Were you always picked last in gym class? My two cents on self-promotion.

I make it a habit to recommend only books I’ve read and loved, or even liked, or when I think they are brilliant. That’s just me. I like to think that I have a small list of followers who trust me when I say a book is a “must read” or a “should read.” To maintain integrity and honesty, I can’t make myself like a fan page or retweet a book promotion when I haven’t read the book.

Just to be clear, friends, I’m all for writers promoting other writers – that’s how the word gets out. And I promote myself – about 3% of the time I’m on the internet. But I am not jiggy with the writers who tap-tap-tap their own drum over and over. Like a woodpecker at 4:30 a.m. on a sleep-in Saturday. Annoying.

I’ve seen a few blog posts lately about self-marketing techniques, needy, desperate writers, and pushy social networking skills. I’ve been holding my tongue on the subject for months (and I’ve been collecting notes). But it’s spilling over now, and I’m losing sleep. So here goes.

The Rule of Three – My writer-pal Shawn MacKenzie and I recently had a conversation on appropriate give-and-take. Shawn and I promote each other because 1) we appreciate it, 2) we say Thank You, personally, and 3) we pay it forward – not only to each other but to writers who have earned our respect.

Like you? I don’t even know you – Reminds me of the old joke, “Tissue? I hardly know you!” Writers and other publishing peeps asking me to like their page – why should I? What have you done for me lately? What have you provided for others?

Read my review – If I’m not interested in your book, why should I read another review? If I am looking for a new book, I’m most apt to look for the genres I prefer or ask trusted friends what they have read and enjoyed.

11,986 other books – My book just went from 12,429 to 11,987 on _________ [fill in review site here]! Since your book is 11,987 then I have 11,986 other books to read before I get to yours. When it gets to the 20 or even the top hundred, then I might be interested.

Free give-away of my book – I’ve seen a few of these, I check them out. Who doesn’t like a free anything? Once, all I had to do was 1) like her page, 2) make a comment on her page, 3) follow her on Twitter, 4) mention the give-away on Twitter, 5) and sign up for her newsletter … oh, is that all?

Friend mills – Please like me so I can get 250 fans – So, you don’t care who likes you or if they have read your book, you just need 250 fans. I’ve seen this carried as far as “I have a bet with a friend to see who can get the most fans.” If you win the bet, I get what? A new crock pot would be nice – I lost mine in the flood.

The whining why – Saw a guy post his book and ask for tweets. Then he actually came back and said (to an online group) “Why aren’t you tweeting my book?” Um, because maybe you are a nincompoop?

Blogging about me – I’ve seen thousands of blogs that are not blogs at all – they are self-promoting, self-marketing, begging, me-me-mes. Boring and uncool. Give me something I can use, give me something that is helpful, give me something I’d want to share with other writers.

Sneaking it in – Like a smelly silent one in an elevator. I have seen some writers that no matter where they post a comment, they have to sneak in a little tid-bit about their book (with a link of course). Knock it off.

Facebook THANK YOU!!!!! – You connect with someone on some form of social networking. You like their blog, you like their tweets, you like their website. You might, some day, read their book. So you friend them on Facebook. Next thing ya know there is this big-ass post on your FB page announcing your new friendship and a link to their book. Ick.

Brass onesDaniel L. Carter, a totally cool, pay-it-forward guy and writer and creator of Author Central Facebook group – Daniel got a tweet from some writer bean-head. Daniel tweet-messaged the guy with a friendly, casual response. Now the guy is quoting Daniel’s tweet on his review page. Some nerve.

Unsolicited crapola – I received an e-book attached to an obvious form letter from a writer I wrote to once, six months ago. I wrote to tell her my daughter-in-law loved her book. What I didn’t say in my email was how shabbily edited her e-book appeared on Kindle. This writer sent me her new book and asked me to please do this and this and this … Duh-lete. I didn’t read your other book (which I made plain in my email); I’m certainly not going to read your new book and give you a good review just because you sent me a form letter with lots of !!!!!! in it.

What irks you in the social networking scene? What uncomfortable situations have you personally experienced in social networking?

“When science discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it.” ~Bernard Baily

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Quote Garden

Photo – C. Christine Roberts – The photo is my grandson Shawn, but of course I doubt he’ll ever be picked last in gym class.

Additional helpful resources –

Roni Loren – Why Self-Promotion Shouldn’t be a Dirty Word

Bundle Post – Social Media is NOT about YOU – Four Points to Remember

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33 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Branding & Platform, Social Networking

33 responses to “Were you always picked last in gym class? My two cents on self-promotion.

