A few weeks ago, I had a conversation on Twitter with a new author. He’s pubbed by a small press, and I came across his book when one of his fans sent a, um, bizarre email to a friend who happens to also publish the most influential crime fiction magazine on the planet. I tweeted at him (because I couldn’t find an email address on his website), he responded, and all was right with the world.

Yesterday, I got a direct message from this same author containing an invitation to an event in New York.

At which point I assumed that he was sending it because of our previous communication. It seemed like a personal communication because it said, “…if you’re in NY…” and my Twitter profile says quite clearly that I don’t live there, but anyone who knows me even a little knows I travel up to The Big City with some degree of regularity.

So I—perhaps egotistically—assumed this author had some idea of who I am, at least that I have a connection to the aforementioned magazine.

I responded to the invitation, saying that I wouldn’t be in New York on that particular date, but if he ever did a local event, to please let me know (because, while I couldn’t find his email address, I did find an article in my local newspaper that explained that he happens to live in the same small city that I do).

At which point the author asked me who I was.

Now, I know that most of the planet has no idea who I am and that’s just fine and dandy. But when I get a direct message from someone I’ve communicated with relatively recently, I tend to assume that person knows I’m not just some random Twitter follower.

And it occurred to me that the DM I thought was a legit personal message was anything but. Now I’m thinking he probably sent it via DM to every single one of his followers who follow him (there aren’t that many, so this wouldn’t have been a huge task).

The moral here? Bulk social media direct messages—particularly via Twitter and Facebook—aren’t appropriate communication vehicles for BUY MY BOOK or COME TO MY EVENT messages. That’s just kind of skeevy. Not as bad as the ones we all get from scantily clad women looking for credit card details, but almost. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re sending a direct message, you should know to whom you’re directing it.

And on a completely unrelated note: This week I learned that the Violent Femmes are on Twitter. At @violentfemmes. You’re welcome.