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April 19, 2013

When Author Promo Goes Over The Top

Author Cathy Yardley has an excellent post about Selling Books (without being an asshat). She says nobody wants to badger readers — but “if we want to sell books, what else can we do?”  Right? Read the rest of her article here.

I have to say, from my own observations, that my twitter stream is full of “buy me” type posts. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of editing, and now I’ve started working on a new book. Not terribly interesting to read or tweet about. When that happens I like to retweet a couple of posts that I’ve found interesting for some reason or another. Some days it is hard to find a decent post to RT amongst all the white noise of “like me”, “buy me”, “RT me” or “do—” (insert relevant item in the blank area).

On days like this, I shake my head, give up and get back to my current WIP. If anything, I seem to be doing less and less when it comes to promotion and focusing on my next book instead. I thought my sales might drop away because of the lack of promotion, but in truth, my royalties seem to be better than ever. Who knew?

I’m not saying writers shouldn’t do promotion, but maybe think a little harder before you add to the white noise online. Seek to entertain rather than demand attention, and I think you might have a better shot at getting your book noticed.

What do you think?


  1. Brinda

    You’re correct. I make friends with lots of folks on Twitter, but there are far too many buy tweets for my taste. It really turns me off.

    • Shelley Munro

      I guess in the past we had mailers pushed through our mailbox and door-to-door salesmen. The Internet has made it easy for people to publicize their books and everyone takes advantage of it.

  2. Susan Helene Gottfried

    I think it’s widely agreed upon at this point that those “buy me” Tweets don’t do much.

    I use Twitter to chat with people. It’s my water cooler since I work at home and without it, some days, I’d never talk to another person!

    So come chat with me, when our time zones make it feasible!

    • Shelley Munro

      I hear you, Susan. Some days I only talk to the puppy, especially when hubby is working long hours. I’ll look for you. Part of my problem is that when I’m ready to jump on Twitter, most people in the US are asleep :)

  3. Maria Zannini

    I get Cathy Yardley’s point with the coffee shop example, but it’s not quite so cut and dry in reality.

    In her example, the “good” coffee shop owner and the customer both contributed to a healthy and productive environment that benefited both of them.

    Both parties have to be willing to give a little. The writer needs to be available and present to her audience without breathing down people’s necks, and the reader needs to be open to new authors and/or genres.

    It is true that constantly banging a drum to call attention to yourself is not the way to make friends and influence people.

    I suppose the reason people get so pushy is desperation. Either that, or they just don’t know any better.

    • Shelley Munro

      You’re right, Maria. This is not a black and white situation. It’s very difficult to get word out about a book these days, simply because there are so many for the reader to choose from. The question is – how do you stand out from among the crowd?

      I don’t know what the answer is, but I’ve decided to continue with the things I enjoy such as blogging and writing more books. Sure, there is some promo in there too, but I do try to limit it.

  4. Angela Brown

    There’s still so much that I’m learning that I can’t speak with much authority on a lot of things.

    I’m not the best when it comes to Twitter and I’m slowly trying to see what I like best to do with it and other social media outlets.

    Gaining readership has been, a um…challenge to say the least but I’m steady trying.

    I will admit that when it comes to Twitter, the white noise of “Buy me” does cause me to look beyond it instead of grabbing my attention. Sometimes, I’m in the white noise floundering like a plucked fish…but not so much as I’ve done more focus on writing.

    • Shelley Munro


      There is loads to learn and the line is constantly shifting. Some of the things that were common when I started writing are no longer necessary or have changed. Those who adapt are the ones who go on to have a long career in this business!

    • Shelley Munro

      This rule applies to most consumer items, I think, and not just publishing.

  5. Mary Kirkland

    I think that once a writer gets a fan base, even a small one and that fan base starts making Tweets and posts on other social media about a book or author they like and their friends take a look at it, that’s a better way for authors get get more fans and readers. I know I usually Tweet when I buy a new book, read a book or like a book. I belong to a couple of street teams and we Tweet the author’s books to our friends.

    • Shelley Munro

      That’s the secret, Mary. To find a fan base. Easier said than done, though :)