This will not be a post about how to advertise a finished book. It is more about what not to do.
Advertising is important regardless if an author self-publishes or ends up with a major publishing house. An author must always advertise who they are and what they write. This is a very challenging task for many authors, as I can personally attest, because authors have a tendency to be very introverted. Not all writers have this personality trait but most do. This trait is why we’re willing to spend day after day in front of a computer or with pen and paper in hand while putting any and every word to paper in hopes that it will form something worth sharing.
Disclaimer: If the ‘not to do’ tactics mentioned in this post are your bread and butter, I am thrilled for you. Truly glad that you found a way to build a platform that makes you money. Carry on doing what you do but do not expect me to partake of your work anytime soon.
I know I need to do more advertising for my plethora of books but I am reluctant because of those who have taken their advertising to an extreme. Those authors pissing me off on a daily basis with their overzealous attempts to make a sale, and (seemingly) futile intentions to compensate for their introverted natures. There is an exceptionally fine line between productive advertising and annoying your audience.
I am sure you’ve encountered them too. In this age of Twitter, Facebook, and Meetup, they are everywhere.
I am a member of several Meetup groups for writers. Every once and awhile, a writer will join but never actually attend any meetings. There may be a rare exception to this but, generally, they attend nothing. About a week or two later, I start receiving email newsletters from this new group “member”. Shortly after the newsletters start, most of these writers will leave the group. I typically unsubscribe from these newsletter quickly once I realize who it is and if their writing does not hold my interest.
There is one, however, who keeps re-subscribing me to his newsletter every single time I unsubscribe. He sends out weekly newsletters and they are dull as dirt. Most of the content is begging the reader to buy the (poorly edited and written) book he published two years ago. The rest of the content consists of his advice on being the best writer ever. Most of this “advice” can be found in almost every book on writing out there but, because he has a MFA, he feels his “advice” is so much better because he’s more knowledgeable about writing than the writer who has a mountain of rejection letters, 20 bestsellers, and a TV show/Movie deal.
These newsletters stop for a week or two after I unsubscribe then restart. I complained to the company he was originally using to issue his newsletter. A short time later, he moved to another host and started spamming me again. I tried setting a filter in my email for his newsletters, it would work for a few weeks then he’d change email addresses or change the structure of the email so the keywords no longer filtered. I still receive his newsletters despite twenty attempts to unsubscribe.
This writer is an email newsletter bully. Another word came to mind for “bully” but I’ll keep this post clean. This bully is the main reason I decided to write on the topic of what not to do in advertising.
The next category is a very prolific one and many writers have fallen victim to it. The abuse of Twitter is a slippery slope. I am sure you have a writer or several on your Twitter feed who post every 10 to 15 minutes about the book they have published. These posts often have links to the book’s page, the author’s site, an interview about the book, places of purchase, or a page where you can read a snippet. This is all well and good but every 10-15 minutes each and every day is excessive. It is also very rare to see any kind of other tweet from these authors. They’ve composed the obnoxious tweets into an auto-post program – which also trolls for new followers to add – then leave it and Twitter alone. If the writers in questions also added other tweets that showed they were present and involved, the obnoxious behavior would be vaguely tolerable. These ‘I beg you to buy my book’ tweets should be far fewer. If there was one every hour or two, the situation would improve greatly.
Sorry but I have no inclination to explore a book after seeing thousands of tweets about it. This is also true of the overabundant Facebook postings.
One of the local writers I know posts to Facebook a lot. Her tweets show up on Facebook too and vice versa. She posts constantly through out the day about whatever book she just released in addition to numerous posts about her day, writing progress, new book contract, etc. At least one day a week, she posts around 40 times. I am amazed she gets any actual writing done. She posts impressive word count totals when she writes but I remain mystified. I also know whenever she’s at her day job. She posts around 10 times in a span of thirty minutes then silence for hours on end then a flurry of posting again for about an hour. When she works overtime, the post-job flurry does not happen. I actually look forward to her work hours because I can then read my Facebook feed without be assaulted by her postings. I think she is a lovely lady and a decent YA writer but I cannot stand her Facebook etiquette although it has improved greatly in recent months.
The ‘needy author syndrome’ is the final advertising sin I want to share. I know a few authors like this although I recently encountered the worst one in a NaNoWriMo group. Those afflicted with this condition troll forums and Facebook groups. They constantly post about how none of their friends will read or buy their books. Posts wondering why all their friends keep abandoning them because they spend so much time writing. They frequently fish for people’s websites, twitter info, and NaNoWriMo page info so they can add these people to their “web”. This information is then used to beg these new “friends” to read/edit/buy a book. When most of these “friends” jump ship out of frustration or are dumped by the author because they won’t read/edit/buy, the author goes fishing for more “friends”. It is a constant cycle of whining and bullying.
The worst offender holds this title because she comes across as a very whiny 14 year old girl with possibly very low self-esteem but she’s a 32 year old married mother of two according to her Facebook profile. Given the snippets of writing she’s posted to the NaNoWriMo group and her style of writing her posts to the group, I have a difficult time believing she’s a writer who’s been published by a major publishing house. Her writing is worse than the ninth graders I use to deal with.
When I was in 10th & 11th grade, I worked as a TA for one of my English teachers during open class periods for credit. I primarily graded papers, and most of her students hated writing. They despised every homework assignment that involved essays, poems, and/or short stories. It showed in their work. They clearly phoned it in and did as little as possible in order to get a grade. This woman’s writing is worse than that. I give her props for trying to be a writer but I am of the opinion that she’s lying about being published in an attempt to “fit in” to her target audience for attention.
Personally, I did not self-publish to make money or to seek attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to sell more books and the money would be very help. Money often comes from the attention. However, I write because I need to write. I opted to publish my work for myself and to share the words. Words are meant to be shared. I am not going to annoy people on a daily basis in order to make money.
I do know that I probably was a bit obnoxious with my blogging during Camp NaNoWriMo – NaPoWriMo. I apologies if I annoyed you. It was not my intention and I assure you that such prolific posting is out of the ordinary for me.
I believe that if someone likes the poems I share on my blog/Twitter/Facebook, they may eventually feel inclined to buy a book or two. This is why I have the New Poetry Wednesday segment. I post 8 to 15 poems from each book over the course of several months (or just during NaPoWriMo) in hopes that those poems will inspire someone to read even more of my work.
I will inform those who read/follow my blog of my progress and when things are published but I will not abuse, bully, or beg to get my writing out there. I cannot see such guerilla-esque tactics actually working in the long run.