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.