As a person who esteems his reputation as a professional, both in business and as a member of the writing community, I beg those who engage in less-than-admirable marketing practices to please tone it down and heed caution; you are in jeopardy of losing readers, fans and any semblance of credibility in the publishing world.
I’d like to share with you something that happened the other day; it’s not the first time that this has happened, it certainly won’t be the last, but nevertheless, it’s annoying, saddening and induces much head shaking on my part. As I was checking emails the other day, I noticed my personal website had received an email, so I read it, chuckled slightly, shook my head (aforementioned) and then within seconds, my amusement turned to annoyance as I wondered why authors (usually self-published) do this—ever worse, why do they think this is okay?
As you can see in the email above, this “author” took it upon themself to send me an email requesting (BEGGING) me to click their Amazon link and download their book. This individual doesn’t know me, I don’t know them, I don’t know why they believe that this is a legitimate marketing practice but let me tell you, it’s not. I would never reduce myself and engage in such dubious tactics. Whether or not you consider yourself a genuine professional within the publishing community, don’t do things like this—just don’t. You’ll rapidly lose respect and you’ll wind up looking desperate and contemptible.
While we’re on the topic of shabby self-promotional methods, here are a few more things to add to the list of tactics to avoid at all costs.
- Promoting your book(s) on a constant and daily basis on your Facebook profile. This is what a Facebook Page is for. A Facebook profile, our personal account, isn’t really the best venue to ad-bomb your books to everyone. The people we have on our profiles are people who (for the most part) are friends, family, co-workers, some people we’ve never met in real life, and so on. These people shouldn’t be made to feel as though they are only there to be your personal book buying audience. It’s a major turn off and you’ll find yourself falling victim to the unfollow button, or worse, the unfriend button. It’s fine to share your writing accomplishments and it’s certainly okay to share that you have a new book out that’s for sale—you don’t need to post daily reminders though. Don’t guilt your friends into buying your books and definitely don’t beg.
- If you work in a customer service-based business (retail, food, etc.. ), don’t—seriously, don’t promote yourself as an author with books for sale to customers in the workplace. Believe it or not, I have seen this and I know of one or two people who engage in this unprofessional behavior (and they think that this is perfectly fine to do), and all I can suggest to you is that you stop. Customers who are seeking help from a salesperson at a Best Buy about purchasing a Flatscreen TV don’t want to hear about your writing ventures and they aren’t looking to have your writing related business card thrown in their faces. Oh yeah, and this is the type of thing that gets you fired, so yeah, don’t do this.
- If you’re at an author event and you are exhibiting your books at a booth, don’t—DON’T invade another author’s booth space by forcing your book onto a potential customer of another author. Yes, I have seen this happen multiple times where an author will overhear (eavesdrop) a conversation between a potential customer and author about the type of stories and books that they like, and the stalking author will swoop in on them and suggest something such as “oh, if you enjoy Clive Barker’s books, then you’ll love my book.” This is wrong, immoral, unprofessional and it will put you in a situation where you’ll be unwelcomed at future events. Word travels at the speed of light within the writing community and you’ll be shunned so quickly that your head will spin. Behave yourself and don’t engage in this sort of behavior.
- DM (direct message) on Twitter. When I follow another writer, or follow them back on Twitter, oftentimes I get an automated reply (they set these auto messages via social media management apps) with long-winded messages such as “Thanks so much for following me….please click the link and buy my books, yada, yada, yada…” This gets you an automatic unfollow. Buh-bye! This is by far the biggest annoyance on Twitter. For all the good that Twitter can do for you, this is one of the biggest drawbacks. If you are one of those people who bomb people’s inbox with automated DMs, let me clue you in on something; you are annoying, your marketing skills are pathetic and I’d never waste my time reading your books if you’re the type of author who thinks this is a productive method of marketing. It’s not—not even close.