Tuesday again, so soon? What to write for this week’s Fantasy Author’s Handbook post? Ideas abound, but this morning I thought, hey, maybe it’s time for a little shameless self-promotion. And it might just kill two birds with one stone. Bird number one: I can pimp my e-books. Bird number two: I can talk about shameless self-promotion for authors.

Cheesy, I know, but bear with me.

No one likes shameless self-promotion. I know I don’t, even if I’ve done it from time to time. But where, exactly, is the line between shameless self-promotion and ordinary or acceptable self-promotion? And is there a third category: shameful self-promotion? I hope not. What would that sound like?

I’m sorry to have to ask you to check out The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff, now available for the Kindle for the inflated price of $2.99. #sorryforbotheringyou

In her post Authorpreneurship 101: Shameless Self-Promotion vs. Shameful Self-Promotion, Lindsay Buroker does a much better job of defining both categories and offers some dos and don’ts that I highly recommend.

Ultimately what I have learned from the self-promotion, social media, indie publishing universe is, as in all things, patience is a virtue. There are no overnight successes—really very few of them anyway—so be ready to put the work in.

But if you follow Lindsay’s advice in regards to things like being a part of communities, reaching out to people as a friend, not immediately for a favor, then you may find—and I hope you do find—that the self-promotion drops away and you aren’t “working” at all, but interacting with a network of friends, acquaintances, and like-minded strangers who may also happen to buy one of your books at some point.

I recently watched an indie author challenge his Twitter followers to either buy one of his books or stop following him. I think the plan was to get a lot of fast attention by being confrontational, but in a fun way? Like we’re all in on the joke? The tweets were pretty harsh and seemed to come from this stance: If you aren’t buying my books, why are you following me anyway, and what good are you to me if you do, so buy or F-off.

I didn’t invent Twitter but I don’t think that’s in keeping with the spirit of the little blue bird.

I’m not a big fan of people who use Twitter to send me links to porn or pyramid schemes. When someone invents a porn pyramid scheme, the internet will collapse in on itself and form a black hole.

But I don’t let those ruin my day.

I have no idea how many of my 1400+ Twitter followers have bought any of my books, read this blog, or even have the slightest clue who I am. I do send out promo tweets, which I’ve set up on a schedule based on data from a service that tells you when most people are reading your tweets, and if any of those tweets offend you, sorry, but that is one of the legitimate uses of Twitter. It actually is. And there is something to the question: If you aren’t interested in my writing, why follow me? I’m not otherwise that interesting, am I?

But does that mean you have to show a receipt to keep reading my tweets or this blog?


It’s that simple.

Do I hope that you will now click through the following links and buy a copy of at least one of the books that follow? Of course I do. I’m proud of each of them, and I want people to read them, and tell their friends to read them, too. What’s the point of publishing anything in any form unless you start with that basic desire?

As Lindsay Buroker pointed out, you can be obnoxious about it, and like that guy who probably ended up clearing out his Twitter community and selling very few books in the process, some super clever ideas can blow up in your face.

It’s important for all of us to keep in mind that we’re all making this up as we go along. There is no Ten Commandments or Constitution for the internet. Some people can get all offended and up in arms at what the next person might see as a perfectly innocuous marketing message. The definition of “SPAM” can be a bit on the fluid side, as can “shameless” or “shameful.”

I’m not just an author, I’m a reader, too, and though I really don’t want to hear about cheap Canadian prescriptions or amazing new mortgage rates, if someone on Twitter or Facebook or GoodReads says, in one form or another, “Check out this book here.” Well, I’m happy to. That doesn’t mean I buy every one of them (I would have to be a millionaire to do that), nor does it mean I even follow every link, but the one thing that’s always true is that when I see that kind of thing, my first impulse isn’t “Stop SPAMMING me, asshole,” but, “You go, comrade, and good luck!”

Now, buy these e-books already:


Tales From the Fathomless Abyss establishes a new shared world with a collection of short stories by Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen, Jay Lake, Mel Odom, Cat Rambo, J.M. McDermott and lil ol me. The cover is by Mats Minnhagen and Ken Scholes provided the intro. It is amiable for only 99 cents (cheap!) for both the Kindle and Nook.


Devils of the Endless Deep is the first of a series of Fathomless Abyss novellas that will be written by each of the authors from Tales From the Fathomless Abyss. This one builds on my story from the anthology, and deals with some of the odd time travel concepts unique to this world. It is also available for both the Kindle and the Nook.

You can find out more about this unique setting at the Fathomless Abyss Blog, including the next two books, also out now.


I don’t think I ever had more fun writing anything in my life as I had writing The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff, which introduces the world to Arron of the Black Forest. This is a collision of two of my favorite literary forms: the sword and sorcery tradition of Robert E. Howard and the dark fantasy of H.P. Lovecraft. I’m damn proud of it, and I think you’ll really like it. The cover art is by Keith Birdsong. You can get it for the Kindle or the Nook.


—Philip Athans





About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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6 Responses to BUY MY E-BOOKS, PLEASE

  1. Well, I would love to buy MORE of your books, but I am waiting impatiently for the next Arron book. Which will be coming along… when exactly? 🙂

  2. Isaac Hooke says:

    Philip thanks for maintaining this blog.. it’s the least I can do to buy your ebooks 🙂 P.S. I have the Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction and love it! Haven’t checked out How to Start Your Own Religion yet, but I can add it to the cart when I get the other ebooks -)

  3. G.A. Psihogios says:

    Hey there, I just found your blog and wanted to say hi and that I am reading it and am now following! I have your book The Guide to Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (which is lovingly folded, highlighted and water-stained from constant use), and it has aided in my ongoing ventures into fantasy writing.

    I am trudging through the process of world building with care (though, this may be a bad metaphor, as I am in love with the process), and I wanted to stop by and say thanks for the work you’ve done and continue to do in helping aspiring authors of speculative fiction. I have a little blog where I’m noting some of the things I am learning as I go in a similar form of guide. And though it will be some time before I have anything tangible from my work, I look forward to reading (and possibly discussing with you!) future tips and assistance in crafting a fictional world!

    Thanks again!
    George Psihogios

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