Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Is That Your Self-Promo in my Face, Or....

Janet Elaine Smith had an interesting piece about her methods of self-marketing in the December issue of Writer's Journal, titled How Bold Are You, Really? I've been pondering it along with some other articles I've gathered on the topic. Janet's enthusiasm for self-promotion led a fellow writer to call her a "brazen hussy," which Janet then promptly turned around and used as a title for a Yahoo group she started on self-promotion.

I like that kind of attitude. It tempts me to rename this place. I can't remember which names that I'm not supposed to know about, though, so I'll save it for the industry expose. In any event, being the reserved, quiet soul that I am -- shut up, Jean -- I couldn't do what Janet does, but I admire her energy and enthusiasm. It takes a lot to get out there and do the self-promo dance. There was one tip she mentioned that bothered me, and I'll quote from the article:

"Don't be afraid to interrupt, politely -- even on the internet. If someone in a thread mentions something that pertains to your book, jump in with a bit of BSP (blatant self-promotion)."

I think interrupting a discussion thread solely for the purpose of self-promo is transparently rude. Working in a mention of your book when it's directly related to a topic of discussion, on the other hand, isn't. The line between the two? Very thin.

I'm not against self-promotion. I avoid it whenever possible. Seriously, writers who maintain blogs solely for the purpose of self-promotion, and never post about anything but themselves, their struggles, their work, their releases, their glowing reviews, their personal appearances, etc. are fine with me. If that's all you care about, or all you have to contribute to the publishing blogosphere, go for it. Your weblog will have huge appeal for your readers, and if it's all about you and your work, you'll be safe. With all the ire directed at the writer who dares express an opinion these days, it's probably the smart thing to do.

That said, when you visit another writer's blog or discussion board, you're a guest. If you went to a party at that writer's house in real life, would you jump in the middle of conversations or derail them to talk about yourself? How about walking away from someone who is talking to you the minute the subject is no longer about you, or you've finished pimping yourself to that group and have moved on to the next?

The internet may seem impersonal because we're not talking face-to-face, but that doesn't mean that it is. Insincerity has a very distinct smell to it, even on the web.

Given all the pressure publishers are putting on us to self-promote, what do we do? Maybe we should stop viewing other writer (or any type) weblogs as self-promo opportunities, and see them more as neighbors. Over the years we've become a very large, diverse online community. Do we really want to be reduced to filtered, programmed, self-absorbed Stepford Bloggers, air-kissing each other in comments? Don't we have enough of that going on already?

If you really get involved in a discussion versus playing your own publicist, chances are some of the other visitors will take an interest in you. People who like what you have to say track down your blog or site, stop in to participate in your blog discussions, and best of all, invest in your books. Or, to put it simply, be sincere, and be yourself, and keep your self-promo in your pocket until it's the right time to share.

What do you guys think?

69 comments:

  1. I don't like it when someone jumps in and promotes their work. I think it's rude. I don't mind them talking about their books if that's where the conversation is headed, but not when it changes the topic.

    I have a couple of visitors who regularly stop by and promote their sites/books/whatever. I find it odd. It always smacks of stranger walking into my closet and asking, "Do you mind if I borrow this shirt?"

    Uh, yes, I do mind.

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  2. I agree with you, PBW. I see folks spamming mailing lists and forums with 'buy my book' posts and wonder if they really know what drives book sales. It's certainly not advertising to complete strangers.
    (Some time ago I wrote an article on how not to market your books online. For example, joining internet writing groups and forums to try and sell copies is a complete waste of everyone's time.)

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  3. HannahG1:12 AM

    I love the visual image of a stranger rummaging through my closet to borrow a shirt. It just amuses me for some reason.

    As far as self-promotion goes, I really think it's all in the attitude. I see a great deal of difference between:

    "If you like dragons you'll love my book, Dragons on Ice!" and

    "I really enjoy reading your Stardoc novels, they've inspired me in my own writing. In fact, recently I finished a short work of interplanetary fiction of my own. I'd be honored to receive criticism from yourself and the readers of this blog."

    One is blatant self promotion...the other takes more effort, thought and persistent. But, in my opinion, the second approach is also much more likely to engender a positive response.

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  4. I find it much the same as buttonholing a guest at someone's party buffet and saying "There's a much better party down the street at MY house."

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  5. Anonymous1:32 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. I agree that it's a fine line, Lynn, and one which I know I've overstepped on occasion. I'm a cynical old bat, however, and tend to think that most blogs contain a component of self-promotion (and ego massage) - my own included. Some people just disguise it better.

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  7. It's a fine line, but it's usually not difficult to tell which people are talking about their book as it relates to the subject at hand from those who are promo whoring. The people who are trying to help someone else out, or contributing in the discussion, usually don't make the post all about their book. The promo whores usually do, and sometimes butt in and try to hijack the thread.

    As a reader, I can't stand authors who are zooming around trying to get people to buy their book. Often, it comes across as desperate, and their behavior can be downright rude. I'm more likely to pick up an author who interests me as a person.

    But that's me. YMMV.

    As for this:

    "With all the ire directed at the writer who dares express an opinion these days, it's probably the smart thing to do."

    A quote comes to mind... "Well-behaved women seldom make history."

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  8. Blatant self-promo is a turn-off for sure. It leaves a negative feeling about both the author and her book.

