In our current economy, the urgency to sell our product or service can overtake our ability to do most anything else. Financial obligations don’t just disappear the way many of our jobs, or prospects for business, have. Bills and taxes wait for no one.


Fear of loss is a big motivator, isn’t it?


So those of us who have something to sell have turned, by the millions, to social media, a (for the most part) free form of selling. Awesome, right?


Not so fast.


Technology: Think back to when you were a kid. What annoyed you most about watching your favorite TV show? Those darn commercials! Waiting through what seemed like hours to get to the good part surely tested the small amount of patience we’d only recently learned to have.


Fast forward: we’re all grownup and many of us see the Internet as a great way to find cool stuff without ever leaving our homes. For those of us who watched this tech boom, it’s been a revelation. Think about this: I graduated from high school in 1982. College in 1986. My Uni library had microfiche and catalogue cards – now extinct. In fact, my tween doesn’t even know what those words mean.


Coming a long way, baby – particularly with Apple products in our back pocket – has allowed us to become more entrepreneurial. Everyone has something to sell. And perhaps, someone is willing to buy.


Finding them isn’t as tricky as it used to be, what with social media, blogging, new advertising options using social media, and the millions of daily online sites available. And don’t forget Skynet Amazon.


  • So, what’s missing? Why are some succeeding while others are failing miserably?


My theory: The urgency to sell is what prevents you from successfully selling.


(Who am I to say this? You may know me as a bestselling author and social media consultant, but in my previous corporate life I spent fifteen years as an award-winning salesperson, sales trainer, and advertising account rep. On top of what I do now, I’m also a certified communications trainer.)


So…now what? We need to make money. We can’t just sit around and talk about chocolate on Twitter all day. (Okay, maybe Nutella but…)


Engagement. Pure and simple. I don’t mean in a unicorns and rainbows kind of way. I mean in establishing yourself as the real, authentic person you are who does not sell sell sell by constant self-promotion or spamming links* about your own products or service. *According to Twitter Spamming Rules, ‘If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates, you are spamming.’ 


Tell me. How’s that working out for ya?


Success Factors: Promoting others, providing interesting rich content, networking, connecting…all these activities are what we call ‘building your author platform,’ in publishing — but engagement goes beyond that. You’re creating a base or tribe of people who will go to the ends of the earth for you – and you for them.


Personalized recommendations are crucial. That’s why I make no blanket statements here. But a basic platform is necessary. Twitter, Facebook, a blog. Find what works for you and make it your Earth. The rest are just satellites.


I talk daily with people I’ve met on Twitter. It has become my main source of networking and friendship for my author account @RachelintheOC, my business account @BadRedheadMedia, and my latest venture, affordable advertising for indie authors, @IndieBookPromos (I hope you follow at least one, if only to observe what I’m discussing here today.)


Are my successes because I constantly spammed my links in every tweet? No. Am I the greatest marketer who ever lived? Far from it. But, I have learned to curate, nurture and grow my core group. (For specific info on how to sell your book without constantly spamming links, see my previous article about just that.)


  • I just read a report today stating that

    half of all self-publishers earned less than $500 in the last year, says the Taleist Self-Publishing Survey, released today. That’s because the top 10 per cent of self-publishers are making 75% of total royalties.

    (The Taleist Survey, May 2012).


Based on what I see coming through on Twitter every day, this does not shock me.


Selling is all about relationships. When I worked as a sales rep, I won awards and stuff through methods that mostly displeased my managers. Many times, I just went in to visit with my docs, learning about their background, families, and hobbies. I avoided the marketing strategies my company’s talking heads had spent millions on.


Why? Doctors hated the company line. How many times a day do you think a rep asked them, “Will you write my drug?” vs. ‘How’s your wife’s back feeling since her surgery?’ while I handed him my favorite summer read to give her.


They were bombarded. I had to stand out.


Sure, I felt more like a caterer more days than not, but establishing myself as ‘Rachel The Person With A Name,’ as opposed to ‘just another drug rep,’ was important to me. Did some of my docs write my drugs because they liked me? Maybe. But I also provided interesting, rich content to them. I related to them on a personal level. They then decided to ‘buy’ on their own.


People make decisions to buy based on their own decision motivators. How will spamming ever uncover their motivators to buy your books, product or service?


There are clear parallels between what I did as a sales rep and trainer, and what I do now as an author selling books. As a consultant helping authors, my goal is to help authors (and other businesspeople) learn to engage, not simply focus on their own selling goals.


