Blatant Promo Be Gone

So here’s the deal. It’s very late, I’m just home from a ball game, and I JUST remembered today is my day. (Obvioiusly I’m writing this on Tuesday night…and don’t even ask about the crazy late baseball All-star games!) So forgive me if this seems not quite as polished, but here I go anyway.

I’m tired of promo. There. I said it.

I’m tired of trying to find ways to slip my book into an online conversation. I’m tired of trying to be witty on Twitter and butting my big nose into someone elses’ conversation (and being ignored). I’m tired of posting links to my books, give aways, etc on FB. And I’m really, really tired of everytime I check my email, having someone ask me to an online book launch…or to commentย on their blog….or to like their page. I know, I know. We all do it. But, by jimney, I don’t have to like it. But here’s the ol’ rub…I feel like if I don’t spend X amount of time online hawking, participating, and, yes, even blogging that I won’t be doing my job. And, really, is that my job?

I guess it is, but I sure as H-E-double hockey sticks never wanted it.

I wanted to be a writer.

Writer.

Not a publicist. Not a cover designer. An editor. A marketing executive. A bookmark maker. A clever, witty online personality who leads the multitudes to her fabulous, witty Southern romance books.

I mean, really? Really?

After reading a post on Dear Author about authors correcting their work to suit readers, giving apologies, explaining themselves, I wonder…has it really come to this?

Natalie’s post and the responses yesterday really made me think about the world we live in and the consumers we try to seduce with our words. We live in a please-me-now society that doesn’t really value art in many forms. Gone is the appreciation of the aesthetics in favor of the cheapest, give-it-to-me fast music, books and television. No one wants to wait for anything. The public wants it yesterday. And there’s something to be said for having to sell your work so hard and have it valued so little. Have we come to whoring ourselves out to readers, asking for their approval, changing our books to suit them? If so, I want no part of it. I’m not a whore. I’m a writer. I’m not begging people to read my work. I’m happy if they do, but I’m not going to go on every social media known to man and sell myself. It takes too much out of me for such little result.

I’d like to enjoy blogging because I get to connect with cool people…not just so I can sell them my books, but so I can learn from them andย share in their world. I want to go on Twitter to learn the scores on my favorite teams, to enjoy the comraderie of being with other writers, to spy on movies stars. I want to go on Facebook and communicate with my old high school friends, and, sure, share information about what’s going on in my life, including my books. But I don’t want to guilt them into buying them, make them uncomfortable about me being an author.

Somehow, sometime, I have to draw the line. I have to do the job I set out to do…you know, writing.

I’ve treasured the communities I’m in, but more and more, I feel the pressure to claw my way to the top by constantly tweeting about my books, my writing, my covers and anything else that might help me make yet another sale. For those of you who bought my book(s), I thank you. I really, sincerely appreciate your support. But I don’t want my presence online to be defined by how many books I can sell to the people reading my posts or tweets because I’m pretty sure my time would be better served by reading good books and doing my best to write the same.

What about you? If you’re a writer, do you feel like you are plugging up cracks in the vase of promotion. If you’re a reader, what suggestions do you have for writers looking to climb out of the enormous mountain of books offered?

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33 Responses

  1. Liz, and everyone. Don’t waste your time. I believe promo is like power – it can’t be corrupted. If you’re using it wrong, it’s no longer the same thing. Ugh. That made sense in my head, but probably no sense here. Hang on, going to get more coffee….

    Okay, anyway . . . have you EVER bought one of those books that are being pushed on Twitter? FB? I did. Once. The plot was fascinating — I got sucked in like an old lady by a televangelist. And I got burned. It was unreadable. Never again. Don’t you think almost everyone who’s reading those ‘buy my books!’ Tweets has done the same? That isn’t promotion. It’s spam.

    To me, what works, for ME and hopefully my book, is to jump into the community – engage people. Get to know them. That serves two purposes…I get to know a neat person, and learn about their life (helps if you’re an extrovert) AND hopefully when my book comes out, they’ll be interested and buy it. If not, we’re still friends.

    I enjoy it + it sells books.

    I believe that’s what the dirty word PROMO all about. Community.

