What is the first thing you'll hear when you dive into the crazy business of trying to be a professional author? Write a great book? Get a great critique group? Stay positive and don't let rejection get you down?
Well, maybe it should be one of those things, but more and more you'll hear something about "promotion." In fact, you'll probably hear it more than once. They'll chant it like a mantra, promo promo promo. It's all about the promotion...right?
A friend recently pointed me in the direction of an Amazon forum discussion where the readers (read that, our PRIMARY CONSUMER) were up in arms about the author promo on their discussion groups (you can read that SPAM) She was confused because everything she'd come across in author/publishing circles said PROMO in huge red letters...promo promo promo. She'd been told repeatedly to start promo-ing before the book came out...hit the ground running, etc.
The confusion was about the Hostility and Rage exhibited by the readers who were sick and tired of hearing authors pop in and say, Hey, BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKPLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE.
Now, I'm not a marketing genius, and I don't claim to have any answers or even any monumental sales tricks. (or sales for that matter) But it seems like a no brainer that if your PRIMARY CONSUMER is irritated, its a bad thing. Amazingly on this discussion there were authors with the audacity (stupidity) to pop in and defend their right to promo wherever the heck they darn well choose.
Seriously? Let's argue with the person who we want to woo, tell them we HAVE to irritate them because a "professional" has told us that's what we HAVE to do, and then Spam the crap out of them despite their raging and pleas for escape.
That'll get em to buy your book.
What is going on here? I'm stumped. I know that the industry stresses author promotion right now...I'm not sure why. Maybe because the houses can no longer afford to do it for their authors and they want to shift that responsibility over. Fine. I'll buy the adds and the bag stuffers and advertise in appropriate outlets. I'll use a facebook page (a professional one, not the one my friends are subjected to) as a bulletin board to post my news of note, reviews, releases etc.
But when these professionals recommend to every author in America that they should (rush rush promo promo) promo like their life depended on it...
I'm guessing they didn't mean for us to rush out and piss off basically everyone who might have been interested in our product. Just a guess, but you know, I think it's sound.
I'm guessing they misjudged how authors would respond. Certainly they didn't intend for us to turn into desperate used car salesmen? Don't they know how much consumers hate a hard sell? Spam? I'm sure they do.
Still, if you can believe the readers, authors are rushing forth en mass in a frantic and pathetic dash to piss off as many customers as possible.
Use some common sense, folks.
Interestingly enough, I read a report on a respected blog recently about effectiveness of the different promo methods when directly compared to sales figures. Guess what?
All that promo did about nothing. If you anger your market, I'd call it less than nothing.
What DID work? Awards and reviews made some spikes in sales. I love reviews. Ive noticed increased sales everywhere Ive had one--good or bad.
What works better?
You're going to hate me for this-- word of mouth.
They talk about this a lot. If we could bottle it, track it or sort it out, we'd all be rich. What in the name of heavens can generate word of mouth??
Nobody knows. Really.
If I had to guess, I'd say write a good book. Then write a better one, keep going till you hit Kick Ass.
And stop spamming your customers.