The Wrong Way to Promo Your Book

I’m catching up on All The Things, so I expect to be shipping out books in the next couple of days. For all of you who’ve ordered paper books from me – they’re coming!! If you WANT to order signed books from me, now is a really good time to do so, because you’d actually get it in a reasonable amount of time. Check out the store here.

So, I talked about this on my podcast yesterday, but if you didn’t listen, here’s a written-up version of what not to do as an author shilling your books.

I accepted this friend request on Facebook, you see. For some reason, I’ve been getting a TON of Facebook friend requests lately. The obvious spammers and scam artists are fairly easy to spot. The ones I really waffle over are the authors who seem to be friending me just to promo their book(s). With (most of) those, I accept their friend request and then brace myself for the promo private message (PM).

With this guy, it didn’t take long. Before I unfriended, blocked, and deleted – which IS what I’ll do if you PM me book promo, I saved this message for a lesson on What Not to Do. I changed the book titles, not because this dude is innocent, but because I have no desire to call him out and I’m not giving him any stinking press. Otherwise, all capitalization, etc., is his.

Here’s the message :

I have received thousands of reviews on novels X X, Y’s Y and ZZ On A Z’s Z. NONE more precious than the one I received today from this 96 year old WORLD WAR II VET! Be hard to imagine flying a TBM Avenger off the USS White Plains CVE-66 back in the day.

❤️

Hi Mr. Author Spammer Guy, Just started reading your “Ys Y” again. At 96 a good story is just as interesting with the tenth reading as it was the first. 🌈 I see why Burt Reynolds bought the film rights to your first novel X X.

(Link I ain’t never gonna follow, which only goes to his Facebook page anyway.)

Let’s break this down, shall we?

  1. First of all, don’t do this.
  2. I feel so strongly that no one should promo books this way that I’m making it #1 *and* #2. Don’t do this.
  3. “I have received thousands of reviews on novels X X, Y’s Y and ZZ On A Z’s Z.”
    Congratulations? I really don’t care. If you have so many reviews, why are you spamming me?
  4. “NONE more precious than the one I received today from this 96 year old WORLD WAR II VET!”
    I don’t care a) how precious it is to you, b) today, like actually today or is this meant to make me think, I don’t know, that this is fresh and relevant?, c) why do I care how old this guy is?, and d) why are you shouting at me about WWII vets?
  5. “Be hard to imagine flying a TBM Avenger off the USS White Plains CVE-66 back in the day.”
    a) this is not a sentence, b) I can’t imagine this at all as I have no idea what these words mean, c) what is a TBM Avenger?, d) isn’t White Plains in New York?, and e) I don’t know what CVE-66 means either.
  6. ❤️
    No.
  7. Hi Mr. Author Spammer Guy,
    Why are you including the salutation? It doesn’t make me think it’s real.
  8. Just started reading your “Ys Y” again. At 96 a good story is just as interesting with the tenth reading as it was the first.
    Ten readings, really?? If you’re going to make up reader letters, let’s go for something more modest. Like second or third, to be generous. Also, what is the freaking deal with tell me the age twice???
  9. 🌈
    Somehow, I don’t think this rainbow is an homage to Pride Month. Why is it there?? We will never know…
  10. I see why Burt Reynolds bought the film rights to your first novel X X.
    I mean… Why is this reader who loves Y’s Y enough to read it ten times suddenly pivoting to mention the movie rights to X X? Especially when we know that *that* option is going nowhere since Burt Reynolds, may he rest in peace on his adorable ass, passed away in 2018, THREE YEARS AGO. This isn’t exactly a hot commodity in Hollywood. And how does this 96yo (important detail!) reader even know about Burt and his pre-2018 option purchase of the book that he hasn’t read nine times already? This just proves that being a fiction writer doesn’t make you a good liar.
  11. (Link I ain’t never gonna follow, which only goes to his Facebook page anyway.)
    You linked me to your Facebook page because why? Cuz, you know, your profile, right there on the Facebook PM goes right to…. your Facebook page!
  12. Don’t do this, people.

 

 

San Diego Comic Con and Cross-Promo Etiquette

Evening thunderstorms in Santa Fe make for gorgeous sunsets!

