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Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Promo Rant

Last week, I received a last call notice to renew my membership to one of my online chapters. The reason I let it lapse was that 90% of the traffic on the loop was promo. Aside from the loop, this chapter offered nothing else and I was tired of paying money to be annoyed by author after author after author promoting themselves over every little thing. (And little is not an exaggeration, unfortunately.)

I didn't plan on renewing now either, but they claimed they had all kinds of member perks that they didn't have before including workshops that were either free for members or at a reduced rate. I decided to check it out and they did have them. In fact, they had one workshop I really wanted to take and it was offered at a large enough discount to make rejoining the chapter worthwhile.

I paid my membership fee. And after I was admitted back onto the loop, I took a look at the messages. Maybe they'd curtailed the excessive promo and the loop might even be fun again.

No such luck. Still 90% promo.

It inspired a ranting blog about authors and their constant promo. I didn't post it because it was a huge rant and I don't want my blog to be a negative place. There's more than enough negativity online.

So now that my ire is cooled, here are my thoughts on authors promoting themselves.

My number one pet peeve are authors who promote their blog posts on loops where it's all authors. They're not promoting blogs that might be of interest to other published authors. These are not guest blogging appearances around the release of a book. These are "Hey, I blogged about the cute thing my dog Rover did, come over and read" posts. First of all, other authors aren't your target audience, so even if the entire chapter clicks over to read about Rover, even if your hit total looks awesome, it's not doing you any good. Secondly, if you're constantly asking us to come look, how long before you burn out this resource, and when you really want others to come look, we just skim over your nine millionth request?

And while we're on the subject of posting to loops, it is not appropriate to post promotional material in the middle of an online class. Ever. We are there to learn, not hear about your Lucky Lucy Review or find out about your book's release. I'm sorry, this goes even if it is your first book and even if you're so excited you can't stand it. There's a time and a place and a class is not it. Would you stand up in the middle of Intro to Psychology at the University of Minnesota and make the announcement? Of course not. It's not different because the class is online. This is especially bad during a large class when the flow of notes is already extremely high. Even a handful of off-topic email is unwelcome. BTW, you did bring attention to yourself, but the impression was negative. FYI.

Please stop trolling for votes for whatever award is taking votes this week. Not only is it annoying, not only do you look sad, but the award means nothing if you're begging for votes. Yes, I know every other author up for Lucky Lucy's Review Emporium Book of the Week is stumping wildly for votes, but who cares? Seriously? Do you think your editor/agent/fellow writers are going to be impressed because you managed to scrape up more eligible voters than anyone else? It's a not an outpouring of love for your writing/book and even if you win it, all you know is that you have more online friends who were willing to do this for you than the others. It really doesn't mean anything more than that.

Now my for my biggest Twitter pet peeve. Authors stop begging and bribing to get followers. First of all, you look sad. I'm embarrassed for you. Secondly, offering to draw for prizes if you reach your goal shows a real lack of understanding of what Twitter is about. Twitter is about having a dialogue and you gain followers by participating.

Yes, I know other authors are doing it. They look just as sad as you do. And again, the numbers might be there, but for how long? If people signed up to follow you only because of the chance of winning a prize, do you think they're going to stick around long? Or if they do, want to bet you're filtered into a Tweetdeck column they don't read? You're better off with 200 people following you who are interested in what you have to say than 500 followers you bribed on board.

And while I'm on a roll, retweeting reader compliments on Twitter is not productive. Really. First of all, after seeing authors forward on reader compliments, I will no longer bother to tweet an author a comment about liking her book. If I'm contacting you, even publicly on Twitter, I consider the correspondence to be between us and I don't want to see my note passed along. Since I don't have time to write an email, I guess you'll never know that I thought your story was wonderful.

Secondly, how do you think this is promoting yourself? I don't care if you forward six gazillion "I loved it" notes, unless it's a reader I know and trust (unlikely), it will not encourage me to try your book. Seriously. Word of mouth is great, but the readers I know don't use strangers' recommendations. They rely on people who they know share their taste. Besides, the people that are following you who are readers probably already have your book.

Now let me hit Facebook. Please stop inviting me to become your fan. Especially do not invite me 6 times in 5 days. If I didn't accept your invitation the first time, I'm not going to accept it on the sixth. I'm also going to unfriend you.

Please stop sending me event invitations on Facebook. If I live 1500 miles away, I will not be attending your book signing. Go through your friends list. Sort us into categories. Send these announcements to readers. Do not send other authors promo type posts unless they indicate that they want them from you. The hard truth is that authors friend each other for networking purposes, not because we're a fan. I'm sorry. I understand that most of the writers who are on my friends list have probably never read my books. I don't send them announcements because I realize they don't care. Know your audience, target your audience.

Writers, I love you. Seriously. You're kindred spirits, but the downside to hanging out with you is the promotion. Think before you post something. Is it a published authors only loop? Is your blog post something the majority of us will care about? If the answer is no, restrain yourself. If all authors considered the audience, the ones who really had something to say wouldn't be drowned out in the cries of "look at me."

Just because other authors do it, doesn't mean it's smart promotion. Just because other authors do it, doesn't mean you need to emulate them. Just because other authors do it, does not mean it isn't annoying the hell out of people.

You can see why I had to wait and cool down to post because this is pretty much rant as it is. I've remained silent about this for years, but this week was too much. I'm under no delusions that it will do any good. Most authors won't see this, or if they do, they won't think it applies to them. So I will go on muttering and I will go on deleting notes.