I think a lot about book promotion. Not just about doing it (or in most cases, mounting guilt over not doing it), but also about what constitutes good, i.e., effective, promotion versus bad – yes, that would be ineffective promotion.
I think good versus bad needs more clarification. Spammers make a lucrative living off sending billions of unwanted adverts to unsuspecting people on a daily basis. Even though enough people buy whatever it is they’re selling to make them money, I wouldn’t label this promotional method as good, simply because the whole world (except the spammers themselves) hates their guts. So to me, promotion is good if it lets potential readers know about your book (which would then lead to a certain percentage buying it) without making them feel spammed.
So here are my thoughts on the three book promo standbys:
Twitter: I have about 400 followers and seem to get an additional 5 or so a day, so not a huge amount right now. I don’t DM anyone unless I know them in the real world or want to ask them something that I don’t think is worth a public discussion. I have a real dislike for auto-DMs that say: “Thanks for the Follow! Now buy my book!” or “check out my blog!” or do X or do Y or something along those lines. I think of the follow as a virtual smile in a stranger’s direction as you pass them on the street. I’m simply acknowledging your presence, perhaps I think you have a nice face, or I like your outfit, or maybe we just happened to look at each other at the same time and I’m smiling out of awkwardness. In the case of the Twittersphere, I’ve read a few posts and thought I’d give you a try, or you are following me so, after looking at your profile (something that is interesting or makes me smile), number of followers (not usually over 20,000) and whether you interact with your tweeps (yes), I click “follow.” No need to aggravate our very tenuous relationship by spamming me (yes – that’s how I view it).
As for tweets, I tend to tweet blog posts, book-related info, my Amazon book link (very rarely), interesting links and retweets from fellow writers. In terms of effectiveness, I’m not sure…I don’t know if anyone has bought a book as a result of me being on Twitter, but I can safely say people know who I am who didn’t before I appeared.
This website/blog: I’ve definitely fallen down here. There is some information on it, but I struggle to write my two blog posts a week (more realistic for me than three). I signed up with the blog aggregators and I get a handful of readers, but I don’t have a community yet. I also haven’t made use of my sidebars to list other bloggers’ sites and relevant websites. And I’m muddling over whether I should include an excerpt of the book and which one. Anyway, currently ineffective but I wouldn’t say in a bad way, just lack of effort on my part.
Facebook Page: Well, I’m posting daily and I have 140-something likers, which is a decent start. But although the page has given me a wonderful opportunity to meet a number of authors from all over the world, like Twitter, I’m not sure this constitutes effective promotion. Yes, most of my likers had never heard of me before the page, but perhaps that’s the extent of it, and none of them will ever read my book. It obviously goes both ways – I’ve liked a number of author pages whose books may not be my thing. But as much as I love virtually hanging out with people who share a few of my interests, is it worth all the time and effort? I don’t have an answer yet.
And here, again, we get into the interesting area of how many “buy my book” posts are acceptable. I take the view that people know I have a book out (it’s impossible not to, if you’ve been on my page) with all the relevant links about said book, so unless there is a specific book-related event that I want to tell you about, I’d rather post other things. And likewise, I’d rather read interesting posts that are not direct promo, except if you have an event or announcement (contest award, interview etc) that I’ve not heard about before. Call me mad…
So, this is the holy trinity of book promo, though there are many other methods that I’ll leave for another post. I’ve heard some authors say they owe their success to them, while others feel the trinity has had no effect on their sales. A woman who calls herself The Intern wrote an interesting blog post about whether social media actually increases book sales and felt the various methods didn’t work for most authors. How have you fared? Any advice to a book promo newbie? Anything outside the trinity that’s worked brilliantly? I’d love to hear your thoughts.