At first I thought that Facebook had a glitch.

How else could I have gone, in a matter of days, from having 700 Facebook fans to having over 4000?

To be clear, the fans weren’t technically mine. They belonged to the Facebook “fan page” of a book I published two years ago, called Shut Up, I’m Talking. Like every other author, I had been repeatedly told that social networking was crucial to promoting my book, and so when the book came out, I dutifully created a Facebook fan page, and the page slowly began to gain fans.

The first 100 or so were friends and family, but from then on, a handful of strangers who had read the book would join every week, until I reached about 700 fans a few months ago. Which is why, as I stared at my computer screen recently, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 4000 fans? Who were these people?

Two years after I had created it, the page seemed to have suddenly gained thousands of fans literally over night. Grasping at straws, I wondered if this sudden burst of interest in my book was the result of some positive – if very late – book review that had been published somewhere. But unable to find one, I decided that a technical problem with Facebook was the most likely cause.So I logged off the site, and went about my day as normal – unaware that all the while, my sudden legion of fans was growing at an exponential rate.

By the time I checked in that evening, expecting the glitch to be resolved, there were 1000 more fans, bringing my total to over 5000. By the next morning there were 7000, and this explosive growth rate continued in the days that followed. Soon the day-to-day increase started doubling regularly, until it eventually hit a steady stride – at which point I was gaining more than 25 000 new fans on a daily basis.

Keep in mind that the fan count had by now far surpassed the number of copies of the book that had actually been printed. So those weeks when over 100 000 new strangers would inexplicably join my Facebook fan page were maddeningly confusing.

And just plain maddening. As the numbers soon crossed the quarter million mark, I started to feel a bit under siege. Was this some kind of elaborate prank? Who were these 250 000 people (and counting), and what did they want from me? Should I send out a Facebook message to them? If I did, what should I say? I had no idea what kind of message I wanted to send, and so I kept silent. But the whole thing was increasingly unsettling, and making me paranoid.

Meanwhile, the numbers just kept shooting upwards. Very quickly, I had passed celebrities like Brad Pitt(55 000 fans) and Spike Lee (67 000 fans), as well as entire countries (Spain: 25 000 fans). And as time went on, my book’s page overtook ridiculously famous authors like J.K. Rowling (95 000 fans) and even Dan Brown (499 000 fans). Soon, my book had more fans than New York City (510 000 fans). It was mind-boggling, bizarre, and unnerving, especially since it was unclear what was driving this.

Only when I noticed that some of these fans had been posting messages on my page’s “Wall” did I realize what was going on. Their quotes were along the lines of:

“Yeah, I was saying something and my mom broke in, and I was like, ‘Shut Up, I’m Talking!’ LOL!”


“Cool page! I hate it when people talk over me!”

Perhaps you can see what had been happening. Even though the fan page shows the book’s cover and its synopsis, and informs visitors that it was published by Simon & Schuster, the vast majority of these supposed “fans” were somehow totally unaware that it was referring to a book at all. They had simply joined because they were fans of the phrase “Shut Up, I’m Talking.”

They were the sort of people, I soon discovered, who were also fans of such inane but popular Facebook fan pages as “Punching Things” and “I hate it when I get fingerprints all over my phone.” But each time one of them would become a fan of Shut Up, I’m Talking, their circle of Facebook friends would blindly do the same – causing its frighteningly viral spread.

When I described this odd phenomenon to my editor the other day, she was as baffled as me, but noted that it was strangely in keeping with my book itself. Shut Up, I’m Talking is a memoir about how, when I was twenty-five-years-old, I accidentally stumbled into a job as a speechwriter for the Israeli Government, first at the UN and then in the Prime Minister’s Office – despite not even being Israeli. Until she pointed it out, I hadn’t thought about how my inadvertent Facebook popularity was actually of a piece with those random events, but there’s obviously some truth to her observation.

Although the daily growth rate has slowed somewhat, the page now has almost 700 000 fans. That’s more than The New York Times (626 000 fans), but there has been something unsatisfying and almost bittersweet about the experience. At one point I had 700 fans who had read and presumably enjoyed my book. Now I have one thousand times that number, but most of them have never even heard of it.