  1. Touche (and I say this as a writer who appreciates promotion). It has to come back to good writing, not just blanket likes of follows. that only diminishes the work. It’s a matter of standing up for good writing, not just numbers and computer stats (which mean very little in the long term, after all.)
    Well said!

    • karenselliott

      Thank you, Shawn (I’ll send you another email later as is my norm). Yeah, I don’t like to click-click-click just to bump up the numbers. It diminishes us all.

  2. LOL I love this! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt the same exact way. Hopefully that vent felt good. =)

    Blessings,
    Daniel L Carter
    Author of The G-6 Chronicles
    You can like me, follow me, link me, love me, adore me, admire me, me me me me me me me me….hehehe

    • karenselliott

      You’re entitled, Daniel! You promote others all the time, you started the group that helps hundreds of writers. Yes, It felt great. Can I re-tweet that? 🙂

  3. Thank you. You are a wise woman and this is a gentle and humorous reminder to treat eachother as we would in person, with decency. You set a wonderful example of how our access to others should be defined. Great post.

  4. karenselliott

    Maybe not so gentle, but in my own way – needed. I know I’ll sleep just fine tonight … right after I post a tweet about my website …

  5. Great article, Karen. You put in words thoughts I’ve been mulling around. It’s more REAL when we read the book, love the book, and then promote the book (or series!).That being how I feel, I have this ‘stack’ of books on my iPad to read my way through so I can promote the books of these amazing authors/people! I’m all for promotion. It’s how best to do so. You have some great points in there. Sleep well. 🙂

  6. Love, love, love this! I appreciate so much your wonderful wisdom and I feel like you articulate exactly what I am thinking 🙂 Thanks for a great post.

  7. karenselliott

    I’d been kicking this around for a while, taking notes like I said, gathering “evidence.” Thanks!

  8. Karen, thank you for the great post! I don’t understand promoting someone’s work just for the sake of it. I need to believe in the writer/book I promote, not just pay it forward because I’m asked to. If I say I like something, I want my followers to know I actually read it and loved it! It’s a disservice to readers and other writers to do anything but. 

    • karenselliott

      Agreed, Heather. I like to get to know a writer, their work, etc. I want my followers to be able to trust me. I feel that is a big point.

  9. From my new POV as a moderator for the WU facebook group, I am, unfortunately, routinely shocked by how far people will go to ‘sneak one in.’ (No one here, you or commenters–thanks everyone!) It’s a bit jading. Whenever and however I end up publishing, my experience has taught me how annoying (and in many cases, even harmful) such behavior is to actually gaining a following as a writer.
    Thanks for venting–you’re right, these things need to be said.

    • karenselliott

      I think you probably have your work cut out for you. 🙂 I try not to do things that others do that annoy me. You’re doing a great job over at WU.

  10. Good article, Karen. I don’t have a fan page, because A. I don’t like the word fan (one of my quirks, I guess.) B. I’m not comfortable asking friends, family, colleagues, strangers to “like my page, like me, or follow me.” If they send me a friend request, they do it on their own, and I assume perhaps it’s something I’ve written that has intrigued them to become part of my facebook network so we could get to know each other.

    My personal philosophy on books that I’ve read, if I like it, I will talk about it, if I had many problems with it, I just don’t talk about it. Having said all this, I think there is a huge learning curve for promotion for many new authors, so I try to give them some slack and hope they find blogs that can help guide them.

    • karenselliott

      My lovely Mother said, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I’m not much of a fan on all the fan-page promoting. That’s why this post was non-specific on writers who abuse the self-promoting. Yes, when I first started I made mistakes too (still do!).

  11. So far this is the best post about self-marketing I have read because it’s fun, to the point, and makes complete sense. Bookmarked for my writing group. Thanks for posting.

  12. Nicely said, Karen. Let me add my own bugaboo here:

    Because we have some sort of social connection, in the ether or IRL, doesn’t mean I can or will or should or must read your book, buy your CD or artwork or attend every gig and show you do. Most of the people I am acquainted with are artists. That’s who I hang with, and we all produce wonders, myself included. So I can’t afford it, moneywise, timewise, emotionwise, or any other way. And I don’t give thumbs up unless I mean it.

    Of course I care what you’re doing, and I’ll probably check it out sometime. Offering me a way into your creative mind is fine; expecting me to throw all my resources into it is ridiculous, and unfriendly.

    • karenselliott

      You add some EXCELLENT points! You too are connected with hundreds of writers and artists and creative types. And I can dig it – I can’t afford to get involved in everything everybody does on the groups and buy every book advertised. I give you a thumbs up!

