Beware Social Media Snake Oil

This week I’ve got another great guest post for you, from marketing expert Chris Syme.

We writers have all heard that we “have” to be on social media, which is presented to us–both by experts and the not-so-expert–as the Holy Grail of marketing and self-promotion. But apart from the thorny questions of which platforms to use (Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Some of them? All of them?), and how to use them (How often should we post? What’s the proper mix of friendly interaction and self-promotion?), there’s the problem of “services” that want to exploit our confusion to rip us off.

Read on for solid advice on how to separate the worthwhile from the worthless, and warnings about some common social media scams.


Social Media Snake Oil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes

Chris Syme

Authors want to sell books. But most indie authors know very little about how to promote their books. And when it comes to social media, authors everywhere are throwing up their hands. Is it a waste of time? Do I need to be on Twitter? How often should I post on Facebook?

I get email from authors who are frustrated. They see social media as a minefield and don’t want to step in for fear they will never come out. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is just buy that package of hundreds of tweets for twenty dollars and cross your fingers hoping that somebody will buy your book. After all, everybody says you have to be on Twitter, right? We hear words like platform, brand, discoverability. How can an author break through the firehose of noise on the Internet and decide what, if anything, to do?

Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

My husband is a grain farmer. Every year we pull out the massive combine and dust it off, getting ready for the magic of harvest. Gone are the days when workers had to beat the grain shocks by hand to separate the wheat from the chaff. These days, those big expensive machines cut the wheat and feed it through a mechanism that separates the grain from its stalk The stalks are chewed up into chaff and spewed out the back of the combine to be absorbed back into the soil.

In marketing, we need to do the same. We have to learn how to separate the snake oil from the good stuff. Authors should want to learn how to spot a worthless marketing scheme. But there’s a learning curve. And sometimes that Facebook ad that worked for your friend isn’t going to work for you. This is where education comes in. The book marketing sector, more than any I have ever worked in, is full of bad marketing advice. My objective here is to help you separate the wheat from the chaff — to be able to spot snake oil when you see it.

It’s The Principle Of The Thing

Every business sector has best practices. It’s possible to circumvent those and get a modicum of success, but that is an anomaly. Social media marketing has basic principles of success. They aren’t rocket science, they are based on data. Take this example on hashtags.

In early 2014, Dan Zarella, a social media data researcher for HubSpot, found that if hashtags are used in a tweet (# — a pound sign — followed by a phrase of reference that is followed by many people), that tweet is 55 percent more likely to be retweeted than one with no hashtags. His results were based on mining data from over one million tweets. So, people jumped on the hashtag band wagon. The more, the better, or so people thought.

In 2014 Buffer, another reliable social media research company, published data that showed that after two hashtags, engagement of a post actually goes down (graphic courtesy of Buffer).

This is a principle that most savvy marketers take for granted now. But there are some unethical snake oil salespeople out there telling authors that the more hashtags the merrier. They didn’t get the memo on too many hashtags tanking engagement. And, for a mere $19, you can buy a day’s worth of tweets loaded with hashtags from beginning to end that promise to hike your books sales. Here is a sample ad:

Not a day goes by that I don’t see this scam retweeted by several authors, maybe because they promised to help promote the service for more free tweets that will “reach millions of people generating a truly astonishing amount of traffic.” All these hashtag-laden tweets do is annoy people. To the savvy social media user, they reek of stupidity. The outlier may sell a few books, but I wonder how many more books that person could have sold if they had used their money wisely.

Another popular Twitter scam offered by more than one company offers authors hundreds of thousands of followers worth of exposure for your tweet for a fee. I experimented with one of these snake oil outfits recently just to test it. I knew I was blowing my money, but it was a mere twenty bucks to prove my thesis.

This company boasts three different Twitter accounts with 375,000 followers. I want to add that it is fairly easy to amass Twitter followers if you know what you are doing. For instance, this particular company is supposedly followed by LeBron James, according to the report I ran on their followers on Simply Measured. But the real LeBron James only follows 184 people. So, on a whim I looked through them all. This company was not there. And, their fake LeBron James has only three million followers while the real King James has 23 million. This LeBron James page is a fake account built to fool people into following. It has been followed by millions of people who think it’s the real thing. These fake accounts automatically follow back so other unscrupulous people can amass large follower counts. It’s a well-known racket in marketing circles. Fake follower companies search diligently for these auto-following accounts to increase their fake reach. (Did you notice I use the word fake a lot?)