I still haven’t sent a Facebook message out to my army of accidental fans, because I don’t know what to say. To be honest, if I wrote what I really thought about them, it probably wouldn’t be too flattering. But I guess that maybe it’s time to make contact and at least let them know that I’ve written about them here.

These days, like anyone involved in almost any enterprise, authors are assured that the path to success lies online. But while a Youtube video of a man tripping over a dog and falling headfirst into a toilet can become wildly popular, carefully orchestrated and well-funded online advertising campaigns for politicians or Hollywood movies can fail outright – making it seem impossible to predict what will get traction in the wilds of cyberspace. Still, it feels like we have no choice but to soldier on, and publishers and authors continue to pin our hopes on somehow figuring out a way to properly harness the internet.

With publishing in such precarious shape right now, I suppose authors should embrace any kind of attention they can get, even if it’s completely misguided. But if my online fans can’t even grasp that the fan page they’ve joined is for a book, I’m not particularly optimistic that they’ll read the book in question – or any books at all, for that matter. Since Shut Up, I’m Talking’s paperback comes out later this summer, though, I have to hope against the odds that even a tiny fraction of them will check it out.

Maybe you should too. After all, 700 000 fans can’t be wrong.

TAGS: , , ,

GREGORY LEVEY is the author of How To Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment and Shut Up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government, both published by Simon & Schuster/Free Press. He has written for Newsweek, The New Republic, Salon, The Globe and Mail, and many other publications.

97 responses to “How I Accidentally Got 700,000 Fans on Facebook”

  1. This is the curse of having an insanely clever book title I guess. You are accidentally popular.

    Just so you know, I was one of the original 700. Do I get a prize or a t-shirt or something?

    Write On.

  2. Peter Feld says:

    Just go for it! Look, you own the phrase and you have 700k fans. It’s time to cash in with a book deal, maybe a series, like “The Shut Up I’m Talking Guide To Parents” (cats, school, dating, etc.), and cups, aprons and other merchandising. Everything you publish goes right into all their news feeds. Imagine how much more it will grow if you start to promote it and manage your brand. Don’t worry about the meta implications, just dive in, the marketing’s fine!

  3. Such is the power of the internet. On the other hand, your Facebook popularity made this post popular, which made me see it. I do read books and I’m not someone who “liked” your catchy phrase. And now I know about your book. I’m sure there’s others like me, too. 🙂

    Enjoy your fleeting popularity and good luck with your book!


  4. dwoz says:

    Just think of it this way, when you say something, the entire state of North Dakota will hear you.

    You have a singular, unique opportunity here. You are like a spry and spunky little tugboat, pushing against the starboard bow of the USS Nimitz of Stupid, the Juggernaut of Pathetic. And you can slowly turn that massive ship, and send it crashing into an iceberg.

    “slowly” being the key word.

  5. wow….time to take advantage of the situation. Get a list of author self-help sites and make a little ad showing your 700k fans, then offer to hire yourself out as a web marketing consultant for $99.99 a pop. With the many thousands of desperate-writer dollars soon to be pouring in, buy the equivalent amount of Google ads touting your new paperback. Instant bestseller.

    Yes, you can send me a small fee from your royalties as thanks.

  6. I’m be promoting like crazy to that database! Unleash the hounds!

  7. “Should I send out a Facebook message to them? If I did, what should I say? I had no idea what kind of message I wanted to send…”

    How about, Buy my book! Then provide a link.

    You also just gave me an idea. I think I will create a page for one of the following:

    ^ Christian – Baptist
    ^ Republican
    ^ Sarah Palin fan page

    Then peddle my propaganda accordingly all the way to the New York Times bestseller list.

    Best of luck with the book by the way.

  8. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Scratching my head here. First of all, no offense, but as soon as I got to the third para, where you mentioned the title of the book, I guessed the rest of the piece. I was a very reluctant Facebook user at first, and I’ve become pretty active, and I guess so active that I’ve learned its pulse? Anyway, what puzzles me is this:

    “I still haven’t sent a Facebook message out to my army of accidental fans, because I don’t know what to say. To be honest, if I wrote what I really thought about them, it probably wouldn’t be too flattering.”

