How Not to Market Your Novel, Part 1

It’s a lonely, sad world out there for a self-published author. Once you’ve completed your book (and hopefully had it edited by a professional), you’ve gotta market that sucker. But what the hell do you know about marketing, right? For goodness’ sake, you’re lucky to have that English (or communications) degree. Maybe you even found a—gasp—career! I mean, it can happen, I swear.

But because you have no idea how to market your work, you’re going to screw it up. That’s a given. But hopefully you’re not going to be as invasive or weird as this one guy was to me over the weekend.

(Editor’s note: I’m not going to name the author, for reasons that will become clear momentarily.)

I was perusing Facebook the other day (like you do), when a message popped up from someone I don’t know. This person sent me a link to Amazon for their self-published novel, and then just in case I didn’t want to purchase the novel through Amazon, also sent me a link to the book’s Smashwords page.

Let me make sure you realize: I’ve never met, nor interacted with in any form, this writer. He’s not my friend—not even an internet friend. He’s not on my friends list. He had to spend $1 to message me and have it go directly into my mailbox. He didn’t even say hi. Just sent me a pair of links. Not a pair of lynx, because that would’ve been kind of neat. (And a hell of a trick over the Internet, too.) I’m a bit weirded out. I’ve no idea how this guy got my info, nor why he would waste money directly messaging me on FB. And his novel? It’s an homage to Robert B. Parker and John D. MacDonald’s greatest creations. In other words, he’s ripping off someone else’s work. Am I the only one who thinks this is completely weird? Dude spent a buck to market directly to me, and it was a completely wasted dollar.

(Another editor’s note: See? If this guy can find out authors I enjoy and figure out how to direct a message into my FB inbox, I’m DEFINITELY not naming him. He might show up at my house.)

I recognize the need to market your novel(s) if you’re self-publishing your work. But there are way to go about it that won’t weird out your potential sales. Directly messaging someone on FB is NOT the way to go about that. It’s incredibly invasive and, frankly, a little more than borderline creepy. (FYI: do not do Google image searches for “creepy gifs”. I should have known better.)

Directly messaging people on Twitter is not the way to go about that, either, for the record. You can shout “BUY MY BOOK” from the rooftops if you want, but most people are going to ignore you. What else do you bring to the table? Do you interact with your potential audience? Do you come off as a human being or as a marketing machine? More and more, marketing is a two-way street, where you have to have something to offer other than just, well, a book.

If that’s all you have, give up now. You’ll at least save yourself a buck for those direct FB messages.

Now I’m curious: Has this ever happened to any of you? What was your reaction? And, of course, feel free to chime in with horrible book marketing stories of your own.

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2 thoughts on “How Not to Market Your Novel, Part 1

  1. Gosh, this happens to me all of the time on Twitter. I follow someone and immediately get a DM to like them on Facebook. I want to shout, “I don’t even know you, and you want me to endorse you or your work?”

    Instead, I delete the DM. That person isn’t interested in me. The website which sent the automated message on that person’s behalf isn’t, either. I’ve been told I’m too nice. Others unfollow and block without hesitation. I see their points, but I hope the person will engage with me in time.

    They rarely do.

    I don’t market my novels aggressively. Will it mean more sales, less sales, or no sales on my books? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m real, I’m present, and I am not my novels: I am a human being who writes novels.

    Your entry is entertaining and informational, Bobby. I hope people who need your counsel most will read it soon and take your advice to heart. At least, I hope they finally understand why people unfollow then block them immediately on social networking sites.

    • Thanks, Jess. (And by the way—I love the manual typewriter that you have as your icon. I’m a huge fan of manuals. I have a 1953 Royal Quiet De Luxe that I love.)

      I’ve definitely experienced the immediate marketing DM when I’ve followed someone on Twitter. And that’s an automatic unfollow for me. And, of course, it’s also an automatic NO SALE on their book, too.

      Thanks for the kind words on the post, btw. It’s nice to be reminded that there are real people behind the books.

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