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!