    And why is that? I dearly hope it isn’t the stereotypical writer/intellect’s distaste for hoi polloi.

    • Parker says:

      Sorry but what would be stereotypical of a boastful writer/intellect is publicly patting himself on the back for knowing the outcome of a story before it was revealed in the story when that has nothing to do with anything.

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        Sorry back. Are you the official keeper of writer/intellect stereotypes? And of course it has *everything* to do with it. Most of the piece goes on and on about the great mystery of the cascading fan count. This indicates to me that the author is not clear on social media, which again underscores the overall irony of the atmosphere around this piece, that of a sneer at 700,000 FB users.

        • Parker says:

          Pretentiousness is a pretty standard intellectual stereotype. Your using the terms ‘social media’ and ‘irony’ over and over again to represent people blindly clicking the ‘Like’ button and their critics just continues to make your interpretation of this article oblivious, humorless and yes, pretentious.

  9. tomasz. says:

    it’s probably more of an everyman’s distaste for an army of people who can’t even be bothered to check what they’re “Liking” (formerly “Becoming a Fan of”).

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Sorry, but I’m not buying that. Why is it the fault of the masses that they are using Facebook the way it was intended?

      Why is it important that they ‘check what they’re “Liking”?’ It sounds as if they are satisfied, and that Gregory is the one with an apparent problem. If one doesn’t like how Facebook works, it’s very easy to leave well enough alone.

      • dwoz says:

        What I am intrigued by, is that this phenomenon of 700k fans, both proves AND disproves, at the same time, the underlying value of so-called social media.

        It’s like the internet is a storefront with a fun-looking clown and bright, cheerful lettering on the sign, and inside is a trans-gender fetish club.

        It’s like linkedn.com, which is a huge number of people who are self-promoting, self-promoting to each other.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Don’t get this either. The value of social media is that it’s Social. Media. All technological advances are simple lenses upon fundamental human traits, and it’s ever been such, from when the first humans learned to sharpen sticks with stones, and then to tie said stones to ends of said sticks. I think the supposed problems with social media are generally the province of those who do not understand it, and don’t know how to handle it.

          And maybe it’s my non-Western attitude, but I think self-promotion is a good thing.

        • dwoz says:

          Not disagreeing.

          I think the disconnect comes in when it’s touted as an end unto itself, instead of simply a means to accomplish something else entirely.

          There’s millions of people out there building social networks who have absolutely no reason to do it other than to do it.

          Maybe that’s ok, though?

      • Parker says:

        You are baffling to me. There is nothing to ‘fault’ anyone for. The author wants to inform people who haven’t bothered to look into something they clicked on, and therefore connected themselves to, while having a personal opinion on the passiveness of some of the features of Facebook.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          The author says several things, and hints many more that are disparaging of the 700K, so there goes the idea that there is no fault-making. I agree that there *should* be nothing for which to fault anyone, but unfortunately that is not the upshot of this piece.

          BTW, the supposed passiveness of Facebook is fundamental to its success, and to the success of social media in general. If we ourselves choose to use Facebook, it might well behoove us to understand it properly first.

  10. Joe Daly says:

    I think we can file this in the “Quality Problem” folder. I agree with Sean that the iron is hot- strike away, son!

    This line here killed me:

    >>They were the sort of people, I soon discovered, who were also fans of such inane but popular Facebook fan pages as “Punching Things” and “I hate it when I get fingerprints all over my phone.”<<

    I’ll be interested in hearing your next move.

  11. Dana says:

    I hate it when I get fingerprints all over my phone.

    Seriously. I do.

    I say market/market/market!

    Who cares WHY people buy your book as long as they do? You should probably tag the Huffington Post and ABC News and a few other media outlets and see if you can get a little more publicity for being viral.

    • TerranRich says:

      That’s the problem. They’re NOT buying his book. They’re just Liking his page because they think it’s just another one of those mindless “I like some random rare event in life that nobody really cares to know that I like” things. Most of them didn’t even know the page was about his book.

  12. James Bernard Frost says:

    Dude, I’d kill to have 700,000 accidental fans. Strange luck you have, my friend.

