Laura is blue. Fiona is green.
Laura, over the last several months, you and I have talked about a lot of things authors can do to promote their books. In blogpost after blogpost, we've enthusiastically embraced idea after idea. Some readers might think we're all-about-the-promo...that if they ran into us on the street they'd get mauled by our latest promotional efforts. Not so. As introverts, we're not likely to inadvertently get in anyone's face about anything, let alone go overboard on promotion.
That's so funny. Most people who meet me in person never even know I have a book coming out unless someone I'm with brings it up!
Hee hee. Yup, but with all of the ideas we've had flying about lately, I've been thinking about the book promotion efforts directed at me, and how I feel about them. I thought it might be interesting for us to explore where the lines are beyond which promotion is too much and it becomes a turn off. So here's my start.
An author being "Me! Me! Me! when the subject should revolve around someone else:
A member in one of my author groups cannot post to the group without somehow pointing to herself and her books. Ever. And I'm not talking about a 26-line sigfile (which can induce eyeball-rolling in its own right), but someone who seems to hinge her contributions on her ability to put herself front and centre by the end of her replies. Every one of them. It makes me question the genuineness of her friendship. It seems like she's simply using the group as one big marketing audience. It just doesn't feel right. I finally decided to turn it into a game. Now whenever I see a post from her I try and guess how she'll connect that particular topic to her own work. It's especially fun if my first reaction is "How on earth will she turn this to her advantage?" Somehow she always manages to find a way. It's good for a chuckle, but it's a sad chuckle...I'm really turned off by the blatant marketing to a group whose primary purpose is friendship. I feel used. I steer clear of her in other venues, and I definitely won't buy, review, or talk about her books anywhere. I just don't want to be associated with that.
Yikes. I think a key line there is "whose primary purpose is friendship." She's clearly crossing the line. I have a couple authors in mind who send melodramatic posts to a writing-information group I'm in. They're not pitches to sell her books directly, but she does always seem to make it about her, not about writing. Her posts always feel very purposeful to me that way. Not quite as bad as the one you described, though!
Yup...making a mountain out of a mole hill to draw attention to "the book"...definitely a variation on the theme.
An author never without "the book" and it's always first in their thoughts wherever they go:
You know the type. Exuberant, effusive, and "the book" comes up first in every conversation, in every context. The moment they see "new meat" enter the room, the sales pitch comes out. This is an expanded in-person version of the above. It's almost as if the book takes over the author's person. These are the sort of people you hope you see first so you can duck and hide under your hat and cross the street to avoid them without being seen.
These people scare me. Thank goodness, I rarely meet them. Maybe it's just because I'm not that sociable!
LOL...nah, I think they scare a lot of people.
Luckily, while I'm at risk somewhat for being a "Me! Me! Me!" person online, I'm so much more reserved in real life that I would never be this person. Whew!
Oh, no, my dear, you're not even close. You and I are in several online groups together, plus I see you on your blog, Facebook and Jacketflap. You are open and genuine, and you share your journey in a most generous, interesting way (always a terrific read), but I've never felt you were Me! Me! Me!. It probably just feels that way to you because it's so much more "out there" than you are in real life.
You don't know what a relief it is to hear that. I've worried that I've been going too far. You're right, probably just because it's more than real life and really more than my comfort zone.
Unsolicited email with book advertising from folks I don't know gets bumped directly into the "never buy this book" category. Usually this sort of thing means the person has harvested my email address from a group I belong to. Yuck. Can you tell I'm not very tolerant of telemarketers, either?
Yeah, 'nuff said.
Spammy Blog Comments:
Speaking of spam, one of the newest forms is blog spam disguised as a blog comment. On listservs it's generally okay to include promotional bits in a subtle sigfile, but not so much for blog comments. Many bloggers now delete promotional material of any kind left in blog comments by people they don't know. Drive-by blog comments with the express purpose of promoting yourself and your books is not okay. It does way more harm than good.
I've actually noticed a few more Deleted Comments on the blogs I read regularly. Perhaps this is why. I hope this doesn't increase. I really don't want to have to moderate and approve comments on my own blog (I've only had 2-3 of these ever). So many of these overpromotion techniques make your intended audience feel inconvenienced. Why on earth would you even do that? So dumb.
Too frequent contact:
Sometimes I sign up for an author's "email notification of special events" only to end up getting weekly notices of nothingness with a blatant promo tag for "the book". Just because email is easier and you can send newsletters more often doesn't mean you should. Such a turn off.
That would be too annoying. I think authors need to be very clear, like "no more than one email per month" or something. I don't sign up for these, so I haven't run into this. Fiona, you're clearly in contact with more writers than me! I really haven't seen much overpromotion!
Being a border straddler, I've got Canadian groups in the mix, too. I'm very particular about signing up for email notifications, now.
And I'll include overuse of Facebook newsfeeds for promo purposes in this category, too. There are a few authors whose every status update, link, comment, photo, etc, is directly linked to promo for "the book". Multiples per day is overkill. As part of the audience, I feel used.
OK, here's one I can comment on. I joined LinkedIn, and on it, I joined several groups related to children's writing. I get weekly updates for each group. So far, it appears that most "discussions" or questions are really thinly-veiled pitches for products/services. Many of them are from people "eager to be part of the group" but who really just want to sell their self-published books--or have someone tell them where they can sell them.
And I guess that's what it comes down to for me---feeling used. Are these authors spending time with me and talking to me because they like to do that, or simply because I'm a means to an end---the audience for their marketing efforts. I'm not interested in the latter. It sure turns me off from buying their books.
I think it comes down to respecting boundaries and purposes. If you're part of a how-to group, you offer useful info/resources/links, and of course you hope that increasing your name recognition and credibility might help sell books, too. But you don't pitch your book directly. In person, I can't believe people who try to sell their books constantly in social situations. I remember other moms who would come to a social/support group and try to sell Mary Kay, fashion scarves, and all sorts of other crap. Put a display on a table or set out catalogs--fine! Actually approach people and give them a sales pitch--rude!
Exactly. Well said.
So, have you ever had an author go over the top in marketing their book to you? Any slimey sales pitches? We'd love to hear your stories.