Five ways I refuse to market my books

Everyone will agree.

The hardest part about self-publishing isn’t the writing. Long hours of hammering out words are inevitable no matter what avenue an author takes to launch their books into the market.

No…the true challenge lies in an author’s self-presentation to the world. It’s how a writer markets oneself. It’s the image they create, the test of their willingness to engage the rest of humanity.

To truly take the next career step, modern authors have to leap out of their comfort zone. That means shaping a presence on social media, talking to (sometimes unsavory) people, learning all kinds of software, and getting (and appearing) comfortable with all aspects of self-promotion.

That said, for this author, some things cross the line between palatable and icky.

And here’s my list of things I’m just not gonna do:



No Hashtags

Yes, I know they help people search you out on Twitter and Instagram. And yes, I realize it might help them find my art and books.


I figure just as many (if not more) people will be so annoyed or disgusted by hashtags they’ll choose not to be interested in all things me.

Because really, hashtags are that obnoxious. Am I right?





No Review Swaps

Yeah, this is still a thing. People ask me for them all the time. “Hey J Edward, can you review my vampire porn novel and I’ll pretend to read your book about the two dudes who destroy entire cities when they fight?”

“No thanks.”

First of all, I don’t have the time. Second, Amazon cracks down on that kind of thing. And third, other authors don’t handle brutal honesty like I do.

I realize how many reviews this has cost me. And because of the value of reviews, I realize it’s cost me money. Doesn’t matter. I can’t bring myself to do it. Despite the thousands of high-quality self-published authors out there, many thousands more (the majority of the industry) don’t have the fire or commitment to pump out high-quality books.

Meaning more than likely I’d get stuck reading trash.




No Paying to Enter Writing Contests

It’s my personal oath to never enter a writing contest requiring a payment. Writing contests in general are governed by arbitrary rules and judged in a questionable manner. More often than not, the organization holding the contest is more interested in turning a profit and/or getting their own name out there than they are in helping authors earn legit recognition.

Even some of the free-to-enter contests employ some pretty questionable tactics, though at least they’re free.

To other writers, I’d recommend doing some serious research before entering any contest you encounter on the net.

And to readers, I’d cast serious doubt on any author whose bio begins with the phrase, “Award winning…” It probably doesn’t mean what you think it does.


No ‘Best-Selling’ BS

If I had a nickel for every time I saw an author boast ‘best-selling’ credentials, I’d have…well…a lot of nickels.

It probably sounds elitist for me to say this (it’s definitely not intended that way) but some authors need to cut the crap. Showing up a few times in Amazon’s top authors lists or having a really big sales day doesn’t qualify as ‘best-selling.’ While it’s true the major literature publications (NY Times, USA Today, etc) aren’t the only people qualified to choose who’s best-selling and who’s not, there’s just too much exaggeration in the industry.

I’ve seen authors boast ‘best-selling’ in bios containing multiple grammatical errors.

I’ve seen authors with one published book and no published reviews declare themselves ‘best-selling.’

I’ve seen…never mind. You get the picture. Until I’m a household name with a fixed place in a steady market, I’ll be the last author alive to shout ‘I’m best-selling’ to the world.

Lies do not become us.



No Spam

There have been days when I’ve opened up Facebook and Twitter to the usual parade of politics, cat pictures, poorly-lit selfies, and cute babies. And there are other days when I open up my social media to find fifteen consecutive book ads…all posted by the same person.

Look, I love it when another person shares or reposts something of mine. It makes me oh so happy. But…it doesn’t mean instant and incessant reciprocation. Nobody on this earth cares to see an endless timeline of vampire were-hooker book ads in place of actual cool content. Actually, let me rephrase. I don’t want to see it. So I’m careful about what I share, meaning my stuff and my supporters’ stuff. The goal is to inform and entertain, not to drown.

Three Facebook book ads per week from me, max. And that includes sharing other authors’ work. As for Twitter, go nuts. No one reads retweets anyway. 🙂


More things I can’t bring myself to do:

 Post memes about writers’ problems (They’re all so bad.)

Demand reviews (Politely ask once, then move on with your life.)

Shave on a regular basis. (Sorry, this guy stays scruffy.)


Now you know all my weaknesses. Go forth and exploit them. 🙂

J Edward Neill

Painter of Shadows

Writer of books about star-destroying space vampires


Why I’m Apolitical (And you should be, too)

At certain points during our lives, we choose paths unlikely to win us popularity points.

I should know. 

Before we get started, I want to make it clear I’m not about to run afoul of Tessera’s policy regarding religion & politics. Being inflammatory only brings me joy in non-political forums. I’m not about to pick sides, lob stones, or name names. Nope. Not gonna do it.

