8 Ways Authors Turn Off Potential Readers

by Mike Duran · 78 comments

I recently stopped following two authors on Twitter because almost every post was about their own books. They may have been good writers. But I’ll never know. They were too busy publicly flogging their own product for me to care. It got me thinking about other ways that writers turn off potential readers.

* * *

Recommending your own books. You know, someone asks for recommendations for a certain genre, a thread starts, and an author pops in to say, “May I recommend MY novel.” Um, no you may not!

Gimmick giveaways. Giving away your books can be a good thing. But there’s a point at which it smacks of desperation. “Once I reach 5K FB Friends I’ll be giving away a Kindle Fire, a case of Red Bull, and a lifetime subscription to my newsletter!” Or gaining giveaway “points” by having someone do any combination of things to promote you:  “Just leave a comment here, re-post to your Facebook page, re-Tweet, and mention me on your own blog for your best chance to win!” ding! ding! ding! Not interested.

Listing your book in your list of favorites and/or must-reads. Even if your book is number 10 out of 10 on your list, don’t do it. Let someone else praise you. Besides, this tactic makes me feel as if the list was posted just to get your book in it!

Complaining about another author’s success to push your own product. “It’s sad that he / she could sell _______ thousand copies of that junk, while MY book — which is just as good — gets buried.” What’s sad is that you think disparaging another author earns you points with readers.

Turning every conversation back to your novels. “Yeah, the economy sucks, mountain gorillas are near extinction, and global unrest threatens millions of lives. Coincidentally, I addressed these issues in my last novel. Here’s the link!”

Make me Like you before we’re Friends. I’m fine with you asking me to Like your page. But asking me to Like you BEFORE we’re Friends just seems backwards. If we become Friends, I may discover I like you enough to actually Like your page. Unless you’re already famous, multi-published, I know you, and I already like your stuff, I probably won’t Like you. Whew!

Ulterior-Friending: When an author Follows / Friends you with the intention that you Friend them back so that they can send an automated reply to thank you for following them back on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or whatever, followed by an endless stream of updates about their novels. Listen, if your request for my Follow / Friendship is a veiled attempt to jam your books down my throat, please don’t ask.

Cheesy, Unprofessional website: If you actually get me to your web home, at least make it look like you got your sh*t together. An author who can’t invest enough time and money to at least make their home page look decent, can’t be trusted to make their novels any better.

* * *

Okay, there’s eight. Any you’d like to add to the list?

Katy McKenna September 19, 2012 at 7:37 AM

This made me laugh while nodding, which hurt my neck because I have herniated discs. Incidentally, by next week I’ll make my new e-book called Self-Cures for Hurt Selves available on my website for the introductory price of $79.99. I wouldn’t have thought to mention it, except for that you made my neck spasm. After that, it just felt so natural to work it in here….Thanks! 😉

Gray Rinehart September 19, 2012 at 8:20 AM

I’m all for a little self-promotion — I do it myself, although sometimes it makes me a bit queasy — but it is easy to overdo. Two things that particularly irritate me are:

– Frequent postings of “WIP” snippets, usually consisting of a line or two the author seems particularly proud of from their current work-in-progress … usually I ignore them, because I figure in the editing process those lines may end up changing

– Frequent postings of lines from recently-published work … these won’t change, of course, but usually they’re appropos of nothing and often make little sense because there’s no context

Finally, I don’t have a current book to flog, so you’re spared any recommendation from me. (Though if you ask me, I’m happy to tell you about my latest work.)


Cindy McCord September 19, 2012 at 8:22 AM

I have recently stopped following a couple of people for doing exactly what you are talking about and am considering doing the same to another. I’ll look at my feed and have 15 posts from the same person concerning their book or books. I find it very irritating.

I do like to follow because I can hear about new books or new to me authors from different sources but do it in moderation please. Otherwise you are getting the opposite reaction of what you are wishing to accomplish.

xdpaul September 19, 2012 at 8:25 AM

I’m a buyer of books, so authors might be interested to know that I:

1) reject social media requests to buy books, but I will follow links to public essays, opinions and fiction related to your genre/subject matter/themes.

