Category: 8.1 On-line Addiction or Book Marketing?

Is Book Marketing like Snorkeling in a Septic Tank?

Sewage Treatment Plant in England

I have been wrestling with this issue for years. Do I defile myself by immersing my soul (and body) into the odoriferous swamp of  book peddling? Is bookselling the sleazy activity inappropriate for decent people that I think it is? Why is it so off-putting?

Look at my email inbox. As a good, modern Internet marketer, I belong to a multitude of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter  writers’, readers’, and marketing  groups, as well as subscribing to individuals’ and groups’ blogs. And sites like Pixel of Ink, ENT, and BookBub. I get around three or four hundred emails a day. That’s after scrubbing my list of non-essentials. This is what the emails are like, except most aren’t intentionally funny:

I had to share the latest 5 star review from my new book entitled, POOPSIE SPANKS A POODLE: ‘Wow. This is a really good book. Great character development. You just feel for that poodle! You’re getting to be a better writer, Sandy. I’ll read everything you write!!’ Mom

“WOO-HOO! I JUST GOT MY 10,000,000th TWITTER FOLLOW! I broke their counter! Next, I’ll take over the world!”

“Here’s a foolproof system to sell your book on Amazon. Only requires $99 up front and lifetime celibacy.”  God

“God may promise you a good deal, but I deliver. Want all 5 star reviews? That can be arranged.” Satan

“Hi everyone! Please check out my Facebook  author page and give me a Like. When you’re done with that, could you go to my Amazon author page and Like it, too? And on Google +, there’s a  . . .  And on Twitter . . .  I’m also in a contest. Could you drop by GoodReads and vote? Pretty, pretty please? Plus, it’s my birthday. Could you send a cake?” Mona I’ve-Never-Heard-of-You-in-my-Life

“5 stars! Wow! Was this book hot! My Kindle ignited. Also the house.”

They go on like that, hundreds a day, many from the same person, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” “Me! Me! Me!” “My Book!” “Nothing else matters in the universe, so buy my book.” “Gimme! Gimme!” “He is HOT! She is HOT! Their dog is HOT!” Day after day. Vile communications pitched at . . . whom? Who would buy anything with this type of selling technique? It absolutely grosses me out. Because of this spewing of egotism, I haven’t promoted my stuff for maybe six months. My sales show it, too. This stream of verbiage must do something, but at what personal cost to those sending and receiving it?

Your better marketing articles say this behavior is marketing suicide. But the emails keep pouring in.

How to market a book? I dunno. I’ve been doing it for years and haven’t a clue. I’ve had friends say, “But your marketing is so good!” Meaning whatever I send out is beautiful and tasteful. But it doesn’t ignite my bottom line the way I want.

This is an example of the tasteful and elegant graphics that have my friends thinking I'm a great marketer. This actually happened: I couldn't get my sale to go away. Even Amazon couldn't help.

The good old days really were the good old days. My first book came out in 2006. Marketing was much easier in those early days. You didn’t have to do much more than have a great cover, a bunch of killer reviews, and a few national awards. Bingo! Selling success.

My first novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, rose to the number 1 position in three categories of Mysticism and cruised around the 1,500 level in the Kindle store for a year. I did no promoting and didn’t think there was anything unusual about the book’s performance.

Hah! I wish I’d known how to take screenshots then. I’d have a record of those fabulous numbers. (The screenshot is the modern author’s best friend. After your mammoth promotional campaign lands you in the #1 Bestseller spot for fifteen minutes, you can stare at the screen shot afterward to remember the glory. You can only do that if you took it, of course.)

Now, it’s not so easy. The problem is the number of books coming out. How does an excellent, well-edited book, with a killer cover and award-winning author get noticed?
Seems like it should rise automatically. Forget that.

I’ve read three books recently that offer a defense against the tsunami of eBooks flooding Amazon. I recommend them heartily. They are:

After reading these books, I felt hope that I could get this marketing thing down. I had a definite direction. In Let’s Get Visible, Gaughran talks about Amazon algorithms and how to use them to your benefit. Reading this was like finding the Holy Grail. Both of his books above are worth memorizing.

Joanna Penn handles the “marketing is sleazy and degrading” issue and shows you how to approach the activity in a civilized fashion. Joanna says she’s introverted. (I doubt she could be as introverted as me and be in international speaking sensation.) But she’s accomplished great things including writing careers in fiction and nonfiction, blogging, and international speaking.

My initial reaction to the three books was relief and joy at having found concrete advice and a path to follow. By the time I got to the end of each, I was more like, “Whoa. This is a lot. This means serious work . . . When do these people sleep?” When I knew what success required, I felt depressed.

But the feelings didn’t last. I have a pressing need to practice the stuff in those books. Starting now. If you’re interested, links to my web page and Amazon Author Page are down below, as is a link to In Love by Christmas: A Paranomal Romance, which blasted it’s way to the top of the charts in a bunch of categories, ending up ranked in eleven Amazon categories just this week. Woo-ha!

In Love by Christmas is a paranormal romance according to the industry definitions of those terms. It’s a romance, in that the relationship drives the story and is its most important element. It’s paranormal in that a few of the characters have supernatural abilities. The hero, Leroy Watches Jr., is a shaman who can do all sorts of things, often with disastrous results. It’s not your paranormal romance with naked men  and dragons on the cover. (My cover artist gave me that description of the genre based on her experience designing covers.)