Also, an analysis of this company’s top 20 influencers did not produce one account that would be in the market for my books. My $19 produced zero sales and zero new Twitter followers. Maybe I should have spent more money. But alas, here’s a review of their service from an author who purchased five days worth of tweets. Also no sales.

Scam artists know what they are doing. They are playing on peoples’ pain points and ignorance. They can build fake followings completely on accounts that follow back automatically. Keep in mind that all you need to start a Twitter account is an email address. It’s an ugly, dark business. There is no verification to make sure that real people are setting up accounts. These companies abound on the internet. Hint: if the website looks rinky-dink and boasts of millions of daily impressions from loyal fans, beware.

We Will Promote Your Book…For A Price

There are more bad promotion sites out there than you can shake a stick at. How can you tell the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly? Many of them have slick websites, Facebook pages, and multiple Twitter feeds boasting of thousands, maybe millions of followers. Here are a couple pointers to help you make up your mind.

1. Good sites: There are many sites out there that are based on good marketing principles and have a large audience of both authors and readers. They validate their expertise with blog pieces, authentic peer recommendations, podcasts, books they write, webinars, speaking engagements, and they can prove success by numbers over a long period of time. Not everyone in this category is spot on when it comes to social media strategy, but most are trying. The resource may be membership-gated such as Jim Kukral’s Author Marketing Club (I am a member), Where Writers Win, and others. They usually offer a subscription at a reasonable yearly price and offer a large variety of tools to help authors succeed. The large variety of marketing tools is a key.

There are also many knowledgeable marketers that cater strictly to authors such as Penny Sansevieri’s Author Marketing Experts, Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer, and Book Marketing Tools.

In the good category are also author forums like Writers Café (KBoards) and The Alliance Of Independent Authors (I am a member). Forums like these are populated by authors and are a good place to get recommendations and reviews for everything from editors to marketing services.

There are also a number of authors out there that share their validated expertise with other authors through a combination of free resources and pay-per webinars and classes. Joanna Penn and Jane Friedman come to mind.

2. Questionable sites (the bad and the ugly): It is impossible to list all the suspect author marketing services out there but I do write about them often on my agency’s blog for authors. These sites ask for money for their suspect services. There is no information on their “about” pages that validates their expertise or existence, just blabbing about the reach of their audience. They are not published authors or even legitimate marketing services. They are product-only.

Beware of offers like this one from Contentmo. Besides the fact that their website design is a red flag, their claim that they have 23 million impressions a month on social media is irrelevant. There is no explanation or proof of who or where those impressions come from other than a list of their interconnected Twitter feeds and low-volume Facebook pages. Another red flag here is the absence of real people’s names in the About section of their site, a Gmail address as a contact, no address or location information, and their testimonials are suspect. I am also wondering why a company that brags 23 million impressions a month has only 167 likes on their Facebook page.

Many sites in this category have some free services. If you want to give them a try, keep track of your results. I recommend recording results with every marketing strategy you try. If they are free, give them more than one try so you can make sure your initials results were correct. Free is okay but you often get what you pay for…nothing.

The world of social media marketing is a quagmire for many authors. If you’re just not sure what to do, I would recommend starting with self-education. I have a list of resources (mostly blogs) on my website that I personally recommend. The more educated you become, the easier it will be for you to spot snake oil when you see it.


Chris Syme has over 25 years experience in the communications industry and is principal at CKSyme Media Group. Her agency specializes in social media marketing, virtual assistant services, and digital communication services for self-published authors and higher education. She is a former university media relations professional. Chris is a frequent speaker on the national stage and the author of two books on social media: Listen, Engage, Respond and Practice Safe Social 2.0. Her agency won the 2014 SoMe Award for Social Media Agency Of The Year. Her new book, SMART Social Media For Authors, will be released in fall 2015.

Contact: Chris Syme | email | phone 406.599.6079 | website:


  1. I’d like to say a few words of support for Mark Malatesta. I’ve just completed his $299 package, and feel it was well worth it. The lengthy Questionnaire he sends you is one of the most effective self-education tools I’ve ever seen. It asks you an exhaustive set of questions. After answering them, you have the material you need to write a workmanlike query to an agent, a synopsis, and a book proposal. Mark teaches that these follow certain traditional forms. I spent a week working with the questionnaire, and it not only taught me those forms, it refocused my entire thinking on my book, which I now perceive differently. I now could continue with Mark’s $6,497 package, but because of timing issues, I will probably postpone until after the 2022 elections.

