Book Promotion 101: Networking

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I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline when a familiar post jumped out at me: “Buy my book! It’s .99 cents!”

Did I click on the link to check out the book on Amazon? Respond to the author and say, “Hey! That book sounds cool! What’s up with that free copy?” Or, did I keep scrolling down, hoping to eventually get to some interesting content? Yep, you guessed it. Kept scrolling.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with self-promotion. In fact, if you’re a fan of paranormal novels, I suggest you check out The New Mrs. Collins by this stellar author I know named Quanie Miller, because as one reader recently exclaimed, it’s “Fantastisch! Wat een boek.” *End shameless plug*

But if all I did was promote my book here or on Twitter, I’d probably be hanging out around these parts all by my lonesome because nobody likes a spammer. In fact, I was going to call this post “Spam be Damned,” but I thought that might be a bit off-putting. But I’m sure I’m not alone in my sentiments: I hate spammers about as much as I hate those pesky telemarketers, and guess what? I used to be a telemarketer. For one whole week and you know how many sales I got? One.  I would say, “Hi, this is Quanie calling on behalf of AT&T and I want to talk to you about our nifty phone services?” One woman, with a twangy accent, said to me: “Oh, honey, it’s too hot to talk about all this.” Click.

That’s exactly how I feel when I run across a random “Buy my book!” Tweet: It’s too hot to talk about all this, which is code for: I could maybe be interested but your approach is all wrong and now I don’t feel like being bothered.

Let’s imagine: you’re walking down the street. Some random guy runs up to you and yells, “Yo, ma! Buy my book!” After you hit him on the head with your pocketbook (or your fist if you’re gangsta like that), and he walks away nursing his bruised head and ego, would you ever think: wait; I wonder what his book was about?” And run after him to find out?

Um…probably not. You’d probably think, “What a loser!” and walk away shaking your head, or if you’re like me, you’ll walk away saying, “Now where did I park again?”

But let’s imagine this: there’s this lady at your gym. She always gets in your space during Zumba but you don’t really mind. After a while, you strike up a conversation. After a few classes, she reveals that she’s an author and she has a book out. “What’s it called?” You ask, writing it down. You go home. You buy the book (even if you only use it as a foot stool. You bought it).

I say all that to say this: online marketing is no different from doing it off line. If “Buy my book!” doesn’t work on Twitter, it sure won’t work in the parking lot at Piggly Wiggly. But you know what does? Getting to know people. I know, I know. It’s not the sexy answer, but it’s true: networking, online and off, will get you more readers than any one “Buy my book!” Tweet ever will. And you don’t get to know people through shameless self-promotion. You do it through conversations: via blogs, Facebook, Goodreads, Google +,  a little known place called Twitter, and if you feel so inclined, the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. Well, what if I’m one of the lucky authors and I don’t need to get to know people because my first book was a smashing success?  

It’s too hot to talk about all that.

What about others? How do you feel about authors who shamelessly promote? Also, what’s worked for you in promoting your books, your blogs, your businesses? I want to hear it all!

44 thoughts on “Book Promotion 101: Networking

  1. As always, you make some valid points. I twitter and other social media outlets are great places to connect with other people, but I think too many authors miss the point of “making connections”. Many authors seems to not be able to break the pattern of promote, promote, promote. I’ve tried many times to get authors to participate is activities that were simply fun, and most of all different, but they weren’t interested because they couldn’t clearly define their fifteen minutes of soapboxing fame.

