Pursuant to my earlier post on self-promotion, I want to share what happened to me yesterday: a prime example of what NOT to do.
I am very well aware that, these days, writers must promote their work. I also know that, for the self-published, all promotion is, by definition, left solely to the author’s efforts.
But there are limits, both to what is effective and to what is appropriate.
We all get solicitations from friends. Our neighbors’ kids come around selling candy bars or cookies. Our relatives’ kids send us those “discount magazine” offers to support their school. Perhaps one of our friends makes jewelry, or has a shop, or throws Tupperware parties (do people still have Tupperware parties? Hmm…) In either case, we have friendships and relationships from which, now and again, we receive solicitations of patronage.
The reason I
tolerate don’t mind these sorts of solicitations is because first, they’re infrequent, and second, they’re from people I like and who add value to my life, so this little annoyance is more than compensated by our friendship.
As a writer with friends who are also writers, I get other forms of solicitation. I see posts about upcoming releases, notices about contests/raffles for free copies, and announcements of signings and readings. These are expected, generally infrequent, and again, they’re from people who bring something to my life, people I like and who I want to see do well, so I don’t mind.
Then there’s Ralph.
Ralph (not his real name) “friended” me on FB a year or so ago. I don’t know him, had never heard of him before, but we had some mutual friends in my writers’ circle, so I accepted his request. Immediately upon accepting his friend-request, I noticed that Ralph is an active promoter of his books.
Ralph writes and self-publishes books in a genre for which I have absolutely no interest which, of course, is neither here nor there–there are people who would characterize some of my titles in exactly the same manner–but what did matter is the fact that just about every other post Ralph put up there had something to do with either his upcoming book, his existing title, or the short story he recently published.
Mistake #1: Don’t be known as “that guy” who only posts about your business or product. Be aware that no matter how many beer posts and kitteh pics you share, if most of your posts are about your book/ product/ business, that’s how people will regard your online persona.
Ralph’s online friends list was long, and his posts were a 50/50 mix of daily life (work, dog, beer) and self-promotion. He sent me invitations to readings and signings that were, at best, 300 miles away, and I began to realize that he was treating his friends list like a telemarketer’s call-sheet.
Mistake #2: Separate your personal posts from your business posts. Better yet, create a separate page for your business posts (such as my KRAG page on Facebook, which is completely separate from my personal page). Blending the two means you’re either annoying your friends while reaching out to your clients, looking goofy in front of clients while jabbering with your friends, or both.
It was all intensifying, as the release date for Ralph’s newest approached. Then, yesterday, I got a personal message from Ralph. Keep in mind, Ralph has never contacted me privately before, has never commented on any of my posts, and has never evinced an interest in my work (or even recognized the fact that I also write).
Ralph’s PM told me that his new title was coming out in just DAYS! and that he was providing me with the opportunity for a GREAT DEAL! on one of his 100 Limited Edition Author Signed copies for only $25!
The PM closed with the line: Can I count on your order?
Mistake #3: Don’t treat friends like a revenue center. And don’t talk to them like that guy on the OxyClean commercials.
Some of you out there will probably say I’m being too harsh. “He’s just promoting his book!” you’ll say, or perhaps you think it shows ambition and that grand entrepreneurial spirit. Well, you’re not wrong; he is just promoting his book, and it does show ambition.
It’s also annoying as hell, and it proves that rather than being befriended by Ralph, I was being recruited.