2) Go to the bookstore. I wander the shelves, buy something, and may use that as a springboard to online, ebook and other store purchases.

3) Buy on personal recommendations from people who I see face-to-face.

4) Ignore most opinioned reviews, but will read book reports to preview a book.

5) Read a random selection of 5 pages (usually the first 5, esp. in ebooks) before deciding if I like the cadence and content.

And that’s it. As an anecdotal selection (one that has purchased thousands of books, lifetime), that should tell you that, at least to me:

Your platform doesn’t matter (much.) I’m going to hunt you down and find you in the store or via Kobo or Amazon. Don’t worry about reaching me. I would say that about half of the authors I read have tremendous platforms. The other half have almost none.

What is more important? Make your book available in every format, at every outlet. Who the heck knows where I’ll be when I start looking for it? Just make sure its in the stack. Secondly, make the book itself accessible. Make sure I can get a healthy preview of the actual content in any format: so don’t shrink-wrap the book in the store, and don’t send out an e-book without previews. Also, make sure your book is easy to share: DRM is like selling me a book with a diary lock on it and no key. Don’t make me break my own property, thanks.

Oh, and covers matter as a matter of marketing but they don’t matter to me. The last three books I bought have, respectively, a solid blue cover, a horrible gaudy cover, and a very dull cover.

If you really want to engage the reader, about the only thing you can do besides making interesting public comments directly related to your book content is to give away your books to readers of your genre.

Heather Day Gilbert September 19, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Great post, Mike. Yes, twitter can be exhausting sometimes, just coming up w/something valuable for people to read. I can’t say what I’d do if I had a book out, but I sure know I wouldn’t auto-post stuff every day. If people want to read my book, they’ll find it, without my constant flogging. Usually, like xdpaul said, through personal recommendations or bookstores.

I see nothing wrong w/giving more info on my book AT MY BLOGSPOT, or on my FB page. These spots are for people already interested in my topic. And IF I had a book, I’d surely mention it somehow on twitter. But not every single day, in the exact same way. Like the Bible says (something like this), “Better to let another’s lips praise you, and not your own.”

Mike Duran September 19, 2012 at 9:27 AM

“I see nothing wrong w/giving more info on my book AT MY BLOGSPOT, or on my FB page. ”

Absolutely not. In fact, I’d say it’s bad PR to get someone to your website and NOT have info on your books.

Caprice Hokstad September 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM

In defense of authors, most of us who do these things do it under PROTEST. We’re told we MUST market, market, market and not to do so makes us unattractive to publishers because we’re not willing to “do our part” to sell books even though we are a)uncomfortable and b) doing it doesn’t really help. At least half of your eight points have been impressed on me and other small press authors I know of as things we SHOULD be doing, with the implication that failing to do so is a weakness (You’ve got to get out of that introverted comfort zone of yours and SELL, dangit) and a liability to your career.

I can’t claim I haven’t done some of these things, but I assure you, when I did, I didn’t want to, nor did I enjoy it. I keep hearing how supposedly effective these tactics are and I feel like I owe it to my publisher to “do my part”. I wish I could find more proof these things don’t work (non-anecdotal) so I could feel better about refusing.

Barb Riley September 19, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Thank you for sharing this perspective, Caprice. Hopefully, by the time I ever get published, there will be all sorts of proof that gimmick giveaways are not effective.

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Caprice, I bought your books. (unfortunately they’re still in my legendary TBR folder…)

I bought them because of comments you’ve left here over the years. You seem to be a sensible, knowledgeable person and I figured that would translate well.

The ONLY self-promotion that I’ve seen to actually work are when authors are _genuine_ about who they are in Social Media. The current generations are very savvy to marketing and easily turned off.

So if you want to pass along to your publisher that you’re selling books–not used cars–and that you being you is the best marketing they’ve got, well, quote me on that.

Mandi September 20, 2012 at 8:58 PM

I’m with Katherine. The authors I know that I have books for are because I like them as people. I talk to them, I listen to them, and they know what they’re saying. Some of the books I never intend to read, but they got the sale because I like them. The authors I know that rub me wrong? Don’t have a thing by any of them. It’s all about *you*. (Side note, I run my own small press and always tell my writers – send a bio NOT a bibliography.)

