The Thin Skin of Self-Publishing

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I usually spend January looking for new trends in the book world (or making them up, which is more fun), and I’m seeing an increase in pronouncements about self-publishing online. It’s probably a seasonal thing, as people sketch out their writing goals. But a lot of what I’m seeing lately has been negative, particularly below the line.

Last year, I took up a different baton of writerly whinging, when I complained about complaining. That went well, so I’m off again.

And oh, how much complaining there is about this topic. Both from the people bemoaning the quality of self/author-published work, to the people decrying the temerity of anyone who dares to say anything negative about the industry at all – even if it comes from author-publishers themselves.

I Blame The Internet

We’re all talking to each other these days. Which is, technically, a marvellous thing: but nothing feeds paranoia better than social media. And when it comes to some SP authors, it can reach very special levels indeed.

Paul stared at his Amazon stats. What a punch to the gut! He’d only sold 6 books in 6 months. Where was he going wrong? Was it because he was down to to a mere 145 tweets and one 2,000-word blog post a day? Was it because he hadn’t taken out that $1700 ad in Paranoid Author Monthly? Or was it because some guy in Japan had released his book at the same time?

Paul’s upper lip curled with vitriol, making it difficult to drink his coffee. It was definitely the fault of some guy in Japan. Stealing all his readers. Bastard.

The Thin Skin Of Self-Publishing

It’s not only authors blaming authors. Does any sane person really believe that if someone they don’t know slags off self-publishing, it has any material impact on prospective readers?

Jeremy’s hands clenched with rage. Nasty in Newfoundland had written an article saying that self-published books were of below average quality.

Jeremy knew what they were REALLY saying: that his life’s work (a semi-autobiographical fictionalised account of one man’s struggle with a crippling fear of strawberries) was rubbish. This was worse than a 1-star review. This person in Newfoundland, this wholly unknown person, was out to destroy him. Bastard.

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Recently, in HELP! EVERYONE IS WRITING A BOOK, I explored the notion of competition. And as the time between now and May would seem optimal for getting your book out, it’s only going to get worse.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, we could use Sparling’s 5-Point Plan For Ultimate Social Media Paranoia:

  1. Scour the Interweb, convinced someone has that one true marketing path to success for self-published books.
  2. Tweet 100 times a day to 50,000 followers who never read any of your spammy tweets.
  3. Expend lots of energy being envious of successful authors you see online and compare all small victories unfavourably with those of more famous writers.
  4. Eviscerate anyone who says bad things about you or your books, all the while thinking why didn’t you buy my book and what’s wrong with me and it’s all your fault anyway.
  5. Use social media to tear into anyone who says something negative about self-publishing, because obviously if nobody ever points the out common pitfalls and mistakes, myths or downsides of the industry, every single self-published author will be able to make a fantastic living out of writing.

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Or you could buck the trend, and do something else.

7 Self-Publishing Alternatives To Going Berserk On Social Media

  1. Use the Internet to gather information which is relevant and helpful to your SP process, and ignore what isn’t.
  2. Reduce anxiety about the quality of your beloved book, by paying to have it professionally edited and packaged.
  3. Try to get the timing right, either by launching around a date relevant to your book, or when competition from blockbusters isn’t so tough.
  4. Try to identify something about your book which sets it apart from the others (e.g. is it set in Finland? During WWI? In a circus?) and in your online marketing, use that as a reason readers might like it.
  5. Don’t abuse social media with a prolific, scatter-gun approach. People don’t like being bombarded and they will mute you.
  6. Avoid the tricksters and the fraudsters taking advantage of the desperation which seems to grip so many SP authors, by separating them from their money for bogus services promising things that nobody on earth would rightly claim they could deliver.
  7. Accept that sometimes success doesn’t happen for years, or at all. Accept that sometimes it’s all just down to dumb luck, and that sometimes traditionally-published authors can’t sell their books either.

And the meantime we can all keep on writing, learning, improving, and strategizing. One day, it might work for us. There is also the chance that it won’t. But it’s still only January, folks. It’s time to dream big, but prepare for normal.

The Old End-With-A-Question Tactic

What do you think about the globalisation of the writing community through social media? Obviously writers support each other online to a huge degree. But is it good or bad for your confidence, to be connected to so many people who are engaged in the same artistic sphere with much the same goals?

  89 comments for “The Thin Skin of Self-Publishing

  1. January 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Hang on a second, Sparling — I thought of the Finnish Circus in WWI idea first. You keep your damn hands off it. If I catch you stealing my ideas you’ll only be safe in Korea. NORTH Korea.