I’m super excited making plans with Grace (Darling) Draven for San Diego Comic Con. She was originally coming along as my guest, hoping to keep a low profile and just enjoy some girl time. Now her publisher found out she’s going, so I get to go to the Penguin-Random House party as her guest. We’ve also made plans to meet up with our readers who don’t have passes to the Con itself. For anyone interested in the San Diego area, Grace and I will be at the Marriott Marquis pool bar by 8pm on Friday, July 19. We’ll hang there until 10pm, when it closes. I think some intrepid fans have a plan to get there early and snag a seating nook. It might be mobbed, but we’ll be there! We’re both traveling light, so we won’t have much stuff with us, but we’ll be happy to sign books, swag, underwear (I really did this once – clean and unused, however) that you bring. We’ll also be at our leisure to chat, discuss, and answer questions. Sorry to make you all come down to the Comic Con crush, but that’s how we could fit this in.

I’ll also be on a panel and signing at the TOR booth with giveaways of THE ORCHID THRONE. Details here.  

It’s going to be so fun!

The last few days on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee with Jeffe Kennedy, I’ve been talking about the difference between marketing and promotion, and also social etiquette for asking for cross-promotion with other authors. If you listened there, I’m going to say pretty much the same thing here. I tried doing transcriptions of the podcast, for those of you who don’t like to listen to stuff, but it takes me close to an hour to correct a 20-minute podcast. Plus it costs me .10 cents/minute. I did add a donation button on the podcast, to help supplement the costs, but that’s just way too much time. So I’m going to make an effort to discuss important stuff (not cat wrangling, hummingbirds and notes on the weather – regular features of the podcast) here on the blog, too.

What happened to set me off was I received an email addressed to “Dear Author Friends” that then apologized for the mass email, blamed social awkwardness for it, and then proceeded to deliver a slick publicity package for her new series, asking me to share pre-prepared quotes, memes, etc.

It came to my semi-secret email, the one I reserve for friends and business folks like my agent and editors, and I had no idea who this author was. Not a friend, that’s for sure.

I did search of my Outlook items and found her. We were on a panel together two years ago – and I used that “good” email address for discussions about the panel. She harvested my email address, put it in this list of “author friends” and gave it to a publicity person who put this email together for her. Some of my real author friends who looked at the letter recognized some of the language as being canned.

So here’s a hint, for anyone thinking about doing something similar. Yeah, maybe some of those people you blitzed will post your promo for you. But for many of us, that’s just a really good way to piss off your author community. If you can’t take the time to contact me directly and personally – and there are a LOT of ways on social media to reach me or my assistant – then why will I spend my time, or pay for my assistant’s time, to help you?

Also, I don’t care who you are. If you take someone’s email address from a business correspondence and use it to send a mass email to promote your book? You, my so-not-a-friend, are an email spammer. There’s a special circle of hell for spammers.

I often cite cross-promotion with other authors as my favorite kind of promotion. It’s also by far the most effective. Witness what a great team Grace and I are, as above. But please notice that Grace and I are FRIENDS. I want her to succeed and she wants the same for me. We share a lot of readers, and that’s awesome. We also share mutual regard and sincere good wishes for each other. That’s what networking is about. Grace and I first “met” online because of our readers cross-recommending us. We had coffee at a con and became friends. (That infamous coffee date ended up lasting three hours because we clicked. That doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does.) Using the network of your author friends should be entirely predicated on FRIENDSHIP, which means a reciprocal relationship. I’m not talking quid pro quo or bean-counting. I’m talking about good will, about sincere regard and good wishes.

Not spam.

Book Marketing, Author Branding and the Long Game

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is reviews: do they really do any good?

 

Serendipitously enough, this topic dovetails with something I’d already noted on my list of Things to Discuss, which is author branding and the long game. I’d been thinking about it since I was interviewed last week on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. Since it aired, I’ve received a lot of great feedback and appreciation for my “down-to-earth” marketing strategy and advice.

 

I found that description kind of amusing – because I don’t think of myself as “down to earth” in general – but I also get why they say that. I think it’s partly because a lot of my marketing strategy is grounded in author branding and the long game.

 

I’m also thinking, as one does days later with these things, that I didn’t say exactly that in the interview and I wish I had. So I said it here.