Another thing that gets me is book covers (which someone said). I *do* judge books by their cover – that’s the first ten seconds a reader has to connect with you, and I want the visual to match the interior. If your book is set in Cairo, I expect it to have that sort of flair, for instance. But when I see a shoddy cover with crappy artwor, bad layout, illegible fonts, etc., I put the books down and walk away. If you can’t take time to make a reader’s first impression a good one, I don’t have time to spend hours reading what you’ve written. If the cover’s awful, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the book.
Also, the back of the cover – the new big thing is quotes from people about the book. No. I want to look at the book and know what it’s about, not what Joe Somebody thought about it. It’s not *as* bad with hardbacks, since the description is usually on the interior flaps, but to get it on paperbacks is just awful. “This book is awesome and the characters are great!” doesn’t tell me what it’s about.

Tim George September 19, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Good thoughts on the subject, Mike, and for the most part I agree with you. By way of disclaimer, it’s no secret that I represent Athol Dickson in his endeavor to publish under his own imprint. So I do have a bit of a biased perspective on what is and is not shameless self-promotion.

What authors published under a traditional publisher may not be considering in this matter are as follows:

What publishers do to promote a book isn’t considered self-promotion but what an author does to promote a title under his own imprint ( i.e. self published) is.

Here’s just one example of what most publishers do to promote an author. Almost every major publisher offers ARCs to almost anyone who seems to be a legitimate reviewer. NetGalley, for example, allows for free downloads of both Kindle and ePub ARCs free of charge to those who request them. But is that free? Certainly not. Publishers pay thousands of dollars to ensure titles were available for reviewers through NetGalley.

Is that self-promotion? It depends on how you look at it. The publisher is encouraging people to get something for free with the understanding the person receiving the book will do something in return – offer an unbiased review. They aren’t really offering something for nothing. I reviewed several hundred books over the course of four years. Trust me, if you quit posting reviews, sooner or later they quit sending you books.

I offer these thoughts simply as counterbalance. You are right that social media is by its nature, self-promotion. Writers must carefully weigh the balance between serving the reader and ensuring the reader can ever find their book.

Alan O September 19, 2012 at 10:05 AM

1) Drop the Breathless Blurbs. I’m fine with a line or two on the back cover…but don’t scream phrases at me like: adrenaline; high-octane; pulse-pounding, etc. Keep it real, or I automatically distrust you. And don’t print 5 pages of “Praise For…” before Chapter One.

2) Don’t Dress Up Like Your Character. You are not Eve Dallas, and your author photo doesn’t look hard-boiled, it looks creepy.

3) Don’t educate me about the font. I love literary fiction…but fine art crosses over into pretension when it includes 3 paragraphs of history concerning the derivation of the type.

4) Don’t ask me to join your Circle, your Brotherhood, your Society, or whatever you call your gimmick. You write a good book, and I’ll read it. That’s all the commitment I want.

5) Slow Down. Overachievers who make it a point to spurt out a new novel every 6 months (or less!) almost always turn me off. Not strictly on account of the pace, but because I’ve rarely found hyper-prolific authors (with or without co-authors) to be particularly good at writing. If you promise to write a WOW book, I promise not to forget you between releases.

Heather Day Gilbert September 19, 2012 at 10:25 AM

OH my word, I’d forgotten this. I got really ticked when some writer did “Get your kids inside, Bombing in the Capitol” or something all WAR OF THE WORLDS-ish for their book blurb! Don’t make it sound like you’re reporting REAL NEWS! “Virus Hits Millions in New York City, Will Any Survive?”–That kind of thing! Don’t do it, please!

Alan O September 19, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Good one, Heather….

On a related note, since I like novels that involve historical context… Don’t try to increase sales of your novel by “suggesting” that your reseach has uncovered startling new truths. Be honest about what constitutes historical fact…and what came from your imagination.

Mike Duran September 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM

These are great, Alan. Especially the Breathless Blurbs! I hate that. Although I was thinking about starting a Federation of Initiates with me as Overlord. Care to be the first in my circle?

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 11:45 AM

An author asked her FB followers yesterday to be on her Street Team. What the heck IS that?!?

Heather Day Gilbert September 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Laughing so hard here, Katherine. Yes, the Street Team is perhaps a new euphemism for Influencers? As in, “We’re taking this book to the STREETS.” I want a Street GANG team.

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

I just want someone to get the skunks off my street.

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Street Team? Hmmm. Mary Kay assault and tactical unit? Street sweepers? Road hockey/football/baseball? SWAT team?
Oohhh, wait…hapless minions who’ll shill books for a retweet and a wave!

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 4:30 PM

And, apparently, tshirts and coffee mugs.

Also, this is a well-known award-winning Traditionally published author.

xdpaul September 20, 2012 at 1:44 PM

I always thought street teams were those groups of homeless people with the windshield washing cloths.

Alan O September 20, 2012 at 3:17 AM

ha! For you, I’ll make the exception…

I’ll add a membership to my shopping cart at the Mike Duran Store. I’ve already ordered the Mike Duran doll (press it and it starts a controversy); a selection of Mike Duran temporary tattoos; and a toy Ghost Box (use it to communicate with dead things, like common sense, or Lindsay Lohan’s career)


Barb Riley September 19, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Offering to send out an autographed copy of a book. It does nothing for me as a reader; I just don’t get excited about someone’s handwritten signature or note (even from famous people). On the other hand, I appreciate book signings because, let’s face it, autographing the book gives everyone an excuse to make small talk. It would be weird/awkward if the author was sitting at a table and people waited in line to say hi and just gave a handshake or something. Perhaps with online giveaways, a signature can allow an author to offer a new “value” to some readers, but for those like me who are underwhelmed by it, an autograph is not a tactic that would prompt me to become a fan or buy additional copies.

Nikole Hahn September 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM

For the most part, I also agree, except for the last one. What do you consider cheesy? It’s kind of insulting. We work very hard, making little to nothing as a writer, and because we have bills to pay, some of us have children to support (luckily I don’t), we have to do what we can within our budget to make it as a writer because we love our craft. I do the best I can on my website and I can only hope it’s not cheesy. But I can’t afford a web designer and must do all of the work myself. So…what is your definition of cheesy? I’m sure you have something more tangible you could describe that would help the rest of us figure out our weak points and where we need to improve.

Jessica Thomas September 19, 2012 at 12:27 PM

I tend to forgive *cheesy* or *not that great* for the reasons you mention above.

sally apokedak September 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Well, since you have his cover on your front page, I doubt he’d call you site cheesey. 🙂

no, really, I just looked and your site isn’t cheesy. It’s different, though. That’s not terrible. If it’s easy to navigate, has good content, and isn’t sporting 1990’s java scripts, you’re probably safe.

Nikole Hahn September 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Thanks @Jessica :o)
LOL @Sally And thanks for looking. I am always more critical of my stuff. LOL. Being different…lol…reflects my personality. I think I have redone my site many times.

Mike Duran September 19, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Nikole, perhaps “cheesy” is in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, you don’t need a lot of money — if any — to have a good looking site. Heck, most of the free wordpress and blogspot templates are serviceable, if not good. And plain, simple websites can be just fine. By “cheesy,” I’m thinking of a site I recently visited (drawn there by the author’s comments on another post). It was a clash of colors. Blocks of obnoxiously bright fonts. Hard to read against backgrounds. There was a dancing wiener or something in an ad on the sidebar. And his book covers, oy vey! Not professional looking at all.

sally apokedak September 19, 2012 at 3:12 PM

This is true. With the lovely free blog themes that abound, there’s not much excuse for not having a good-looking site.

Nikole Hahn September 19, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Oh my…yeah…that’s totally cheesy. And thanks for the clarification. I just about laughed out loud here.

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Nikole, your site is good.

The worst things any book site can do:
–Comic Sans font. No. Just. No.
–black background with coloured type.

