Yet Another Post On Book Promo


Before writing this, I thought about how many other people have gone before me and shared about promotion and how it “sits” with them.  I’ve read tons of articles, tweets, FB posts, blog posts about this part of publication and how many authors have a kind of a love/hate feeling about it.  I’m on the fence, and really have no strong feelings in either direction (yet).

Here’s my strategy:

  • Try not to suck (this seems right as #1, don’t you think?)
  • Try not to annoy people (IDK…maybe this one ought to get #1)
  • Make promo interesting/fun (within my control)
  • *Build up a thick skin
  • *Realize I can’t fix everything

*more on these in a sec

Back when I worked at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT, and tell me that doesn’t show some AGE.  Hello, telegraph???) now called Alcatel Lucent, I was let go after nine years with the company.  I got a job selling ITT key systems for a subsidiary known as Metro Telecom, Inc.  I HATED that sales job.  I had to “cold call.”  Walk into some business at random, ask to speak to the manager, or the person in charge, and try to tell them to spend thousands of dollars, just like that! (snaps fingers) on a new phone system.

You can imagine how successful I was.  It’s really the only sales job I’ve had – until now.

Granted, book promotion is different.  It’s not cold calling, for one, unless I decide to contact people in a mailing list to persuade them my book is something I think they’d enjoy.  That’s not my thing though.  I’d rather use a mailing list to send news about events, special prices, or share how the book is doing.  I don’t plan to email anyone and ask them to buy the book.  On my Ick Factor Scale (IFS) it ranks a -1 bazillion out of 10.  And notice that acronym?  IFS?  Yeah.  I can imagine people reading that email and thinking, uh huh, well, that’s a big IF, alright.

There are many ways to promote a book without sounding like a carnival barker.  As some of you know, I just did a traditional sort of ARC giveaway.  That’s a book promo I think works.  The publicist has suggested we do a Goodreads giveaway next month, and I think that will also be another wonderful way to promo.  In other words, when I can give something, it makes me feel better.  Be it time to answer questions, giving someone a book, or simply sharing news, I’ll always feel I’m on the right side of promotional efforts if I’m doing the giving.

That is the key word for me.  GIVING.

Now on to that *thick skinned part of the list above.  I am not thick skinned and I’m going to get bad reviews.  It is impossible to dodge that bullet because we already know reading tastes vary and are very subjective.  Not everyone is going to like my book.  That’s right, you there, you might not like it, at all.  You might even think, I can write better than this, how the hell did this happen?  I know.  How do I know?  Because I’ve had those same thoughts.  🙂

In order for promotional efforts to be authentic (hey look how much fun I’m having!), and to have the panache to face the public when I know there are 1 star reviews hanging around for everyone else to read, will require the ability to let those negative reviews go.  Or try not to read them.  (Good luck, Donna, you know you’re too nosy) Maybe I’ll just back up and re-read the good ones, and hope that sort of balances things out and move on.

On to *realizing I can’t fix everything.  For example, right now I’m very hands on with my Facebook Author page.  (www.facebook.com/donnadaviseverhart)  So, today, I was responding to a couple new comments, and I sent an invitation to a new contact to Like the page.  While I was poking around out there, FB has these analytics, and I checked that out.  I actually felt a little lurch in my heart when I saw an Unlike.  Geez.  Already???  Somebody liked my page, then unliked it?   My first thought was why?  And, what can I do?  I thought, well, if I know who, then I can reach out to them and maybe “fix” whatever caused them to unlike me.  Okay, not me, it.  But see?  That’s the thin skinned part of me, and the fix it part of me reacting.

Realistically, what can I do?  Nothing.  They have the right to do what they want.  And for all I know, this was an unlike that went right back to a like.  I just did that today.  I liked the Southern Independent Book Alliance site, and then unliked them because I wanted to “Like” them via my Author Page.  Of course I like them!  I’m a brand new member!  But, I think they would see that “unlike,” just like I did via the analytics.