  13. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Grr. So I just caught Gawker’s link to this, whose context is the charming:

    “Conquer Facebook’s Dumbest Users / Author Gregory Levey just revealed how his book won almost 700,000 Facebook fans, more than Brad Pitt, JK Rowling or the New York Times. His secret: Accidentally appeal to stupid people.”

    Gregory, I know you didn’t say that (though your bit about “unflattering” did put my antenna up), so fair play. But as for that Gawker blogger (who is probably smarting from too many wedgies administered by jocks in high school): you might want to GTFO your high horse before someone knocks you off.

    • dwoz says:

      It is, after all, the murphy’s law of the memory hole, that the only things that “stick” and escape the memory hole, are the little things that seem to completely and utterly misrepresent the actual truth. The little bits that get removed from their context, and end up meaning something else entirely…making you look like an idiot while they’re at it.

  14. Matt Houghton says:

    Print up a “Shut Up, I’m Talking” tee, set up an online shop and rake in the dough, my friend.

  15. dlysen says:

    It because of the praise “Shut Up, I’m Talking!” even if not all of them have or read the book. but somehow it will encouraging to buy that book when the fan its bigger it be curious about what’s inside the book.

  16. Parker says:

    Great page! I hate it when I buy 700,000 fans accidentally from Facebook.

  17. Okay, I get what Uche is saying above . . . writers can be arrogant assholes and snide about people “liking” stuff beneath our lofty Ivory Towers or whatever (I don’t think there are a lot of Ivory Tower-ites on TNB, but okay, I get the general point.) That said, I do think what’s being said here is more that these people who have “liked” or become fans of the book in question are not actually fans of the book–nor do they even know it exists–they are fans of a phrase. Without judgment against anyone liking that phrase, I can see how that would have been irritating to the author of the book, who created a fan page for his BOOK!

    So I was all set to be sympathetic to that issue . . . 700 sincere fans of your work being better than 700,000 fans of something that has nothing to do with you.

    BUT . . . now seeing how this piece is being linked everywhere by actual lit-savvy blogs, I’m guessing that many people who may actually be the book’s target audience WILL learn about the book as a result of this whole incident. By something that appeared pointless–so pointless it was frustrating–happening, in the end great marketing has resulted.

    Hence, the letter to your FB fans? Uh: “Thank you!”

    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      Gina, that’s not how the Web works. We’re entering into my technical specialty (read: day job), so before I even blinked, I’d written about 8 paragraphs in detail as to why I think find this entire business quite ironical. To be blunt, I see a situation where writers are being naïve, and at the very same time looking down their noses at 700,000 FB users, which seems to me a good case of the pots and the kettles. So now I’m working my 8 paras+ of further discussion of the matter into a TNB piece of its own.

      • Parker says:

        That makes no sense. Her comment is simply about increased exposure to an audience that’s not unlikely to be the audience for his type of literature because of a misinterpretation. The article was simply about how the new Facebook ‘Like’ feature enabled thousands of people to ‘Like’ his book because the title also served as a general sentiment, one of many popular ones that seem to have their own Facebook pages. He’s looking down on that fact because it’s a harmless yet silly activity. It’s really not complicated.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I could have been clearer that my response was to Gina’s first para alone. I quite agree with the rest, and especially her final para. And if you still don’t get it, 700K people did *not* “like” his book, from their perspective. They “liked” the phrase, and they got what they wanted out of it. So again why is this their problem? And are you kidding with your “He’s looking down on that fact because it’s a harmless yet silly activity”? We have become a species largely of leisure, which means most of our activities are silly (I wish I could say most were harmless). I’m still trying to figure out the substance for a cheap shot at these 700K users that comes free of hypocrisy.

        • Jason D says:

          Uche I really can’t fathom how you can sit and defend these idiots, and certainly don’t understand you came to the conclusion that this is the way social media was intended to be used.

          There is absolutely nothing social about it! These people don’t “like” things to inform their friends of their interests, it’s purely for self indulgent reasons. Somehow they think it makes them important and cool ’cause they’ve joined a group with a “witty” title.

          Gregory may be able to use this as an advantage and get some more exposure for his book, but ultimately if these people don’t have the attention span to bother checking what they are “liking” then they are not going to bother reading his book either.

