The Hard Sell

Barbara Vey -- June 23rd, 2011

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of social media.  I enjoy following people on Facebook and Tweeter.  There’s something special about getting to know them through 140 characters at a time.  A person’s creativity can come shining through.  When someone includes pictures or links, it usually gets me to discover something new, have a laugh or maybe even cringe.  Facebook has given people the opportunity to tell little stories about their lives.

Sharon Sala

Sharon Sala

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One of my favorite people to follow on Facebook is Sharon Sala.  Everyday is a new adventure as she copes lovingly with an aging mother, Oklahoma weather, children, grandchildren, cooking and favorite tv shows.  While it may sound mundane, Sharon’s voice is anything but.  I can almost hear her accent come through as she takes me through her day...”Hmmm, remember yesterday the light went out in my bathroom. So I now have a NEW light fixture with 6 (count them) 6 bright bulbs to shine the way. WTH was I thinking? That bright…and me…straight out of the shower…OMG. sigh. I hope God doesn’t strike me blind.” What a visual!

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The thing about the way Sharon approaches social media is that I get to know her and when the time comes for her book to be released, I’ll want to read it because I feel like I have a bond with her.  It will be like buying a book from a friend.

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Then there’s the hard sell.  The person who doesn’t get the “social” part.  This is the author who only comes on line with one purpose…to sell their book.  If you look at their Twitter page it looks something like this:

“Buy my book, The Wrong Way, only $1.99 at Amazon”

“Buy my book, The Wrong Way, only $1.99 at Amazon”

“Buy my book, The Wrong Way, only $1.99 at Amazon”

And so on…

Not only is it boring, it’s embarrassing.  It kind of reminds me of State Fair when you go into the buildings with the all the stuff for sale and people are yelling for you to come over and buy their products.  You don’t even want to make eye contact.  And these authors don’t even limit it to their pages.  They post it on other Facebook pages and blogs.  No niceties like “How is everyone one today?” just “Buy, buy, buy!”

And it’s not just Facebook and Twitter.  I get sent a lot of books that I’m sure many other reviewers do.  One of my pet peeves is getting an email from someone that says, “I don’t read your blog, but would you like a copy of my book?”  Why on earth would someone want me to read their book and write about it when they don’t even know what goes on at my site?  I could have views that are totally offensive to them or their prospective readers.  Their book may not even apply to my blog.  It’s like sending an inspirational book to a horror site or an erotica to a YA site.  Again, I’m embarrassed for the author.

Do your homework.  It took a long time to write the book, edit it, get it published.  Why take shortcuts to getting the word out about it?  An author should be getting their name out well before their book is published.  With self publishing and e-books along with traditional publishing, there’s a ton of books to choose from.  The idea is to get the reader to pick you out of the pack.  And you don’t want them to remember you because you spammed them with BUY MY BOOK NOW! messages.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to approach marketing your book, get help.  Ask other authors and listen for what will work for you.  There’s a ton of books about the subject out there and my mentor Dan Blank even offers an online class called Build Your Author Platform.

Don’t get me wrong, you want to let people know you have a book out and it’s perfectly fine to put it on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, blogs, etc.  But you don’t want to be pushy and annoying about it.  Have a consistent presence even when you don’t have a book out.  Talk about other things and it doesn’t have to be personal if you don’t want it to be, but even sharing a book that you enjoyed or a movie you saw can give a reader a glimpse of the person you are.  Visit other blogs occasionally and leave a quick comment to show them you’re around.  People do notice. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and do some quick marketing…in a smart way.

Yes, I know writing the book should be enough, but that’s not the way it works anymore.  An author needs to get noticed, but in a way that makes a reader want to buy their book.

What tips can you offer authors who are struggling with the marketing/social aspect?  What works for you?  What doesn’t?

Bottom Line: Having a book published is a joy…spamming others about it, not so good.

Giveaways This Week

From Susan Hanniford Crowley: On Saturday, June 25th, romance author and advertising expert Jennifer Fusco will be on Nights of Passion blog talking about the author’s brand.  She will be giving away to one lucky commenter a free website analysis.  See the blog for entering details

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From Dianna Love: NYT best sellers Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love will be signing on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at the RWA Literacy signing in New York (Marriott Marquis Broadway hotel) along with 500 other authors.  But Sherrilyn and Dianna are giving away 100 Tshirts (from different series, including the full color Belador shirts) to the first 100 in their line and color posters to the next 100 in line.

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