Both of these things say “juvenile” and “inexperienced”

Nikole Hahn September 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

I thought Donald Miller really addressed the issue of self-promotion well. I also don’t like it when self-promotion is ALL I see on a twitter feed from a favorite author, but finding that balance is also challenging between trying to make some sort of living off of your craft and respecting your readers, treating them like humans. You can find the blog here by the way: http://storylineblog.com/2012/03/29/why-i-self-promote/

Kevin Lucia September 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Coincidentally, I’m currently writing an epic-fantasy-historical horror slip stream novel about this, called “Can the Ham, SPAM.” I can post link to some of it’s snippets, or for pre-order, if you like.

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 11:42 AM

9. Don’t join GoodReads just to add your books, review your books, sell your books.

10. Dont send me nasty messages when I give your book 2 stars.

11. Stop complaining about how “not all writers are Jk Rowling and Stephen King. We have very little money and are doing this FOR YOU!!!”. Seriously, I have seen this meme 4 times in the last week. Indie authors complain that their book sells for less than a cup of coffee and that the General Reading Public should bend the knee and thank them for giving us a treat with their words.

How arrogant can you be???!!!???

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Hey, Katherine, (my daughter is a Katherine with a K, too)…if I were you, I’d watch the sass against the indie/world saving types. Or those Street Teams will key your car and write “It was FIVE stars!!” . Unless they’re too busy doing other stuff FOR YOU.

Heather Day Gilbert September 19, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Indie Street Teams keying cars! Watch out! But I’m glad you’re keeping it real w/the stars, Katherine. It’s hard to do.

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM

The irony is that two years ago a was a big flogger of this author’s work. I loved her books, gave several copies as gifts and talked her up endlessly on my blog and Amazon and GooodReads.

I never asked for anything. Just wanted to share the joy of a good book.

Now it seems these ‘Street Teams’ (which DOES sound like a gang…) get swag in exchange for MANUFACTURED word of mouth. (I just got an explanation.)

Can anyone here please explain to me how giving someone a Tshirt and a high-five is any less “paying for reviews” than, errrr, paying for reviews?

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 4:39 PM

It isn’t, especially if we’re talking high thread count Pima cotton and perhaps an embossed tag, not one that sticks up your neck.

Nikole Hahn September 19, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Number 10…so understand that.

Sorry to the decent Indie writers, but there are a lot, too many in fact, Indie writers who are very arrogant with a chip on their shoulder and act as if their work really is gold. It reflects in the writing, too. But let’s not get started on that here. It’s like bringing a hot dog to a PETA meeting.

Good thing those Indie writers don’t know my car. LOL.

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

AHAHAHAHA!! “A hot dog to a PETA meeting”!!!

Nikole Hahn September 19, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Thought you’d like that one.

Jim Hamlett September 19, 2012 at 1:15 PM

I think all the complaint bases have been covered. (Kudos to Alan O for some sweet additions!).

So, Mike, hows does one get to be your friend, you grumpy old man? 🙂

(I think you’re at ACFW this week. If you see a name tag with “Peter Leavell,” “Clarice James,” or “Michael Ehret” on it, say hello for me. Many thanks.)

Mike Duran September 19, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Oh, I’m easy to make friends with, Jim! Just don’t Spam me and we’ll stay that way. 😉
And I’ll make sure to say hi if I see any of those folks.

Kat Heckenbach September 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Mike, I have to say I agree with you completely, but I also agree with Caprice. There is a lot of pressure to self-market when you’re with a small press. You say to “let someone else praise you”–well, gladly! Find me someone who’s willing to, please. I try mostly, if I post anything self-promotional, to make it a review or an interview so it is me at least saying, “Look at what someone ELSE says about my writing.”

I have a blog, where I post about all sorts of stuff but almost never self-promotion, and my Facebook page is a mix of the occasional promotional link (me and fellow authors) and lots of other misc. Facebooky things. Twitter is the one that confounds me. I HATE Twitter. So when I do, on occasion, drag my butt over there it’s usually a promotional link–but again, generally a review or interview.

Truth be told, I hate marketing. But being small press makes it very hard. I am doing what I can, but the biggest and best marketer is word of mouth–something I cannot control. And when most of the mouths willing to spread the word about me are all in the same bubble…well.

