Where sharks swim

I'll admit, I'm pretty new at this whole "being an author" thing. I'd originally intended to just write a story for my little boy and got carried away turning it into a book.

After going through the quagmire of cover design, formatting, and all the rest of it, the book got released. Yay!

But a book is only as good as its readers. If no one knows it exists, then how will you get readers?

"Ah," I thought to myself, "I can use social media!" I never knew until recently just how many sharks there are in the social media world of trying to promote your book.

First off: Instagram.

I'm a complete novice at Insta. I had to get my teenage daughter to teach me how to use it, whilst I grumbled about icons with no meanings and how you can't post things from a desktop machine (as it turns out, you can post images and text, though not video; you just have to fool it into thinking you're using a phone).

Then, a lovely friend told me about finding relevant hashtags, and suddenly, within seconds of posting about my book, I was getting likes and comments from complete strangers.

Insightful comments such as: Promote on @somewhere

DM @sharky to promote

Love it. Promote it on @dodgydelboy

(names have been changed to protect the guilty)

Being naïve, I sent a DM to one of these. Immediately, I was bombarded by DM messages explaining how they would share my post with their zillions of followers. All I had to do was to pay them. Did I want to do it now? Why not? What about now? They could lower the price. Now? Now? NOW?

From chatting with an author friend, some (maybe all?) of these zillions of followers that could see your post are, in fact, bots made purely to boost their numbers. Not actual people at all.

Another amazing friend suggested I try posting other things on Instagram, stuff about my life, interests, and so on, to form more of an image of me, rather than just my book. So, as I'm not very photogenic, I posted pictures from some trips abroad, and included some useful hashtags.

Great photo! Promote it on @sharkeybot

Dm @makemerich to promote it


Then there's: Facebook

Facebook has this thing where you can make pages for your book. You can put posts up on it, share information, and easily pass it among your current Facebook friends. I'm personally not a big fan of having to create a separate profile to do so (I've tried it, and easily forget which profile I'm in) but it could be worse.

There are also Facebook groups, dedicated to people who enjoy reading books, writing books, and promoting books. Now, this sounded more like it.

So far, I've had authors wanting to do review swaps (something which Amazon have strict rules against), authors commenting on my posts purely to promote their own books, and of course, "Drop your links below to be promoted" where they happen to forget the fact they'll ask you for loads of money.


Twitter does seem a different beast. I've not heard of many authors selling books on Twitter, but when it comes to discussing the craft honestly with others, gaining knowledge and wisdom, and meeting some great people, it does work out well. The #WritingCommunity are fabulous, by and large (there will always be some who treat it as a pissing contest, but that's their loss). There are a handful of paid promotion services for books on Twitter, but so far I've yet to see the level of harassment you get from the other two social medias.


One last point about sharks. The sheer volume of DMs I've had, from any social media, that start off with "Hi" is ridiculous. Who greets a stranger like that? No follow up, no explanation why they casually drop you a Hi. The odds of them being a scammer are so ludicrously high that I often just block immediately.

Don't get me wrong. I like DMs. I like it when someone messages me and asks me to help promote something, if they have a service they're offering, or just want to chew the fat. I've no problem with that. But just "Hi"? That's creepy AND lazy, like a stoned Freddy Krueger.

But does social media work?

I'm still working that out. There are far more social medias out there that I haven't discussed. I've seen posts of angry people who paid for promotion services through these sharks, only to be ghosted by them. I've seen posts of people happy to use such paid services. I guess it depends on which one you go for, and how lucky you are.

Thing is, any kind of advertising can only get the customer in through the front door. Once there, you need more than an Instagram post to get them to part ways with their cash and actually buy your book.

I'd probably be as bold to say there is more money to be made attempting to promote other people's books than in making the books themselves. You just have to have no soul.