Agency Lessons: How much is too much self promotion?

Agency Lessons is a weekly post that gives authors and readers an inside look into the mind of a literary agent and a peek behind the curtain of how books are made.

I'm answering another question from the mail bag today:
How do you balance self-promotion with actual author to reader interaction that doesn't come off as spamming?

This is a great question and one that I see a lot of authors struggling with.

We've all found ourselves with a new follower on Twitter. We go to check out their account and all their tweets are self-promotion. So we click the little red 'x' and move on. Because no one wants to sign up for a constant commercial.

Which is what authors are doing when they fail to include the social in their social media.

A good rule of thumb is 80/20. Any of your social media posts should be 80% for your followers in the form of genuine interaction and 20% can be reserved for promotion.  That 80% can be so many things. Ask genuine questions to start a conversation, share an article that your really enjoyed, promote the author of a book you read, or, you know, cat pictures. Because the internet loves cat pictures. The idea is to make sure you are being a social user. That means genuine interaction, not just throwing book promos into the wind.

By creating an account that is mostly social, your followers will not mind the occasional "hey, check out my book" post. In fact, they will probably be happy to support you.

Perhaps the 80/20 rule seems to close to doing actual math and you swore to your algebra teacher that you'd never touch the stuff again. If that's the case, then just follow the WAM principal, otherwise known as What About Me.

In general, people like to know what they are going to get out of a relationship, including the people they follow on social media. This can be as simple as getting a quick laugh from the guy who always posts funny cat gifs. So when you are trying to decide what to post, and how much of it can be about your books, think first about what your followers will get out of your post. If your answer is always something along the lines of "they get to learn about my book", you're doing it wrong.

Above and beyond any rule or mantra, social media should be fun. It can also be a great way to share your love of books and reading and it can be helpful in letting people know about your own book. But social media is not an advertising platform. If you keep that in mind, you should be fine.