Dammit, Jim, I'm an author not a used car salesman!
That was fun. But seriously, let's talk about promotion for a second, and salesmen and national geographic. really.
I used to be in retail. I've mentioned that haven't I? If fate plays nice and my books sell well, I'll never, ever have to go back. Anyway, while I was doing time in the customer service gig, I witnessed a few things that may or may not make it into my fiction. They'll most definitely show up here, though.
For awhile, I played at being a commission sales person. I didn't like it. I'm no good at it. But I met some folks that were--very, very good at it. They were experts, and they were total animals. I'd watch them each morning, from my post in computer electronics, and shiver in terror.
Some days I'd imagine I was hosting a National Geographic show on territorial behavior in some exotic species. "Here we have to adult male Profitus comissioni pacing off his territory. See how he moves, casually, but with his eyes ever darting toward the competition. Now the prey approaches, both males move in, vying for position..." etc. etc.
I love salesmen. They're charismatic, outgoing, and complete sociopaths. I have zero interest in becoming anything like them. Enter: mandatory self-promotion.
Sigh. You don't really have to act like a car salesman to sell your books. Please, agree with me here. This is total theory, because I haven't hit the presses yet, but I refuse to believe you have to act like a lion who hasn't seen a gazelle in more than a few days in order to promote yourself.
People can smell desperation, and it scares them away, it really does.
I've seen some pretty obnoxious and, to my mind, fruitless examples of how to go about promoting your: self, book, website, blog, etc. I've been on forums and email groups that sound like a chorus of: my book, XYZ is out from: Publisher A, and you can get it here... and the response? MY book, XYZ is out from.... etc.
A bunch of authors frantically trying to sell to one another, is probably not the best route to literary success. I understand it, I mean, I joined the groups right? But there has to be a better way than advertising to each other like crazy. Aren't we supposed to be targeting readers?
I've done link swaps and following like mad on social networks. I think there's some benefit there, if you're able to put in the time, make contacts and develop relationships. Sometimes it still feels like a bunch of authors promoting to each other. Sometimes I feel like it's just a steady stream of ads with no conversation there too.
I like the guest blogging thing. I'm going to be hosting some guests here soon, and I hope you all enjoy them. :-) At least that way, it seems like authors helping other authors, not just selling to them. I think I like blogging because it has content, (hopefully useful, at least entertaining)rather than just being a commercial. At least I hope it does. I love my blogs.
I like the idea of free fiction, offering something to introduce readers to your writing style. I like the idea of banner ads, but only in the right places. I think the key is to find your target market and go there. Other authors are awesome and I want to socialize, share and chat with them, but they really aren't my target market.. . . or yours either, probably.
I like the idea of guerrilla marketing, t-shirts on the street, book marks left in public bathrooms, weird random art placings... but that's the art school background talking.
I'm on the fence about book trailers. . . maybe I'll try one; who knows.
I guess the point is that, when the time comes, I hope I can show some restraint. I really think the key is to be genuine and to be a person, not an ad-man. Be interested and interesting. Get into discussions that have nothing to do with what you're selling....hey, that works in retail too.
Who would have guessed?