          I can totally understand why anyone would look down at them. It’s not arrogance, these people are simply lazy and stupid, and I would go as far to say are contributing to the downfall of society. You can say it is just a silly thing on Facebook, but sadly it extends further than that and is a very accurate representation of an entire generation, one in which I’m extremely embarrassed to be from. There should be no support and no excuses for these twats.

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I looked through your comment, and I see much invective, but very little new argument. I think I’ve said everything that covers why I think it’s naïve and arrogant to call the 700K stupid. Clearly, we disagree.

        • dwoz says:

          Jason, there is no question that the motivations of that multitude are indistinct and not aligned with the author’s intent.

          But pay attention to what just happened here. Levey walked into the Internet to buy a sandwich (probably not a ham sandwich), and the internet gave him back 700k in change.

          “yes, I’m QUITE SURE that you get back 700k in change. No it is not a mistake. I double checked, it’s yours, it’s the correct change, it’s 700k. NEXT!”

          So the point is, he’s been handed the internet equivalent of a suitcase full of unmarked small denomination bills. WHAT NEXT?

          This is what the internet does. Every once in a while, it does superDuperMath for some undeserving sod, just to see how long it takes him to go boom.

        • Parker says:

          Whatever you say Mr. Ogbuji, good luck with that far-reaching dissertation on judging common social networking actions.

  18. sui says:

    Wow.. that’s funny, interesting, and ironic! Lucky you… kind of. 😉

  19. Grace Snyder says:

    Perhaps you should make a group like ‘Shut up, I’m Talking a Memoir’

  20. Sara says:

    I clicked your link and surprisingly, 15 of my friends are a fan of this page, all unknowingly I suppose. Way to go, man!

  21. Taryn says:

    Well now I’ve heard of the book, only not a single one of my friends is a fan. Should I start off the trend?

  22. Parker says:

    I actually read the comments on one of the media links you posted about the book and I’m surprised at the comments, mostly spam and a lot who still think it’s about wanting people to shut up while they’re talking. So strange. I now see how this is annoying for you.

  23. Iva says:

    This is unfortunate. And comments from the “fans” makes me wish some people would be banned from the internet. If LOL means “laughing out loud”,why do people replace the full-stop with it? And how dumb do nearly 700 000 people have to be not to notice the book cover and your web address? How many pages per day do they join?

  24. Ashley says:

    Unfortunate that there were so many people who mistakingly liked the page, but it is a great opportunity to show your work to a huge audience, I know a lot of intelligent people who read a lot of books yet still ‘like’ inane phrases on Facebook. There are probably plenty who would read your book.

  25. emmy says:

    It is just as Chuck Palahniuk wrote in his book Survivor, about religion:
    “The agent explained to me, we weren’t targeting the smartest people in the world, just the most.”

  26. Sadu says:

    This is hilarious! right up there with the facebook page: “Stop texting LOL”

  27. Adrian says:

    “With publishing in such precarious shape right now, I suppose authors should embrace any kind of attention they can get, .. … Since Shut Up, I’m Talking’s paperback comes out later this summer, though, I have to hope against the odds that even a tiny fraction of them will check it out.”

    Dear Gregory, What is wrong with you? Whether you believe it’s stupidity, luck or G*d that’s put these two-thirds million followers on your plate, stop whining and do something constructive! Matt’s already made the great suggestion of t-shirts (You don’t have anything against t-shirts, do you?) but what could be easier than just putting an Amazon link or two on the FB page? If taking money from fools really is against your principles, I’ll be happy to accept whatever profits are made from this rather simple and obvious marketing tool.

    Oh, and lest we forget, you’re the one who chose the dumb title for your book.

  28. God says:

    I still haven’t sent a Facebook message out to my army of accidental fans, because I don’t know what to say. To be honest, if I wrote what I really thought about them, it probably wouldn’t be too flattering.

    You also suggested that those who became a fan of your page probably weren’t readers.

    Wow! How insulting, presumptuous, and smug ARE we? Should I address you as “Jesus”?

    Personally, I really don’t care if I become a fan of a page that is really supposed to be for a book, movie, or musical artists and not relevant. I don’t take life or myself seriously. I am light-hearted and love to laugh. I become a fan of a lot of crazy stuff on Facebook – sometimes even just to get a rise out of people. Life is too short.

