Stop Beating Me Over the Head With Your Book


Photo by Mark Wheadon

So we all know that part of our jobs as authors is promoting ourselves and our books. We hear it over and over again--build a brand, establish a presence, network with readers.

And I agree. All those things are necessary if we want to be successful in this industry. However, there are ways to do it that are effective and there are ways to do it that are ABSOLUTELY ANNOYING. *takes a breath*

Okay, I feel better.

So I thought I would look at the things that some authors have done that have worked on me as a reader and the things that turn me off completely.  

Let's start with the bad shall we?

Do Not....

1. Friend me on Twitter/Goodreads/Facebook and when I agree to be a friend, immediately send me the promotional email--Thanks for the add!  Check out my book. Here's where you can buy it.
Ugh, I hate this and will often un-friend people over it. If you've friended me, that means I went to your site to see who you are. Your books are listed there. If I'm interested, I will look into them. Please do not send these emails because it makes the "befriending" totally insincere. 
2. Only tweet or blog about your book, where to buy it, and the reviews on it.
It's okay to slip in an occasional tweet about your book and it's fine to announce when it's released or if it's hit a bestsellers list or gotten a review. That's fine and you should celebrate that. But if those are the only tweets or blogs you ever do and you never interact with anyone, you look self-serving (not to mention boring.)
3. Create a newsletter option, make people sign up for it to enter a contest, and then only send out newsletters about your book and how to buy it.
If people have signed up for a newsletter, give them something of value in it. Articles about whatever is important to your readership. For instance, my agency has a newsletter anyone can sign up for. Now, this is a chance for Nelson Lit to promote their clients' books, correct? Sure, and they will mention those books on occasion BUT the majority of the newsletter is helpful writing advice and industry information so the reader gets something helpful for signing up.
Okay, so if you can avoid those things, you're doing well. What are some you can do that work to promote in a positive way?

Things that will win me over as a reader...

1. Comment on people's blogs in a genuine way.
It's obviously hard to do this large scale, but this is where you can use the Google Alert feature to your advantage. If someone mentions you on their blog or reviews you and you see it, stop by and thank them for the mention. I've had a number of authors do this, including Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, who stopped by and commented last week after I mentioned his book. Erotic romance author Lauren Dane also commented when I picked one of her books as my favorites last year. 
And even if you weren't mentioned, but maybe the topic is related to what you write, say hi. Author Elizabeth Amber did this last year on a post I had about erotic romances I liked. I had never read her books, but when I clicked her name in the comments, I found that she writes historical EroRom and ended up buying one of her books and loving it. I went on to buy more in that series. It was totally effective. 
2. Be a real person on Twitter/Facebook/Blogging.
No, if you become a big author, you can't follow back everyone and can't respond to ever @ mention, but that's okay. If you can just be engaging in your tweets and seem like a normal, likable person, that will win you readers. And if you can interact with readers on occasion, all the better. I responded to something a big author said a while back, and she replied with a Bwahhahaha. It was simple, but made me like her even better because a) she took the time to respond and b) she liked my joke. Silly, but it's just that sense of brief connection that makes you like someone more and want to support them as authors.
3. If you can, offer something that benefits both you and the reader.
This can be a simple contest where you give away one of your books. Or, if you are so inclined, you can do something that gives back to readers or writers. Author Candace Havens, for instance, has a writers' workshop via a Yahoo group. She provides priceless writing info, runs contests to win critiques, and has great guest authors give online classes that are all free. In return, she gets an open mic via all our email addresses to reach out to everyone in the group. Therefore, if she has a new release or something going on, she can send that out to all of us. And because she's been so helpful to us, we want to help her too.
So, at the end of the day what I think it comes down to is BE GENUINE. If you are only doing something because you want to promote, then readers are going to see right through it. Don't go into something like Facebook or Twitter or blogging unless you are looking to honestly connect with other people.

Okay, so I'm curious to hear which promotional tactics annoy you. Which ones have worked? Outside of writing great books, what makes you really want to support an author?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Right Through You" - Alanis Morrissette
(player in sidebar, take a listen)