This seems to be a hot topic, and so it’s worth revisiting.

Even though I’ve been participating in the online community (in a significant way) for six months, I still feel like I don’t know all the rules about promotion. Yesterday, for example, a woman on a mystery list serv said she was in a funk and couldn’t get into any of the books she had at the house. So I sent her an e-mail and offered to mail her a copy of The Sex Club. Then instantly wondered: Was that improper? Will that be considered blatant self-promotion and therefore, unwelcome? So I sent another e-mail immediately afterwards and apologized. She was not offended and sent back her mailing address. But it’s so easy to cross this line. I know. I’ve done it. Because I’m never sure where it is. Especially after reading the following post from another blog about online promotional etiquette:

“You can’t just barrel in and announce you’re everyone’s friend and aren’t they lucky you have a book out now for everyone to buy. Well, you could. But I’m trying to be effective, not stupid. I get those emails a lot from people. I routinely delete them without reply. Every other blogger I talk to does the same thing. I see those kinds of posts on listservs I belong to, and I skim right over it as the ineffective mention that it is. The books I do mention on my blog, are by people I know, and like, and want to promote. The books I do notice on listservs are those talked about by actual readers as books they liked . . .”

I’m the kind of person who usually doesn’t hesitate to introduce myself or ask a question. I figure there’s no harm in doing so. But now I wonder if I can do actual harm to my writing career if I cross the line too many times or offend the wrong person by sending an unwanted e-mail. So what are the rules? Tell me what you think.

  1. You just keep on posting to your hearts content. I’ve see your posts and they are always courteous, THAT is the only rule.

    Those poeple who say they ignore and delete other peoples shameless plugs are not your target marget. I am guessing they are other authors? They are more concerned with selling their own work, and IN MY OPINION they are trying to scare you out of promoting so they can be the center of attention and sell more of their own work.

    You have a CONSITUTIONAL right to promote your work whenever and wherever you like and don’t you DARE let anyone scare you out of doing just that!

    My suggestion is to get off the author lists and find reader lists. They are your target audience and as long as you follow their rules, they will welcome the news about upcoming works and great books.

    This crap about not promoting your work…ppshhhaaaawwww! If you don’t promote wherever and whenever you can, you will fail, and you, my dear, are NOT failure material! This I know!

    Karen Syed

  2. Authors are a little jaded. We all know what we are up to, and we also know the books that are out there maybe even more as everyone we know is talking about his or her books.

    I am on so many sites and lsits and go to so many blogs, that I am not very suceptible to “my book is out, though I do “my book is out” annoucements just for the hell of it. Why not! It can’t hurt, and if authors delete me, so be it.

    I do buy books that I haven’t heard about from annoucements now and again.

    Reader lists are great, and yet, they often don’t want authors to promote books on them. They want talk and discussion of books not necessarily the ones we have to sell.

    I don’t know the answer, but I think ti’s fine to write to people and offer to send them your book.

    And so far, the weirdest email issue has been with a bookseller! Not a reader or an author.


  3. Good topic, and a sensitive one. I think it’s important to establish relationships, first – offer some value to people that helps them, but it’s not improper at all to make it known that you write and publish books and in what genre and style. I mean, in some cases, it IS your book that is the “value” that some new acquaintance might be needing.

  4. Okay, Marvin’s relationship building idea is not a bad one, but it is a bit impractical. You are not truly out there to make “freinds” you are out there to sell books. You don’t have time to build a relationship with every single reader, it would kill you.

    This is what has happened with all the “rules” that other authors are dictating. When you become an author, you become a sales person, and you become the marketing executive of your own “Author Legacy.” You have no choice but to do these things, if you don’t, you will flounder, or simply put, fail.

    While we all want to do the right thing, it is important to know what is right. Promoting your books is right. It is your job. It is what you signed up for.

    Touching on what Jessica says, she is right. Most lists don’t want the hard sell, but…that is why you need to make the most productive use of your e-mail signature. You actually need more than one.

    A reader sig: Your author name, your book title, your ISBN, and your web address, this info will fit on two lines.

    Alexis Hart –
    DARK SHINES MY LOVE, ISBN: 9781590802526

    Then you have your writer post sig.

    Karen L.
    Blogapalooza #14

    You are promoting your book to readers and all you need to do to get that info out there is to make a sensible and relevant post on a number of lists. I tend to join the readers lists that have the highest number of readers. This goes with what Marvin said about building relationships, you communicate with them, not blatantly promoting, and they will warm to you.

    The writer one leads the folks on your writers groups to your blog where you build peer relationships and develop your credibility amongst them.

    It’s win-win.

  5. I love all this discussion. You have to promote yourself or you’ll never compete in this market. I guess it comes down to diplomacy and tact. Acknowledge the other person first, be polite and professional, and don’t worry too much if you ruffle an occasional feather.

  6. Heavens, if authors didn’t tell me about their books, I’d be reading the same old authors. And I find so many wonderful authors by reading people new to me. There is talent beyond the best-seller lists.

    Yeah, it can be annoying if an author just pushes, buy me, buy me, buy me. But an author has to promote, has to sell, or they won’t get another contract.

    As far as I can see, LJ, you seem to be doing it the right way. Building relationships, getting your name out there, and promoting without being overbearing.

  7. Humor. Humor paves all kinds of roads, including the path to promotion. It’s a good skill to have.

    Finished The Sex Club. Whew! Those are some scary issues you’ve tackled there. All except one. More on that later. Not good etiquette to hijack a thread even if it’s your book! LOL.


  8. I love all this discussion too and am really glad these posts on self-promotion have been making their way into the blog challenge. I’ve found everyone posting in this challenge so far to be pretty much charming, funny and personable and not one has crossed the line as far as overselling themselves.

    L.J., I can’t imagine anyone being offended by an offer of a free book! ANd it’s interesting to me that Jessica has had a weird email issue with a bookseller because that’s been my experience too…

  9. Well, here’s a true story that illustrates effective network marketing, from a reader’s point of view:

    Met an author at a writer’s conference. Later asked to link to author on LinkedIn and Facebook (author spends 2 seconds pressing ‘yes’ button). Author asked me to connect on goodreads (another 2 seconds, and made me feel very special). Author replied to an email I sent, which maybe took 30 seconds. Author active on Facebook and Goodreads, I get emailed regular updates (author spends half an hour, but divide this by 500 people and time is about 4 seconds/person). By this time I almost feel as if I know the author personally, and because of that I decide to buy a book. All because author spent less than a minute contacting me. Not too shabby!

  10. This promotion thing still confuses me too. I think I take it to the opposite extreme–too afraid of tooting my own horn at all 🙂

  11. Very good ideas from all. I’m going to work on my email sig. Been putting that off too long now.


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