    But I am educated, have lived in another country, am well traveled, bilingual, and I READ. I am also happily married and have a job I love. I am sure that is the case with a large amount of your 6-digit fan club. We could just be average everyday people who liked the name of your page and yes… blindly fanned it. So what? Why must we have to carry the burden of your “victimization” on our shoulders? If you have nightmares every night over this AND people using chat-speak on the internet such as “LOL”, I personally don’t care. Someone so easily offended as you? I care even less. You really need to learn the world doesn’t revolve around your elitist likes, tastes, and desires. You take care of yourself and let “the herds of mindless muck” take care of their own.

    Just sell your book, get off your high horse and stop generalizing about people you don’t even know. Probably a lot of them are teens. Just leave them alone too. They may grow up to become more successful than you and hand you your own ass one day. Sheesh, if my entire existence was based on what I did when I was 15, I’d be in big trouble.


    • Uche Ogbuji says:

      You put it more harshly than I, but we’re certainly trying to make the same point in response to this piece (and more so to the others who have linked to/commented on this piece). Amen, God. Amen, amen, amen 😉

  29. Marjorie says:

    I am impressed. I have a fan base of 3. Actually, it was negative 4 because it was 5 and 9 dropped out before 3 joined later. The math gets complicated. Whatever.

  30. travis says:

    Now you have the names of 700.000 idiots.

  31. you just found Leverage for your next project. Well, even if you didn’t find it for the next project, I found one for myself in my next project!

  32. amber says:

    Huh. Well, I have to say, I found this post via a facebook link, but I promise I am not the type of person who would ever fan the phrase “shut up I’m talking.” Social media is a crazy thing, isn’t it? Side note: your book sounds really interesting. I think I might pick it up!

  33. btw- I only found this because Tumblr had a link. I would have NEVER heard about it unless it had growing some popularity. You’ve had two strides of success now (facebook, tumblr) so I’d start cashing in NOW and be appreciative for all the people having fun with your play on words. Or just chalk it up as a novelty and have fun (just as the facebook fans have done)

  34. Alan says:

    dude, facebook is FULL of stupid people. many people make a living from the culling of these chumps with CPA ads and surveys. facebook chumps pay for an entire blackhat industry.

    you could EASILY sell your fan page for $10,000 or MORE

    just sayin… — think outside of the box

  35. aime says:

    No one realizes article is facetious. The author meant for it to be a joke.

  36. Sean Ferrell says:

    Dude, this is awesome. I HATE it when people talk over me, too!

    Seriously: you should send a message to the fans, and it should be this.

    “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

  37. Kevin says:

    700,000 fans who don’t even know who you are – very strange place, the internet. Good article.

  38. Tatjana says:

    This is hilarious and I’m sorry that some of the commenters here seem to think it isn’t – just because they figured out what was going on before you explained it. Newsflash: Not everyone does. Personally I suspected that it was going to be something like that, but couldn’t imagine that “Shut up, I’m talking” was a phrase anyone would want to become a fan of, so I continued to be confused until the end. In fact I was a bit disappointed that it was really the explanation.

    If anything, this shows that there is a flaw in Facebook’s fan page system. Clearly there should be a little icon next to the name of what you just “liked” that indicates which category it belongs in: book, film, musician, saying …

  39. steeleweed says:

    Damn! Now we’ll all have to think even harder about our book titles…..

  40. Peter says:

    This is called the bandwagon effect. It happens all the time. It doesn’t make people morons. I think you’re being really condescending and rather elitist towards 700,000 people. There only crime is being amused by a phrase you used.

    You on the other hand are part of internet sleaze bandwagon. These are a special group of people who all want to use the internet to get rich often inspired by other success stories. They don’t see the internet as a place of knowledge or social networking, but as an untapped mecca for selling shit. Many of these people do shit like start blogs, create facebook pages, and generate content which is posted all over the internet linking readers back to a product they hope to sell. In your case it’s a book, but the fact that it’s a book and not a get rich scheme or the thigh master 2000, doesn’t make any less sleazy. Even this article is non-authentic because the core motivation behind it isn’t tell an interesting story (which would have been fun to read,) but to sneer at the intelligence of 700,000 people and use what happened to promote your book.

