Monday, March 10, 2008

Bad Promotion Techniques

I've blogged a lot about things writers can do to promote their books.

Here are some things they shouldn't do, both on the self-promotion front and in service of their careers.

Don't be pushy. Ever. It's about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell. Your main goal in self-promotion should be finding and meeting people who are looking for your type of book.

Don't be self-absorbed. If all you talk about is you, people will tune you out. A conversation isn't a monologue. Give and take should be part of all human interaction. No one wants to listen to you toot your own horn.

Don't be boring. Unfortunately, boring people never think they're boring. Short of videotaping yourself to see how you act, try taking your cues from the people you interact with. Do they seem into you, or anxious to escape? The better you can read your audience, the better you'll do.

Don't feel entitled. Yeah, you work hard. Good for you. That doesn't mean you deserve to be published, or you somehow earned your success. You got lucky. Feeling like the world owes you, or acting like God's Gift, is a sure way to annoy potential fans.

Don't be ungrateful. Being thankful, gracious, and helpful goes a long way. Don't bite the hand that feeds. Your fans, and anyone who helps you on your journey, deserve your attention and praise. Give freely of your time.

Don't be bitter. Yes, you got screwed. We all get screwed sometimes. Complain to your mom and a few close friends, but let the public always see you as successful.

Don't be defensive. There will be critics. There will be suggestions. There will even be people pissed at you. Don't take any of it personally, and diffuse the situation by listening to them and thanking them for their time. Once you put up your dukes, its hard to put them down again.

Don't be needy. Sure, you want to be read. Yes, you want your time in the spotlight. But fishing for compliments and begging for scraps are pathetic and embarrassing. Act confident at all times.

Don't be unprepared. You're a professional. There's no excuse for not giving 100% in everything you do that's related to your profession.

Did I miss anything?


J Scott Savage said...

Great post again, Joe. As writers we are almost pathetically needy and defensive by nature. "What do you mean you didn't like it? Why part didn't you like? You didn't understand what I was trying to say."

But if you can set all of that aside and remember to make people laugh, and how dang lucky you are to even have a book in print, you will have much more success.

Good reminder.

Jude Hardin said...

Nice post, Joe.

Careful, though. Following your advice might end up giving writers a good name. ;)

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thank you Joe. I think the only think I'd ad is BE STRATEGIC. Assess your promotional opportunities and selectively pick the ones that are best suited to your personality/book. Don't just do everything everyone else is doing - find the things that work for you.


Kristi Holl said...

So well said! These aren't just bad promotion techniques. They're just bad techniques period, if you want any kind of decent relationships.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Here are a few additional obnoxious promotional attempts I've observed.

1) Don't rearrange bookstore shelves to make room to place your books face-out, or worse, in endcaps or on the front tables. An editor once told me they had bookstores calling, begging them to keep a particular author out of their stores because he kept moving the books around.

2) Don't show up at another author's booksigning with an armload of books and stand there until someone takes notice and asks you to join in. (Same guy as above.) At one memorable convention, an author stopped by the signing booth during my hour with a big cardboard box of books and her fanclub material, pulled up a chair, and set up shop. I didn't mind--this gal was a hoot--but some of the other convention guests were not amused.

3) Don't post a link on your blog to every freaking review of your book on the internet. It comes across as, "Look at me! I'm wonderful! And check it out--I'm wonderful over HERE, too..." This gets old very quickly.

4) Don't post one breathless teaser after another about your OMG sooper seekrit project! It's as annoying as those local TV news anchors who tease the weather every five minutes until the Big Reveal (tomorrow: partly cloudy) in the last five minutes of the newscast.

Anonymous said...

Good list, Joe. One more I might be tempted to add is, Don't misrepresent your book. If someone comes up to you at a book signing and is looking for a cozy, and you've written a thriller, let them know it's not what they're looking for. It's better to have a non-buyer than an unhappy buyer.

James Goodman said...

That's a good list, Joe. Surely, advice that should be taken to heart by even some of the industry's seasoned veterans.

Do they seem into you, or anxious to escape?

I find it's easier to prevent the escape if you have them strapped firmly to a workbench in the basement... They may still be anxious but at least you don't have to worry about them leaving until they've heard everything you have to say. :D

ok, I know you were being serious, but I couldn't resist. All kidding aside, it's advice like you've posted in this list that keeps me coming back.

Keep up the great work.

JA Konrath said...

Some great additions here in the comments section.

Picks by Pat said...

Wow, that's a lot of stuff to remember! It would be easier if you just come with me on my first book tour and supervise.

Got any plans for the month of August?

P.S. Loved that video you made for Hyperion, even if they didn't go for it (Writer's Tip # 10 on your website).

Anonymous said...

It's funny how most, if not all, of the points you mention could be applied to life, in general.

Mark Terry said...

I think you for to mention:

Standing On Your Roof And Shouting Really Loud May Be Just As Effective As 7 Out Of 10 Other Methods Of Promoting Your Writing.

Anonymous said...

Good list! Check out Stephanie Palmer's new book, "Good in a Room:How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience". SHe oofers GREAT workshops for all sorts of creative people, and her process matches your ideas very well. I recommend it!

Anonymous said...

Project confidence and success? Very tricky stuff. :)

Do you have any tips for us chronic doubters?

Anonymous said...

Do you have any tips for us chronic doubters?

Acting lessons. :)

eihpos said...

I'll just add another:

Don't be afraid.

T. M. Hunter said...

Don't hang around people who exhibit all these behaviors...