Show of hands. Who likes receiving messages that order you to “Buy my book!”? I sure don’t. Nothing irks me more than getting a DM that says, “Thanks for the follow. Hey, while I have you…buy my book, follow my blog, like my Facebook page, check in on my aging mother, go grocery shopping for me, and stock my cupboards with food. Thanks!”
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but that’s exactly how it feels. And yet, I’m surprised at how many authors do this. It’s mind-boggling. As such, I promised myself that I would NEVER beg someone to buy my book(s). For instance, have any of you on my email list received even one notice of my new release? Nope.
Now, you may be thinking, but you’re missing out on a huge opportunity, Sue. That’s true. Direct marketing is the way to go. But you know what? I can’t bring myself to do it. That’s not what you signed up for when you wanted my free pdf. It feels dishonest. Here’s my philosophy when it comes to promoting a book. If people like and respect you, they’ll be curious about what you write. It’s human nature. There’s no need to shout “Buy my book!” at everyone you meet. Besides, that’s my husband’s job. Ha! True. He embarrasses me all the time when he shoves my cards at people. Ah, well, he’s as excited as I am.
It’s obvious my passion lies with crime. So when someone orders me to buy their sci-fi novel, for instance, I know instantly that this person has no idea who I am. They could care less. All they want is my money. Does that sound like an author you want to read? That would be like me stopping the biggest YA fan on the street and telling them to buy Marred. Ridiculous!
Know your audience. Promote with them in mind. Don’t shout willy-nilly to everyone, hoping to snag someone who “might” take pity on you. Pathetic.
How do I know about promotion when Marred just hit the shelves?
For the last three years I’ve subscribed to almost every newsletter I came across. Then I waited and watched how the author used it. From big names to the unknown, I watched them all. Did they spam me with a barrage of buy my book emails? Did they offer helpful advice without asking for anything in return? Did I hardly ever hear from them again? If so, why? By studying how others used their email list I was able to gage how I would be perceived when the time came for me to promote.
I used 60 Ways to Murder Your Fictional Characters as my test. How many people only wanted the pdf and then unsubscribed? How many unsubscribed after the update Psst…I’ve Added 10 More Ways to Kill? How many unsubscribed when I sent out a notice about a guest who designed his post around one of the sixty ways, How to Use a Nail Gun Like a Firearm?
As authors, I feel it’s important to watch what others do. There’s no better way to learn. We covet what we see (<- can anyone tell me where I stole that line from?).
This is why those who’ve subscribed to receive 60 Ways to Murder Your Fictional Characters haven’t heard much from me. Because I’ve been studying how to use my newsletter capabilities with finesse.
What did I discover?
The authors who rarely notified me about their books but offered helpful resources were the ones I was most interested in. Funny how that works, eh? Again, it’s human nature. Let me give you an example of someone I recently met on Twitter. This person followed me. I followed back. Then I got several tweets in a row. @SueColetta1 Follow me back! @SueColetta1 Check out my blog!! @SueColetta1 Buy my book!!! See the exclamation points increasing?
When he reached six or seven exclamation points I unfollowed him. I probably should have done it sooner. The last thing I need is someone ordering me to do things. And I’m sure you feel the same.
Then why do people do it?
Beats me. Is it insecurity? Are they desperate? Are their sales plummeting and they’re afraid their book will bomb?
This is the impression I get when I receive tweets and DMs like this. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give that impression. I’ve got more pride than that.
That’s not to say that a “call to action” doesn’t work. That’s a much better way to promote. A message in the sidebar and/or under a post that says… “check out______, subscribe to_____, and buy my book.” Perfectly acceptable.
Or blog tours.
Marred has been on tour for the last week or so. On each stop I’ve done guest posts or Q & A’s, some with excerpts. Each excerpt is different, too. I figured it might get boring if I posted the same one over and over. If you’d like to follow the tour, here’s where I’ve been and where I’m going…
Kicked off the tour at Entertaining Stories with a guest post on my blood spatter research. There’s an excerpt of the forensics scene too.
Then I went to Festival Magazine (will post link when it’s published).
On to Mae Clair’s blog for a fun interview. She asks really unique questions.
Today I’m at DyingWords. Only an ex-coroner/ex-cop would think of the questions Garry asked, complete with a psych evaluation. The results of which I couldn’t read until it went live. Talk about sweating bullets!
Those who look forward to Margot Kinberg’s Crime Fiction Newsbreak, listen carefully. You may hear about Marred in the October installment.
On Monday, I’ll be at Molly Greene’s with a guest post of my journey from query to publication. Whew! That wasn’t easy to fit into one post.
And then I’m off to CrimeFictionBook where I’ll discuss what weapons I used in Marred, with an excerpt of the scene.
Exhausting, but oh so much fun.
If any of the readers on those sites enjoy my post, they’ll check out Marred. In theory. Anyway, that’s how I intend to do it, along with working with book bloggers who promote all the time. That’s different, because their readers expect to hear about books. After all, that’s what their site is all about. My audience does not come here to be blasted with “Buy my book!”
That said, here’s what I’ve decided to do.
Some of you might have noticed the Crime Lovers Lounge (left sidebar). Soon I will send each subscriber a secret key code that will unlock the lounge. What happens in the lounge? Nope. Still not going to spam you. Neither will anyone else in the lounge. If they do, they’ll get one warning. If they persist, they’ll be booted out. If a guest asks about someone’s book, that’s different. Then by all means use the opportunity to tell them all about your novel, novella, or short story.
The Crime Lovers Lounge is a place where we can come together and talk about the books we love. Where twice a week there will be a crime puzzle to solve. Match wits against professionals in the field. I have CSI, FBI, coroners, and police officers who are members.
It’ll also be a safe place. If you loved a storyline but thought the ending didn’t work, feel free to tell us why WITHOUT SPOILERS. Please don’t offer a critique of anyone’s work. I’m referring to books authored by someone outside the lounge. Not a member’s novel.
By engaging with our potential audience, we, as crime writers, can learn from the people who love our genre. It’ll also bring sales…the right way.
Before you all rush to subscribe please note that I will occasionally notify subscribers of my new releases, contests, special discounts, and offers. But only when something special is happening. Otherwise, you’ll hear crickets via email. You have my word that I will be respectful with your email. No addresses will ever be shared or abused. By keeping my writing peeps separate from my readers, it feels more honest.
Those who’ve received 60 Ways to Murder…will only hear from me with crime writing related news.
Those who join the Crime Lovers Lounge are fans of crime fiction and/or true crime and will receive the occasional news of special events. Other than that, we can have a blast chatting about our common passion…crime. Where is the lounge? I’ll let subscribers know as soon as I finish the blog tour with Marred. Get ready to have fun!
If you’ve found ways to promote without the “hard sell,” please share. I’ve already received some fantastic ways in the comment section.