    Liked by 4 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Oooh, a one-way ticket to Kim’s back garden! I love it! You’re too kind. But just think. If North Korea is the only place I’ll be safe, they must love me there. Imagine how many books I’ll sell once I become a mandatory purchase for all citizens… Ha! Backfired on you, didn’t it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. January 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I think there are negative and positives to every business, and there are groups of people who will focus on one or the other.

    In the end, I try focus on my work, getting it to the best it can be. If my books are quality, then people will buy more, no matter if they’re self published or not. I’ve read some traditionally published books that have errors everywhere, so sometimes one path doesn’t always mean better 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Couldn’t agree more, Mishka. Most readers don’t even notice who’s published a book. That’s an author-led obsession!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ali Isaac
    January 29, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I’m with Mishka! I ignore the moaners… and many of the ‘experts’. I learn from whoever talks sense and ignore the rest. Anyway, success doesnt neccessarily mean large book sales and wads of dosh. And if nothing else, its great fun to connect with other authors… unless you made the mistake of hooking up with the moaners!

    Liked by 5 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      But how to tell who’s talking sense, Ali? Except for me obviously. Especially when I’m moaning 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac
        January 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm

        I have an inbuilt ‘talking shite’ monitor Tara! Actually, it just started bleeping wildly when I read your last comment…


        • January 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

          Uh-oh. I’ve finally tripped the switch, have I? Listen, I don’t suppose you fancy coming around for a cup of special tea?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Ali Isaac
            January 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm

            Love that ‘special tea’ lol!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. January 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    As I write this, my professional editor is working on my first book. The book has been workshopped to death, and writers I respect say it’s a good story, well executed. So now it’s down to me to market it, and my skill there is a little less reliable. What will be, will be. I dream big, but expect small, if anything!

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Congratulations in advance! And full kudos to you for trying to get your product the best it can be before releasing it on the general public. Although even if everyone did that, I’m pretty sure the moaning from some would continue (which would be a terrible blow to my blog)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. tbrpiledotcom
    January 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Hear, hear. Well said, that woman. I think self-publishers are best off finding ten or so sites that they trust, and a select few tweeters and following them and only them. There is SO MUCH “advice” out there – a lot of it regurgitated – you could spend all day every day reading it, stressing about it, and doing no writing. (Guess how I know that.)

    Gather a few people round you for support and steer clear of the social media love fest circles – the only people reading those retweets are other people in the love fest.

    My big bug-bear at the moment is self-publishers pointing with glee and smug self-satisfaction every time a traditionally published author or a traditional publisher writes a negative comment about self-publishers. Get over it. There ARE some spectacularly bad self-publishers out there, but there are also some bloody excellent ones who are just getting on with it – join THEIR ranks.

    Write, edit, market – and do it with a bit of class so you have others begging to be in your love fest. Then turn them down. Repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Well, what can I say? Anyone who agrees with me is obviously very wise. Although that sounds a bit love-festy. Is that too much love? I’d insult you instead, but I couldn’t possibly, because your gang is the one I want to be in. How about a back-handed compliment instead?!

      I do agree, though. The chronic retweeters never even read any of those damned books. It’s just as unhelpful as the smarmy frowners wittering on about ‘vanity publishing’.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. January 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I knew you were trying to steal my ideas, Tara! This is not over, you hear me?? I promise you you’ll hear from my clown-nose-wearing, Finnish, WWII-veteran lawyers!

    And yes, my upper lip is currently curled with vitriol.

    Some tea might help, of course.

    Liked by 4 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Don’t mind the lawyers, Nicholas. Here, sit down. I’ve made you some special tea. Sssssspecial. Yesssssss….

      Liked by 2 people

  7. January 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    It’s all about expectations. People who knock any form of publishing tend to do so because their expectations aren’t aligned with reality (this is not to confuse expectations from dreams, you can dream as big as you want as long as you recognise them as such).
    Produce the best work you can, get in the professional support to help in the areas you’re weak (like editing, cover art), publish your book, promote your book but don’t flog it to death, and most importantly, keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      I second and third that. Imagine getting angry everytime you read something which interfered with your unrealistic expectations. If you were Irish, you might never get out of bed.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. January 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I think it’s great to network with other authors. It soon becomes apparent who the moaners are, and in the anonymity of the world wide web it’s so easy to ditch them. I’ve learnt a lot from authors, become firm friends with some (every new friend is a bonus) and discovered lots of fabulous books I’d never otherwise have read.