OK, sorry. That meandered into venting, didn’t it? 😛

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM

FWIW, you are about the best self-promoter I follow. Well, you and Kathleen Valentine.

You’re genuine about who you are and enthusiastic about your work but not forceful.

Kat Heckenbach September 19, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Thank you, Katherine! 😀

Mandi September 20, 2012 at 9:09 PM

You can set your facebook up to auto post onto Twitter. Just sayin’.

As for promotions, street teams aren’t horrible if they’re done right (Seventh Star Press only sends out bookmarks and postcard sized art cards that they want passed out), and looking for book review sites are always good ideas.

But really, (and I know I just sorta said this in a previous post) it’s about the type of person you are. I was at MidSouthCon back in the spring, partially to see Janine Spendlove. At one point, she was doing a signing at a table with John Jackson Miller.

John and I were discussing what he wrote, and he was talking about Mass Effect and Star Wars (which I’m not into), and then listed Iron Man, and started talking about a few of the story lines he had written. One set took place at the Capital Building, where Janine happens to work – she’s a Marine, btw – and so he turned to her and started showing her all the scenes. She was so excited about it that he pulled out one of each issue in the story line, signed them all, and gave them all to her.

I was so impressed with John doing that for somebody that I respect so much that I bought one too. Character is everything.

Kat Heckenbach September 19, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Mike, I have to say I agree with you completely, but I also agree with Caprice. There is a lot of pressure to self-market when you’re with a small press. You say to “let someone else praise you”–well, gladly! Find me someone who’s willing to, please. I try mostly, if I post anything self-promotional, to make it a review or an interview so it is me at least saying, “Look at what someone ELSE says about my writing.”

I have a blog, where I post about all sorts of stuff but almost never self-promotion, and my Facebook page is a mix of the occasional promotional link (me and fellow authors) and lots of other misc. Facebooky things. Twitter is the one that confounds me. I HATE Twitter. So when I do, on occasion, drag my butt over there it’s usually a promotional link–but again, generally a review or interview.

Truth be told, I hate marketing. But being small press makes it very hard. I am doing what I can, but the biggest and best marketer is word of mouth–something I cannot control. And when most of the mouths willing to spread the word about me are all in the same bubble…well.

OK, sorry. That meandered into venting, didn’t it? 😛

There add that–venting on other people’s blogs!

Kat Heckenbach September 19, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Oh, and I guess add to that double-posting comments. What the heck? I have no idea how this happened. Sorry!

sally apokedak September 19, 2012 at 3:13 PM

you spammer.

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Sally, she’s not spamming, she’s taking over Mike’s blog and flagrantly self promoting!!!
Or, maybe the clicking thingie got stressed and well, you know…

Kat Heckenbach September 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM

LOL. Technology challenged combined with slow connection? 😛

Iola September 19, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Don’t promote your book on Amazon, no matter what your publisher says. If you promote in the Meet Our Authors discussion, your post will be lost in the other 10,000 self-promoting posts. If you promote outside MOA, Amazon will delete your post for contravening their discussion guidelines, but you will already have lost a lot of readers before that happens.

And the flip side of always flogging your own book on Facebook/Twitter: Dont’ go too far the other way. I’ve followed your blog/FB/Twitter because I’m interested in your books and your opinions, not the minute details of your life.

I don’t want five blog posts a day about your diet, your conversations with your husband or the cute thing your pet/child just did. If you must share your life to that degree, use Facebook, not your author blog.

I don’t want to know your pet name for your husband. I don’t want to know that you only ate three fries when you went out to lunch after church. I especially don’t want to know the calorie count of those three fries.

sally apokedak September 19, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Oh, come on, Mike. Tell us how you feel, how you really, really feel.

I agree that these methods are ineffective, but I wouldn’t say I hate them.

When someone spams my feed, I ignore them. I don’t find it hard to do.

There is one marketing technique that does bother me and it is the Tom Sawyer technique. It’s the one that says, “I’m going to give you a great big gift and let you interview me on your blog, or write a review of my book, or whatever.” Particularly when I never asked to interview them in the first place.