Back to engagement. If you take nothing else away from this article, take this:


  • Learn your demographic – who will buy your product/service? What are their buying motivations? How do you find out?
  • Build relationships — otherwise you’re wasting your time and money — and quite frankly, ours.
  • Time: Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to only fostering engagement, promoting others, asking questions, and providing rich content. The efforts will come back to you in spades.


Final thought: Field of Dreams. Great flick. ‘If you build it, they will come,’ is an oft-repeated phrase from that movie, to the point of becoming a cliché. On the surface, it can be. But as you know, ‘building it’ created life-altering changes.


Do me a favor: I want you to write that phrase out. Go ahead. Grab some paper and a pen.  Fold it up in your hand, consider your ‘building,’ and put it in your back pocket for me. Anytime you start to feel that sense of urgency engulf you, take it out and look at it.


Remember…you have to build it first.





  1. eden baylee on May 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    FABULOUS post. So true – I’ve completely tuned out people for some of the points you’ve mentioned.

    Thanks for continuing to be the voice of reason on social media.


    • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Eden, you are a bright light and a shining example of what authors need to do. Your dedication to helping other authors is truly stunning. I’ve met so many incredible supporters through you, and your campaign for #IndiesUnite4Joshua to help @MaxwellCynn’s son Joshua (who’s struggling w/ leukemia) is admirable. Part of why we are all involved, besides adoring Max and wanting to help Joshua, is because of who YOU are.

      Anyone who reads this needs to follow Eden’s example. I’ve learned so much from her. AND she’s an amazing writer. Buy her book!

  2. Lorca Damon on May 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve often wondered how many book sales actually happen from all of those “buy my book” tweets. I’ve adopted the idea that if I’m funny or interesting, people will check out my profile or my website to see if I’ve written anything. Thanks for spelling it out for us in plain English!

    • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Yea, I’m not sure, but there is definitely a backlash happening against this one-way model. Nobody wants to be hammered. Even the folks doing it don’t want to be hammered so I’m not sure why they are doing it. I hope at least A FEW read this article (or ones like mine) and reexamine their selling strategies. That survey is sobering to say the least.

      Thanks for your support and comments, sweet.

  3. Mark on May 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. I’ve noticed that when I blog about something we do for others, we get more hits than when I am just encouraging people to check us out. We have to bring value or the traffic just simply won’t come.

    I haven’t had the chance to have a product to promote. I hope to have some in the future, so I’ll definitely take posts like this to heart. By doing a bunch of things, most of which help others as well as me, should hopefully keep my feed (Twitter, blog, Facebook, whatever) from being all about me or about a single product.

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, in other words.

    • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Thank you, Mark. Yes, another good analogy. The problem with only helping yourself out is it’s disingenuous. Doing my own thing here on BRHM allows me to offer help and advice because I see a need and I want to help people succeed. There’s no catch. Take this free advice and RUN, BABY, RUN. If you want to tell others, great. If you want to keep it to yourself, that’s fine, too. We all help people in our own little ways. Sure, I have a biz to run and books to sell, but my main goal is and has always been to help authors succeed and learn from my mistakes. Some won’t listen. That’s cool, too.

      There’s one author I know who has created multiple dummy accounts and he auto tweets hundreds of links each day to his books on Amazon. He’s making a lot of money. He’s also constantly being shut down by Twitter and simply opens up more accounts. Now he’s teaching other authors to do the same. If that’s how he wants to become known, rock on.

      Not me.

      • Emelia Sam on May 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm

        I hear you. I want to be the type of author that readers seek out because of my message. The idea of multiple accounts to bombard people is such a turn off. If I’m going to “bombard people,” it will be with content and conversation that makes a difference.

        • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm

          There you go, Emelia. Some of the people I admire most on social media are out there unearthing and digging up the most relevant data they can find to share with others, to help make us more successful. In fact, many of their streams are link-filled however, they’re not asking me to join their pyramid schemes or sell vitamins for them. (And if they are, I certainly can’t tell.) Becoming the go-to person in a given area, or initiating conversation about a genre or topic is a terrific way to get in the game. Just sayin.

  4. Wes McGee on May 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    It is a fact that selling yourself and the relationship works far better than just selling your product. I am a voracious reader but -in all honesty- your books aren’t my typical fare. I’m mainly into biographys, history, the classics and, of course, poetry. I was cruising the internet, saw you and decided to hang around for a while. A bit later I decided to find out why you’re so snarky by reading Mancode. Surprise, I really enjoyed it. I then decided to make it a double. I have also read a few similar books by other writers. You have opened up a new genre for me.

    • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Wes, I’m overwhelmed by your comment. You’ve made my day. My week! (you can tell my use of the dreaded and rare exclamation mark.) Like you, I tended to stick to a certain genre for a long time. Never much of a reader of biographies, reading The Glass Castle and any/all of David Sedaris’ books was life changing for me. A tweep I met IRL told me I’m much nicer IRL than she expected. Then we had lunch and I let my snark flag fly. Being authentic is critical to our success.

      Write on.

  5. Will Van Stone Jr on May 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Your posts are always so entertaining and educational (a tough combo to pull off). While I do tend to share a number of links on my Twitter and Facebook, I hope I don’t end up one of those spammers who can’t talk about anything beside what they’re selling. Though I have a feeling if I do, you’ll yell at me for it 🙂

    • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you, Will. I’m not a yeller IRL (surprisingly, given the red hair and all ;). I go for more of a word lashing, if you will, but I think you already know that from following me. Sharing interesting content is one thing — even if they’re links — it’s the self-promo that people find objectionable. There’s a clear difference.

      After all, you wouldn’t be here reading this if you hadn’t clicked on a link….

  6. M. E. Franco on May 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Great info Rachel. When I released my first book last summer, I had no platform and really had no idea how to promote it. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, so I quit promoting. Not because I was giving up, but because I realized there was so much I needed to learn. I started reading blogs, interacting and promoting others, blogging, and building a network. It has really paid off. Wish I had researched more before publishing. Better late than never 🙂

    • Rachel Thompson on May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Thank you, M.E. I applaud you, actually, for taking a step back. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see authors make — putting the horse before the proverbial cart. It takes intelligence to figure out that’s not going to work. Many writers just plow through, spamming links on Twitter, maybe selling a book here or there. I’d love to showcase your success sometime — @JustinBog has shared some of your story with me so I know that establishing your platform has been key to your success. Let’s chat!

  7. Ciara Ballintyne on May 25, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Once again, I can’t agree more. I’ve just started sharing #writetips on Twitter as a way to bolster my content, and there’s been an amazing response. An amazing amount of RTs and interactions, and when I talk to those people, they’re telling me how great the tips are. So you’re right, content over self-promo links goes a long way.

    The survey result doesn’t surprise me at all though. So many self-published authors go on about better royalties than traditionally published, and that’s true, but for the vast majority of self-pubbed authors, 70% of nothing = not much!

    • Rachel Thompson on May 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Your #writetips are terrific, too BTW, Ciara. So helpful!

      I’m not entirely against self-promo — let me be clear. We all need to get our work out there. But there are other ways — a tweet here or there, links on our bios, interviews, guest blogs, reviews, blog tours, advertising…the list is almost limitless how many options there are. I just did an interview w/ @ChrisBellNZ discussing the many options (and the end of the world, but that’s beside the point :)…

      And yes, the royalties for SP authors is great — 70% for books above $2.99 — if people can find out about you. That’s where engagement is crucial.

  8. Justin Bog on May 27, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Always pushing ahead and trying to not let statistics build me up, they’re so fleeting, or knock me down either since the writing life is a curvy road of ups and downs. Love what you have to say . . . calm guidance. That voice in my head saying: be impeccable with your word.

    • Rachel Thompson on June 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      It’s true, Justin — The stats are ARE fleeting. It’s important to keep striving to be your best (as you do), and provide even more great stuff to read while still interacting for your current book.

      Balance, above all things.

  9. Amelia James on June 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Okay I’m going to ask a stupid question, but if I don’t ask, I don’t learn. So there.

    What exactly is rich, interesting content? Is it posting a link to something I read and liked? Or it is composing a tweet with good info? Can you do that in 140 characters?

    I’ve learned a lot from you, Rachel, but I’m still stumped on that one. Thanks!

    • Rachel Thompson on June 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Not stupid at all. I think this stumps a lot of people, which is why they end up spamming links constantly. Picking your keywords and knowing your branding is crucial.

      Think about tweeps you like: does their content only include links to their own stuff? Doubtful. The tweeps I follow & RT the most provide interesting content that’s branded around who they are: if you are looking for charity info, follow a charity blogger who tweets about causes you’re interested in. As for what I do personally, I provide facts, information, resources etc on @BadRedheadMedia. Same with my blog. My goal is to help people understand branding and social media better to sell more books! Yes, I link to my own stuff but I know it’s not entirely self-serving.