Now that I’ve shared all this, I ought to print it out and keep it where I can see it.  then I should read it a few months from now and see if I still think the same way.

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.  As a reader or an author, what do you think about book promotions?

 

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20 Comments

Donna, you never have to worry about annoying people. You are a class act and most importantly, you write well and know how to spin a tale. I like the way you are going about the book promotion. A lot of folks could learn from you. This is a great post. A couple of good reviews and word of mouth, you are going to take off. I have a really good feeling about your launch. There will be cake, right?

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    Thank you so much for that E.M. All of you are helping me with your encouraging words! I will take your good feeling as a positive sign, sort of like a gut instinct thing. You bet there will be cake! Lots and lots of cake! (((hugs)))

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I finally found the comment button, with Carolyn’s help. On an Ipad, it’s nearly invisible. Anyway, this post brings out the points introvert writers think about, a lot! I developed a very thick skin as a middle school principal, trust me, you can’t make anybody happy in that setting! I think it’s following me to the writing world, but then I haven’t ventured to where you are yet. You are really the only one who has to love and value your own work, anything beyond that is a complete bonus! I can’t wait to read your book! I tend to write with a very southern flavor and you won my heart with the title!

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    Hi Sherry, great to see you here! I just revamped this site a few weeks ago trying to snazz it up a little, picked out this theme – which I love the overall look etc., but then I saw that very obscure comment button and thought, good grief! Nobody will find that thing! It’s weird how it comes after my categories/tags, but oh well.

    A middle school principal? Ho boy. You’ve seen it, heard it all, especially in this day and age. I’ve got a lot of people I know here in my town who are teachers and they are about fed up to their eyeballs with workload, changing curriculum, and low pay. Another topic for another day. It is very true what you say about loving my own work, and valuing it. I’m very proud of DIXIE DUPREE (that’s actually Dixie LuAnn Dupree mind you… 🙂 ), and hope she’ll do well. IF everyone loves her like the cover, she’ll be fine which means I will be too! I’m happy to know another writer who writes with a southern flair!

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Great blog post Donna! I love your positive attitude, and that you seek to promote your book with class and a sense of humor. I really believe that we get what we give, so you are in great shape for wonderful things to happen!

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    Awww, thank you so much for that Christina! I’m actually an optimistic/good mood sort a gal, so I hope if that shows, it will go a long way in helping me connect to readers. Who I know I’m going to love. (that wiggly puppy thing – haha)

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Donna, great post.
Totally get where you’re coming from. Everyone lives in that neighborhood for a time.
I can tell you how I handle it in case it helps. I have a lot of history of people giving me negative reviews based on my line of work. I’m a copywriter who has to please clients and I’m a basketball official who gets judged harshly every time I blow my whistle.
But here’s a fact, I believe: Nobody hates you for your weakness, they hate you for your strength. It’s a form of jealousy. Somebody writing a bad review is likely a person who would LOVE to be in your shoes. But they can’t. They won’t put in the long hours of work that you did.
Let’s face it, someone in the publishing world with a whole lot of credential believes in you. More than someone, multiple someones. Listen to them, not to those snarky, jealous people. When 9 people out of 10 love what you do, don’t waste time worrying about the 1. Enjoy the 9. And I’m one of the 9, so listen to me! (Sorry this went so long.)

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    Wow, when I read your comment, it was so heartwarming – thank you!. That is some really solid advice. I remember something about you coaching basketball – probably one of your own posts, and how folks can get a bit riled over calls/whistle blows, et all.

    This is where that thick skinned bit comes in, right? I’ve been watching that American Crime Story, The People vs OJ Simpson, and let me tell who’s one tough cookie. Marcia Clark – that poor woman had more bad days than good for a solid year. She took some sh** again and again. No idea how she didn’t have a nervous breakdown, start drinking, pop pills or whatever. If I can have 5% of her thick skin? I’ll be fine.

