BUY MY BOOK!!! – Is Shameless Self-Promotion Good or Bad?

I can hear the drumroll already.  My debut Indie published book will be coming out any day now.  I’ve got the cover, I’ve had it edited, I’m just putting on the finishing touches and formatting.  Soon, very soon, The Loyal Heart will be out there in the world!  Fly, baby, fly!

Okay, so what do I do about it now?  I’m not fool enough to think that people will flock to read a brand new book by a completely unknown author choosing to publish it themselves.  J.K. Rowling I am not.  But I would like more than just my friends and family to read it.  So what’s a girl to do?

Uh oh.  Looks like it’s time for shameless self-promotion.

Well, I’ve got my author platform well under way, right?  I’ve got this blog that I love, my Twitter account full of Tweeps who have become good friends and sources of inspiration and motivation, and I have my Facebook page with hundreds of likes from like-minded people (and that pun makes me very happy =D).  I’m not resting on my laurels with any of these elements of author platform-ness either.  I’m going to keep at it, yes I am.

But is that enough?

No one has ever mistaken me for a patient person.  This is especially true when it comes to watching the way some people choose to promote themselves and their writing online.  I cringe at anything that comes off as spammy.  I double-cringe when authors tweet and retweet and retweet “Buy my book! Only 99 cents on Amazon!  Here’s the link!” constantly.  I get uncomfortable when people post a lot of reviews of their book to their Facebook page.

But now that my baby is about to be out there I am coming around to a whole different way of thinking about these sorts of things.

How does an Indie Author promote their work?  How does a Trad Author promote their work for that matter?  If you’ve made it to the top 5% your name promotes it for you.  But if you’re like 95% of the rest of us how do you do it?  Team Trad has the advantage of a big promotion machine.  Team Indie doesn’t.  So what do you do?

I think, my friends, that you have to get down in the trenches, roll your sleeves up, get your hands dirty and spam.  Not excessively, mind you, but I think there comes a time in every Writer’s life when you have to put up the post that says “Buy my book!  I swear you’ll like it!  Here’s the link…”  I think you do have to get in people’s face to let them know you’re there.

Now I’m not saying that you should get in people’s faces and shout and wave your arms and attempt to stay in their face even when they try to look away.  That crosses the line to obnoxious.  But you do have to put yourself out there.

One of the best examples of an author who got very subtly in my face and whose book I ended up buying because of it is Tania Tirraoro.  I started following her on Twitter (@TaniaLT) because she was a fellow Writer in a similar genre.  Well, right there in her Twitter profile she has a link to her book on Amazon.  She also has some concise, friendly information about who she is.  Tania tweets book promos, yes, but she also tweets generally nice things.  And not too often.  She self-promotes without screaming or spamming.  High five for Tania!

There are some other people, whose names I won’t mention, who self-promote so long and so hard that I unfollowed them.  Yes, I KNOW you have nine books out in e-formats, but please don’t tell me about each one every day.  That deserves a yellow card for excessive spamming.  But, and this is the problem, I am now very much aware that those Indie Pubbed books are out there.  Granted, I’m not going to buy them, but I know they exist, unlike 99.9% of other Indie books.

So now it’s got me thinking….  How did I find my favorite authors in the first place and what can I do to emulate what they did that enabled me to find them?

Unfortunately for Team Indie, I think I first stumbled across Elizabeth Hoyt, Lisa Kleypas, and Elizabeth Boyle because the covers of their books were the most appealing ones in the book store.  But with eBooks there is no cheerfully lit book store with music playing and a Starbucks in house for me to enjoy while perusing shelves of brightly colored books.  And while yes, cover designs are super important and can pop out from the pages and pages of books of all publication type online, you can sort through thousands and thousands of web pages full of eBooks without skimming the surface of what’s out there.  To get bumped up to the first hundred or so pages of Amazon you need to have had people read and review your books to begin with.

This brings us back to shameless self-promotion.

Sometimes you gotta do it.  But you have to do it with finesse and you can’t make it your sole purpose for being online.  You have to kiss hands and shake babies … wait, strike that, reverse it.  But most of all, I think you have to be patient.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Neither was J.K. Rowling.  I don’t expect to sell thousands of novels a day or a week or a year.  Honestly, I don’t expect to break even.  But I’m going to try.

