Love thy neighbor that got a HaperCollins contract long before you could even get a draft without six thousand typos. Love thy neighbor that is struggling in the obscurity you have long forgotten. Hell, love thy neighbor who flipped out at their first negative review and is making an ass of themselves.
If you speak to most authors, they say supporting each other is an integral part of your career.
And it is. Networking, creating a sense of community, and just gaining good karma can benefit you so much more than many of your marketing schemes. However, there is a point in which you take it too far.
-Your social sites are a blaze of ads.
The first recommendation you’ll hear when it comes to marketing via Facebook or Twitter is that you want content before marketing. The rule of thumb is usually a 3:1 ratio—Three “content” statuses for every pitch, at least.
In essence, your Twitter page is filled with jokes, anecdotes, or interesting factoids, not just, “Buy my book!” over and over and over.
But what some people don’t realize is that’s it’s not the self-absorbed pitching of your book that’s annoying; it’s that no one likes ads… period. So, while you think you might be doing everyone a favor by retweeting all of their “Five-star review!” posts, you are really just making your page a minefield.
It’s not about the “self-involvement” of “buy my book.” It’s about how uninteresting and annoying it can be to keep seeing it. If you want to support fellow authors, make sure to include any “ads” in your content to pitch ratio, whether or not they’re your own book.
Also, make it personal. If you can add an opinion about why people should buy their book, it’s more likely to be effective.
-Your social sites say nothing about you.
In fact, I rather see a page filled with the author’s Amazon links and teasers than one filled with other people’s.
Twitter and Facebook are not places to promote yourself; they’re to keep in contact with your readers. You want to let them know what you’re doing, remind them you exist, and keep them antsy for the next book.
If I go to your page, it’s because I want to learn about you. I don’t want to have to shift through a bunch of different covers and try to figure out which one is yours.
The most effective pages are those that say something about the author. The content describes your life, your opinion, and your personality. Your picture humanizes you. And, most importantly, your social site makes it easy for potential fans to determine if and how they should by your books, and keeps already existing fans interested in you and your writing.
If your page is nothing but retweets and promotions of other people’s books, then it’s really not doing its job.
-Your opinion can’t be trusted.
I made a mistake early on in my social media career. A man sent me a message asking me to promote his book, and not having received any direct requests like that before, seeing no problem with it, I did. I copied and pasted his link on my Facebook page.
My fans let him have it. A self-published book with typos on the first page, they tore him apart for producing such crap—and me for promoting it.
No matter how obscure you think you are, your reputation is still at stake, and you’ll be surprised at how many people will take your opinion seriously and the ramifications when they realize you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Never promote a book you haven’t read, unless you’re willing to admit you haven’t read it. When suggesting a novel to your fans, make sure to tell the whole truth, not just a partial truth about the positives while leaving out the negatives.
-You try to make peace with the trolls.
Dealing with hostility on the internet is like arguing in a crowded restaurant. You have to solve the problem while still maintaining your reputation. And, unfortunately, when it comes to conflict, the public eye is quick to blame and shame everyone involved.
Basically, someone starts shit with you and no matter if you react pleasantly or hostility, people will say your behavior is inappropriate. In many cases, people believe the only option is to just ignore them.
But sometimes not responding won’t do the trick. They’ll continue to harass you, disparage you to others for not engaging (just as much as they would disparage you for a bad reaction), or even just say something that you believe should be addressed.
The important thing is, in any situation, not to try and pander to them. When you attempt to solve the conflict by appeasing them—“I can give you a refund if you would like.”—It looks like weakness or fear and encourages them to get worse.
People attack those they think they can get away with, which is why the internet is such a warzone. Always speak softly, but carry a big stick. If someone is harassing you, don’t negotiate.
-You never promote for fear of annoying someone.
You’re going to irritate someone no matter what. Accept it, do the best you can to be respectful and not be a hypocrite. Most times, annoyance comes from a bad situation; they’re having a terrible day, and you’re the sixteen hundredth person to ask.
The most successful method of marketing is to let people know you exist, your book exists, and to ask them straight up to buy it. If you’re worried about being a nuisance, consider your tactics carefully. Try to be interesting, try not to be pushy or repetitive. Understand that people have the right to be annoyed, but it really doesn’t mean you did anything wrong just because they are.
No one wants to support an asshole. You don’t have to be mean to get what you want. Just keep in mind that being assertive can help you gain respect and attention while being too kind can get you swept under the rug. It’s okay, or even more interesting, to talk about yourself than it is to always be helping others and never let anyone in on who you are or what you’re up to.
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