“Buy My Book!” NO.

www.suecoletta.com/buy-my-book-noShow 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.

Mia Thompson and I did a Q & A on her blog, and then I invited her here, which you read a few days ago.

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.

Let’s recap.

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.

About Sue Coletta

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is the bestselling, award-winning author of psychological thrillers and mysteries. OOTG Flash Fiction Offensive magazine published her flash fiction and her short stories are published in numerous anthologies and collections. InSinC Quarterly featured her forensic articles about Radiocarbon Dating and Skeletal Differences. In 2017, Feedspot awarded her Murder Blog as one of the Top 50 Crime Blogs on the net. Sue's also the communications manager for Forensic Science and the Serial Killer Project. As a way to help fellow crime writers, Sue created a team of crime experts (detectives, coroners, police captains, etc.) and founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter. She's also a proud member of the Kill Zone, where she blogs every other Monday.


  1. So much good stuff in here!
    I like the way you think about promoting. If my time ever come to do the same, I will sure remember your view 🙂

    I’ve read a few of the guest posts you mentioned, but I’m goign to check all the other too.
    If I’ll haver succeed in publishing a story, I’d really like to do a blog tour. I heard from basically everyone it’s a very hard job. Some say it isn’t worth it, some other say it is. A few say it is fun.
    Well, I mean to find it out by myself… one day 😉

    A lot of luck with your story. And witht he lounge. That’s a fantastic idea!
    JazzFeathers recently posted…8 Sentence Sunday on Dieselpunks #51My Profile

    • Your time will come, Sarah. And when it does, you’re more than welcome to include my site in your blog tour. They are a lot of work, but they’re also a lot of fun. That’s so nice that you’re following my tour for Marred. Today I’m at Molly’s, where I discuss my “journey.” It’s a cautionary tale. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://www.molly-greene.com/trad-publishing-i-did-it-my-way If I haven’t told you, thank you for all your support. It means so much to me.

  2. A great recap of how to do marketing right 🙂

    Personally, I do use my newsletter to notify people of any new releases and any free days. I think it’s not the same as urging them to buy, as I notify them when it’s free to download.

    The commanding nature of the “buy my book!” is probably due to marketers urging people to add a direct “call to action” at the end of each communication. People often get hard-nosed about this advice and abuse it.
    Nicholas C. Rossis recently posted…E-Book Sales Slip, Print Picks Up, NY Times Says. Is That True?My Profile

    • I think you’re right, Nicholas. Like anything else, some writers see what they want in advice and totally miss the point. I’ll be using my new email list, too. Direct marketing works, no doubt about it.

  3. A year ago, or so, I cleaned up FB and dropped out of about fifteen different writer’s groups because the administrators had let the members run amok with “Buy My Book” ads that filled my newsfeed so completely that could barely find a friend or family member on there between the rubbish. I dropped out of the completely bogus “writer’s” groups and never, not even once, bought a pitched book from them.

    I’ve slowed the fever of promoting RC&R for a couple of reasons. 1) it was published two years ago, and 2) that sort of historical fiction is not what I’m writing nowadays. While writing the first draft of NA, I was excited to be trying out a new, beloved, genre and shared the excitement on my blog. Personal issues with family and illness have pulled me away for a while and I’m finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things. NA just came back from the editor and I’ve been very busy with it (And working hard to bring The Conduit forward), but feel that I need to change things up on the blog. I absolutely love what you’ve done with your self-hosted blog and can’t wait to get started in the lounge. What a really cool idea!

    Seems I can’t force myself to be social when I’m not feeling it. Argh!I had a guest post I skipped last month (I’m ashamed to admit) and another scheduled for next month that I’ve been procrastinating. I know I can pull myself back together, but it’s not going to happen over night 🙁

    • I feel for you, Susan. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all have our ruts. The magic will reignite and you’ll come back stronger than you were before.

      I know exactly how you feel about some of the FB groups. I rarely, if ever, visit a few that I had high hopes for due to the same reason. Without an administrative presence, some people get carried away and become downright annoying with the hard sell.

      Sharing what you’re excited about on your blog is the reason people visit you. You’ve created a nice atmosphere there. I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to read blogs, but it’s one of the things I hope to improve. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Arghh!