Oh, let’s go all the way. Here’s a video about In Love by Christmas. If there’s anything I like to do more than write, it’s make videos. This is my masterpiece and my Happy Holidays 2014 greeting to you:

from Sandy Nathan on Vimeo.
Leroy Watches Jr. is a shaman whose Power sometimes makes things worse. Despite his flaw, he must save his soul mate from her addictions, her father, and Evil Incarnate, or she’ll be damned forever.
Trying to unite with his true love, Leroy embarks on a pilgrimage that takes him to the highest levels of European society. As he travels, his shamanic Power grows. So does the Dark Lord’s hatred of him.
His prospective father-in-law demands that Leroy and Cass be in love by Christmas. Can they be?

All the best in your publishing endeavors. Remember, if facing the public is too much, hide under your bed. You’ll find me right beside you.

So long for now,

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3)

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3). My new book, and Amazon #1 Bestseller in Metaphysical Fantasy.

SANDY NATHAN, award-winning and #1 bestselling author of In Love by Christmas, and a bunch more. You can find them on my Amazon Author Page. 












On-line addiction or book marketing? You decide.

Addiction. You can't see it coming.

Addiction. You can't see it coming. Charcoal drawing by Lily Nathan

Originally published 3/19/09

The topic of on-line addiction has come up in my life a few times. Friends who participate on find it an incredible marketing tool. Everyone in the book trade says authors MUST cover the ‘net to sell. MySpace, Facebook, gather, blogs, forums, all the above. Authors MUST keep their postings current to stay in the swim. People spend hours every day, blogging, posting, cut and pasting––all to promote their books.

Or is that what it is? How much is on-line addiction? How do you tell the difference?

Pain is the hallmark of addiction. When you wake up from whatever high the experience gives you, are you in a worse fix than you reckoned on? Or are you running to keep ahead of what will happen if you stop?

If you’re concerned that your participation on-line may be more than a strong marketing instinct, please visit Kimberly Young PhD’s site. Dr. Young is a clinical psychologist, one of the pioneers treating on-line addictions. She’s got tests on the site to determine how many tweets is too many. Dave Greenfield is another clinical psychologist and pioneer in the area.  The link takes you to his site, which also contains tests and tools. Both have written books on virtual addiction.

Not a very nice subject, actually.

I knew nothing about on-line addiction until I found myself a full fledged eBay addict. Ah, yes. I can’t go on the site at all. It took me about two years of hard work, a bunch of relapses, and a very forgiving husband to get clear. I’m lucky. We also have locks on our computers so I can’t get on eBay.

The only “cure” for addiction is abstinence. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re a true addict, you can’t dabble with your addiction thinking you can manage it. An addiction is unmanageable by definition.

Here’s a series I wrote about eBay: The eBay Series. Some of the buttons on the menu don’t work–I stopped writing when I discovered I was in trouble. My book on spiritual practice, Stepping Off the Edge, contains a couple of chapters on my eBay addiction, the more colorful and painful parts. (And, please, don’t think spiritual practice is just for those with no problems. Spiritual practice is how you get out of the problems you’ve got.)

So I worry about on-line addiction. I know how one can get lost. I had no clue when I logged on that first time.

How to tell if you’re marketing your book or on-line addicted?

Stop whatever on-line activity you’re doing.

If you can’t stop, you’re addicted. (Excuses don’t count. “The dog made me log on,” does not fly.)

The other sign is symptoms of withdrawal if you do manage to stop. Usually with online addiction, signs of withdrawal include irritability, anxiety, and depression. Occasionally, rage. Yes, rage.

Not a beast to provoke.

Not a beast to provoke.

When I had The eBay series really going on my website, I had people write to me saying, “I’m leaving my husband. Our credit cards are maxed out. He doesn’t talk to me. All the does is check his auctions.” I had one person tell me that they were buying the fixer house up the street, not to fix it up and and resell it, but because they couldn’t walk through their house any more. Her husband’s auction winnings filled their home.

On-line addiction is not a beast to provoke. I’m very careful about what I do on-line. I let myself go on-line once a day for less than an hour. It’s entrancing. That’s the problem.


9/25/2011 I revisited this article before re-posting it. Nice words up above, Sandy. True words, then. What’s happened since? I still don’t participate on eBay.

But you can friend me on
Facebook at:

Twitter:  @sandyonathan

Sandy on Amazon


My Goodreads Author Page

My Redroom Author Page


Do I keep up these social media sites? Some of them. Are they necessary for successful book marketing in 2011? Beats me. Hundreds of thousands of books will be released this year. I’m not going to chance being left behind.

Is this positive or negative? Negative as an “hours of my life down the tube”? The positive is when I connect with you, my reader, and we establish a dialogue. Let me know where you stand/are on this on-line thing. Menace or savior?

Sandy Nathan (and yes, the link goes to my website.)

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author


Sandy Nathan’s books have won seventeen national awards, praise from reviewers,
and garnered close to five star reviews on Amazon.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link for more information on all selling outlets. Links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

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