    I think it’s important to self-promote as a F.Y.I. or update, but after that, it’s time to work on connecting.
    Toi Thomas recently posted..Listography of Toi 19: People I’ve Lived WithMy Profile

  2. I don’t have a book out… yet… 🙂
    But it IS annoying when people clutter your Twitter feed with book promos. And what about those who send a ‘nice-to-meet-you-now-buy-my-book’ DM on Twitter? That is so blatant… and puts me off!
    I mean, they don’t even afford you the opportunity of checking out their work on your own…

    Networking, meeting new ‘possible’ fans and getting to know writers/readers is the way to go. Even if some don’t buy your book, they may recommend it to others.
    …and we all know about the power of word-of-mouth…
    Michelle Wallace recently posted..A to Z Story – In A to Z Style!My Profile

  3. I agree with you on all of this and your examples – and subtle self-promotion – are hilarious. ^_^ Going to remember the idea of punching someone who told me to read their book for a while. (No, I’m not gangsta, I just don’t carry a pocketbook, and hitting someone with my wallet would be weird.)

    But I think you’re right. This whole blogging thing has shown me that there are a lot of people willing to help other writers promote their books, but it’s not usually in a “hey, go buy this person’s book” way. It’s in a “let me tell you about this person’s book” way, and that makes all the difference.
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..Questions from Cait.My Profile

  4. agreed! It is such a turn off and I can honestly say I have never once bought a book bc of those “buy my book” tweets…all it does is make me mute the author. My favorite is when authors tweet fun things about life or whatever, and occasionally mention writing/ their book…too many authors are one dimensional about writing. I love posting about American Idol in between all my writing stuff haha

    • I agree, Beth. And to be honest with you, I fell into the trap of only Tweeting about writing stuff because I was afraid to jump into certain conversations or worse, somehow getting into a Twitter beef. But you’re right. I need to broaden my Twitter horizons, so to speak. And you love Idol? We’ve been watching this season, too:)
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

  5. I don’t click on those ‘Buy My Book’ tweets. I get it that we need to promote our books, but like Chrys, I prefer tweeting about my books sparingly: e.g. a screenshot of a favourite review, or if there are special announcements or an interview/giveaway. And only then. The auto-dms are annoying as well. You follow a fellow, and immediately he asks you to check out his amazon page, website or whatever. I almost never click on those, too. As for suggestions: Blog good contents. Share good contents. Once people trust you enough, they might be willing to buy your book. 🙂
    Claudine @ CarryUsOff Books recently posted..Pictures & Quotes: Books & Tea-Hee-HeeMy Profile

  6. That is SO true…which is what we’re doing here. I moderated a competition for my regional SCBWI chapter last weekend and ended up with about 20 new followers from it. Will they buy my book? I don’t know…but I met new people. That’s the kind of “work” authors do. We go to conferences, meet people, blog, interact on social media…it all gets our name out there and if people like is, they buy our books.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..Where Did Romantic Comedy Go?My Profile

  7. Yup. SO with you. It’s one of the big problems about marketing in general. Publishers and agents want their authors out spamming everyone, abut the only thing that works reliably is word-of-mouth. People telling people they know to read this great book by Quanie Miller. Oh, and I would have read a post called “Spam be Damned” quite happily, actually 🙂
    Liz Blocker (@lizblocker) recently posted..Visiting Old FriendsMy Profile

  8. I would NEVER post something on social media with the words “Buy my book!” It’s so tactless. I will announce a sale where I can, but I know not everyone is going to buy my book even with the sale. So why demand them to? When you demand, people will ignore. Instead, I include the blurb so if they do read it and are interested then they will take advantage of that sale. When I promote on social media, I try to get creative by posting characters’ dialogue, quotes, and interesting tidbits. Even when I add a buy link, I don’t include the word “buy.”
    Chrys Fey recently posted..Deleted Scene from 30 SecondsMy Profile

  9. Well, I haven’t published anything yet, so I don’t know what kind of author I’ll be, but certainly I don’t like the “buy my book” kind of anything. I see it a lot on Twitter and I often wonder whether the author gets any results from it. I never check those links, especially if I see them more than once.
    Isn’t it strange? It gets the exact opposite effect than teh author is hoping for.

    For me, the approach you’re talking about works. If I know the author, I’m likely to check their books and maybe buy it. If I like it, I will probably write a review and if I engagé often with the author, I’ll retweet their tweets and ask them for guest posts on my blog.