      Chin up. You have more friends than you realize…like me. 😉

  4. I agree. I don’t like it when I get a buy my book type request. Its a slap in the face… look at me, look what I’ve done, please love me, please… They don’t know me or know what I like to read. It makes me feel used. The hard sell is looking for hard cash and I’m not an ATM.

    I have looked at books when someone I’m familiar with, such as on Twitter, comments about a book they’ve read or something to the effect “my friend’s book has been published its …… If the fill in the blank description interests me I’ll check it out and I have made a purchase or more.
    I like the soft sell much better than the slap in the face-look at me! -thing.

    • Could not have said it better, Diana! It does feel like a slap in the face. Your point about Twitter is dead-on. If people spark my interest, of course I’m going to be curious about what they write and want to buy their book. There’s no reason to order me to do it. Then I’m not the least bit interested.

      • “There’s no reason to order me to do it. Then I’m not the least bit interested.”

        Psychology at work, we do the opposite!
        LOL I’m wondering if we say “don’t buy” if the reverse psychology would work! Ha, I’m thinking not.

  5. I respond to every reader who likes my FB author page, follow back every new Twitter follower and answer questions from newsletter readers. I gain new newsletter subscribers through my website and engage them in questions about works in progress, ask them to name characters, read a snippet or two to see if my words hook them. The better interaction I do with them, the less likely I am to scream at anyone to buy my book. Besides, if they like me, they might read the book. I don’t care if they pick it up at a library; I’m all about readership. And eventual books sales if they really, really like the book.

  6. Sue ! You need groceries ??? And what’s wrong with your Mom??

    I know what you mean. As it turns out my wife is much more shy than I am so she can’t hand out cards for me… I’m more subtle… I go to my renter’s house “You want your toilet fixed and I want you to buy my book” Things have a way of working out.

  7. Wonderful advice. I get nervous even mentioning my products on my own site. I force myself to do it, but try not to be an annoyance. I may never hit the big time, but I can look myself in the mirror.

  8. Like most writers, I delete hundreds of e-mails a day from authors hyping their books. I do read the first e-mail from each writer because I honestly want to know what’s out there. I love reading a good story, and I’m always on the lookout for new novels to add to my “Want to Read” pile. But 40 e-mails from the same writer a day is too much even for me. It has made me more aware of my own marketing practices. I do post announcements of my new titles on Facebook and Twitter. I expect other writers to do the same. I did a signing at a Barnes and Noble a few months ago along with other genre writers, and I sold 8 copies in one hour while sitting quietly behind my display. The woman who sat next to me grabbed passersby and demanded they buy her book. She sold 2 copies in the same time. People who want your books will find you. You don’t have to drag them kicking and screaming to your titles.

    • I was hoping you’d weigh in, Paul. Yes, I totally understand sending news of a new release, discount, or special offer, using social media sites or an email list. I’ll be doing the same, with my Crime Lovers Lounge. But as you say, when authors practically crash your inbox with “news” it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There must be a better way. Love your example of the book signing. I have one coming up the end of this month with another author. Hopefully, she won’t drag people over, but if she does, no one will hear me begging them to buy a copy of Marred. Engagement and respect goes a long way, IMO.

  9. Great perspective, Sue. Probably the only thing worse than the ‘Buy My Book’ messages are the ones that offer to sell you thousands of Twitter followers when they only have a few dozen themselves 🙂 I can’t figure those guys out – must be like the Nigerian Prince scam or something.

    As you & I have discussed numerous times, discoverability seems to be the key to the book selling business and this comes from word-of-mouse, building it with one friendly click at a time.
    Garry Rodgers recently posted…MARRED – NEW PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER FROM SUE COLETTAMy Profile

    • I can’t figure out those people either, Garry! Obviously they don’t even use their own services. LOL Yup, we’ve talked a lot about this. I love your wording “one friendly click at a time.” And look at you, Mr. Bestselling Author. Perfect example of promotion that works! P.S. Love the commentluv link today. 🙂

  10. Ooo, I can’t wait to have fun in the Crime Lover’s Lounge. You’ve really created an excellent idea with that, Sue.

    As for those DMs on Twitter, I don’t get them either. I’m constantly bombarded by them when I follow someone new. Nothing like a “buy my book” or “like my Facebook” page to scream automation. Social engagement should be social.

    On the flip side of that, I’m not a fan of Facebook where a lot of authors share news about their new releases, so I do rely on newsletters for that info. There are some authors that are on my “automatic buy list” and I look forward to getting a newsletter about their latest book when one is coming available.

