I’m no expert, but…

February 18, 2012 at 4:44 am (writing)

I wish I was a master marketer, it would make this book business a lot easier, but I do know, based on my own personal reaction to things, what doesn’t work on me – “buy my book” spam. This topic was discussed on a rather extensive thread in one of the Facebook writer groups that I belong to, a group I participate in specifically because we’ve all agreed we don’t want to see that kind spam posted to the group. It means we actually see real discussions. People post questions, excerpts or opinions. I know if I check out the group I won’t be bombarded by one dry “here’s my link to my book, it’s only $ -.–” after another. In some of the other writer groups the spam posts are 80-90% of content. I don’t go there anymore, since I have better things to do with my time then scroll through the spam to find anything worthwhile.

Now don’t get me wrong – I buy books. I buy books from trad publishers and smaller presses, and I buy books from my writer friends when they’ve made a real connection with me and have captured my interest. In those cases there is usually a mutual effort to support each other’s work. I also know that promotion is important, as long as it is effective promotion. If your attempts at drawing attention to your book is causing people to tune out and shut off, you’re doing something wrong. They say you need to get a message to a potential buyer several times before they’ll commit to a purchase, but just because you blast that message at them doesn’t mean they’ll absorb it. In fact, if you bore them with vague and repetitive unoriginal posts, they’ll likely reject the message and ignore anything that follows, the way that I do. If you want me to pay attention you either have to *really* excite me or make a concerted effort to show me who you are and what you do.

As another friend in my preferred group pointed out – spamming writer groups is an even greater waste of time and energy. Writers may read, but they are very particular about what they read, because with the investment they put into their writing (and submissions, and edits, and promotional activities), they are left with little time for other distractions. Spamming reader groups might yield a little success, but many reader groups are now made up of writers looking for an opportunity to promote their books. He suggested focussing your marketing efforts on topic-associated groups. What I understood that to mean is that if one of the main themes of your book is something like surfing, then try posting your promotional material to surfer groups, of if your tale puts a negative spin on genetic manipulation, give it some exposure on an anti-GMO group (just as a couple of examples).

From the research I’ve done, my dislike of the “buy my book” posts is not unique. It’s considered to be one of the least effective marketing methods. The problem is, it’s simple, not requiring much thought or effort, and other than a small investment of time, it’s free. Some use it to supplement loftier efforts, and some use it because they lack training/experience or the willingness to be more creative and innovative.

Like I said, I’m no expert, but I know what annoys and bores me. If you want me to buy your book, try something other than the online barrage. Pique my interest, don’t drown it.



  1. Ken said,

    Nice article. And, as you already know, I could not agree more. 😉

    • ajbrown said,

      Straight and to the point. Very good piece. I have to admit that from time to time I am guilty of that very thing. However, I’ll say this in defense of the writers who don’t post the ‘buy my book’ spam often: I’ve often been told that it’s not just putting your product out there, but putting it out there where people can actually see it. This is the hardest part for writers unless we have money and can afford ad space in some of the higher traffic magazines and websites.

      I agree to an extent with what you’ve said. It makes complete sense, though I have, from time to time, posted something about buying my book. For me, it’s when I see the same writer posting every day or every other day about buying their book that I view it as spam.

      I love the article and it’s given me an idea for one of my own. I’ll make sure and credit you and your blog as i’m writing it.

      • chantellyb said,

        When I first started out, I tried this approach briefly until I realized I was just another insignificant voice in a sea of other people trying to do the same thing. There are lots of ways to promote your work for free that is much more likely to yield results. Sampling and word of mouth are supposed to be the best way of drawing a reader’s interest Giveaways of ebooks, offering short fiction or teaser tales that serve as prequels to your work on your website, blog or free venues like Scribd.com and Angie’s Diary, or trivia contests with electronic copies of your work as prizes. I’ve seen some writers get really creative and never resort to spam to promote their work, and I applaud that. This is a learning experience for all of us, I know I still haven’t figured it all out, but I think trusting your instincts about what will work and what won’t is important.

  2. ajbrown said,

    Very well said. Sribd.com I’ve never looked at, but I will now. And Angie’s Diary–I’ll give that a peek as well.

    I think we all have to figure out what works for us. Again, good article. I hope you don’t mind, but I posted this on Facebook. I don’t think it’s spamming to promote someone’s blog on your own FB wall. I hope it gets you at least one more reader.

  3. chantellyb said,

    Don’t mind at all – in fact I welcome it 🙂

    I share links to blogs I feel are well written on my FB page all the time. I certainly don’t consider it spam.

    There was actually an interesting thread the other day on FB about offering cheap or free prequels to attract readers. If you look at how people like Amanda Hocking have their books presented, they often have the first in a series priced at $0.99 with the books that follow at a higher price. The purpose is to get people to try the writing, and if they like it they may buy the others in the series – if not, it’s not a loss, is it? Also, if they like it, that word of mouth element can kick in. Not a bad concept.

    I have bought print books before because I had the opportunity to listen to the novel via a free podcast (in this particular case it was podiobooks.com) and I loved the book. I knew a couple of people who I thought would enjoy it and had to share, so I bought copies as gifts. I’ve done this on more than one occasion. Giving the book away via the podcast actually encouraged sales for the authors. Marketing is definitely not a simple thing.

  4. The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions… Errr Okay… « Type AJ Negative said,

    […] Chantel over at Word Blurb wrote about this very thing with her post, I’m no expert, but… […]

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