    Engaging on socials is a time-consuming job and it taks a long long time before any results become apparent. I think I’m still too new to talk about results for me, but after a year of networking, I’m strating to see little rewards 🙂
    And then, let’s be honest. Engagning is a lot more fun than just tweet, buy my book 🙂
    JazzFeathers recently posted..This Ain’t Dances with Salmons (video)My Profile

  10. Child, you ain’t never lied! Sometimes I have to log off of Twitter because all it’s full of is promotion, promotion, promotion. On one hand I get it, because I know that a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. On the other hand, it’s not very effective because I rarely click on the promotion, so I have to assume that it’s probably not working all that well.

    For a while I felt like my blog was becoming way too promotional. Not for my book (except my release week when I went harder than a mug) but for other authors. I love helping people, but I had to scale it back and limit the promotional stuff to about 2 X per month. It means saying no to people more than I would like, but the last thing I want is for my blog to leave a bad tastes in my readers mouth’s.

    I’ve noticed that veteran authors might mention a new release or a special price on their social media platforms maybe once or twice. The rest of the time they pretty much talk about their lives, ask questions about current events, etc.
    Faith Simone recently posted..#WriterWednesday : 5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic by Faith SimoneMy Profile

    • Faith,

      You’re right. It’s one reason why I don’t volunteer for every blog tour I see: I don’t want people to be hit over the head with too much promo. Like you say, it’s necessary, especially for new releases, to at least tell people about it, but after awhile, we need something else to talk about. Or we risk turning people off.
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

  11. Oh yes, There’s one guy on twitter who instantly springs to mind (who I will not name, because even bad publicity is publicity – that whole marmite thing!) All his tweets are about his book, but not only that, they loop and repeat, so you get the same damn tweets repeated.
    I keep meaning to un-follow him, but… it’s too damn hot… 😉
    Angela Wooldridge recently posted..Here’s looking at you kidMy Profile

    • Oh, I know! Lidy brought up a good point about those people who send those auto DMs with the promise to follow you back and never do. Filth liars! I mean, we have to promote ourselves (especially new releases otherwise, who’s gonna know about it???) but after awhile, it becomes a one-sided conversation and who’s interested in that?? And yes, unfollow him, when it ain’t too hot, lol!
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

  12. I’ve been taking such a big break from promoting that I feel like a burden has been lifted, lol. And I’ve been awful over the last couple of weeks with even keeping up with my blog.. I will explain in next Monday’s #MondayBlogs
    It’s so hard, especially as independent or self-published authors, to get our work out there. How far do we go? How many tweets is too much? How many times should we reach out to our niche audience and even outside of it? So many questions in so little free time I feel we have as it is.
    Right now, I’m learning to love writing and enjoy my outside hobbies. As far as promoting goes, I will worry about this if and when I ever hear from that big time publisher I have been patiently batting my eyes away at my emails for. Oh, and finish those books!
    gina stoneheart recently posted..Monday Feature and CelebrationsMy Profile

    • Oh, I know! I plan on blogging about this time management issue soon. It’s definitely #teamtoomuch, for sure. And with all of your volunteer work, Gina, I don’t even know how you find the time! I’ve been up to my neck in research for this book (something I hope to blog about soon) and I haven’t even had a second to get to my TBR list because when I get home, it’s little munchkin time. The only solution I can come up with is to get up earlier, but I already get up at 5 am. Le sigh.
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

  13. Excellent subject! “Buy My Book!” might just as well have a whispered “Or else!!” behind it 🙂
    Grandma used to say “Beware the sleeves of a stranger’s glad hand.” and I think the only solution to that is for an author to show him/herself (blogging, website, etc.) so the reader feels comfortable with buying your book; “Hey, I know this guy! This book should be good!”
    This was never so clear to me as when (way back when) I tried to sell Avon door-to-door. (Of course, having a route that consisted of mostly elderly men didn’t help matters any!) 🙂
    diedre recently posted..The Scent of MorningMy Profile

  14. Hi Quanie,

    I agree with your post! I do see a lot of “buy my book” On Twitter. I’m not an author, however, I do promote books for authors.

