If you’re not an author, you may not be aware that publishers expect authors to help promote their books. Many of us would prefer to spend all our time writing/illustrating, but that’s just the way the industry works. And as with most things, a balance must be struck. To paraphrase Goldilocks, one can promote too little, too much, or just right.
A kind friend pointed out to me recently that I’m promoting my books too much, which can lead to undesirable results. I thought hard about her feedback, and concluded she was right. I was guilty of over-promotion. I was annoying people I had no intention of annoying. Like Martha Stewart did, I needed to make amends. So, as my self-imposed penance and apology to anyone I have inadvertently offended, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about some do’s and don’ts of author self-promotion.
Spamming can take several forms, and be done via different media. So, while book promotion is an appropriate activity for authors, it should not be overdone, e.g., Tweeting about one’s latest book every hour, or making a Facebook comment on someone else’s feed that tries to shift the focus to your book. Standing on a virtual street corner yelling “Look at how awesome my book is!” is not going to work out well.
People who follow authors on social networks are interested in their books, but they are interested in other topics too. Below are some good examples of engaging with an audience without spamming them:
Sharing art: One of many clever food-based doodles by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
A blurb is a one- or two-sentence positive statement about a book. Publishers use it to help promote the book, so it is natural that a publisher would want blurbs. That said, authors should typically not ask other authors directly for a blurb. It can make people uncomfortable. Perhaps they’re too busy to read your book. Perhaps they fear there’s a chance they won’t like your book, and then what do they say? Perhaps they’re concerned giving one person a blurb will open a floodgate of blurb requests.
If your publisher wants some blurbs, it is far better to have your editor, publicist, or literary agent make the requests. That way, the author being asked should not feel pressured and should feel comfortable declining without consequence.
This goes without saying, but is included here for completeness. Publishing is a small industry, and if you’re mean to others, you’re not helping them or yourself. Writing, like cooking, is a subjective art. Some people like vanilla and some people like chocolate. Don’t make public comments that could upset people. Avoid social media posts of a potentially controversial or off-putting nature: politics, religion, sexuality, etc.
As an author, I know first-hand how much love, sweat and tears goes into creating a book. We all like to be supported in our writing endeavors. So it is greatly appreciated when others help by:
- Buying a book, reading it, and giving it a good rating on Amazon and Goodreads
- Retweeting other authors’ tweets
- Liking, sharing, and posting supportive comments on other authors’ Facebook pages
- Mentoring newer authors
- Blogging about other authors
- Participating in groups that help others, like Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo