Monday, January 16, 2012


by Dr Annabelle R Charbit

What happens when the anti spam police go too far? In a fashion not unlike the effect of the PC police, we end up unable to say anything without offending someone. This article highlights the frustrations of authors struggling to be heard on the internet, yet having to do so under impossibly restrictive conditions.

Ok we get it, spam is bad. No one wants their newsfeed clogged with thousands of irrelevant adverts, or even relevant advertising, but a thousand times a day. We get it!

But I also think many people are taking their loathing of spam too far....

Let's say you're a writer with a new book about to come out. You may join writer's forums. And let’s say your book has a heavy rock-climbing theme, so you'll probably also join rock-climbing forums. And in all these forums you'll talk to hundreds of like-minded people who'll be happy to learn all about you… all that is except for the fact that you've written a book!

The moment you so much as hint at your achievement, bam the petty police (we all know who they are, every forum has at least one) send you hostile and bitter emails that this forum is not the place for self promotion.

Well if you're a writer in a writer's forum, then, one should be surprised if you DIDN'T have a book up your sleeve.

As mentioned before (this needs to be repeated, lest some self-righteous petty Betty, who didn’t read the first paragraph, says something asinine about spam) there is a difference between alerting relevant parties of your new product and bashing them over the head with it in the form of spam. A huge difference!

My editor put out a press release in which she explained that thanks to her fabulous editing, my book has found a publisher. Well, of course, I shared it to all my social media. It appeared on my Facebook wall (once) in relevant Facebook groups (once), on Twitter, Stumbleupon and LinkedIn (all once), among others. For the most part people were receptive and offered congratulations. But then there was the bitter mafia, who accused me of everything, from spamming to even faking the press release. One group member said that my publisher wasn't sufficiently well-known for me to claim that I had found a publisher, whilst another said that the press release contained “too much extraneous capitalization,” which made her suspicious.

The best was the sour puss who wrote "is this self promotion or are you advertising the services of your editor? If it’s the latter then fine, but if it's the former then it has NO place in this forum!" Then what exactly is this ‘writer's forum’ for, you sad, miserable witch?!

By the end of a day that had started upbeat and full of hope, due to the arrival of the press release, I was totally deflated and broken by so much hostility and plain nastiness. I must add that my book exists purely for entertainment purposes. I am not trying to sell anyone on a concept or a product, so I don't see the harm in letting people know that it's out there.

So what promotes this apparent aversion to other people's attempts to make something of themselves? Is it envy, the desire to see someone fail, or the fear that someone might succeed? And if that is the case, then don't worry petty police, by the time your done muzzling and breaking the spirits of people you've never even met before, many I'm sure will have given up hope and abandoned the project.

As for me, I'm still fighting the good fight, trying to navigate the increasingly strict rules of social media and the oversensitivity of petty people.

Because I may or may not have a novel coming out. I'd love to tell you more about it, but can't in case it offends someone. So I'll just say this, the title begins with A. Also I have a website, but you can't have the link because giving someone a link is a major spam crime.

So if you want me, you can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn, talking about everything and anything, and always diligently avoiding mentioning that I may or may not soon be a published author.

Oh, and if another person tells me to join google+, I'll throttle them - I get abused on enough social sites as it is.

P.S., in case anyone is wondering, the most vicious petty Betties live on LinkedIn, so beware.…♥

Dr. Annabelle Charbit grew up in London, UK, and has been writing since 2006. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience. Annabelle is also a playwright and a journalist. Her comedy play, Sound Advice, was performed by CP Theatre Productions in London. In 2010, she wrote for, an online magazine who commissioned her after noticing her blog, Crazy in a Crazy World. A LIFE LIVED RIDICULOUSLY is Annabelle's first novel. Visit her at


  1. Love you post! And I couldn't agree with you more, except that I bet the Nasty Nancy' are most often found on Goodreads. But then I haven't tried Linked In, yet. I once got trounced for revealing I was a writer when asked to introduce myself! What am I supposed to do, lie about my profession? Please. The growing animosity on the Internet towards writers is a sad and scary thing. All I can suggest is you start your own Fb group for writers. There you can kick out any mean marys.