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      Yes indeed, Alison. “Network with caution” should be the mantra, perhaps! Along with “read with impunity”.


  9. Kylie Betzner
    January 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Wow, that last question is a big one. Going to ignore it for the time being. I think authors spend a lot of time worry about things outside their control, like publishing trends and the global economy, and lose valuable writing time. I try to connect with positive, productive people, but a few whiners are fun here and there when you’re in a bad mood and just need someone to share it with. Admittedly, I’m frustrated by low sales and that good marketing options seem limited. Advice is conflicting, and it’s hard to find readers among all the writers, but at the end of the day, there is a good writer’s community online and eventual success to anyone who is thick-skinned enough to stick it out. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 29, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      I agree that it’s nice to find like-minded people, Kylie, as long as the bad mood doesn’t get compounded by it! Misery does love company so I try to steer clear if I’m not able to feel tongue-in-cheek about things.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kylie Betzner
        January 29, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        Exactly. A good whine can be relieving now and then but whining and complaining constantly drags others down.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. January 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I’m of the beat my head on the desk in private sector. I try to keep a positive image in public, and doubt I’m alone in that. Sometimes I have to refuse the siren’s call of the internet and just write.

    Liked by 3 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      I hope the desk you’re beating your head on is a nice one. Mine is grey metal. It makes head-banging an even more desolate business. Doesn’t stop me doing it, though.


  11. January 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Yeeeeah, I’m all for paranoia and all, but I’m far too lazy to publish a book by myself. Plus, just think of all the grammatical errors and all the crap that falls under the heading:
    general crap-I-didn’t-see-before-I-published-the-book-that-it’s-now-too-late-to-change, it would be a total disaster. Id have to go through all 20 copies of my book and fix or change every error in black ink, hopefully before I sold them all to my mother.


    • January 29, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Could you not arrange for your mother to not read any of them? Or just tell her it’s a new departure in high literary fiction – novels with the mistakes left in, to signify the fragmented psyche of the modern tortured artist.

      Seriously. There are Internet forums which would believe that stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm

        Another fantastic scheme for Naptimethoughts and Tara. Lets write a crappy book with plenty of mistakes and errors and then sell it as stream of consciousness and a visual art piece kind of like Finnegans Wake everybody claims to have read and understood finnegans wake so we could be the next jame yoise.


        • January 29, 2015 at 5:01 pm

          But I’ve already written it, Naptime. Haven’t you? I will try the James Joyce thing, though. It’s pretty much the Emperor’s New Clothes type of literature and all we need is a good publicist. Do you know anyone in right-wing journalism?

          Liked by 2 people

          • January 29, 2015 at 5:15 pm

            Mmmm… Good idea. The entire right wing reads that garbage.
            It’s true, I have already written it, my fourth grade essay on Martin Luther King Jr. is an excellent example.
            Unfortunately, at least here, a good right wing publicist is going to cost you. Big time. Ask the Koch brothers.
            I think we require another option.


            • January 29, 2015 at 5:35 pm

              Dammit. Have you no connections at all? Not even one compromising photo of a fascist billionaire? I expected more from you, really.

              Liked by 1 person

              • January 29, 2015 at 6:14 pm

                What can you expect from someone who’s not even writing book?

                Liked by 1 person

                • January 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

                  Oh, I dunno. Cash? You do owe me my percentage of besquillions, after all.


                  • January 29, 2015 at 10:39 pm

                    Oh, the matter of your payment. Didn’t you have to make me my besquillions first?


                    • January 29, 2015 at 11:10 pm

                      I guess I ought to write a book then. I’ll call it “Naptimethoughts” and it will have a strange resemblance to my blog.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • January 30, 2015 at 12:31 am

                      But I did. It’s such a shame you didn’t keep a closer eye on what you were signing.


          • February 2, 2015 at 7:18 am

            Ahem. That would be me, then. Great idea, girls, but it would have to be based on Victoria Beckham’s stream of consciousness, while shopping.

            Liked by 1 person

            • February 2, 2015 at 9:56 am

              I didn’t know you were a right-wing journalist! Be the hokey. Had I known that, I would have been so much nicer. So can you set me up with a puff piece regarding how clever stupid people will be if they read my thinly-disguised hate speech?


              • February 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm

                I’m sorry,Tara, but for that, you have to be in EastEnders, a Californian giggle therapist who has written six best-sellers about nothing, or related to the editor.


                • February 2, 2015 at 3:45 pm

                  That’s a lie. You only have to be related to the editor. The rest is just to make you feel better. I know your type.