    Stepping away from the soapbox now —

    • I think that’s a good philosophy, Laura. More and more I feel like I’m in one of those booths chasing dollar bills. Sure it looks like I can get something good from all that stuff swirling around and me grabbing at it, but in reality I come out with, like, nine bucks. That’s what all this social media/promo does to me. I’m just wasting time grabbing at readers when I should spend more time on my work so that the people who ARE buying my books will come back for seconds.

      And I like communities like this the best. I’m going to using Twitter for conversations and FB for fun. I have an author page where I’ll list stuff writer friends might want to know about, but I’m not chasing, pushing, pressing and making people hate me over CONSTANTLY tweetiing my reviews, links etc to other AUTHORS. They aren’t going to buy my book, they’re busy writing their own.

  2. I tweeted recently…STOP spamming with your book promo! There are some real offenders…to the point that I may have to unfollow.

    But yes, I do understand what you’re saying, In fact, I was thinking about this just recently, wondering how I (as a reader) would have responded if I could have chatted with Judith McNaught, Katherine Woodwiess, etc back in the 1980’s when I first discovered them. I can’t imagine.

    And I am SICK of Facebook. Have taken an almost pathological HATE for that place. I hate change after change. I hate Facebook is wanting money now. I hate trying to be clever and entertaining. I hate trying to round up “likes” and “tags” and “friends” and “followers” etc.

    You know what research shows works? More books! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amen!

    • Let me second that AMEN! Some of those spammers need to read this. Cause it’s not working. I’ve NEVER bought a book that wasn’t recommended based on seeing it plastered on Twitter. In fact, my subconscious said “DESPERATE” and I always suspect desperate people.

  3. I very much agree with what you say and with Laura. This promo stuff has spiraled out of control. I have a piece of paper taped to the wall behind my computer monitor. It says: Do you want to be number one or do you want to be the best?

  4. Not having been published yet I haven’t had to worry about it so you can take this with a grain of salt.

    I think there’s definitely a wrong way and a right way to do it. Tweeting that it’s your release day or showing your new cover just means you’re excited. It’s no different than the nine to five crowd posting about a good day at work. If you’re interspersing it with other stuff then it’s part of your life.

    But the ones that don’t have anything else to say but buy my book, buy my book, buy my book right now are nerve wracking!! I unfollowed somebody on twitter about a month ago because they were posting the same thing over and over. My book got great reviews, hey here’s what my book is about, oh by the way did you hear I got great reviews?!! You’re annoyed just reading my version, right?

    I’m hoping that when (if) I get published word of mouth will be my marketing tool. Because posting on twitter and FB about the big stuff like the new cover, the release day or even a fave review is about all I’m going to want to do. Like you said, we do this because we want to write.

    • I’m so used to doing this on my phone, I forgot my name isn’t programmed in here. Sorry!!

    • That sounds smart, Erin. I don’t ever begrudge anyone their release day or cover photo…or even a spectacular review. I like sharing in the good with other writers. What I don’t like is the slamming every single day. And if I’m being honest, all the “Thank Yous” on Twitter. Do you HAVE to thank every single person who RTs your tweet? Do you have to thank every person who follows you? It feels like another way to get another mention, etc. Sometimes I’ll have a stream of twenty “thank yous” Ugh.

      But, anyway, I think your plan sounds perfect.

  5. Oh, yeah. Social media is a slippery slope for anyone, let alone a published writer. Even those who start out getting it right can slide over the line into annoying.

    Of the big names, I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips does it especially well on Twitter and on Facebook. Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, does it like no one else, but most of us don’t have her particular, um, skill set. Chuck Wendig isn’t to everyone’s taste, but even though he does a lot of promo he mixes in enough fun stuff to make it worth following him anyway. I can think of two romance writers who started out great, but one veered way too far into crude and political rants, the other is starting to make me uncomfortable because there’s too much of her personal life in her blog, FB and tweets, and it’s great she’s happy with her new man but there are some things I just don’t need to know. Also…gag me with the gooey sweetness.

    Here’s the thing: If you’re not having fun with social media, I guarantee nobody following you will be either. I can tell exactly who’s tweeting and blogging and posting on FB because they feel like they HAVE to. You’re better off being straight up like Karen Templeton and just saying “I don’t have time for this, I’m too busy writing good books and having a life offline”.