    My question is, am I included? I mean, on my Twitter feed, it’s nothing but links to books. Most of them are just simply the book title, author name & the link. Some (the ones I promote)may include a pic, link, synopsis, intro, customer reviews! Those are shared through Instagram, mostly!

    I simply inform my followers of book releases on Twitter mostly!

    Should I take a different approach or am I fine with my current method!

    • Hi Vaneka,

      You’re not promoting your own books so that might be different, but I think that having some variation in your timeline certainly couldn’t hurt. What I typically do is tweet things that other authors might find interesting. I will retweet news about new releases, but also links to articles or blog posts that I think other authors will find useful or funny. Good luck!
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

  15. I get that all the time and I understand. We just want to get our books out there to be read by as many as people as possible. But if everything you’re posting is just buy your book, buy your book, buy your book, then you’re just spamming. That’s not engaging or networking. I’ve only been on Twitter for a couple of months and even I feel like doing the “it’s too hot for that and click” thing when I get DM’s saying thank you for following and buy their book. Or to like their FB page and that they’ll like back (not true). You’ve written a book and you want to people to buy and read it. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your book on your blog and or across your social media. But if that’s all your doing, you’ve just went beyond shameless plugging. You’re in spamming territory.
    lidy recently posted..Characterization: How To Make Your Characters Come AliveMy Profile

  16. When I see that someone’s Twitter feed exclusively contains posts about their book, it’s a huge turnoff. But if people have something interesting to say then usually I’ll follow their link to their site and check out their books out of curiosity. The soft sell seems to be more effective. I wonder why folks spend so much time constantly tweeting and posting their buy links – it can’t be very successful.
    Leslye recently posted..My Interview on Genesis Sci Fi RadioMy Profile

  17. Self-promotion is necessary in most of our cases. Blatant is bad. Creative is better. Creatively unannoying is the best. Sometimes it’s better not to push a product on somebody until they know you a little better and then you can ask nicely if they are interested.

    Several years ago I heard about a guy who promoted his book by buying a ticket to Disneyland and then handing out flyers to visitors. That’s crazy! For one thing a ticket to Disneyland is kind of expensive and people there are probably not interested in some guy’s flyers about his book. Probably a good way to get kicked out of Disneyland.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Arlee Bird recently posted..The Fun Frenzy of a Twitter ChatMy Profile

  18. I’m struggling with this right now. My debut novel comes out in April, and I know that, as a complete unknown, I’ve got to get the word out there, but, spammy tweets or emails or anything just reeks of desperation and desperation is so unattractive. So, I’m trying to be patient, talking about it when I have a natural opening, but not trying to turn every conversation into an advertisement. Networking with other writers has been great. It’s lovely when I can honestly praise the work of a friend, and sometimes, they do the same for me.
    Samantha Bryant recently posted..IWSG: The Anxiety of Finishing ThingsMy Profile

    • Hi Samantha,

      My rule is this: I don’t “heavily” promote my books in my posts outside of book cover and release news. If people want to find out about my books, there are plenty of places on my blog where they can do that. I think being pushy is the fastest way to turn readers off.

      And congrats on your upcoming debut! People are going to want to support you and it sounds like you’re supportive of other writers as well. That’s the best way to be:)
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

  19. I think it takes a bit of both. At some point you must talk about your book. It shouldn’t be often, but not too rare. People shouldn’t be surprised thay you’re a writer if they constantly interact with you.

    • So true! We have to talk about our books otherwise, people won’t know about them (that sounds like another post!). I think the key is balance. It’s one thing to tell people about your latest release but if you talk about it all day everyday, that can get annoying. People want to engage in conversation and if they get to know you and like you—and you happen to have a book out, they’ll probably buy it.
      Quanie recently posted..Book Promotion 101: NetworkingMy Profile

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