    My project is political– See the current version at:–A+Diary+Henry+Starr&qid=1651370667&s=books&sprefix=2020–a+diary+henry+starr%2Cstripbooks%2C50&sr=1-1

    I highly recommend Mark’s program. Numerous successful authors–his former trainees–have written glowing testimonials on his web site. Anyone who needs a writing coach should give Mark Malatesta some serious consideration.

  2. There are many examples of self-pubbed books that have been picked up by a trad pub. Lisa Genova, Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, Kerry Wilkinson, Andy Weir are some famous recent examples, but there are many less high-profile ones, and you can also go back decades to see this happening–THE JOY OF COOKING was originally self-published, for instance. Regardless, it has been, and continues to be, the exception, especially when you consider the vast numbers of self-published books these days. To be fair, also, large numbers of successful self-pubbed authors have no interest in a trad pub contract.

  3. Thank you Victoria. Very helpful.

    FYI, I ran some rough numbers for 5000 self-published vs 50,000 conventional to compare possible profit scenarios. Here's what I came up with:

    5,000 Self-published assuming published w/ KDP and 1:4 ratio of print to Kindle copies sold:
    1000 x $14.99 = $14,990 for Amazon (print version)
    4000 x 5.99 = $19,960 for Kindle
    total = $34,950 NET profit (not counting marketing expenses – say $5,00 for Amazon & FB ads + other ancillary expenses.)

    50,000 Conventional publishing at the same pricing per copy (all print):
    50,000 x 14.99 = 749,500 – Agent Fee of 112,425 (15%) = 637,075
    x 10% payout = $63,701

    In this scenario, self-publishing represents 1/2 the $$$ and, undoubtedly, much more work.

    One more question. Do you know of any actual incidences of self-published books having been picked up by a conventional publisher?

  4. Because if, with all the challenges of self-publishing, you can sell thousands of copies, it could suggest to a publisher that with wider distribution and to-the-industry marketing, you could sell tens of thousands. Not to mention subsidiary rights.

  5. It seems the irony is that one needs to have self-published sales in the thousands to qualify for agent/publisher consideration, however, why would one be seeking an agent/publisher if one already has sales in the thousands and is capturing a much, much higher percentage for those sales?

  6. Unknown 2/18,

    To answer your questions:

    1) Quite possibly. Where agents and publishers are interested in self-pubbed books, it's usually tied to robust sales numbers that suggest a wider audience for the book, if it were more widely promoted and distributed–which means somewhere in the four-figure range, at least. Another thing that's attractive to agents and publishers is a pro-active author whose marketing efforts generate verifiable results in terms of sales and publicity.

    Of course, one can never say never about anything to do with publishing. But if many if not most agents and publishers will likely see your book as already having had its chance in the marketplace.

    2. Writer Beware doesn't recommend publishers (or agents). But information on smaller publishers can be found at our Small Presses page, which includes links to several resources for researching them.

    3. I've gotten a number of questions about Mark Malatesta. He ran a small agency called New Brand Agency Group a number of years ago under the name Mark Ryan. This agency did make a number of solid sales, but its track record was spotty, especially taking into account the number of years it was in business.

    At any rate, he does have knowledge of the industry, and he does provide some solid info on his website (along with some dubious info–for instance, there's no such thing as "the 50 best literary agencies" since the best agent for one writer could be the worst agent for another). But his website is part of the opportunistic industry that profits from writers' hunger for publication.

    The free info is really just inducement to draw writers in to Malatesta's paid services (consultation, coaching, etc.). I'm not saying that authors might not benefit from those services, if they were willing to pay for them–but they are really costly and I really doubt that Malatesta can tell authors anything they couldn't learn or research on their own, at far less expense.

    4. I'm not an expert on author platforms (if I were, you might have read one of my books). Also, social media is only as "effective" as the effort you put into it, and that means, in part, not forgetting the "social" part (i.e., you need to make a personal connection with your potential audience, or provide information that's useful to them–not just relentlessly promo your books). By all means try the various platforms, but rather than trying to tackle all of them on an ongoing basis, think about choosing a smaller number that you enjoy using. It's better to do a few things well than lots of things half-assed.