    • heh. I think I know the exact 2 tweeters you’re talking about. the first one I’m almost postive on. The second…more like 85%

      I dropped one last week because every single day she was bagging on 50Shades and I was just, really? I wanted to scream at her that people are reading. and people like what they’re reading and then they’ll start looking for more books to read. it’s how readers are born!

    • Karen Templeton may be my hero ๐Ÿ™‚ But still, she already had an audience before this gianormous wave of self-publishing hit. She was already in her little rowboat full of readers. I debuted in 2010 and it was right thereafter (about 6 months) that self-publishing spun out of control, so I don’t really have a stable of readers yet. More hit or miss for me. So I still feel like I need to be “out there” more than just slamming the door like Karen or, say, Nora.

  6. And speaking of losing track of time….oh, eff word. Just realized I’m blogging here tomorrow and I’m at a rodeo tonight until Lord knows what time. Guess you’re getting cowboy pics, ladies.

  7. Right there with ya, Liz! I just don’t worry about it. I tweet when and about what I want. Facebook to stay in touch with others, not promote. And blog because I love being here with you guys.

    I agree with Cyndi. The key is to write a good book and then write the next one even better, and the next one and the next one. ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t sweat the small stuff! (although I know that’s easier said than done. LOL )

    • Maybe you have the best attitude – Do what I want to and don’t worry about the results. Yes. Let’s write good books. Spend our time on the art, and maybe we won’t have to worry about hawking ourselves on every venue out there ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. to a point I agree with you. Hate facebook. I use it. I don’t like it. I do like twitter and I do my best not to be annoying with book information through the day when I have a new release. There’s one author driving me bonkers. I’ve unfollowed her but people are RT’ing her posts about her bk that released months ago so I still see the tweets.

    the blog tour is what’s tiresome. I have to try and be funny with those and it takes a lot of out me. Takes a lot away from my writing mojo. I did one for my first release and I haven’t done much since. So I’m doing one for my Roughnecks. I do like that the blog tour gives me something else to promo beside just “buy my book *LINK*”

    And yeah, it’ll probably be another year or more before I get the idea that I should do another!

    • I’ve not really done a blog tour. I really don’t think I have the energy or stamina. I’m lazy, I guess. BUT we’ll see if Cyndi can convince me otherwise when she comes to speak to NOLA next month.

  9. […] at Everybody Needs a Little Romance, my Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blogmate Liz Talley summons the gonads to say (or at least write) […]

    • It may have been the heat that got to me, Tam, but it’s been inside for a while. I’m tired, I tell ya ๐Ÿ™‚ But I can do this all day. Love this kind of interaction.

  10. I am SOOOOOO there! For me it’s interview after interview after interview. I am so honored that people all over the world want to hear from me, but I am now bombarded with interview/blog requests from almost every single country we’ve sold to and even some that we haven’t. I can’t keep up! LOL.

    On the one hand, I’m so grateful. And on the other, I just want to write. Period. I’m not sure I’ll ever find a good balance. I need to hire an assistant again just for blogging.

    • eep, sorry, Darynda, you coulda told me no, that would’ve been ok! ๐Ÿ™‚ BTW, I’ve interviewed Darynda for an angels v. demons bloghop I’m on tomorrow, lol. Hey, she’s the only one I knew who wrote demons. and I DO like bloghops where someone else tells me what to blog about and I don’t have to think of a subject myself.

      • LOL. This was funny. Darynda my momma always says, “Be careful what you ask for cause you just might get it.” She, in fact, says it all the time. She’s annoying like that (Sorry, Mom, in case you’re reading this :))

        I do understand. When you get big (in the right way) things can spin out of control fast beause everyone wants a piece of you. It’s great, but it’s hard. And you’re so freaking sweet that I know it’s harder for you. You probably need an assistant who handles your promo and correspondence. Cause I need more Charley!

