Advice, Advertising, and Anxiety

Blogs are full of advice for writers and self-publishers. How to start a novel. How to finish your novel. How to make your novel great. How to publish, promote, and market your novel. Etc.

No, this isn’t another rule-quibbling post. (Well, actually it is.) This one is about the advice contained in these posts. Or not contained, when the post is written by a service provider of some sort. After outlining a topic crucial to the success of writing and publishing efforts, the post proceeds to describe how that topic is addressed in a course or book. The real objective, of course, is to sell said course or book.

We writers and indie authors are a huge market for services. Editors, book doctors, writing coaches, and publicists are eager to tap into this market. That’s totally legitimate, but let’s not forget that we aren’t just a bunch of dewy-eyed airheads desperate for advice on creating and selling products (our books). We are a market, and should select paid services judiciously.

OK, most of us authors-who-blog are promoting our books (often to one another). But the relationships among authors are different from those between authors and those from whom they purchase services. We’re like a big, happy family sitting around socializing. “How’re the kids books?” “Oh, here’s a picture of the latest.” “Ooh, so cute gorgeous!” Etc. Then the doorbell rings and it’s a sales representative peddling a product. Do we invite that individual in and offer them a drink? Maybe. Do we automatically sign up for that gym membership they’re peddling? Maybe not.

I pay WordPress not to display ads on my site. I spend time and trouble to make my posts look good, so why would I want them uglified by ads for fungal nail cures or how scantily-clad women can make mega-bucks “without working”? That was the last straw. I forked over cash (well, credit) to be ad-free. And I willingly donate to the Wikimedia Foundation to keep Wikipedia and their other sites ad-free.

Ads, however upbeat, are designed to induce anxiety. Your life isn’t good enough, you’re not having enough fun, your writing won’t be its best if you don’t take my course, read my how-to book, or pay for my expert services. There’s enough anxiety in the world without adding to it by exposure to ads.

Fellow writers, how do you feel about ads? Do you create or purchase ads for your books? What do you think of the ads that come with the free blogging option?

Image from Pexels


  1. All these people promising to make you the best selling author are getting out of hand. They’re everywhere!
    Oh, and I hate critics too. Most of them seem to have a degree in waffling, and never kind. Never heard of constructive criticism either…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The blogs of service providers sometimes remind me of what used to be called “infomercials” on TV. As always, you have to apply critical thinking to what you see, which can get wearying. Many thanks for sharing this on your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also pay WordPress to keep ads off my site, and I use an ad blocker on all my devices. Before I learned about ad blocking software, I wouldn’t subscribe to blogs that had ads. As for all those ads selling services to writers, those of us who teach critical thinking courses use ads to teach logical fallacies because so much selling of products and services is based on them.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. A bonus with the WP paid plans is more space for photos and other media. I haven’t looked into ad blockers; I just ignore the ads, although sites with a lot of them take forever to load and are hard to read. People who create ads must negotiate a line between stretching the truth and actual lies.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loathe advertising in general. I also don’t think it’s effective. Today is a good day to talk about this, because a bunch of companies are paying millions upon millions of dollars to have advertisements played during the Super Bowl. And it’s not going to matter because people are going to continue buying the same things they always do because their friends like them, or they are on sale, or just whatever. The ads will make no difference except to line the pockets of the advertising industry.

    But, to answer your questions: I did buy ads a few times for my first couple of books. It was a complete waste of money and time. The only response it generated was from a few poor befuddled souls on Facebook who didn’t know why these ads were showing up in their timeline.

    I’ve been going ad-free for a few years now, although that’s mostly just a happy side-benefit of paying for the plan that lets me customize my site. WordPress ads weren’t bad back in the day when I had the free plan, but lately, they have become an active hindrance to reading posts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! There’s one interesting blog I visit rarely now because the ads make it slow to load and hard to read. I think authors need to define their objectives in publishing and do a lot of research before paying for any kind of promotion. If sales aren’t that important to you, ads aren’t necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ads don’t bother me. Animated GIF’s do and auto-playing videos do, but not regular ads. I know regular ads bother some people, though, so I’m going to step up to the next blog level and pay to get rid of the WP ads when I eventually query my current WIP. It’s like an incentive to get the thing done! I haven’t checked into it, but I hope it’s not too expensive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The basic WP paid package is less than $100, so not bad. The video ads really slow down site loading, and GIFs in general drive me crazy. Regular ads are mostly easy to ignore, but some are gross, like the two I mentioned, plus some sort of click-bait thing that was around for a while showing pictures of vegetables that supposedly were “destroying you from inside.” It occurred to me that if I didn’t like seeing that stuff on other blogs, I most certainly didn’t want it on mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have used promo sites like EReaderNewsToday and one or two others, but I assume you mean ads in the sense of pop-up ads or banner ads – which I’ve never used. Why? Because I just don’t think they would be worth it. I completely ignore such ads and I think the vast majority of people also ignore them. So why would I pay for something that I feel almost everybody ignores.