    Remember, what works for one author may not work for another. Nor is social media the magic promotional bullet that the canned advice that's so common on the internet says it is. Use it, but don't neglect other things, such as an author website. You'll need to experiment to discover what works for you.

  7. I just found your terrific site. Thank you for obvious hard work involved!

    My questions relate to navigating a possible switch from self-publishing to conventional publishing. I self-published my memoir on Amazon/Kindle this past fall and have had acceptable results (500+ books out, about half as part of an initial giveaway, resulting in about 30 ratings each for Amazon and Goodreads averaging 4.5 stars). While an encouraging first foray, the purchases are starting to trickle off, and I'm more fully realizing the enormity of what will be involved in taking self-promotion to the next level. I am therefore considering taking a stab at getting picked up by an agent or publisher.

    My Questions:

    1) Is the fact that I've already self-published my memoir a poisoned pill with regard to finding an agent or publisher? Is having done so, and having it doing reasonably well at all helpful to the process, or is it "game over" for moving to conventional?

    Assuming that there is still some hope, what are your thoughts on the following, please…

    2) Are there any small publishers that don't require agent representations that you can recommend for the memoir genre?
    3) I've considered hiring Mark Malatesta's services and see that you made some mostly neutral comments about him a few year's back. Do you have any updated information about the effectiveness of his coaching services? Are there any other coaching services that you'd recommend?
    4) Which of all the author platform social media presences do you feel is most effective? Can you list what you'd consider to be your priorities in terms of developing an author's platform? (i.e. where to invest the most effort: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, other?
    Thank you!

  8. Al Hague,

    I'm not aware of any negative information about Gatekeeper Press, and it has been around for a number of years. I'm not sure I agree that the pricing is reasonable–the fee for print layout and distribution is a steep $1,000 plus $1 per page for pages over 200; and cover design, also at $1,000, is absurdly expensive, considering that you can find extremely competent cover designers who will make you a custom cover for under $500 (the sample covers on Gatekeeper's website do not look to me like they're worth anything near $1,000). I think you can find similar services elsewhere for much less money.

    Have a look at the Self-Publishing page of Writer Beware, which includes a full discussion of self-publishing as well as links to resources to help you learn more and comparison shop:

  9. I am planning to self-publish with Gatekeepers Press. Anyone have any information about them. The research I have done is positive but limited. Anyone with experience? Their pricing seems very reasonable. I just have concerns about quality.

    Thank you

  10. Unknown 8/29, I don't have anything to add to the comments I've already made. Please return and let us know if you feel your money was well-spent.

  11. I just read your posts about Mark Malatesa & am still a bit unclear. I literally paid the $299 at 1:00am after listening to his presentation. I know I need help in certain areas, first & foremost to write a Query Letter & Book Proposal. I do not want to self publish and felt it was a matter of spending my time trying to research all about the world of Publishing. I justified the expense as working smarter not harder. I have been researching, which is how I came to find his literary agent undercover site. I was continually finding conflicting info/advice and I realize I have one shot to get an agents attention, so if he can help me do that, the money is worth it.

    I know everyone thinks their book is the best thing since sliced bread. I won't go into the reasons, but based on the research I did for comparisons, my book truly will be that 1% that hits the NY TIMES Best Seller list. I could not find one true story that comes close to mine. For years people have told me I should write a book but the punchline was that no one would believe it wasn't fiction. I have waited, for the right time both in my life to be able to have an ending making readers want more as well as Society's Acceptance of the kind of life I have lived.

    It is not too late for me to request a refund since nothing has actually been done by Malatesa's company as of yet. I actually not only prefer but can handle blatant honesty. Please tell me if the reasons I stated make sense and/or I am just justifying making a mistake going this route. Any advice is appreciated!

  12. Philip,

    See my response to another question about Mark Malatesta, above.

    Have you considered approaching smaller publishers that don't require authors to be agented? There are many that publish in the fantasy genre. Here are a couple of resources for finding them: (look under "Specialty Publishers")

    For self-publishing, I generally advise authors to avoid the Author Solutions self-publishing services (iUnverse, Xlibris, Trafford, AuthorHouse, BookTango, and the self-pub services Author Solutions runs for major publishers, including Thomas Nelson's WestBow Press and Hay House's Balboa Press), since I've received many complaints about quality, price, and high-pressure sales tactics.