    When people say the buzz words ” harness the power of the internet” what they really mean is they want to take advantage of relationships built on the internet and abuse the loyalty of the people they call friends in order to part them from their money.

    I’ve been marking of products who do this shit, but I’ve been pretty lenient towards authors because you know, they’re artists. But the truth is (this crap wreaks of desperation) a book is a product just like every other product. Being a book doesn’t make the ways in which it’s marketed any less sleazy than penis enhancer.

    Authors who drop to sleazy sales tactics guarantee I’ll never buy their book.

    I really do hope your 700,000 fans read this so they can see you call them illiterate.

    • Richard Cox says:

      This is an absurd argument. Yes, Gregory is having a bit of fun at the expense of people who blindly become fans of pages on Facebook, but he even said in the post that he hasn’t attempted to market to them yet.

      You’re right that there are plenty of sleazebags out there shamelessly promoting their wares to make a buck. But how do you propose a writer discuss his work with anyone, then? How much less “pimpish” could he be than to admit he doesn’t know what to do with this untapped audience?

      How do you propose someone with a product, artistic or otherwise, ever approach anyone about its existence? Most writers and other artists are faced with the conundrum that they are not salespeople, and feel uncomfortable marketing themselves, but if they don’t at least try, they won’t be publishing their work for very long. Talking about it in a conversational way like this is about as non-sleazy as you can get, in my opinion.

      How would you do it, Peter?

  41. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Only reason I’m posting this here is because it’s an elaboration of apparently contentious points I’ve made on this comment board.

    “700,000 Facebook users must be many things, but probably not dumb”


  42. Tessa Quin says:

    I’d point out to them that the phrase is a title of a book. Maybe some will get interest and up your profits.

  43. Zara Potts says:

    I’m coming back soon to properly comment BUT I just wanted to say that I love it when you ‘like’ me, Uche.

  44. Zina says:

    I’ve been an off-Facebook fan for years of a similar saying by Fran Lebowitz: “The opposite of talking is not listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” I’m usually not much of a joiner, but I can imagine clicking “like” if someone put that on a Facebook page.

    I’m all for finding some way to profit from your random publicity windfall, but I agree with you that few of those 700,00 would purchase your book even if they became aware of it. Clicking “like” is completely different than spending one’s money. (In fact, other than perhaps the one person who mentioned some interest, I’m guessing that none of the commenters here are planning to purchase it, even though they’re probably a slightly more likely audience than the unwashed Facebook masses.) (And Uche, I’m kidding–I’m sure most Facebook users actually have excellent hygiene.)

    Anyway, if there’s some other way to profit from your massive captive audience, I’d say to go for it.

  45. serena says:

    To be fair to the 700,000, the way a facebook user connects to a page can differ. you can click like within your news feed from a friend’s update without visiting the page at all or having any idea of what it is. you can click like on the side column of your homefeed and again, it’s possible you wouldn’t visit the page.

    At least if you sent news updates your fans would know who you are and what you do. you could try adding little excerpts from your book and a link to where they can buy it. or post a status saying ‘want to know why i set up this page? click here…’

    You might lose followers, you might gain readers…

  46. Marni Grossman says:

    If only your facebook fans would go out and, you know, buy the book.

    On another note, it’s frightening to learn that “Punching Things” has a facebook fan page.

  47. shane says:

    i went to your page and 14 of my friends were fans of your book, lmfao 🙂

  48. Carlos says:

    Well, of course having 700k fans who don’t know you is weird, but reading your piece and the Advertising Age piece on this I can’t avoid the impression of this being a kind of “neoplatonic in the social media age”: a FB page was created with the intention of promoting a book and an author; reality went different; so reality is weird and possibly “wrong”, the original intention is “right”. I must confess this kind of reasoning disturbs me, as if one is not able to accept, embrace, deal with and play with the fact that reality sometimes (or often) is different from what one had in mind…

    • Carlos says:

      PS: the time the author took before he had some curiosity to check what the “fans” of his page were writing has to do with this “cocoon” mentality also.

  49. S.D. says:

    I knew there was a reason why I never “Like” any of that stuff!

