Rant Warning: 80/20 Rule of Self Promotion

You read the title. You’ve been warned. Prepare for the rant.

Authors, PLEASE, I’m begging you, stop with the unending self-promotion.

80/20 rule of self promotion

I get it. I know you’re trying to increase your readership, highlight your reviews or provide quotes from your books. I understand. And yet, my eyeballs scroll to the back of my head. Your constant self-promotion is the quickest way for me to hit “unfollow”.

In my experience, it’s the self-published authors who are the biggest abusers of self-promotion (feel free to disagree with me). This blog is my profound plea for you to change your ways.

The 80/20 Rule

At the 2013 Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SIWC), I had the pleasure of hearing Sean Cranbury talk about social media for authors. He was adamant, and I couldn’t agree more, that when an author engages through social media they need to implement the 80/20 rule: eighty percent original thought, twenty percent self-promotion.

Twenty percent is even on the high end, Cranbury advised. If one out of five tweets of mine were self promotional I’d still consider that high, but this is a great starting place for people who struggle with original content.


Why is creative content important? Because readers hate advertisements. If I want to follow you on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe to your blog, I don’t want it to be your book, your book, your book, YOUR BOOK. Have a tab on your website that talks about your work. Novel thought. Pun intended.

More and more, readers want a relationship with their preferred authors. If I’ve already read your books and I’m following you on Twitter, I like your voice. I want to hear more, but I don’t want to read fifty tweets about the 99-cent sale of your book. Focus on fostering your relationships, building your brand and the sales will follow.

Who Does This Well?

There are a ton of authors who do this well. The one I love the most? Jennifer Weiner.

A writer of humorous, contemporary women’s fiction, she uses Twitter as a platform for her unique and witty voice. If you watch ABC’s The Bachelor, and follow it on Twitter, you know Jennifer Weiner. She live tweets through the episodes, making your laugh out loud and shake your head at the inane antics.

Jennifer Weiner Bachelor Tweet

Jennifer Weiner Bachelor Tweet

Her Bachelor tweets are favourited and retweeted in massive numbers by Bachelor fans around the world. Only at the end of the most recent Bachelor season did Weiner engage in a bit of self-promotion. She let the Twitterverse know that if they enjoyed her quirky wit, they could read her books to extend the experience.

As for the 80/20 rule, I’d argue that Weiner is more in the realm of 99 percent original thought, 1 percent. Answering questions from her readers doesn’t count.

I’m not saying that original content is easy. If I tell myself I need to tweet today, there I am, staring at my screen telling myself “be funny, be unique, be interesting.” Nothing kills my creativity faster than forced writing.

At the end of the day, the rule of thumb is self-promote as infrequently as possible.

Okay, rant over.

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5 Responses to Rant Warning: 80/20 Rule of Self Promotion

  1. diana April 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Totally agree. Well put. I want to know about the person, not ‘the pitch’!

  2. RockStarSocial April 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Reblogged this on RockStar Social.

  3. Kate and Britt April 13, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Good call! Before I follow anyone on Twitter I eyeball their TL…if it’s a repeated BUY MY BOOK BUY MY BOOK AVAILABLE NOW 99 CENTS COVER ART COVER ART BUY MY BOOK I deliberately do not follow that person. There are enough commercials and spam in other aspects of my life without deliberately signing up for this! -Kate

  4. vscot848 April 13, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Thanks, Kate. I’m definitely learning What Not to Do, and watching how the greats are doing it, but being conscious that my style will never been quite like theirs. Finding your own niche in how you connect with your readers is key.

  5. Dee Van Dyk April 14, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Great post, Victoria. Now following Jennifer Weiner, too. 🙂

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