      As for my author account, @RachelintheOC, I’ve chosen words that reflect my style: men, women, relationships, snark, social media, books, fellow authors. All topics that interest me and I know interest others!

      Does that help?

      • Amelia James on June 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        It gave me something to think about. I’m a romance author so my keywords are focused on love, sex, relationships, trashy books, etc. But I’m not sure how to turn them into content. I’m not really an expert on writing, publishing, and definitely not selling.

        Hmmm…must ponder this. Thanks!

        • Amelia James on June 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

          One more question: have you written anything on branding? That still stumps me too. Thanks!

          • Rachel Thompson on June 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

            Just wrote a BRANDING post and it’s up here on — I hope it helps you, Amelia.

          • Amelia James on June 21, 2012 at 4:30 am

            You’re so awesome! Thanks! (That deserved two exclamation points.) 😉

  10. Glynis Smy on June 25, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Brilliant post and reminder!

  11. […] Please: Do Not Spam Another Link Until You Read This! […]

  12. Tony Tovar on August 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Hello Rachel,

    You’ve made a very good point. Going by your logic, do you think it wise to instead of meeting your audience head on you just focus on building a relationship with the people they most admire or follow? Does this have benefits?

    • Rachel Thompson on August 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Tony — thank you. There are definitely advantages to following who your followers follow (that sounds so funny). That’s the best way to grow your Twitter account to be honest — check their followers but more importantly, check their lists (who they have listed and who has listed them) which is targeted even further. Lists go very deep. In fact, that will probably be next week’s article! x

  13. Yasmin Selena Butt on September 11, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Loved your post you bad redhead you! I’m going to share it on my FB Writer’s Circle. Having worked in Marketing & PR, completely agree, relationships are the way forward x

  14. Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) on November 2, 2012 at 9:04 am

    PLEASE: DO NOT SPAM ANOTHER LINK UNTIL YOU READ THIS! @ via BadRedheadMedia via @badredheadmedia

  15. @Jaimison10 on November 2, 2012 at 9:07 am


  16. Rachel Thompson (@BadRedheadMedia) on November 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

    PLEASE: DO NOT SPAM ANOTHER LINK UNTIL YOU READ THIS! @ via BadRedheadMedia via @badredheadmedia

  17. Ryan Casey on November 2, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Awesome post, Rachel. If I wore a cap, I’d tip it to you, but I don’t, so a thank-you will have to suffice.

    I think one of the problems with Twitter is ignorance. People don’t realise how ineffective constant promo is/how damaging it can be, so they do it anyway. They don’t realise there’s another way, and that’s why I sympathise sometimes.

    Then again, there are loads of great resources out there if one is willing to learn. It’s not a quick fix–it’s a marathon. It’s taken me…seven-ish months to build a platform that I’d still describe as in its early stages of growing, but I’ve built it through perseverance.

    My personal three Twitter policies? Share useful content your followers will enjoy from other sources, not just for the sake of sharing. Share stuff from your own website a few times per day, but not every five minutes. And most importantly, reply to every tweet. Engage. Make your author ‘brand’ just about you being yourself.

    Again, great post. I’ll be sharing.


  18. Rachel Thompson on November 2, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Thanks so much, Ryan!

    I’ve been on Twitter since ’09, and I’ve NEVER seen more twitter spam — particularly from authors. One writer today argued with me that thanking everyone and posting the link to his site in the thank you isn’t spam. Please. I directed him to the Twitter HELP section which clearly defines identical messages to different recipients as spam, as well as a link in each tweet.

    Whatever. What’s most important is having Twitter policies like yours (which I fully support, BTW). The biggest names in social may not interact with every single tweet, but they do share great content that’s not purely self-promo.

    Thank you, again!

  19. Rachel Thompson (@BadRedheadMedia) on November 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Please: Do NOT Spam Another Link Until You Read This! @BadRedheadMedia #authors #bloggers #writing

  20. Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC) on November 3, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Please: Do NOT Spam Another Link Until You Read This! @BadRedheadMedia #authors #bloggers #writing

  21. @DianaStevan on November 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

    @LisaDaleNorton Thanks for the mention. Great article on spamming in your shimmering images. #writing #amwriting

  22. […] Interesante reflexión que analiza el uso que hacemos de las redes sociales y la importancia de las relaciones personales que se establecen antes de intentar hablar única y exclusivamente de tu producto. See on […]

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