I know I’m not the only one who has that one Facebook friend who always seems to be selling whatever the latest fad is and wants everyone to know ALL about it, multiple times per day. For my part, I can tell you that at any given moment, I am actively hiding posts from people inviting me to buy Jamberry (crap for nails), Thirty-One (crap to put your crap in), Pampered Chef (kitchen crap), Premier Designs (blingy crap), Nerium (expensive skin crap), or wanting me to visit their Etsy store, their DJ set, their band’s show at a seedy bar on the opposite end of town on a Tuesday night at 11 PM… you name it. Earlier this week, I got a notification from a family member I see maybe once a year, inviting me to buy from his girlfriend’s Etsy store because she makes beautiful baby and toddler gear. Dear family member, I’m not even a damned parent, but I’ve been trying to become one for nearly a year now, so you are particularly disconcerting and annoying to me at this moment.

As authors, we have a duty to not be a disconcerting, annoying, rotten spammer when we promote our work to the people we know. If there’s anything you can do to lose friends and alienate people quickly, it’s to assume that your work is for everyone. It’s not. You can’t assume that just because people know you, they can’t wait to run out and support you by buying your novel about a crime-solving lesbian urologist. Not everyone likes mysteries. Not everyone likes lesbians. Not everyone likes characters who also happen to be penis doctors. Just because you happen to go way back personally, it doesn’t mean your friends want to be bombarded with your commercial endeavors. If you were constantly being pushed to buy something that didn’t apply to you in the least bit, you’d get annoyed after a while, too.

Knowing you personally and liking you isn’t enough. Shameless self-promotion is only effective when it’s used on people who like you AND actually stand a snowball’s chance in hell of reading and enjoying your work. For everyone else, you should be respectful of their annoyance levels and create a separate author page on which to shamelessly self-promote. The people who are genuinely interested in your work will follow and won’t mind when you spam them with your latest cover concept art or work in progress word count. Don’t be the family member who annoys everyone with your shameless self-promotion. You’re better off trying to build a relationship with a stranger than to keep annoying your friends who haven’t seen the inside of a book in years.

Also, I’m having a Tupperware party later this month and I really need all of you to be there so I can more host credit and buy more shit!