Ranting A Bit About Promo Pet Peeves

A while back I promised a blog entry about promotional pet peeves.  Obviously, late blogging needs to top the list since I haven’t blogged in a couple weeks.  (Deadlines and flu season screwed me up royally.)

The topic came about because I mentioned a current peeve of mine – posting about your novel in the comment section of someone else’s blog post.  It’s happened to me twice now, and I liken it to someone jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party to talk about themselves.  Yes, it gets the word out, but does it help?

Look, I get how hard promotion is.  Especially in this new wild, wild west world of publishing where, unless your Nora Roberts or Susan Elizabeth Phillips, you have to fight for every book sale.  In fact, later this week I’m starting my own group blogging effort with several other authors to harness the power of social media myself.

But does promotion have to be so hard core?  It’s gotten to the point where I can’t log onto Twitter without seeing a thousand reviews and Amazon links.  I’m not completely innocent in this either.  I’ve done my share of posting reviews and book info too.  But I’d like to think I balance those links with other comments.

Which brings me back to my promo pet peeve list.  Over the past year or so, I’ve come up with a list of social media/public relations tactics that sit poorly with me.  They are, in no particular order

  1. Hijacking someone’s blog post.  As I mentioned above, this is happened to me twice.  It’s not so much that they referred to their own book in their comment but that they visited the blog specifically to do so.  In both cases, the person was a first time commenter, making their intent blatantly obvious.  One time, the person was there because another author ran a contest encouraging readers to spam other blogs. Which leads me to Pet Peeve #2.
  2. Encouraging readers to spam other authors’ blogs.  A best-selling author encouraged her followers to mention her upcoming book around the web, including comment sections of other blogs.  I’m not going to say who this author was – because truthfully I blocked out her name.  In this day of street teams, let’s try to practice of little restraint, ‘kay?
  3. Spamming Twitter feeds with Amazon links.  I have never bought a book because I got an Amazon link.  Never.  I have bought a book because I chatted with an author on Twitter and got to know her and her personality.  I like supporting people I know.
  4. Spamming message boards with announcements/links to your books.  Again, message boards are for discussions.  I don’t go on the Harlequin message boards.  I mean to because it’s a great way to interact with readers.  However, I never seem to have the time to do so properly.  Same with Goodread boards.  I don’t think it’s fair to readers to just throw out info about my books then leave.  Message boards are for conversation, IMO as much as anything.  A way to connect.  Spamming isn’t connection.
  5. Spamming FB with invitations to book events.  (Sensing a theme here yet?)  I must get an invite a day, some from people I don’t even know who have friended me on FB and whom I only know through posts about their book.

All of these peeves lead me to the number one peeve of all.

Inauthenticity.  I don’t even know if inauthenticity is a word.  (Spellcheck tells me no).  But all these practices seem to boil down to the same thing – a lack of real, personal interaction.  In my opinion, Social Media falls under the heading of Public Relations.  PUBLIC RELATIONS IS NOT ADVERTISING.  I know this because I spent a lot of time in school getting a Master’s Degree in the topic.  Public Relations by definition is how you relate to your public.  Key word-  relate.  It means two-way conversation.  It means listening and talking with your audience, understanding their needs and connecting with them.   Okay, that’s not the real technical definition.  But, understand this, how you relate with your audience is part of your brand.  An author like Maisey Yates is successful at Twitter because she chats with people about anything and everything with only a sprinkle of posts about her books.  Jane Porter has a huge blog following largely because she talks with readers about her family and her life.  Donna Alward has successfully marketed herself through the message boards because she’s an active participant in the conversations taking place.  See?  Connection.

Look, I’m not suggestion people never Tweet links to reviews or blog posts. That’s not the point. My point is that good social media marketing should involve more than link posting.  It should involve you.  If you only shout “Buy me” at them, it reflects on how they view you.  If you doubt me, think about the cocktail party analogy I used at the beginning of this post.  What would you do if, while at a party, a person came up and simply talked about themselves for twenty minutes straight?  Would you avoid that person for the rest of the evening?  Same goes for social media.  When all is said and done, it’s actually pretty simple.  You want to shout – buy an ad;  You want to use social media – be social.


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