    A better option is to start by investigating the free or low-cost services with good reputations in the self-pub community: Createspace, IngramSpark, and Lulu if you want to do print as well as ebooks, and Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and the direct-to-ereading-device services (Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble's Nook Press, and Kobo's Kobo Writing Life) if you're willing to do an ebook only. If you want something that's less DIY, Bookbaby and BookLocker are worth investigating.

    For information to help you comparison shop, a rundown on the benefits and challenges of self-publishing, and links to helpful resources, see the Self-Publishing page of Writer Beware.

    If you have other questions, feel free to email me; my contact info is in the right-hand column at the top of the page.

  13. Chris,
    I have working at getting published in the fantasy genre and have yet to find and agent that is interested. I was thinking of working with Mark Malatesta and getting his help on writing a better query. Was also thinking of self-publishing through Author House or Exlibris. Which would you recommend? The big costs involved with self-publishing are my concern as I am not wealthy by any means since I am disabled right now and living on a disability income. Malatesta's service is only $299 which is alot to me but something I can afford. It just seems to me that getting picked up by a traditional agent/publisher is damn near impossible.

  14. Good post — thank you. I've been collecting posts like this to pass along to my editorial clients, among whom are increasing numbers of writers who crave to self-publish their golden words. Really, I've become more and more concerned about some of them. Today over lunch, one otherwise highly intelligent client tried to persuade me that Readers Favorite is THE best thing that ever came along.

  15. Anonymous 8/30, (a.k.a. Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author LLC) is run by former literary agent Mark Malatesta, who ran a small agency called New Brand Agency Group a number of years ago under the name Mark Ryan. This agency did make a number of solid sales, but its track record was spotty, especially taking into account the number of years it was in business. (Maybe to justify this, Malatesta now claims to have been "undercover" as a literary agent, in order to find out how to get his own books published. Talk about turning your clients into guinea pigs.)

    At any rate, he does have knowledge of the industry, and he does provide some solid info on his website (along with some dubious info–for instance, there's no such thing as "the 50 best literary agencies" since the best agent for one writer could be the worst agent for another). But the website is part of the opportunistic industry that has grown up around writers' hunger for publication.
    The free info is really just inducement to draw writers in to Malatesta's paid services (consultation, coaching, etc.). I'm not saying that you might not benefit from those services, if you were willing to pay for them–but I really doubt that Malatesta can tell you anything you couldn't learn or research on your own, at far less expense.

    Malatesta is also involved, with his wife or girlfriend Ingrid Elfever (who was also involved in his agency venture) in Born Celebrity, a "personal brand company" that also sells consulting and training services.

  16. Just curious. I saw this on social media and was wondering how legit it really is.

    They list reputable agents, but the premise is if you stick with them you'll get a dream publishing deal and we all know that's not how things work in publishing.

    Oh, and they take all major credit cards, too.

  17. Francis- I love all your input and it's good to see you know exactly what works for you. But I would remind everyone that we need to earn the right to sell to people directly. You can do that by developing connections and offering value, whether it's through a newsletter, a website, or through Facebook. Also the marketing process has multiple stages. Some people come in pre-qualified to buy, maybe because of a friend's recommendation or a fascinating cover or a good review but every buyer's process is different. The beauty of social media, for those that use it well, is that you can use it to build a proprietary audience, such as what you do with your newsletter. Social media is only part of an effective marketing mix. The point here was to help authors understand that there are some masqueraders out there claiming their "products" deliver sales when they are not built to do that.

  18. Jack, basically the trick is to keep finding new potential readers, contact them privately, keep a record of everyone you send to, and instead of bombarding the same people all the time, keep finding new ones. That way no one gets bored. Some people even tell me they never like to receive sales emails, except mine are fine! It's OK to post on a public group once in a while, but private contacts are much more effective. A programmer wrote me custom software to facilitate the process. Note, I write nonfiction so it is easier for me to target likely readers than if I wrote fiction.

  19. Thanks for this post. As a writer cutting through the jungle of advice on this subject for the first time, and also using Twitter, I've noticed the contrast between my eagerness as a writer to believe that my books will be sold in this way, and my boredom as a reader when I am inundated with 'buy-my-book-now' tweets. I just don't read them anymore. Only when something civilized and courteous is tweeted is my attention drawn. They make me feel grateful that someone out there knows how to behave.

  20. Sue, the point is that it's necessary for an author to actually sell books, not just to chat endlessly. I also sometimes get responses that say things like getting a sales pitch "leaves a bad taste in their mouth," or even that because I'm actually trying to sell books they will never buy any of them (some even demand to be given freebies!!), or some such. But the vast majority of responses are positive.