If I take the time to interview someone I think they should send me a thank you note instead of acting like they’ve done me a big favor. I do understand that authors do bloggers a favor when they give their time. It’s just that it’s unattractive for them to not realize that bloggers also are giving of their time to promote the authors.

Erica September 19, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Your arguments are valid Mike, however this is what marketing is for those who self publish and sometimes traditionally published.

I hate to bombard social media with my writings only so I may mention my cheap books once or twice a week. But what some may not know, is that for five or more years and in the present I am a book reviewer and promote others books for zero pay. I would love to have a street team without others thinking I am being arrogant.

Just my two cents.

Jennifer Major @Jjumping September 19, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Mr Duran, sir, I DO need to ramp up the blog-bling on my blogspot blog over at Blogspot, which is http://www.talesoftheredhead.blogspot.com….where I talk about my WIP/MS/fiction novel/book that I wrote that isn’t non-fiction.
But I digress.

I dropped a person from Twitter because she literally posted every 5 minutes! I kid you not. I counted one day. It was unreal!! My beef was that she had a “Dr” in front of her name, yet clearly lacked the professional skilz to clue in to her LACK of professionalism. I thought *I* was a narcissist!!!
Unless your name is Jesus, no one wants to hear you speak THAT MUCH.

John K. Patterson September 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I can see what you mean, Mike. Some of those bother me, too, although I’m less concerned with an author saying anything about their book than I am about *what* they’re saying. Saying you finally have published your first or second book is a cause for celebration, and it’s fine if they just want me to celebrate, and buy it, if I want. And it’s fine if someone lets me know they have a sample chapter posted on their blog, or link to reviews of their work.

On the other hand, if you keep grousing about people who turned you down or the unfairness of publishers, or turn a conversation into self-promotion, or ask people to write glowing tributes to your book…that’s when I take a (strictly metaphorical) grenade out of my pocket and start debating whether I should yank the pin.

One author has gotten on my nerves repeatedly, because he wanted readers to write a toast to his main character, talking about how she changed their lives. Another time, someone asked for his thoughts on the recent death of a celebrity, and his only reply was, “Aw, if only that person could have lived long enough to read my book!” Maybe he was trying to be cheeky, but it comes off as jarring and narcissistic. And he tends to be needlessly sensitive about his work, too. If someone gives a 2-star review on Amazon, he feels the need to jump in and explain his intentions, then give a not-quite apology that they didn’t like it. (And at this point I’m asking myself why I still show any interest in this guy if he keeps doing such irritating things)

Another author continually complains about traditional publishers and Amazon, and how she gets treated SO unfairly when other people were fawning over her masterpiece and granting her awards. But that doesn’t stop her from selling to Amazon, or linking back over and over again to years-old rants she made about how everything in the writing life is so unfair. I guess the lesson is either “Quit Whining and Keep Writing,” or “Southern Gals Care About Your Opinion Way More than They Say.”

When I can finally get my books finished and resting on shelves, I hope I can be more positive and restrained, but also remember I am susceptible to the same failings. There but for the grace of God…

sally apokedak September 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

What I really wonder, though, is this: Does all this stuff bother regular readers as much as it bothers writers?

When I first started writing third-person bios I hated it. I felt like such a fraud talking about myself in glowing terms.

But most readers don’t know that authors write their own bios.

And I’m guessing that most readers aren’t getting as much author promotion as I am. I am friends with hundreds of authors on Facebook and Twitter and I’m betting most of my real-life, normal, un-writerly-type friends may be friends with one author or two.

Tim George September 21, 2012 at 6:51 AM

And you raise a factor many of us may not be considering. I make my way to a lot of writer’s blogs and forums. For the most part we are talking to ourselves more than to non-writer readers. Many of the things that get under our skin, they don’t even think about. They are too busy living life and, of course, reading.

D.M. Dutcher September 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

I make it a point not to recommend my self-published novel to others, and I use Goodreads to catalog my reading and find new books. I also help others and recommend books I haven’t written, especially since everyone there thinks “Heroic Fantasy” is a pen name that Brian Sanderson uses. I’ll comment on writing matters if I think I can help, and sometimes I am like any other poster with opinions. Twitter I use, but I’m growing not so fond of it: it’s increasingly becoming a way for people just to advertise as opposed to micro-blogging back and forth. Usually I just list blog posts or things I find cool.