And that’s kind of my whole point.

When I was a younger, more impressionable man, life was different. I believed in the power of opinions. I allowed myself to be flooded with hope for the world. I was un-jaded, un-corrupted. I belched rainbows and sweated sunshine. I was willing to pick sides and issue no apologies for it.

And then my third birthday rolled around.

And I woke the fuck up.

In this world we live in, Opinions are king and Perceptions queen. The meaning of truth is equivocated with facts (two totally different things.) Web, television, and radio media swirl around our heads, an infinite shitstorm of people talking, re-talking, threatening, screaming, offending, and apologizing-but-not-really-meaning-it. Politics feel pernicious, and yet unstoppable. Turn on one channel and you’ll hear one side murdering the other. Click onto any of ten thousand websites and you’ll see the other side get just as poisonous. Everyone feels everyone else is wrong…and that it’s their sacred duty to talk about it and post comments linking to it. And we soak it up, don’t we? We slurp up everyone else’s spaghetti of opinions as though words were sweet sustenance, as if talking were the same thing as doing, as if one side were any less in-it-for-themselves than the other.

Ever watched a political rally? If not, don’t start now. Generally speaking, it’s a big pile of people applauding one singular person. I don’t understand it. I’m dead serious. I legitimately want someone to explain what’s really going on during these things. Is the person on the podium heroic? Have they leapt into the future, delivered on all their promises, and Michael J Fox’d it back to the here and now with proof of their success? I can’t grasp what would drive a person to applaud someone standing on stage and promising things. Not these days. Not ever. These people say things that even the people clapping must surely know in their hearts aren’t going to happen. Things we all know are beautiful lies, and yet are willing to smile and dance for.

And every election season, it happens all over again.

My Hope on a Pole

That’s me on a pole, waiting for someone to NOT lie to me.

But by politics, I don’t only mean the selection of government officials and the exhausting narrative surrounding their rise and downfall. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, one raisin in the whole damn cookie. What I’m really talking about is people politics. The social media freight train, with all its #TheseLivesMatter and #Raise$$$forMyCause and #BashThisGuyOverHere. Know what I mean? Yeah…you do. But in case you’re like me and live under a rock, here are a few examples:

Video Game Girl Teaches Basement Dwellers a Lesson

Cops Lives Matter

And most especially I’m Still Calling You Bruce (Jenner.)

Yeah. Stuff like this. Does not compute.

Now. Let’s be clear. I’m not judging people who get involved in these discussions. I get the allure. I really do. People want to shout and be listened to. People want their opinions #ToMatter. People see a cause from a distance and want to support it. And to a certain degree, they want to post something relevant (and possibly witty) on Facebook and have their words become part of the larger discussion. It’s not exactly narcissism. But here’s what I need explained to me. And again, I’m serious. I want to know why hurling oneself around the web like a social media warhead is appealing. Why? Why do we need to be heard regarding issues that we’re powerless to affect? Why is the focus on other’s people’s opinions and not the truth? What is the purpose of engaging these issues using words, but rarely actions? If you’re not BFF’s with Caitlyn Jenner, if you’re not driving to Ferguson with guns-in-hand to support one side or the other, and if you’re not moved enough by feminist causes to actually treat the women in your life better, why do you care? Why are you involved? Why? I need to know.

Because let’s face it; the serious social and political issues of our day aren’t going to be solved or even legitimately addressed on Twitter, Facebook, CNN, or Fox News. Nope. Not even close. Sorry. We can compromise or insult, be thoughtful or obnoxious, be funny and cute or dry and witty as death itself. Doesn’t matter. The deep, dark problems that live and breed in our world will only be solved with:

A. Shit-tons of money…meaning rich people will win

B. Violence. And lots of it. Meaning no one will win.

What does that mean?

It means 5,000 retweets of important social issues don’t matter.

It means thoughtful or incendiary commentary on why one political party is garbage (but not the other) is just dust in the wind.

It means the only way your government will experience swift change is if hundreds of thousands of people take up arms…and die.

It means all the anger, frustration, butthurt-ness, and feelings of powerlessness just aren’t compatible with anyone trying to achieve peace and happiness.

Is that too dark, too cynical? Maybe so. But maybe not.

Look. Let’s get to the point.

I’ve got just one real question:

Does being political make you happy?

Well? Does it?

If not, rock the boat…just not the vote.

If you want more philosophy like this in your life, read my latest book, 444 Questions for the Universe.

If not, have a nice day.

J Edward Neill