Firstly let me acknowledge the obvious:
This blog is an ad for my books.
My twitter feed? An ad. FB page? Ad. All of this stuff, websites and guest posts and cover reveals – all of my spandex-clad online wordery exists for a singular purpose: To Sell My Books. This is not to say I don’t like blogging about sloth pee-pee and tweeting pictures of Night’s Watch members chatting with jawas, or best of all, engaging with readers and being exposed to cool ideas and all the wondrous things that comes of swimming in the sticky pedo-slick murk of the internet. Because I sincerely do. But I want you to buy my book, too. And everything I do online is, if not motivated by this notion, at least informed by this notion – the sexing of your sweet, sweet monies.
I blog and I tweet and generally faff about on the internet in the vague hope of being entertaining, in the even vaguer hope that people will assume that, because I can be entertaining online, I can entertain you with a novel too. It’s a strange kind of pseudo-math, but it’s a math that often works. (I was terrible at maths fyi – memories of the 17% I scored on a high school trigonometry test haunt me to this day)
I am not alone in this (the self-pimping thing, not the Fear of Trig). Every author out there on social media is out there first and foremost as a product. Persona as commodity. Do not be fooled. Anyone who tells you different is selling you something (probably books). Anyone who says “I tweet because it’s fun” may very well be telling you the truth – because tweeting SHOULD BE fun – but they’re not telling you the whole truth. The whole truth is “I tweet because it’s fun and I’m hoping you’ll buy my shit”.
I think most people are cool with this notion. Most people are aware of the concept of author-as-pimp. And as a form of advertising, blogging about what interests me or tweeting random thoughts about STAR TREK is a hell of a lot more genuine that traditional forms of advertising. I like the notion of persona as brand. I like the notion that as an author, I can reach new readers just by having some vaguely amusing bullshit about hobbit sex being RT’ed all over the world. And I like the notion that actions on the internet have consequences – that, if you, as an artist act like a complete douche online, you can and will lose sales because of it. Of course, this notion can lead to a kind of paralysis in artists – the unwillingness to say or do anything save the sickly sweet, for fear of alienating Those Who Hold The Dollars. But that’s okay too. Vanilla is the most popular flavour of ice cream, after all (fuck vanilla, seriously).
I’ve been pondering a particular form of self-pimpage I see other authors doing lately. I see it more often than ever, and I’m wondering why I can’t come at it, and why I won’t participate in it.
I’m talking about the RTpimp.
For those who’re squinting at the screen with WTF slapped all over your Chevvy Chases, the RT pimp is when some lovely, awesome, super-cool person takes the time out of their day to tweet me with a compliment about the book – “I love STORMDANCER more than my children” or “holy shit, STORMDANCER made me pop, like seventeen boners, brah”, etc – and then I go and RETWEET that compliment into my feed. ie
“RT @ladyawesomesauce87 STORMDANCER is the greatest thing since jesus. U r my saviour, Jay, yea, glory unto thee and death to the non-believer” *
Now, I don’t do this. I did it once, just to see what it would feel like (it felt like puppy-molestation) and never again shall I descend into that dank pit of danky dankness. But why? Because this stuff happens ALL THE TIME (RTpimping, not puppy molestation)
Having thought about this for a while now, my reasons for refusing to engage in the RTpimp are as follows:
- It seems illogical to me.
The only people who generally see my RTs are people who follow me on twitter (science!). To give enough of a shit about me to put up with my inane dribbling, you must a) have already read my book and thought it didn’t suck, or b) at least be planning to read it in the very near future. Given these two possibilities, it seems odd for me to RT tweets telling you how fantabulously awesome my warez are because a) you’ve already read it, and so are aware how fantabulously awesome I am (har har ego joke) or b) you’re pretty much there anyway, and the probability of you being swayed to read it any faster because of the opinion of a total stranger seems remote.
I mean, if it’s the Queen of England I’m retweeting? (“RT @QueenLizzieII dis kirstoff shit wuz teh awesumsauce”**) Yeah maybe. But a (lovely, awesome, super-cool) person you’ve never met? How many fucks do you not give?
- It’s feels like actual prostitution.
When a lovely, awesome, super-cool person takes the time to tweet me about how much they liked STORMDANCER (and if I might be serious for a moment, it really does make my day), they tweeted me. If they wanted the world to know how much they loved the book, they could have done any number of things – written a review, or done a blog post, made a Buruu plushie from the plundered remnants of their dead grandmother’s quilt, written “STORMDANCER RULEZ” on their stomach in large red lettering and streaked naked through a football game, etc. And they’re still free to do all this stuff (don’t get arrested, pls). But when they take the time to tweet me, that feels like a message for me. And me jacking that message and pushing it out there into the world in the hope that somebody computes “because this complete and total stranger enjoyed this product and/or service, I too will be stimulated by it” seems disingenuous to me. It feels like I’m selling their feels.
I don’t mind selling myself – I’m cool with the notion of being up on this stage. But dragging you up here with me without permission? That seems a little . . . Creepy Uncle™ to me.
- It seems wanker-ish.
The RTpimp seems more than slightly self-congratulatory to me. It seems like a “hey, look at me” move. And while, as previously discussed, everything content-producers do online generally equates to “hey, look at me” it seems less in the “walk into the party dressed nice and tell an amusing anecdote about a puppy-molester” ballpark and more in the “walk into the party naked, stand in the middle of the room and start doing ‘the helicopter’ with my dick” league (DO NOT google that turn of phrase, for the love of god).
It goes beyond the point of no return for me.
It goes beyond self-promoting and into self-pleasuring.
This is not to say I think authors who do engage in the Rtpimp are wankers – far from it. This is not science, and nobody knows how this whole book promo in the internet age thing works, and though there are many wrong paths to walk online, I’m not sure the RTpimp will land you in virtual purgatory. I personally just don’t get it. And this is not to say seeing an RTpimp is an auto unfollow for me (although if it happens too often, I will most assuredly release the hounds). If I can deal with people tweeting about their fucking cats, I can deal with the occasional helicopter weiner. It all comes down to a question of personal taste – how far you’re willing to go to make a buck. How much you’re willing to sell to make the rent. And I totally take on board that everyone is going to draw that line in the sand in a different place.
Now what I’m wondering is if I’m alone in this? Do folks have rules for this kind of thing? What are your limits? And most importantly, how would you feel if your tweet to author X got RT’ed by them out into the world? Used? Or pleased?
KINSLAYER COVER REVEAL NEXT WEEK.
YOU BET YOUR ASS I WANT YOU TO RT THAT SHIT.
*Dramatization. May not have happened.
**Dramatization. Most definitely did NOT happen.