    The hard fact is, this kind of sales is a numbers game. No individual potential customer really matters. What counts is how the majority react and also, reaching as many people as possible as often as possible. Social media is not exclusively a place for chat. There are ads all around you in every forum. Just take a good look.

  21. I've been self-publishing since 1993. Although I seldom sell direct to readers any more (these days most want to buy from major online bookstores), almost all my sales have always been driven by direct mail or email (even if readers buy elsewhere), much of it these days to potential readers' social media accounts. I always make it very explicit that I am selling books, what they are about (concisely), and that they can be bought in online bookstores.

    I get the occasional snide little lecture (often from other authors) about how “no one” will buy books because of my emails because “everyone knows” that marketing technique “offends everyone” or that it “never works” (never mind that I know it’s worked well for me for over 20 years). I even get the occasional very rude response, although most are from trolls—it’s really not necessary to use the F-word, after all. However, a *great many* more people thank me (some fervently), send me thumbs-up icons, tell me they already own and love some of my books, or ask questions whose answers may lead to a sale. This direct contact is what keeps up my sales year after year, even for old books. I’m doing no other marketing except for the occasional public post on a group just for the heck of it, even though most of those are probably not read.

    “Soft” marketing, or too much of it, usually does not work well. If you keep giving away material, readers will just expect constant freebies and are unmotivated to pay for your books. If you don’t tell readers what your books are, they will seldom take the trouble to look them up. So your Facebook handle is “Author Jane Doe”—people think, so what? Thousands of authors post on social media so why, exactly, should potential readers go to any trouble to research what *you* have written and where to buy it?

    I don’t use Twitter, but let’s talk about Facebook. *Some* posts from business pages (and this includes author pages) appear in *some* readers’ news feeds—where they may never be seen because they are quickly buried under many other posts. As far as I can tell by observation, post are first sent to the news feeds of a standard core group of the same 100-200 people, no more. Only if posts get many likes are they send to another group of people, and if they get many more likes (usually they don’t) they may be sent to a third group. The vast majority of business posts only appear in the news feeds of the core group composed of the same old people. Although many people who see a post don’t bother to click on the Like button, you can tell how popular a post is by the number of likes and therefore whether it ever passed the core group, as well as by the names in the who-liked-this-post list you can bring up. Facebook has software to filter out sales posts from business pages *because they want to sell the business owners paid advertising instead*.

    I’ve been watching a certain business page for many months. The owner sells DVDs, classes, and booklets on sewing. She posts about six times every day, always with a picture of something. Every post is geared to be popular—it’s related to a popular movie or book, or is on a topic that is usually successful for her. She will get 600 likes for a well-worn sewing joke, a picture of a cute kid (not her kid and not her picture), or a picture of a beautiful dress (copied from another website). And then occasionally she’ll post about her business. When she does, she gets 25-30 likes, never more, and all from the same few people. So she’s spending a huge amount of energy posting to drive her business page readership, but almost no one sees her sales posts. Probably most people who follow her have no idea that she’s selling anything.

  22. You are welcome Patrick-I agree that the problem of fake accounts and bots just make the problem worse. Honestly, I don't think Twitter has ever been a good place to sell books.But it can be a good cross-promotion channel for your blog, newsletter, and website. It's also a great place to do research.

  23. Sue-I agree. All that blather is just annoying. So I am wondering how these people stay in business…or maybe they don't.

  24. Totally agree…I spend more time blocking the "Buy Ten Thousand Followers" Tweets than it is worth! I am trying an experiment to not tweet as much and haven't even noticed a difference on sales…Most of the accounts are fake now and unless you take the time to click on the website address on the profile…you will just have a bunch of bogus followers. Great article…thank you so much!

  25. I agree. I've been known to unfollow people who spent all their tweets on eith "buy my book!" Or "Look, this reviewer loves my book!" And yes, what's the point of buying followers?

  26. One really simple test I use right off the bat when I see an offer for a marketing approach:

    I put on my reader hat, and ask how I would respond as a reader to this approach.

    Endless blasts of "buy my book" tweets? Thickets of hashtags? Robotic, personality-free messages? I don't respond to any of these tactics as a reader, so I surely wouldn't use them to market my own books.

    Also, I can't imagine that it would ever be worthwhile to buy followers on any site.

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