I still delete before I read it. She could be writing great books but I’ll never know. Somehow I feel her books will be annoying just like her posts.

    • That’s exactly why Gunson’s advice is spot-on, I think. If an author gets turned off by constant “buy my book” spam-like posts and emails, that author will lose a potential reader, potentially forever. 😦

  5. Andi,
    Thank you so much for sharing this ; )
    I appreciate all you do for writers, readers, and especially in LesficREADER!
    Best Wishes and HAPPY NEW YEAR …jaynes ; )

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