I actually follow people to find friends, or because I like their work. Once in awhile I’ll try a recommended person to follow because it’s really hard to find new friends online, at least for me. I’m worried that I might not have the right temperament for the kind of promotion needed-it seems like a minefield, or a tightrope where you can fall off the left into being the kind of writer you mention, or to the right where no one knows you exist. It’s a tough thing, especially if you are a net tiger but a real-life mouse.

sally apokedak September 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM

This is effective. Actually interact in the discussion. It’s not rocket science. I immediately clicked over to your blog.

I love your cover. Gorgeous.

Probably won’t buy the book because it doesn’t sound interesting to me…I’m not into super heroes. However, if you had a first chapter on your blog, I may have read it and found I was wrong and this books is as good as the cover. Or if you linked to to it on Amazon or some other place where I could get a bit of the first chapter I would have clicked over.

I will go check it out on Amazon, because the cover is so nice. But you should make it easy on your visitors.

D.M. Dutcher September 19, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Thank you. That’s good advice. I’m actually the opposite-I never read sample chapters on web pages and I didn’t realize until you said that others might do so. Usually for me I’ll buy based on other factors. Mike’s novel I bought because his name kept coming up in the groups I frequent on Goodreads, and others I’ll get through Amazon recommendations or the odd website.

I’ll post a few chapters up in a day or two.

Kat Heckenbach September 20, 2012 at 5:02 AM

D.M. Dutcher said: “Mike’s novel I bought because his name kept coming up in the groups I frequent on Goodreads…”

THIS. This is what I want to know how to make happen.

Other than “write a great book” and “get it published”–how does one get buzz going on Goodreads without doing so oneself when one is with a small press? (And no, I do NOT self-promote on Goodreads except in the few designated areas of the groups I participate in, and then it is ONLY when something new happens–cover finished, book released).

One thing I’ve noticed about groups on Goodreads (and LinkedIn)–either they are strict about “no self-promoting” (yay!) or they are just a bunch of authors hawking their own books. I am SO tired of joining “reader” groups to find authors hawking one after the other.

Katherine Coble September 20, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I make an effort (since I’m not fiction-published yet) to promote various authors I like on GoodReads, but it is a LOT more difficult now than it was even 8 months ago.

Before people used to be able to trust longtime GR members as insightful about at least a specific genre. Now there’s an instant wariness about anyone you don’t know very very well.

I’ve found that the least self-promote-y groups to join are ones that talk about religion (ie. I’m in “Budding Apologists” and all they do is fight over how much they all like the Bible.) and bookclubs. That’s how you get to KNOW people. Still, it’s difficult.

I try my best to promote authors I like, but I also want people to be able to trust my word. I want them to be able to say “Coble said this is an X-Star book, so it’s going to be worth looking into.” I’ve found that the best way to do that is to give honest reviews and pimp the few books I really like. As far as I can tell I’ve gotten a couple people to buy Mike’s first book (second is still in TBR), I got 3 or 4 to buy Patrick Todoroff’s and I think one to buy yours, Kat. It’s not much, I know.

Kat Heckenbach September 20, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Well, “not much” is relative. It is definitely “much” appreciated! (Corny, yes, but sincere :).

Jill September 19, 2012 at 4:51 PM

When I get around to self-pubbing, I will recommend my book to everyone. And I won’t ask permission to do so (see your pt 1). Therefore, I’d like to take a moment to apologize ahead of time. That should merit me something–about as much as asking forgiveness before sinning.

Katherine Coble September 19, 2012 at 7:32 PM

I’ll also recommend your books. Without asking for tshirts.

Jill September 20, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Will you be on my street team? 😉

Katherine Coble September 20, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Only if we can get tattoos that say “JD’s Street Ninjas: Fighting for Literacy and Honey Boo-Boo One Good Read At A Time”

John Robinson September 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Mike, just FYI, I’m stealing “the dancing weiner” for my next book. It’ll either be an epithet, the moniker of a rock band, or the name of seedy redneck bar. I’ll let you know. *G*

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