  50. elbruce says:

    I’d start writing about how they should buy your book.

  51. Liz says:

    I appreciate your candor and unease about suddenly finding yourself inexplicably popular, at least in social networking terms. At times it seems like I’m barraged by messages on how to increase your network, how to get more followers, etc. and here is an instance of winning the lottery without even buying a ticket. Indeed, a mixed blessing. More visibility, for sure, but is this audience there to hear you?

    Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Or you can find the good thing brings unwanted pressure and consumes time you actually would rather spend thinking about & doing other things.

    I hope you find some way to use this platform to help you and your work.

  52. Dammit, Dammit, Dammit. I knew I shouldn’t have called my new novel ‘Simon’s Choice’. I should have stuck with the original title ‘I hate going to skool cos the teachers dont respec me enuff innit’.


    • Charlie says:

      That’s wonderful. 😀

      Uh oh! I just used a colon followed by a capital ‘d’ to express a grin! I guess I don’t shower or read anymore.

      I find the author’s reaction to the “fans” a little snide, but the book does look interesting.

  53. Candace says:

    I think that you are missing out on opportunities! I think the people saying that you should market the idea since you own the title are right on! Many people probably just “liked” the title; however, there may be people who like it and are willing to spend some money. I am a fan of a book that I am interested in. I think that they author is doing himself a disservice when he doesn’t add to the FB page. So while many of the FB fans are probably just liking the title, there may people who like it well enough to buy the book and even the merchandise that you are going to add!

  54. TommyM says:

    Authors harness the internet, or the Internet harnessing authors?

  55. Unknown says:

    “But while a Youtube video of a man tripping over a dog and falling headfirst into a toilet can become wildly popular, carefully orchestrated and well-funded online advertising campaigns for politicians or Hollywood movies can fail outright – ”
    That quote enrages me.

    You wanna know WHY all those things fail and aren’t successful? They aren’t catering to their audience. The internet viral scene isn’t fucking for bullshit like advertising. The internet is for not having to deal with that stupid bullshit. Why do you think hulu is about to fail.

  56. Hero says:

    I haven’t read the book, but I had to become a fan. This is hilarious.

    (And yes, I read!)

  57. Simon Opolot says:

    If they like the phrase, they will surely like to read the book on the same title. Go a head and tell them of the book.

  58. I gues that 700.000 people after all can be wrong (well maybe 699.300 can). I’s not always about the numbers, not even in a social place like Facebook.

  59. dwoz says:

    So today I tell my wife about this story, and she says, “I have his book, right here!” and pulls out a green cover advance readers’ copy.

  60. Carl D'Agostino says:

    I can’t believe it! I used “Shut up, I’m talking” for 34 years in front of 11th grade American History class and was still ignored. Were you in my class some years back?(Miami). You’ve stolen my line , will get rich and I will just fade away like MacArthur’s old soldiers. Where’s the justice in life? Or just a squeak of fairness?

    • aage christensen says:

      Who stole D’Agostimos line? According to “Acknowledgements” at the back of the book it was invented by one Andy Teick. Greg, did you ever send him a cheque?

  61. Joseph says:

    sumbled on this article. in for 1 copy of your book. looks like stumbleupon is helping your cause too

  62. ealfjaoj says:

    Ha, 14 of my friends liked it. (Mostly 8th graders.)

  63. fixed gear says:

    Dude, WHO CARES why you got the fans? Let go of your ego. “Ohhhhhh boo-effing-hoooo, they just like the title, not my book.” You’re missing the point, you now have 700K fans (actually 3.4 mill at last check) that you can market SOMETHING to.

    I suggest you go watch the 30-Rock episode where Lemon ACCIDENTALLY gets popular for doling out “Dealbreaker!” dating advice to women. It was a stupid little thing that hooked, but she EMBRACED it and enjoyed her 15 minutes.

    Think beyond your stupid little book. You can parlay this into something FAR bigger. Embrace it! Don’t miss this GOLDEN opportunity man! 😉

  64. ylime says:

    you now have have over 3million 😀

  65. Very good article and nice explain
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  66. accdentl freak says:

    i have no fans and i dont even now this: i dont care if you have 700,000 fans

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