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« Two Words: BOOK DEAL!!!!!!!!! | Main | The Author Bio: Six Important Components »

Stop Beating Me Over the Head With Your Book


Photo by Mark Wheadon

So we all know that part of our jobs as authors is promoting ourselves and our books. We hear it over and over again--build a brand, establish a presence, network with readers.

And I agree. All those things are necessary if we want to be successful in this industry. However, there are ways to do it that are effective and there are ways to do it that are ABSOLUTELY ANNOYING. *takes a breath*

Okay, I feel better.

So I thought I would look at the things that some authors have done that have worked on me as a reader and the things that turn me off completely.  

Let's start with the bad shall we?

Do Not....

1. Friend me on Twitter/Goodreads/Facebook and when I agree to be a friend, immediately send me the promotional email--Thanks for the add!  Check out my book. Here's where you can buy it.
Ugh, I hate this and will often un-friend people over it. If you've friended me, that means I went to your site to see who you are. Your books are listed there. If I'm interested, I will look into them. Please do not send these emails because it makes the "befriending" totally insincere. 
2. Only tweet or blog about your book, where to buy it, and the reviews on it.
It's okay to slip in an occasional tweet about your book and it's fine to announce when it's released or if it's hit a bestsellers list or gotten a review. That's fine and you should celebrate that. But if those are the only tweets or blogs you ever do and you never interact with anyone, you look self-serving (not to mention boring.)
3. Create a newsletter option, make people sign up for it to enter a contest, and then only send out newsletters about your book and how to buy it.
If people have signed up for a newsletter, give them something of value in it. Articles about whatever is important to your readership. For instance, my agency has a newsletter anyone can sign up for. Now, this is a chance for Nelson Lit to promote their clients' books, correct? Sure, and they will mention those books on occasion BUT the majority of the newsletter is helpful writing advice and industry information so the reader gets something helpful for signing up.
Okay, so if you can avoid those things, you're doing well. What are some you can do that work to promote in a positive way?

Things that will win me over as a reader...

1. Comment on people's blogs in a genuine way.
It's obviously hard to do this large scale, but this is where you can use the Google Alert feature to your advantage. If someone mentions you on their blog or reviews you and you see it, stop by and thank them for the mention. I've had a number of authors do this, including Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, who stopped by and commented last week after I mentioned his book. Erotic romance author Lauren Dane also commented when I picked one of her books as my favorites last year. 
And even if you weren't mentioned, but maybe the topic is related to what you write, say hi. Author Elizabeth Amber did this last year on a post I had about erotic romances I liked. I had never read her books, but when I clicked her name in the comments, I found that she writes historical EroRom and ended up buying one of her books and loving it. I went on to buy more in that series. It was totally effective. 
2. Be a real person on Twitter/Facebook/Blogging.
No, if you become a big author, you can't follow back everyone and can't respond to ever @ mention, but that's okay. If you can just be engaging in your tweets and seem like a normal, likable person, that will win you readers. And if you can interact with readers on occasion, all the better. I responded to something a big author said a while back, and she replied with a Bwahhahaha. It was simple, but made me like her even better because a) she took the time to respond and b) she liked my joke. Silly, but it's just that sense of brief connection that makes you like someone more and want to support them as authors.
3. If you can, offer something that benefits both you and the reader.
This can be a simple contest where you give away one of your books. Or, if you are so inclined, you can do something that gives back to readers or writers. Author Candace Havens, for instance, has a writers' workshop via a Yahoo group. She provides priceless writing info, runs contests to win critiques, and has great guest authors give online classes that are all free. In return, she gets an open mic via all our email addresses to reach out to everyone in the group. Therefore, if she has a new release or something going on, she can send that out to all of us. And because she's been so helpful to us, we want to help her too.
So, at the end of the day what I think it comes down to is BE GENUINE. If you are only doing something because you want to promote, then readers are going to see right through it. Don't go into something like Facebook or Twitter or blogging unless you are looking to honestly connect with other people.

Okay, so I'm curious to hear which promotional tactics annoy you. Which ones have worked? Outside of writing great books, what makes you really want to support an author?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Right Through You" - Alanis Morrissette
(player in sidebar, take a listen)


Reader Comments (36)


Excellent advice as always. Thank you for this!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterD. D. Tannenbaum

Great post Roni. I agree 100%. It drives me insane when someone friends me on Twiiter/Facebook and then sends me promotional stuff.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie Murphy

Nicely done, I totally agree with your advice.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShainer

Spot on advice!!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Excellent advice!
And did I ever tell you how much I appreciated you when you walked on over to my blog and became a follower? That just made my day! More writers should be like you!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Hawkinson

You are so right anytime India Grey one of my Fave authors replies my tweets i float on the moon for a while and the cool thing is some big authors also follow all their followers (they might have someone running the twitter account for them).