  11. I’m kinda sorta sick of promo and being online all the time. I’m an INTROVERT people, and even interacting online can make me all freaky. And since I homeschool (through the summer too) it’s either promo or write new stuff, no time to do both. And yet, while I’m ready to scurry and hide in my cave, when I try it and don’t promo, my rankings fall, I don’t sell books and that makes me panic, I’m going to fail, fail, fail! It also keeps me occupied as I’m stuck on this new book, lol. No, I know, I need to work out the new book…

    Now, Liz, I hate to say it, don’t throw things at me, but with a Harlequin you rather have a built in audience. I’m not sure promo-ing is gonna take you too much out of your demographics, if I were you, I’d really be writing and skip the promo stuff. Now, this Karen Templeton someone mentioned–what does she write? As an indie and small press pub though, still trying to figure out how to find my demographic.

    • I get you, and you’re right. To a degree I have a built in audience, but let me tell ya…it’s shrinking every day. Harlequin readers are readers. They buy kindles and nooks and then the ease of four books in the mailbox isn’t all that easy when they can buy a book for .99. Loyalty only stretches so far, so to a degree, I’m out there with you. It’s a brave new world and we all better know how to swim in the sea of books out there.. I’m just saying I might cling to a bouy and hope a bigger ship picks me up. Darynda?

      LOL. Just kidding.

      Thanks for popping by. I know you’ve been trying to step through a minefield of must-dos for self-published authors.I’m just wondering if those who pub with e-pubs and/or self-pubs are getting backed into a corner by other crazy authors devoting night and day to promoting.

  12. Hear hear! This is me giving you a standing ovation, chickie, because THAT is exactly what I’ve been thinking. You just wrote my manifesto. I’ll do the promo I want to do and hopefully that’s enough for my publisher (because that’s who I think promo is designed to please, not the average reader who doesn’t care if you’re witty on twitter or have a blog). Three cheers for Ms Talley!

    • Yay! I love when people think I’m right. Happens seldomly in this house with my strong-willed men. I say let’s liberate ourselves! Thanks, Vivi!

    • I agree. I’m on my feet, too (figuratively speaking since I work on a laptop;-) I love FB, but I only have 500 friends–some are close friends and people from high school, so I don’t feel overwhelmed by it. I enjoy blogging a couple of times a month. But first, I’m a writer. My writing has to come first. I rarely (read: never) buy a book because somebody promotes it on FB or Twitter or GoodReads, and I’m not convinced others do either. I think people return to writers whose books they enjoy, and that’s the writer I want to be. I want to use up my creative juices in my wip–not by constantly having to be clever in a public forum.

  13. I love posts from the heart! I understand promo is important, but I do believe there’s a fine line between letting people know you have a book out and clobbering them over the head with it. I’m not at the promo stage yet, so I won’t say “Never”, but hopefully, some of the things all of you are saying will sink in when the time comes.
    This is the third time I’ve tried to comment. I tend to get stubborn, especially when it’s my fault. Maybe the third time is the charm.

  14. You know I think the best “promo” that an author can do is just to be herself. Not to constantly be hawking the book or doing giveaway or stuff like that. But just to connect with people. I think if you post stuff that’s interests you, your audience will find you. And if you don’t want to post or tweet at all, then don’t. I know authors are constantly pressured by the publishers for this stuff. But, honestly, it doesn’t work if all you do is talk about your books. So I talk about knitting or gardening or something else that interests me. My facebook numbers aren’t growing by leaps and bounds, but I do feel like I’m connecting with people. And, honestly, if you’re not connecting with people what’s the point?

  15. (Once again, I opened this post, got distracted, and took 24 hours to realize I never read it! Sorry!)

    I doubt there’s an author out there who doesn’t feel like this. I’ve been published by teeny tiny publishers/startups/alternative press since 2000, and they’ve always pushed authors to promotepromotepromote, even long before the term “social media” existed.

    NO ONE tells authors to blather incessantly about their books. My publishers and all the promotional “experts” I’ve ever read or heard say exactly what you guys are saying: Build a community. Start or join a conversation. One of my publishers calls it tribe-building. They want me to comment on 50 blog posts a week. Never mention my book, just join in the conversation.

    You know what? That takes a HELL of a lot more time than posting about your book!

    I’ve definitely bought books I learned about through social media and blogs and contests. I’m reading Forged in Fire by Trish Mcallan that I won at a blog and it’s superfantastic, so I’m going to buy all the rest. So I know it can work. I also know that if I do nothing, I’m probably doomed to being crushed into obscurity. What the heck’s the solution?

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