And if a blog post title like that doesn’t suck people in, I don’t know what will.
What inspired it? Witnessing behaviour from authors in recent months that strikes me as a) futile, b) irritating or c) both.
I let off steam to Penny Watson by email, and like any right-thinking person would, she agreed with everything I said. Mainly because I’m great. And I swear a lot. Or it could well be that she knows her shit, and what I said ticked all her boxes. Sometimes grown-ups agree with me. Shut up! It happens!
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First up? That old chestnut tweetstream-flooding.
If all of someone’s tweets are promo, or all of their blog posts are promo, it’s overkill.
Imagine yourself as a reader who’s new to Author X. You go to his or her tweetstream and see their tweets are all “Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!” would you think there was any chance of them engaging with you? Would you see any point in following them? I wouldn’t.
If someone is a favourite author, there are ways and means of finding out about their new releases without following them on Twitter or reading their blog. Publishing websites. Third-party sellers.
I have unfollowed certain authors because of their constant promo on Twitter. Straight off, I can think of two who have made me vow never to buy any of their books again because their “promo” was that bad.
One author who turned me away from her work (which I wasn’t that much of a fan of anyway; no emotion, no conflict, cardboard characters; more on this later in this blog post) schedules tweets. Buy links and a brief quote or tagline every hour on the hour, or so it seems. This interspersed with retweeted links to other authors’ WordPress blogs. The promo was overkill and the linking to other authors’ blogs seemed lazy to me. Like she had little to say for herself and therefore had to piggyback on other people’s words. No opinions to express. Just “Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!”
Actually, come to think of it, another name just popped into my head. Yep; there are definitely more out there who think this sort of wank is a smart move.
I am bored with authors who think the best way to get me to buy their books is to talk about them all the time. Yes, I’m a writer but I’m a reader too. If promofail turns me off, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that other readers are of the same opinion.
I’m not stupid. I’m not five-years-old. And I’m not a goldfish. If you put your book in my view (or that of other potential readers), I won’t forget after three seconds. You have given me the option of buying it or not, and I won’t be persuaded to by constant noise. Because that’s all constant promo is. Noise that blends into one boring drone, with all the other promo-noise clogging up Twitter.
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Blogs are prone to the same brainkilling repetitiveness. I recently had a peek at another author’s blog (not the same author mentioned above, although part of the same promofail overkill school of thought) and every post was about her latest release. Not “Hey, I’ve got a book out soon, and in other news, I bought a doughnut today and a small, ceramic spaniel.” Oh shut up; those were the first things to come to mind.
This blog was a screed of posts about “I’m writing a book…I’ve finished the book…I’ve subbed the book…I’ve contracted the book.” And it didn’t stop there. No; it got worse. “Here’s cover art! Here’s an extract! Here’s the same extract again! Here’s the cover art again! Here’s a repeat of the previous extract in case you missed it! One month until release, with the same extract! One week ’til release, and here’s…” You guessed it. The same old extract again.
Why the fuck would I buy your book when I’m already sick of it before it’s released?
It looked to me as if this author had nothing to say for herself. No opinions. Possibly scared to express an opinion in case she annoys ‘the wrong person’, whoever that might be?
Authors who tweet and blog about nothing other than their book, their book, their book, make me think they have nothing else to talk about. They have empty heads. They’re scared to express an opinion, or even have one.
Something else struck me as I was resisting the urge to Hulksmash the entire internet in response to the above tweetstream and blog. If an author has nothing to talk about but their book(s), that in turn makes me think they’re a bad writer. Why? They obviously have no insight into human nature.
They don’t realise they’re pissing people off, and not selling as many books as they could do, had they just dialled it back a few notches. They don’t realise the effect their behaviour has on other people, no idea that they’re doing the exact opposite of what they think they’re doing: driving readers away instead of pulling them in.
That being the case, how can they ever have insight into their characters and make them seem three-dimensional? It’s been my experience that authors who spew promovomit online write boring books. I don’t trust such authors to have personalities, opinions, or insight into human nature, and such authors are just throwing words at a page, rather than crafting a story. Just as they throw links at Twitter, rather than holding a conversation.
No insight into human nature and the effect your behaviour has on others = no ability to write realistic characters.
Maybe there are readers out there who don’t care about this sort of thing. Perhaps they can switch off and just ‘tune in’ to the authors they follow online when said authors mention a new book or say something of interest. If they ever do.
But noise-tweeting and vomit-blogging, while they don’t put everyone off, are not necessary.
I’ll say that again very clearly.
Flooding your tweetstream with promo, or doing the same on your blog, are not necessary.
I don’t care who your publisher is or what they tell you – such behaviour is not necessary to sell your books.
Consider how many people you’re actually putting off. There’s a fine line between “I have to let people know my book is out there!” and actively beating people over the head with the same information to the point where you’re actually driving them away.
I’ll say one more thing before I go put the kettle on for a cuppa. I need caffeine to calm me down.
The Law of Diminishing (Promo) Returns states that each time they see the same link/tweet/extract after what I call the Vomit Horizon or Puke Point, the less of a desire to buy your book the reader will have.