    As an author, I’ve also got a lot of newsletter subscribers who are, um…not fans of social media (for lack of a better way of putting it). The only way they learn when I have a new release or a special promo is through my newsletter. What I don’t want to do is spam people.

    As an example, I signed up for an author’s newsletter approximately 2 weeks ago, and have been inundated with “news” from him. I think I’ve already received 8 email newsletters in 2 weeks. That’s overboard in my opinion, but I see nothing wrong with 4 or so a year. As I said, I look forward to them.

    Just as I look forward to kicking about in the Crime Lover’s Lounge. It will be fun chatting with others and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot!
    Mae Clair recently posted…Mae Clair Presents: MARRED by Sue Coletta #thriller #suspense #crimefictionMy Profile

    • I totally agree with you, Mae. In your case, people know when they sign up that occasionally you will let them know about your new releases. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the same with my Crime Lovers Lounge. It’s when people are tricked into it that bothers me. Yup, I’ve had the ones who bombard me with “news” of what they’re up to…like I care.
      I’m so glad you’ll be joining us in the lounge!

  11. Hi Sue
    I understand what you’re saying. But it’s that rock and a rock place. I have nearly 500 contacts on Linkedin Do I just post a page on the home site which drifts by and is gone in an hour or so. Or maybe contact members individually with a polite request to sample book from my iBooks, Kindle etc, site .
    I guess it’s equating the ten percent of those that will come back, against zero if one does nothing.
    After all, if we are say with a mainstream publisher, they will have no problem hard facing the market.

    MMMMM. Got me thinking Sue!
    Best Rob

    • We sure are in a tough predicament, Rob. Which is why I figured I’d share some of the ways I’m promoting without the hard sell. LinkedIn is a tough one. Honestly, if someone messaged me with an offer to read a sample, I’d delete it. One of my contacts just got nailed for contacting everyone about making their book into a screenplay. Everyone turned vicious, like rabid dogs, messages flying about how this woman was a spammer. I’d be very careful there. Unless you’ve “engaged” with people, I wouldn’t send them anything. That’s my two-cents for what it’s worth.

      • That begs the obvious question Sue- what is the point of LinkedIn but to connect and share surely.
        If the participants are that sensitive why join ?
        I share artists, cartoon creators works everyday to give a leg up without feeling the slightest bit affronted.
        If we can’t help each other no other cavalry charge is coming to help. Are we all that precious.
        Frankly if they don’t want to help, who cares!
        Thick skin comes with the gig.

        • True. I agree with you, that we need to help each other. I think the key is to “engage.” If we make connections and engage with them, then we cross the line between spammer and friend. That’s really key for all SM sites, don’t you think? Engagement makes all the difference. That’s my philosophy, anyway.

  12. Oh, do I know how you feel, Sue!! I get weary of constant request to buy books, leave reviews, ‘like’ pages and so on. On one level, I feel guilty not doing things like that at times, because I believe we authors need to support one another. But on another level, I completely dislike that approach. It’s annoying at best. And it really puts readers off. Folks I know who are crime fiction fans tell me they truly get annoyed when they feel they’re getting pestered to buy/review/download, etc.. And I don’t blame them.

    But, as you say, that leaves authors in a quandary. What do we do to promote our books? I love your approaches. Oh, and rest assured, Marred,/i> will most definitely be mentioned and discussed on my next edition of Crime Fiction News Break. (Thanks for the kind mention!).

    I’ve found that maintaining a few key sites helps me stay in touch with readers and promote my work in a (hopefully!) non-obnoxious way. I have active clickable links on my own blog to my books, and videos of me reading from them. I also include links to others’ reviews. I’ve got an active Amazon author page, I’m on Twitter, and I have a Facebook page. Readers who are curious about my work can just click and learn what I write. Maybe a marketing executive would shake her head at my choices but I am at peace with not pestering people.
    Margot Kinberg recently posted…You Take Your Pension in Loneliness and Alcohol*My Profile

    • I think those are wonderful ways to market your books, Margot. In all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never heard you give the hard sell. That’s commendable. Videos of you reading from your books? That sounds awesome. I’ll have to check them out. Very inventive! BTW, I’ll get you what you asked for no later than the morning. Thanks again for your kind offer to mention Marred. I’m so looking forward to hearing it on Crime Fiction News Break.

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