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Manners, Your Book Plug, and YOU.

Manners, Your Book Plug, and YOU.

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Before I set out to pimp my own books, I read a very excellent marketing and PR book called The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. I highly recommend it, as it goes over content marketing, social media, and a few cautionary tales about customer service and misrepresentation.

The most important thing that I pulled from it was the power of creating content and engaging in conversation as means of promoting your product. Some of what Scott says seems like common sense, yet for some, it isn’t. Over the years I’ve seen shameless plugs for music videos linked in Youtube comments and had strangers ask me to endorse their product that I haven’t even read. This week, however, I had to seek advice, because something happened on one of my Facebook pages that was so rude, I had no idea how to respond. I’m going to spare my usual stinging wit and keep a very serious tone here, because what was done was rude, but I’m not trying to lampoon anyone online. I’m trying to create a learning experience.

The Olympia Heights Facebook page was started last year before I published the first Olympia Heights book. My company put resources (time, money, and books) into giveaways and I put my own money (with my husband) into paying for some Facebook ads to grow the community. I’m not saying that I have an army there. 189 Likes will not pay my bills, but I put a year of constant work into promoting my work and I’m quite proud of the recent surge in Likes and sales.

Last week a girl, a child, who is self-publishing her own book, asked me to promote it. It is a relevant topic, but I have not read it. She had a nice cover and a decent premise, so I told her that I would consider promoting it after I read it. As a rule, I don’t “Like” anything I haven’t read, because that would be like recommending a book to my friends that I know nothing about. Likes show up on the Olympia Heights wall and personal Likes go on my profile. I am, by no means, a celebrity, but I follow the rule that personalities should use and like the products they endorse.

A few days ago, however, her mother– an adult woman who should know better– posted this.

As you can see, I blurred out any identifying information because I don’t want this to be about singling someone out. I want to teach other authors about what is appropriate and what is not. This is not.

I wasn’t sure what to do, to be honest, because one thing I’ve learned about online publicity is that you have to be careful not to make anyone angry. I tweeted for help and got this reply from a writer that I admire A LOT.

I followed his advice and I marked it as SPAM. The fact of the matter was that I had already told her daughter that I would consider promoting it once I’d read it, which should have made it clear not to post it on my wall until that time. If she wanted to let me know it was available, she should have messaged me in private. This woman has never participated in conversation on this page and only liked it that week in order to post a plug. Less than a week after my own book release, she used my space to post a book that could be considered in direct competition for my current release. I felt pretty used.

So, what is appropriate? Let’s go over some ground rules. You’ll find that the book linked above supports pretty much all of these tips.

  • Want someone you admire to plug your book? Send it to them for free and hope that they like it. Don’t go asking a stranger to buy your book so that they can sell it for you.
  • Create content as a means of acquiring followers. Your followers will endure the occasional plug if you provide something they perceive as valuable on a regular basis.
  • That “Website” slot on a comment form is your friend. Paste a link to your site there and then participate in the conversation as a normal human being. If they like what you have to say, they will click on it. It’s fine to leave your calling card where they can find it, it’s not fine to plug your work on someone else’s comments board.
  • Only talk about your book if it is relevant AND asked for. If someone leaves a blog post with open-ended question, feel free to answer, but don’t go on “Top Ten Books About Greek Gods” and add “Mine is great too, go buy it! Amazon.com/75672…”
  • It’s only really Okay to ask someone to RT or share your Kickstarter, book, blog, etc. if you have a developed relationship/rapport with them. Sometimes it is okay if it is for a selfless charitable cause that you know they would be interested it (like asking Neil Gaiman to RT a petition to stop a book banning in Minnesota, etc).
  • Become a part of the community before you ask for favors. Making a new account the day you ask for help does not look good.

Alright, bloggers, writers, artists, and publishers, what is your advice for new authors? What common rude violations do you have to deal with? Please refrain from naming names or book titles, as we want this to be educational, not personal. Leave a comment below and continue the conversation!

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  • Have you heard of my new book? It’s called “Robot Ninja Amazon Unicorns,” and it’s WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than Olympia Heights. It will be on Amazon maybe at some indeterminate future point.

    Kidding aside, there are a lot of great points made here. Desperate, pushy marketing creates a negative view of the creator and also colors the impression of the work itself as not being good enough to stand on its own or develop word of mouth.

    I’m also reminded of an article I read a few years ago from a Boston area game developer, breaking down a colossal failure from a developer complaining about his lack of press on a major industry news site, and being needlessly aggressive and uninformed toward the game profiled in the article where the comments took place. It’s a good read, and illustrates some of the points made here.

    http://tinysubversions.com/2009/12/how-to-squander-your-15-minutes-by-repeatedly-shooting-yourself-in-both-feet-an-instruction-manual/