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna St. James

LOVE this post. I am right on board with everything you said, but would like to add one. If you're a contracted author and your publisher has an author group/forum (which, so far, has been the case with all of my publishers)please don't use it to promo your books. A cover squee, or mention of a review is A-okay, but sending me blurbs and a barrage of promo is frustrating. I have both knowledge of your releases and easy access to your work since I get the same author announcement emails as you do. If I see your book coming out and I want to buy it, I will do so. And, in fact, pimping it to me on our author loop makes me LESS inclined to buy it, not MORE inclined.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Bell

I agree with this!! I know that I may be just a reader or whatever, but you can get me for life if you act in some personal way. I WILL tell other people about you, and have with author Marilyn Brant, romance, who responded to a nice email I sent. Be a real person and not some automated robot email- GREAT POST!!!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBekah

Twitter has become such a great social place to engage with people. I seriously don't get authors who only follow 56 people but have 56,000 followers. To me, that's a complete turn-off and a reason NOT to follow that author. So high school. There are simple ways to create lists (if that's your thing) and, of course, no one expects a big-wig to follow every @mention. I just think that by not following someone, you miss an opportunity to learn something new/meet someone new.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Fichera

AMEN! Great tips Roni!!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOddyoddyo13

I've followed authors on Twitter, only to un-follow them after repeated attempts to correspond with them with no reply. After looking at their tweets, all they are, are re-tweets of reviews done on their books or replies to members of their fan page. Honestly, you've just lost me as a potential NEW fan.

Great post!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNathalie

Great list.

BRW- I read the book you sent me in one day.... it was really good. Thanks for the contest! :O)

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Great post, great advice! :D

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarieke

Totally agree about the blogging to only promote your book. I've seen this happen a lot. A pre-published writer blogs like the rest of us then gets published and their blog only contains stuff about their book.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatti

Great post as always, Roni!

I think the one that annoys me most is the first one. People that "befriend" me just so they can hassel me about their book. It's SO annoying!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristina Fugate

Ah! So glad someone has come out and and said this! I've been thinking the same thing. :)

Speaking of that, did I tell you about my book...?

jk ;)

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermadameduck

Very good advice, Roni.

I especially like the WHAT to do.


October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngi Morgan

Oh wow *yes*.

It was the fact that I didn't want to spend all my time talking about my work, or just plain writing in general (there are enough blogs out there that can tackle the subject well, like this one), that made me realize there are things I *can* bring to my blog that are personally meaningful and make me a real person. When I started blogging, I was so scared.

Same thing with Twitter. Some of those author auto-adds/follow-thanks are pretty one-sided. And a lot of them seem to be one-offs: as if the author just discovered Twitter and thought, "I should have a Twitter account because it'll help my sales". I wind up forgetting I ever added them because I never hear from them again.

I have a feeling that next time, I'll just link them to something like this (unless you'd rather avoid that).

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermoirayoung

Love this post, Roni. People that friend or follow then inundate me with links for where to buy their book are a huge pet peeve of mine.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDawnB

Fantastic post, Roni. I am a firm, firm believer in the concept of ENGAGING with people as marketing. That means conversations that are genuine. It pays really does. You are living proof of that, as how you got your agent.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSierra Godfrey

Oh my gosh! Yes! I hate that when I friend someone on Twitter (who friends me first) and then they send me a direct message about their book. Bleh.
Also, I don't care for some authors who somehow get my e-mail address and send me a newsletter I didn't aks for. What is that all about?
For me, if I like you, your book sounds good, and you're "real" I will read your book--maybe not immediately but I WILL read it.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Shirk

Lucky for you, I have no books scheduled to be published. Plus, you're too sweet. I'd never beat you over the head with anything.

Great tips!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Amanda Hooper


That is all I have to say about that! :) Great post!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmalia T.

#1 and 2. Really, I have to agree with you. I won't buy your book just because you asked.

Please do feel free to advertise - how else will I find it/you if you don't. But the blg title says it all for me: don't beat me over the head with it.

I may not like your genre no matter how well you write, and pushing it off on me won't make me buy it. It might make me un-friend you however.


October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Hole

This is all a great reminder, Roni. I know I've stopped following some people because of several of those things. When they stop becoming interesting people who are further along on the author journey, and start becoming promotional robots, I'm done! :)

October 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTracy Loewer

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