Saturday, 6 August 2011

Book promotion or nagging?

Anyone who's brought up a child knows that nagging doesn't work (not sure what does work with a teenager, but that's a subject for another blog).

So there is simply NO POINT adding a sombre, "Please enjoy responsibly," to a radio advert for alcohol. That is so not going to make the listener think, "Dear me, in that case I'd better not go out with my mates and get ratted tonight as planned." Similarly I doubt all the messages on cigarette packets persuade smokers to desist. The thing about nagging is that it's irritating, so people tune it out.

Indie authors, who have to market their own books, sometimes forget this. Every now and then, you come across a post like this:

Hi everyone, my thriller The Tattooist is on special offer for 99p!

What starts as just another murder investigation for DI Beverly Richards gradually turns into a nightmare, as a ruthless serial killer known as The Tattooist slays and mutilates lots of attractive young women and a few children and pets too, then tattoos clues on to their skins to taunt the police.

In a unique twist, the killer begins to hunt the cop hunting him! Beverley must find him and stop the slayings before he slaughters her, her twins, and her pet lop-eared rabbit, while simultaneously dealing with a hard-drinking boss who wants her taken off the case. Not to mention unfinished business with a man from her past who may not be what he seems.

Time is running out for Beverley – can she beat her demons and survive a final show-down with The Tattooist?

Happy reading!

Perhaps they worked, in the early days of the Kindle; but now, I think there have been so many of these posts, often inappropriately posted on half a dozen threads simultaneously, that potential readers mostly screen them out. On the US Amazon forums, such was the proliferation of Buy my book! posts that Amazon has declared zero tolerance, banning even discreet book links in signatures.

Writers need readers, and won't get them by badgering.


  1. On blogland there are endless, endless, endless, endless book blog tours, endless! Non-stop. It's ok after one or three but if (like me) you follow close to 200 blogs (ahem!) it could get very very very repetitive with the same author, book, interviews etc popping up endlessly making me want to run the other way fast.

    That's why three quarters of the blogs I follow are non-writerly ones.

    All I can say about Amazon is that if they offer this kindle e-publishing service with added forums then what did they expect?!?!?!? LOL!!!Ahem!

    Take care

  2. Kitty, I hadn't thought of that! I've done a few guest blog posts - I hope I haven't been causing too much eye rolling and tooth grinding.

    I fear the tendency is to think solely of one's own promotional efforts, without considering all the other writers out there doing similar things.

  3. This is so true, Lexi. Unfortunately though, these very people think sometimes the answer, if they don't get the desired response, is to nag more frequently and louder. Any sale at all simply reinforces the behavior. As a potential consumer, I'd rather be beset by ads in the places that ads belong, than barraged by plugs in my Twitter stream or FB posts.

  4. I'd forgotten the constant promo tweets some writers go in for! I won't follow anyone who does this. I can't think pestering on Twitter works at all.

  5. I don't think you can blame any writer for using Twitter and Facebook to promote their books, Lexi. For a completely unknown author it offers direct access to an audience that isn't guaranteed through any other medium unless you're prepared to pay substantially for it. The key is to ensure that you're not just saying 'BUY MY BOOK', but to offer extracts so that people can make up their own minds or the chance to win free copies and encourage your internet 'friends' to spread the word.
    Every publisher encourages their authors to build up an internet presence and use the web to market their products. It seems only sensible for independent authors to do the same.
    To be honest I'd rather have that in my message stream than hear what people had for breakfast or who's being annoying on the train.

  6. Doug, it's just the constant repeats of the same 'Buy My Book' message that irk. We're all on the internet to sell our books, but one can be crass or considerate about it.

  7. I just did a blog tour and out of the ten blogs I was supposed to be visiting, only half ever bothered to post what they were supposed to. The rest didn't even mention me and one went on hiatus for a few months. Two of them I never managed to contact and I suppose I'll never hear from them at all.

    As the tour ended, I started my Kindle giveaway. I posted the info on Kindleboards. One week into the contest, I've received zero contestants that originated from Kindleboards. People have gotten pretty cynical when they won't even try to win a free kindle.

    I'm pretty much done with promotion, with blogs, and with Kindleboards. It's proven to be a huge waste of time and I feel like I've got a better chance of making enemies than gaining readers by posting info about my books.

    Edited to add: I'll still be doing promos and giveaways on my own blog, I just don't see the use of doing this for people who are so cynical they won't even bother to look.

  8. Jamie, I've tweeted your Kindle contest link. Shame it's just for the US and Canada.

    I've come to a similar conclusion - people are looking for books they like, and Amazon helps them look. This has more effect than all our efforts, I think. I enjoy doing guest blog posts when asked, but have never tried to organize a blog tour.

  9. Thanks, Lexi. I was worried about licensing and comparability issues outside the US. If things work out, I'll probably do a UK version of the contest in the future. I'm thinking the best way to do that may be to set up a UK Amazon account and ship directly to the winner.

  10. There's such a fine line between marketing and nagging. Of course, we want to tell people if we have actually published a book (it is, after all, something to be proud of!). But there comes a point where a gentle reminder that the book exists becomes ramming it down people's throats.

    I just hope someone is decent enough to tell me if I slip into nagging occasionally. (It will probably be my daughter!)

  11. Daughters are excellent for keeping you up to the mark, I find.

    We all need one person who will not be polite when asked to admire something. The offspring once devastatingly commented that my new jumper looked like an old dishcloth. And she was right.

  12. I just ignore it all, but then I don't spend any time in forums, and it's easy for me to edit my Twitter stream and only see what I want to see. :P

    It *is* tough for people getting started today (there was so much less competition two years, or even a year, ago, and a lot of the folks selling well made their way onto Amazon's radar back then), but I've gotten a lot more out of giving away free short stories than bugging people on social media platforms. I'm launching my first podiobook this month, so it'll be fun to see how that works to bring new folks into the fold. :)

    P.S. Thanks for the kind words on my new cover art! :)

  13. I'm sure it is harder now to get started - I was lucky to get in when I did. Maybe we are reaching the end of a brief golden indie era.

    But it's reassuring that there are a lot of readers like my sister and my daughter, who each get through three books a week. They are actively looking for good reads, and pounce on any they come across.

  14. I must admit, these days I tend to skip over all the guest posts, blog tours, and book reviews in the blogs I follow. Which makes me wonder what I'll do when the dreaded time comes to market my own book - yes, I'm ever the optimist :)

    I guess there's no point worrying about it yet, because this fast-moving world will likely have changed again by the time I'm ready!

  15. Botanist, there is never any point in worrying! Remember, without writers there would be no publishing industry. We are necessary :o)

  16. From what I have seen it seems that the best you can do without a massive advertising budget is put the word out in as polite and informative manner as you can and then hope enough of the folks who initially take a chance on you like your work enough to start spreading the word themselves. If that happens then you've got something going and people will actually seek out your work plus they will think opportunities to engage with you are something just a bit special, not an unwelcome intrusion. If it doesn't happen, if that critical mass fails to materialize, try to write something better.

    Or just wait for a more perceptive audience to be born. ;-)