  12. January 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    You have 50,000 followers? Damn, I’m crushed!
    In actual fact, I love being so interconnected. I was writing (unsuccessfully) pre-internet, and I always had this feeling that I was the only one on earth doing it. Every piece of industry information or research was a trip to the library, and a multi-hour stay. Finding editors, artists, agents, publishers was pulling out a dictionary-size directory that was published once a year and was probably out of date before I ever saw it. Now when I need a piece of data or a contact, the only thing hard is deciding whether to use Google, Wikipedia, or drop the question into one of the wonderful groups I inhabit, the groups where I can also go for hours of scintillating shop-talk. I’m telling you straight up, anyone who longs for the Good Old Days wasn’t actually there!


    • January 29, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      No indeed, far from 50,000 followers do I have. Apart from my immediate family and my 3 paid stalkers, I only have 4 followers, 2 of which are technically fake. Although I appreciate your jealousy. It’s all I can base my fragile sense of self-worth upon.

      You’re so right, though. Writing pre-Internet was a very precious process I would have no desire to subject myself to.


  13. January 29, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Such good advice. I like blogging because I meet people who are passionate about something in their life and want to share it. I tend to avoid places where people who consider themselves authors or budding authors or real writers congregate as I don’t think it helps to get too introverted, unless you are looking for advice on something specific. Also, most people on these sites are American and the system is different from here.

    I belong to a local organisation of writers at all stages on the path, so can share experiences with people there who have blazed a trail before me. As for social media, to date i have avoided participation in Twitter as I feel the need to draw a line otherwise I’d never get any writing done.

    Interestingly, on a recent interview, the established Scottish author Peter May, who made it big with his Lewis trilogy, says he now spends much more time on all aspects of promotion that on writing. That struck me as being rather sad.


    • January 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      That echoes something Lionel Shriver said in this article called “How To Succeed As An Author: Give Up On Writing” back in 2013. She makes a very valid point about having to spend so much time on publicity, even for such a renowned international author. I found it depressing, until I thought about musicians: most popular musicians have to spend a disgusting amount of time promoting themselves. Seems the book world has just finally caught up.


  14. annerallen
    January 29, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    A hilarious (and true) look at self-publishing paranoia. I’m going to be writing on this subject later next month, and I’ll be sure to link to this post. Lots of wisdom here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      I would be THOROUGHLY chuffed to get linkage from you, Anne. I’m glad you like it. I think you can guess that it was partially the reaction to your post earlier this month which prompted me here. I get that this stuff always seems to happen when people run out of the happy pills, but really, it’s just gone mad in the last few weeks.


  15. January 29, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Are you sure Mara didn’t write this?! You’re trending like crazy you clever grrrrl 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Am I? Really? Nooo! Mara’s going to take all the credit! I never get anything of my own!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. January 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Tara, what else are you supposed to do when you’re cabin bound in the depths of winter BESIDES complain and throw some blame against the wall? Thanks for taking the time to bring me a smile and some solid angles for further exploration. It’s a foul tide, as they say…


    • January 29, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Richard.

      1) Find yourself singing “Let It Go”, and stop immediately
      2) Look up YouTube videos of dogs running through cornfields in summer
      3) Draw a nice picture of a man with 2 noses
      4) Bake your vitriol into a cake; decorate it, and throw it against the wall instead

      Don’t say I never give you anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. January 29, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I find the community fun, supportive, informative… BUT dangerously time-consuming.


    • January 30, 2015 at 12:32 am

      I know what you mean, but I have it down to just the 16 hours a day I’m not doing my day job now. It’s going great.


  18. January 30, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Tara, I spotted this quote from Anne Enright earlier in today’s paper and thought of this post…”Writing is an increasingly fragile eco system. The internet is like global warming for the thin end of the business”.

    Can’t argue with that. But of course everyone will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      I love Anne Enright. She is full of sane words. She was beautifully gentle once with a woman I saw crushed in a Q&A by John Banville for having the nerve to ask for advice. John Banville told the lady to stop writing as she obviously wasn’t getting anywhere. Anne Enright then said her advice would be to “write less, but edit more.”

      I know who I’d like to have an argument with 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 30, 2015 at 3:37 pm

        A pompous arse per chance? Hehe

        Yeah, she’s wonderful. Speaks a lot of sense on life in general. Get her now and big title. Well deserved 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • January 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm

          I can’t believe they gave the accolade to someone so talented AND sensible. There must have been some sort of rational virus doing the rounds. I’m sure they’ll stamp it out soon enough.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. January 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I love the writing community and let’s face it – all writing is original – isn’t it?!