So what are your favorite strategies for shameless self-promotion for your book?  What things do you see people doing that drive you nuts?

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13 thoughts on “BUY MY BOOK!!! – Is Shameless Self-Promotion Good or Bad?

  1. It’s so hard! I’m still wincing after sending out, at FB’s suggestion, emails to all my ‘friends’ suggesting that they ‘Like’ my page. The mortification when only 11 responded took some getting over. I keep my personal twitter feed clear for 90% of the time, put up occasional review link, or even clip, acceptable perhaps if they’re funny or different (like ‘last night I had to finish this book before my cats got fed’). I have another Twitter account for the book’s main character, with the book title and page avatar. She’s in character and follows people relative to the story. Wishing you luck.

    • I cringed when I did the FB thing too. And then after a mediocre response I went and hounded my friends some more. =P But with friends it didn’t bother me so much because they know how goofy I can be. It’s spamming complete strangers that daunts me! =P

  2. Stumbled upon your blog via the writing tag, and I have to say when it comes to self-promotion, you are right, sometimes you just need to buckle down and get to it.

    I’m a writer, but I’m also a freelance editor whose worked professionally in the editing and publishing world and I’ve been one of those people who have sat down at their desk and said “Well…how do we do this?” because really, e-books are still a baffling and wonderful new thing that we’re not quite sure how to sell. But the *best* Indie authors, are the ones who communicate with their (prospective) readers. And from the sounds of it, you’re already doing that, on facebook, twitter, and here. Tumblr is also a good one, especially if you have pretty cover art which you seem to do. Consider even joining ranks with other Indie writers to try and promote your work across a broader readership, advertise on webcomics, try to get featured in online blogs and magazines that focus on this brave new literary world.

    But don’t for the love of the written word, give up hope. That is the most annoying thing I see. People who don’t become an over night success and throw in the towel. It’s a common misconception that the best authors are tragic gentle creatures who are driven to work because if their muse and if they happen to attain fame that’s something else for them to struggle with. And while some of them might be, it’s the ones who write because they have a story to tell, then persevere like a mother f*cker to get it heard who are the most likely to see a pay-cheque in their lifetime worth seeing.

    So I suppose that’s my best advice. Persevere like a mother f*cker.

    Good luck wit your book 🙂

    • *LOL* I love it! “Persevere like a mother f*cker” will be my new motto. Thanks!

      Well, as I once explained to someone (and I’m sure I tell this story in one of my blog posts somewhere) I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing. I don’t write for money, I write because it’s in my soul. And whether I sell ten copies of my books or ten thousand it won’t stop me from writing more and putting them out there. Who knows, maybe that’s the secret to success. =D

      • It’s a good motto, one I’ve lived my whole life by.

        And I think you’re right, the drive to never give up is what separates authors from folk who dabble in writing. I’ll be following your blog with interest to hear how things go 🙂

  3. I like the idea of tweeting for your main character(s). In fact, it sounds like so much fun that I may use it as a procrastination tool to writing the actual books! You could provide a link to buy your book in their profile tag line, reading something like My life story: http://www.linktoyourbook.com

    I also wince at too much self-promotion. If I come across a feed that is nothing but, no matter how infrequent, I don’t follow. And like Stephanie, I winced when I invited friends to like my page on facebook. Unlike Steffy and her hugely popular self, I got only 3 likes out of it, and none of those came from the “I have a page now” message I sent out. I’m up to 14 now though 🙂

    Also, thanks for the laugh at the end of this, nice technique, popping in the unexpected joke that made me actually laugh at shaking babies. For shame! That’s not funny! Why’d you make me laugh at it? /existential dilemma

    Once I finally publish, I don’t plan to self-promote nearly so often as once a day, let alone more than once a day like some do. Are you kidding? For one whole day I made 3 spaced out “scheduled” posts about my blog update to “try it on” and felt cheap and dirty. Went back to one update notice a day, and only the day for that post.

    In that, I’ve noticed that I respond more, and feel better promoting when a hook is attached to the link. You don’t have the comfort of a java shop and books right before your eyes as indie. Well, we’re creative souls, when we promote our books and try to get attention, we need stand ins for an expensive “gourmet” cup of joe and rows of pretty, comforting books.