    As Berthold says, I don’t think that kind of advertising is very effective at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The promo sites like ENT and BookBub may be worth it, but you have to plan and budget for them. I suspect that pop-ups and banners are beyond the means of most indie authors, as well as being ineffective.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I dislike advertising and loathe the animated ones. I don’t have ads on my blog and never will. One year, when I was trying especially hard to promote a trilogy, I bought a few ads, but they produced nothing, so I have never done it again. It was out of character for me, since I’m such a skeptic! So, if I don’t believe the ads I see everywhere, why should anyone believe mine?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have a feeling most people have developed a way to filter out ads. From what I’ve read, some paid book promo services are effective, but using them has to be part of a marketing plan by the author. Not all authors need or want to promote that way. I totally agree with you about animated ads (especially GIFs; I can’t stand them even when they aren’t ads).


  7. I did pay for a few years.
    Then WP and Akismet between them…well you know that story. So I’ll have to put up with whatever turns up there…although that does give me an idea for riders on my next post (sinister chuckle).

    In the meantime, if these folk are so good at giving out advice how come they are not on the 10 lists of whatever is the current best seller? They get the automatic ‘Pffft’ award from me.

    I leave my works to be uncovered or discovered by later literary historians (strikes noble thoughtful pose— gazes westwards….changes mind gazes eastwards- sun gets in eyes- gives up on the noble pose and goes indoors for a cup of tea).

    In the meantime have to reblog this one Audrey, such good sense.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Only too glad to!
        Post like yours have to be reblogged Audrey. There always folk new to writing and ones not so new who are disillusioned and both can be prey to ‘sales’ techniques.
        They need to read from folk with experience and ‘views’
        Keep up the good work.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I went ads-free right from the moment they started appearing. I couldn’t stand them mucking up my blog. I hate it that WP makes money by loading up our blogs with garbage and then making us pay to stop them from doing it. But I suppose that’s a big portion of their income. I haven’t found going ads-free prohibitively expensive and it’s worth it to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Hosts file. You can edit your own. Will send most ads into never-never-land.

    Ads themselves? It’s a self-perpetuating scam. “What’s your budge for ads on FB? ZERO? Are you kidding me? We’re not going with a provider who doesn’t advertise on FB.” Doesn’t matter if ads are utterly ineffective, capitalism expects you to advertise.

    Oh, and, the kids are good, all grown up and never call. But have about a dozen buns in the oven, set on slow burn. Gestation is easy. Birth, on the other hand…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for your well written and thoughtful post, Audrey. There are many excellent resources out there, and I don’t mind paying for someone’s knowledge or expertise. On the other hand, what makes me angry is when scam artists, posing as legitimate companies, try to deceive people out of their money. Some of these culprits come in the form of written ads, but what’s especially troublesome is when these parties contact you by phone, pretending to be something they’re not. Now, we’ve crossed over fo fraud—a whole different ballgame.

    I’ve received phone calls from people claiming to tell me they’re interested in turning my book into a movie. Perhaps because I’m skeptical by nature, I don’t fall for it. When people do, they are often too embarrassed to tell others, and the scammers continue to thrive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those phone scams are in a class by themselves. I haven’t experienced any of the writing-related ones, but have had phone calls saying I would be arrested for not paying my income tax by scammers pretending to be the Canada Revenue Agency. The comical part was they said I could pay my taxes with iTunes gift cards! I don’t know who would fall for that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I subscribe to blogs that have useful information, but you’re right, too often I get to the bottom and I’m asked to pay for a course or a book to dig deeper into the topic. It’s becoming annoying. I know that authors don’t make a lot of money, so I don’t have a problem with ads on their sites, but when I see the same ad over and over again that too becomes annoying.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I don’t watch ads on TV (unless they’re Super Bowl commercials, lol), and don’t read them in magazines or online. The second I realized there were ads on my website, I paid WordPress for an ad free site.

    Liked by 2 people

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