    And to think I never dreamt I’d be competing with self help books for shelf space! Always be aware that some people might interpret your book in a way you never thought possible


    • January 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Now, Lorna, you can’t confuse the Grand Irish Tax Office For Bizarre And Utterly Nonsensical Book Classifications with a definitive shelving of your book. You can accuse them of many things, but not that.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. February 1, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. February 2, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Damn. I was going to write a thriller about a woman with an irrational fear of strawberries. In Finland. I’m obviously going to have to write about something a bit less well worn. Oh dear. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to think of the tweets first, and write the book after?


    • February 2, 2015 at 9:57 am

      I never think of the tweets first. If I did, I would never have tweeted what I twote.


  22. February 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    It should be reasonable to say that if you’ve written a ball of shite you can’t expect anybody to buy it. Problem for many moaners though is they can see hundreds of balls of shite that ARE selling by the van load. I blame the readers. They just aren’t discriminating enough. If they were discriminating I’d be a millionaire. A lot of it’s down to luck. Getting noticed by the right person at the right time. Right, back to honing my next ball of shite.

    Liked by 2 people

    • February 2, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Jane Dougherty, you are my kind of woman. Write on, and let the shite fall where it may.

      Liked by 1 person

    • February 2, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      You’re right, Jane. It is all the fault of the readers. I rounded some up once, in a van, and tried to beat some sense into them, but it backfired (along with the van). By the time we got to the pub, they’d all finished the entire 50 Shades trilogy, and one of them had written a 170,000 word piece of fanfiction. To be fair to them though, they said they were looking for more shite, if you have any going spare.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 2, 2015 at 3:58 pm

        There’s always plenty round here. Which quality were they after? YA shite, chick lit/women’s fiction shite or paranormal romance shite? With or without gay cowboys?

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 2, 2015 at 4:00 pm

          Actually, they were pretty indiscriminate (and that was even before the concussion set in). They just wanted something that was quite like something else. Do you have any shite that’s similar?


    • February 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      “Crap Sells” has been a two-word mantra that has kept me at it for over fifty years of frustration at seeing Crap from Professional Wrestling to Fifty Shades to Twilight take off and make their creators some of the richest people on earth. Whenever my rational internal self begins to say, “Your writing is crap,” the internal Minister of Crap slaps him down and says, “Shut up, fool! That’s what they want!” I’m telling you from a long lifetime of observation that if Crap was a liquid commodity, you couldn’t pour it into a million-gallon vat fast enough to get the bottom wet. Everybody would be gathered around sucking it out through hoses and demanding more, more, more! You’re right, Jane, it’s mostly luck, unless you have $50,000 a month for an advertising budget…

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm

        Ah, yes. But one man’s shite is another man’s 2-book deal, remember. We just have to face facts that some shite simply smells, and sells, better than others. They must be getting something right…


      • February 2, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        It comforts me too, Jack. There’s more and more to read out there, but is there more and more great stuff to read? Something tells me the odd are against it. Trouble is, I don’t seem to be writing the right kind of crap. Must study form harder.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. February 4, 2015 at 7:55 am

    This is a funny thread! Almost forgot the question, but on social media, you can’t get by without comrades-in-arms. You should absolutely connect to other authors. To be honest, there’s no such thing as ‘competition’ when you write from your gut. No one else has your fingerprint, and no one else has your story. Your real story, not the knockoff you hope will ride the current trend.

    But the pitfall can be connecting ONLY with authors. If we were at a bazaar, would we spend all day talking to other sellers? No, we’d reach out to potential customers and even buy from potential customers whose wares are in another category from my own. Bloggers, agents and activists schedule chats, and it’s great to interact with people who share your interest in a certain topic.

    For example, I join a chat that discusses women of color and how they’re portrayed on reality TV. I wrote a book about a woman of color who goes on a reality show, so this is right up my alley. I hear firsthand about the woeful lack of media with positive images of women of color, and wouldn’t it be great to find stories that don’t sink into stereotypes. That’s when I present the very thing they daren’t hope existed. In turn some have bought the book, thankful that they aren’t the only ones who feel the way they do.

    Social media is a cocktail party, and nobody wants to talk to a salesman. Good old-fashioned conversation is the best way to engage people, and it’s a great way for them to sample your writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 4, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      What a brilliant line, Joye – “Social media is a cocktail party, and nobody wants to talk to a salesman”. In fact, I might have it tattooed on my tongue, ready to stick out at every opportunity! If only we could get straight to the sample in every case, and avoid all the also-ran patter.


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