    My book is at amazon for only $.99! linklinklink doesn’t provide that at all, imo. There’s no joe, no promise of comfortable, eye-catching, mood-catching browsing pleasure. It’s kinda like if a movie commercial said, Go to the theatre to see my movie! Only $10! linklinklink with not even an image to tempt.

    So, what do theatre trailers do? They compile a smash up of the best lines, the most intriguing scenes (and throw their stars in your face if they have them). At least, they usually do.

    That’s the sort of package I want to attempt with even my most basic text ads. I’m not just going to throw a link at you. I’ll find a favoured tidbit from the novel and just post the link. I’ll pose a question related to the story, and a link. They can find out it’s only $? on their own when they get there.

    Also, I’ll probably create a separate tab on my website with links to buy my books once I’m published. The tab is always there at the top, but you only have to click and look when you’re actually interested in browsing.

    Right now, I’m in the financial doghouse and romance isn’t a genre I read often. However, I like your site enough that, once I have the money, I will very likely check it out. After all, it helps to read other genres from time to time, and my favourite stories to read and write incorporate fantasy, romance, and mystery, with fantasy at the forefront. So, I don’t dislike romance stories.

    If I like it as much as your site, I’ll very likely review it on mine and occasionally promote it on my own platform.

    To answer your question more directly, if I weren’t already your reader, I’d be more inclined to check your book out if you linked it next to an interesting (and related) bit of dialogue, or asked a question I was interested in seeing the answer to, something to that effect. I’d be less inclined to bother with the link if all that I saw next to it was “Buy my book!” and a price or any other consumer-related tagline (unless, of course, I already knew you and your writing).

    I think some of that is because, when someone is at a store, they’re in a browsing/shopping frame of mind. Not many people are in that same frame of mind to accept ads when they’re browsing the internet. At a store, we see something for only $1, we’re more likely to bite and check it out. In the comfort of our home, it needs something more than the word buy and a nice price tag.

    Anywho, I think I’m overexplaining myself now 😛

    Interesting post, as usual. I really like the ones that get me thinking.

    • Aw thanks! Well, I like my book, obviously, but that’s just me.

      Good point about the frame of mine people are in when they’re browsing the internet! That’s why we need to entertain first and foremost. 😉

  4. I don’t have a book out yet, but I do know a guy who is actually part of team trad, who doesn’t get as much help from the promotion machine as you might think, since he’s a mid-list author. Yes, his books get into physical bookstores a little easier, but that’s about it. He’s currently trying things, like giving away free short stories on Amazon, and he just did a thing where he wrote a short story in parts on his Facebook page when he got enough likes for each stage.

    Get writer friends to do interviews with you on their blogs, get people with lots of followers to do a review. And yes, in between ‘normal’ tweets, pop that link out there once or twice a day.

    • I would love to do a blog tour! But going up to bloggers and asking “Hey, could you please interview me? I swear I’m interesting!” is a whole other kind of shameless self-promotion. =P

      • I know how that feels too! You don’t even have to ask me. Then again, I don’t have a whole lot of followers. Would still love to interview you though, maybe victimize you with one of my character interviews instead.

        Another thing I recently learned about was guest blogging, I’m not sure exactly how that works, but it looks fun. You probably need some themes first though before people are willing to guest blog for you (which you have, but I don’t really). Doing that is supposed to share each others’ audiences too.

  5. Please don’t compare yourself to Rowlings or anybody else. You’re Merry and that’s good enough!

    There is no shame in self-plugging but there definitely is a limit to how much ‘spam’ people can tolerate. And unless an author fluked with a wave word of mouths, they had to do a ton of self-plugging. Probably months or years before they were even ‘mainstream’

    If you’re not your greatest cheerleader of your books then you’re not doing enough. Plug away and good luck on your book!^^

  6. I’m not a real writer, just try to be amusing when I do blog or tweet, doesn’t always work…But as a consumer, I really appreciate the thought you are taking with this. No, we don’t want to be inundated and according to the personality of the consumer, they will either turn off altogether or make a joke of it. I feel you are well on your way to producing a thought provoking, gently publicity campaign! And I’m not just saying that because I’m Julie’s mom!

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