Self-Published Writers and the Shiny Object Syndrome

DISCLAIMER: At one time or another I’ve been guilty of all the things I deride below.

Every now and then something hits me like a bolt from the blue and I can’t repress it. In an idea session at Starbucks with a long-time friend, the Shiny Object Syndrome came up and KABOOM!

S.O.S. –

Debilitating distraction caused by the constant bombardment of book marketing ideas from online marketing experts. In other words, reducing one’s focus to the attention span of a gnat accompanied by self-inflicted paralysis—also known as the Shiny Object Syndrome.

I’d venture to say that most writers, having self-published their first book, are full of hope at the prospects of seeing that book rocket to the top of the Amazon bestseller lists. When it becomes obvious that this phenomenon isn’t likely to happen all on its own, they fixate on DIY blogs/articles/manuals titled something like ”How To Market Your Book” or “How to Sell Your Book Online.”

While it’s true no one is as dedicated to the success of their work as the writers, themselves. It’s also true the search for effective marketing actions for new books often leaves even the most stalwart writers chasing their tails.

In the information age, the thirst for knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Once the book marketing spillways are opened a flood ensues, and it takes a Herculean effort to keep from drowning. Unfortunately, misinformation abounds, and the sheer volume of data can easily overwhelm the most devoted researcher.

If you find yourself flitting from one book marketing tip to another as fast as the notifications pop up, and you never get any real marketing done, here’s a few clues from an old mystery writer who has “been there, done that.”

5 Ways to Avoid the Thousand-Yard Stare

1.  Consider the Source – if you take book marketing advice, be selective. Make sure the advice is credible. Has the advisor actually sold a reasonable number of books using the advice they’re giving? Demand proof before you buy in.

2.  Focus On What Works – Find out how other self-published authors are marketing their books, and if those marketing efforts are effective—are they selling books. Ask for results.

3.  Dump the Allure of Overnight Success – The instant bestseller schemes are just that, schemes. By their very nature they’re doomed to failure.

4.  Plan for Book Sales – Develop strategic and tactical plans using proven marketing techniques that result in book sales.

5.  Persist – Stick to your plans for the long haul. See them through. While it’s okay to consider new ideas, don’t deviate once you’ve adopted a sound strategy. Persistence is power and will win out given time.


Book marketing closely parallels the publishing industry, both self-published and traditional. Today, technology has abolished the barriers to publishing. The good news is anyone who wants to publish a book can easily do so. The bad news is that everyone is doing it—it’s a free-for-all, much like the gold rush days of yore. Exciting, isn’t it?


Your input is always appreciated.

The mystery books Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk are available on Amazon. Grey Daze is due out later this year and Cut-Throat Syndrome will be released in 2015. Excerpts are up on the blog.

You may also check out the book trailers for Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk.

For more on Michael Allan Scott and the Lance Underphal mystery series, go to


Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Michael Allan Scott and a clickable link back to this page.

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6 thoughts on “Self-Published Writers and the Shiny Object Syndrome

  1. Lev Raphael says:

    I’ve posted this in a few places on FB and tweeted it–very sensible. Sometimes I feel like a tourist in a bazaar where I don’t know the language and everyone’s trying to sell me something.

    • Michael Allan Scott says:

      Thanks Lev. It’s wild and woolly out there. It helps to have a strong business background, especially when it comes to marketing/PR/advertising. Finding good people you can trust is key.

  2. Steven Swaks says:

    First, thank you for the advice. Authors sometimes try to find the next marketing scheme to an extend that we become blinded and forget the essence of why we are here at the first place: to write.
    Beautiful website by the way!

    • Michael Allan Scott says:

      Steven, Thanks on both counts. Hope you find the info useful. And of course, you’re right. By all means continue to write!

  3. This is useful information and I would like to be able to read it fully, but unfortunately, like so many other people, I find it difficult to read white type on a dark background (some say it makes their eyes bleed!). I will have to copy and paste.

    • Michael Allan Scott says:

      Jan, I appreciate your input and understand the difficulty reading white text on dark backgrounds. I will send you a traditional “black on white” plain text ,pdf version.

      And I’m happy to do the same for anyone who would like a more readable version of any of my blog entries.

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