  2. Hi Jean. Nasty Nancies, I love it! I've had one horrid little guy on GoodReads, but so far nothing compared to LinkedIN.
    Well at least we can all laugh about it together :)
    A xxx

  3. Great post and so true! And add to it the risk of *not* admitting you have a novel and then being accused of being underhanded and having hidden agendas and... oh, wait. maybe that's just me : )
    thanks for the tip on the dangers of LinkedIn. I've been keeping that account for my non-writer life. Now *very* glad I did!

  4. I loved this post. My thoughts exactly but was too worried about voicing my opinion. Thank you for doing that for me. I have found on some forums such as KDP (Kindle) and Book Blogs, there are special threads for authors to promote their books. Thank goodness someone understands. I'm a little confused about the rules for Barnes and Noble (Nook) forums. That is why I have an Author Facebook account. I've tried LinkedIn but still don't get it. Twitter is good. GoodReads is a jumbled mess for me. But still I hesitate to post anything because of the "advice" from veteran eBook authors wanting to critique my covers or blurbs, which most the time I didn't ask for. (Don't get me wrong...I appreciate the advice. However, I've went to some of these peoples' links and I wouldn't say they are qualified to give critiques--putting it nicely.)

    I do think it is a fear that someone may succeed before the other. I recently read a fellow blogger's boast and bragging about his success with eBook sales on Kindle. I went to his Author Page on Amazon and his ratings were overall good on all his books, but there were almost as many negative reviews. I didn't dare voice my opinion because he writes a different genre than I, and I figure if he is THAT successful, there is hope for me yet. I read others blurbs and ratings and "Look Inside" features. I figure we all have something to learn from each other--whether how to do it or how NOT to do it, but sending out nasty emails or negative critiques is just wrong in my opinion unless it is asked for by the author. It's like I tell my Math-minded husband who simply loathes any type of English class. Writing is subjective. Everyone has a different interpretation. There's no right or wrong answer to it. And as far as advertising, isn't that what the Internet is mainly used for?

    1. Thanks Savannah Rose, your comments are spot on. I think so many of us feel this way. Being a writer can be a sad and frustrating journey. We need to support one another and share advice.
      Sometimes I wonder about the benefits of online self promotion, even when it is allowed. After all who is really listening and can you really sell books using social media?

  5. I've been thinking about writing a similar type of post for some time. I find it astounding how many people feel it is up to them to police social networks and forums, pouncing on anyone who might have the audacity to "shamelessly self-promote." Many of these self-deputized individuals are also avid readers.

    While I can understand the problem that can come with an overabundance of self-promotion, to assume all of it is nothing more than a bother is unfortunate. Most authors do not have the $$ to pay for a PR representative and all but the biggest publishing houses are going to leave said PR to the author. There are many diamonds in the rough, and dismissing every glimmer as valueless zirconium does the author and the reader a gross injustice.

    1. Amen ti that Lisa Lane. As you say, the big houses are no longer the final word on whose novel gets to see the light of day. We need to encourage one another to succeed, rather than stifle one another. Otherwise we all lose and the big guys win.

  6. Ah, yes. You've encountered the NO PROMO under pain of death phenom, haven't you? The biggest culprit of anti-promo is, of course, RWA. All of the National loops prohibit not just book announcements, but a post about a helpful blog, etc. And many RWA chapters have taken that same page and instituted a no-promo maxim. My only advice is post where you can, and check the post guidelines/rules on any forum or Yahoo Group and avoid them if they are unfriendly. Best way to avoid the nastiness. I don't get it either, but there you go. Hang in there! P.S. - There are also Yahoo group forums that have no prohibitions whatsoever - keep looking and you'll find them!