    Thanks again John!

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Reviews will vary. When it comes to bad reviews, I recommend the following advice:
1. Every book is not for every reader. If you get a bad review, it doesn’t mean your book is bad (especially if you’re commercially published). It simply means your book didn’t resonate with that reader.
2. Do not respond to bad reviews. Ever. Bad things happen when you do. Just let that bad review ride. Don’t even acknowledge it.
3. A bad review lends authenticity to the other, better, reviews. If you see a handful of glowing reviews and one bad review, the glowing reviews look genuine. But if you see two dozen five star reviews and nothing bad (or even neutral) is said about that book, those reviews all look suspect.

A bad review isn’t a completely bad thing. At least your book resonated with someone enough for them to say something about it, even if it was something negative. Believe me, that’s marginally better than no reviews.

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    The good news – I knew about number 2. Even though our fingers ITCH to respond, I wouldn’t dare. Talk about opening up that ugly can of worms. I think QOTKU might have shared something about this on a post one day? I think it was that epic rant by an indie author who’d received a bad review and his rant got him on the radar to the entire publishing industry. Well, I suppose if one is going to respond, there’s nothing like burning up the plane you’re in and throwing out the parachute while you’re at it. 🙂
    I love what you said in #3. Yes! I completely agree, and believe it does lend credibility to the other reviews.
    Thank you so much, Heidi!

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I think the first thing is to be true to yourself. You are trying to make self contradictory rules for yourself and that will cause you to break them. So don’t worry about that.

Trying not to suck means that you don’t want to be boring. To not be boring as a writer will mean some controversy. That will annoy some but others will see the strength that it takes to make such a stand and like you more.

If people walk away from you from for boredom it is over. If you piss them off they will still talk about you and that could still be good word of mouth.

Kensington should have goods ideas on promotion. Follow their lead and add things to it that please you. You’ll get there. I know it.

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    Sage advice. Glad you’re back so I can read what you think!
    Ditto on the “try not to suck means don’t be boring.” But. Didn’t it sound better to say, “try not to suck?” 🙂

    Anyway, the part about pissing people off – this sort of reminds me of what just happened to another author. It wasn’t really that she pissed people off, it’s that she was, as you said, true to herself – finally. That was the author of LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, and her bold/brave essay on being gang raped.
    Kensington does have good ideas, although I don’t know about all them yet.
    Thank you for your vote of confidence!

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No doubt book promo is like writing – you get better at it as you go along. But your post resonates with me ’cause it’s how I think I would be feeling if I was standing on the other side of the writing fence.

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    I think a lot of folks do feel like this – as we’ve discussed over at The Reef. And I hope that will happen as far as practice makes perfect. Ha! It’s all very new and I’m doing stuff I’ve never done before. But what I have learned is…I get kind of excited about some promo ideas I have. (like that picture of the cicada) Once I’ve been through the whole process – and it hasn’t even really started yet – then like you say, it’s got to be like writing, the more I do, the more I know, the better I get! Maybe?

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I really like your attitude of promoting your book via GIVING. That’s beautiful, and I believe that it will work. As for being thin skinned, that’s a tough one for me too. I think that it teaches us to OWN our own worthiness. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have supportive friends as well… 😉
Great post, Donna! ❤ ❤ ❤

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    It is very important to me! I love people – as reclusive as I am – but when I’m around them, picture wiggly little puppy wanting to please. And yes, I am sensitive and it will hurt to see those reviews, but I do realize I am not supposed to think anything other than, to each his own. And yes! The support of friends that know what this is all about will be what I will cherish and fall back on.
    ❤ ❤ ❤ Thank you!

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Family stuff went fantastically well. Now all I have to do is come up with a new column idea.

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Donna, you’re woodland creature is showing. You don’t have to scurry anymore.
All you have to do now is run. That, you are good at, that, you know a lot about.

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