  13. Karen, this is positively delicious! Why, you ask? Because I was actually advised to do many of these things, and then told, my book didn’t succeed because I didn’t do them. It felt wrong, and while I’m floundering, I’m proud of myself for sticking to my guns.

    Incidentally, I got an email from someone I barely knew, with a copy of his book attached. It made such an impact that I’d forgotten until I read this post. Case and point.

    Love it!

    • karenselliott

      “Delicious.” I love that – thanks so much! I am glad you stuck to your guns. I feel like I’m floundering some days … then I read posts like yours and I’m glad as well for sticking to my guns. Ka-pow!

  14. I’ve got a big grin on my face…partly because I know exactly how you feel and partly because I want to say, “So, Karen, tell us how you REALLY feel!” :-). I hope your rant helped…these folks aren’t worth your energy.

    • karenselliott

      I struggled with this one, Elizabeth. I really did! I was afraid what some people think about me, what some of the comments would be … but I have to be true to self, yes? And I think professionals are better served by serving others.

  15. Stacy S. Jensen

    I’ve experienced a few of those. This post reminds me I received a free book the other day. I have so many in my “to read” piles — physical stack or in the computer e-reader — that I don’t have time for unsolicited ones. And, I’m guilty of asking folks to like my FB page initially so I could grab my name. Now, I make it known and don’t ask (or beg). I think this topic deserves repeating in the new digital, self-publishing world.

  16. karenselliott

    I’m starting to get those unsolicited works, too. I have a stack of about 12 in my to-read pile. Wish I could just read all day.

  17. Wow! Is this post ever enlightening. I am learning and seeking advice on marketing because of my book coming out in the winter. This has opened my eyes on what not to do. So many blogs and courses tell you to make yourself and your book known in the search engines and to that you have to push yourself.
    I, too, feel so commercialized by all those techniques. Thanks for this post. It tells me I can stay true to myself and still sell my book when the time comes. I’ll come back to this. 🙂

  18. karenselliott

    Hey Clar – I don’t profess to be the last word on this or any subject. Stacy Jensen did a blog post for us today, and her quote at the end is something that strikes me to the core, and says what I said here, only in one sentence – “As I recently told my Twitter friends: Become someone worth knowing. Then your book will become something worth buying.” -Hope Clark

  19. Hi Karen! I’m a little delayed finding this wonderful post of yours, but hey -better late than never, right? There’s always something to learn on your site!

    I’ve avoided the social media scene until March when my daughter convinced me to join Goodreads. Then I started my blog in May. Oh, what have I done?

    A large chunk of my online time is spent browsing blogs and reading posts just trying to get the feel of this new world. What I’ve decided is it’s a little like the real world in that some people are friendly and courteous while others are just narcissistic and rude!

  20. karenselliott

    Thanks, Denise. I am glad you found it helpful. Social networking can be a time suck. But I have learned a lot about so many subjects by reading blogs about social networking, Twitter, FB, blogging. I have learned, too, what NOT to do. And that is a good thing. It is exactly like the real world. I have been very fortunate on this blog (knocking on wood), and have had only a couple of trolls. Happy blogging!

  21. Great article Karen! The begging is the part that gets me wondering “Don’t you realize how bad that looks?” Don’t beg to the wrong people. Market to the right people!

  22. Heather Reid

    Thank you, Karen! I think people forget it’s called social media not social spamalot. To me, the social means you should be making connections and not shouting ‘look at me, look at me’ over and over again. I don’t have a million followers on Twitter, or on FB, I don’t blindly follow back either. If someone follows me, I check them out first. If I like their profile and they look interesting, I’ll follow back. If they look like a spammer, I’ll avoid them. I don’t want people following me for the sake of following either. I actually WANT to make friends and connections through social media. I want to be social. The thing that irks me most is being bullied by other twitter users to follow back. I actually got a direct message from someone last week asking ‘don’t you follow back?’ It hadn’t even been a full 24 hours since they’d followed me. So what did I do? I blocked them. I don’t mind people talking about their books or talking about their blogs, as long as it’s not ALL they do and I can see there’s an actual person behind the marketing. Ok, I’ll stop my rant now. Thanks for a wonderful post. I’ll be sure to share it, it’s a must read!

    • karenselliott

      Spamalot – Monte Python. My first question is, “Why the heck is this blog making a come-back?” Don’t get me wrong, I love the attention! I just read this blog again (originally posted in 2011), and I’m amazed at my humph on this one. I don’t “like” anybody just for numbers. I don’t Tweet to gather new Twitter followers. I blog, tweet, fb, and social network USEFUL STUFF. Or I think I do. Thanks, Heather, I just might resurrect this blog and post it again!

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