I've been thinking about promotion. It's one of those evil necessities. One of those tree falling in the forest things. If you write the greatest book in the world but no one reads it...
Anyway, writers must promote, and in the world of ebooks, it makes sense for obvious reasons to do most of the promoting online. That means taking advantage of chats and online discussions, posting excerpts --
Which brings us to our story. I belong to a lot of online groups. I don't take active part as much as I'd like to because of time constraints, but I do read -- skim -- most of the postings of the groups I belong to. And during this last week I noticed a lot of introductory cross posts along this line:
By way of intro you're going to spam us?
Because this is what it amounts to. In two instances these excerpts were posted to lists that don't (in theory) allow excerpts, and in all instances the X-rated excerpt was the first posting from the new member.
Now, I’m not objecting to an X-rated posting per se, I’m objecting to the general ignorance of thinking a sales pitch would be a good way to make yourself known to a bunch of strangers. It’s tantamount to bursting into a library and screaming, “Hey you, buy my book!!!!”
I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me I don’t run up to buy a book, I look over at the librarian to see what he’s going to do about it -- and if he needs help.
By the way, I’m not talking about promo days or chats like the terrific one so many of us enjoyed yesterday at Literary Nymphs
. On promo days posting excerpts with or without the usual niceties is expected. No problem there. I’m talking about jumping feet first into a regular discussion group which is set up for…regular discussion.
Now I realize that a number of authors are very new (wet-behind-the-ears new) to the publishing biz. They’re excited, they’re happy, they need to sell books. So a certain lack of savoir faire is understandable, forgivable -- not sensible (because why wouldn’t you investigate a group a little before you start the paperchase) but forgivable.
It’s just…a little commonsense. What works for you as a reader? What lures you into trying an author’s work? I'm thinking someone you don't know wagging her naughty bits in your face..not so much.
Obviously an online presence is a big part of selling books. Commercial success, if you will. Having an online presence is usually a good thing -- making ourselves accessible to readers. It can work against us occasionally, someone may decided based on our online presence that they can’t stand us and wouldn’t read our book if it was the last thing on the planet. But usually it’s a useful tool -- depending on the hand that holds it.
Interestingly, I was doing the edits on I Spy
, and I came across an article at a fascinating blog called The Shelf Life
. The blog was on Charles Dickens (I decided a love of Dickens was what this wacko spy of mine needed -- he’s a sort of Dickensian character himself). The promotion thing isn’t anything new, and Dickens became famous for his public readings and performances to the point that he earned more from those than he did his publishing.
It’s a fascinating article, I think. It seemed that Dickens needed that interaction with his reading public as much or more than his readers. And I think this is true of a great many of us who write -- who publish, anyway. If you’re going to the trouble of publishing, you’re, by definition, hoping for reader reaction -- even response. We may write for ourselves, but we publish for others.
Anyway, thoughts on promotion? Thoughts on Dickens? Thoughts on your favorite smokin’ hot excerpt?