    The kind of 'subversive' self-promo that works for me is when an author discusses some of the ideas/themes etc from one of her books w/o necessarily mentioning the book. If a thread is discussing space pirates and an author pipes in with how he came up with a good excuse why a space pirate would still have a talking parrot on his or her shoulder, that would be interesting and might make me go dig up his books because his ideas are creative etc.
    (disclaimer - I've never written a space pirate story, but I think an exotic bird from another planet that looks like a parrot but can empathically link w/ the pirate and warn him/her of danger would be a good excuse to have one around, eh?)

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  9. "Don't be afraid to interrupt, politely -- even on the internet. If someone in a thread mentions something that pertains to your book, jump in with a bit of BSP (blatant self-promotion)."

    I agree, PBW and actually I know quite a few readers who won't pick up books by authors that who overboard with the blatant self promo. I've seen some crap on yahoo groups that went beyond rude. What's the level beyond rude? It was above that, too.

    I've seen a lot of authors who use tactics both subtle and blatant and more often than not, I totally skip their part of the conversation just because it irks me, no matter where I'm reading it. The only time it doesn't bother me is if it's somebody that I've seen around enough to know that they aren't just trying spam my brain.

    Readers are more likely to relate to somebody that has made an effort to get involved in their online 'community' for something other than just BUY MY BOOK!

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  10. Self-promotion is fine, in the right context. Set up a blog strictly for promotion, and it's not bad. Butt into every board on the planet, finding "witty" ways to connect your book to the conversation is unpaid prostitution - and just as unattractive to view.

    I read the blogs of authors who are PEOPLE. They aren't authors 24/7; they have lives, and interests, and they're human beings who have something interesting to say. I read their books because I like who they are as people. Their self-promotion is that they show me they're ordinary folk. I think that's a lot more effective than all of the snazzy icons and elaborate shows.

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  11. Parrots are fascinating. I'd love to own one. I did a bit of research into them for a short story I was writing (and can't sell, apparently because I don't use the parrot enough at the end! lol) that had GE keas in it and that just made me like them even more. I did get to use some of the research in the story--like the parrot that surfs the internet. No, really! Maybe I should put some of those links up on my blog....

    That said, Sandra, what you're describing sounds more like a canary ;).

    Self-promotion. Right. I've been doing a lot of this on my own blogs regarding my story Sundown, about which I'm very excited because it's taken years of rejections to find a home for it. I'm not convinced it's doing any good, but it hadn't occurred to me it might be doing me harm to keep mentioning it every time I get an excuse (like whenever the magazine it's in gets a review frex). Oh me.

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  12. Jordan wrote: I find it odd. It always smacks of stranger walking into my closet and asking, "Do you mind if I borrow this shirt?"

    Perfect analogy. I think it also stands out more on blogs like yours, Jordan, because your discussions always seem to have something to do with the internal battles we fight. Someone throwing out that they got an RT Top Pick in the middle of everyone talking about finding the right writing path is very noticeable (and I'm not referring to anyone specific; that's just an example of typical BSP.)

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  13. Simon wrote: Some time ago I wrote an article on how not to market your books online. For example, joining internet writing groups and forums to try and sell copies is a complete waste of everyone's time.

    Have you got a copy of that article online, Simon? Would love to read it.

    Sometimes I think this problem evolves from getting very bad advice. When I published my first romance, and knew nothing about self-promo, I was advised to join all the romance writer forums that I could and blitz them with posts on my release. Thankfully, I didn't have the time or inclination.

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  14. Hannahg wrote: "I really enjoy reading your Stardoc novels, they've inspired me in my own writing. In fact, recently I finished a short work of interplanetary fiction of my own. I'd be honored to receive criticism from yourself and the readers of this blog."

    That has finesse. It's not shrieky, phony perky-happy, or otherwise false-sounding. It's sincere. You've also avoiding that shrill demanding or telling tone, so that doesn't cross the line for me. It's very hard to write something like that, too, I know.

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  15. Bernita wrote: I find it much the same as buttonholing a guest at someone's party buffet and saying "There's a much better party down the street at MY house."

    Amen. I had one of those here for a while. Every time I wrote a post on something, the other writer had a better one (posted by an anonymous friend, naturally.) It may have been exactly what it appeared, and for all I know the other writer has better stuff, but the incessant linking didn't smell that way.

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  16. SPAM comment by anonymous deleted (how ironic.)

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  17. Anonymous9:58 AM

    I think 90% of the pushy self-promotion is misdirected at other writers instead of at attracting or enlarging the depressingly small percentage of the population that reads and buys books.
    Martie

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  18. Lee wrote: I agree that it's a fine line, Lynn, and one which I know I've overstepped on occasion.

    I don't think any of us can say we're not guilty of it. I promo-sinned several times on some old newsgroups I used to hang out at. I still have my blips now and then, too -- I acted like an ass over at Vanessa Jaye's blog (although admittedly my hijacking her comments was due to a temper tantrum and a slugfest with an anonymous blogger, not BSP.)

    I'm a cynical old bat, however, and tend to think that most blogs contain a component of self-promotion (and ego massage) - my own included. Some people just disguise it better.

    I hear you. Those thumbnails of my covers wouldn't be on the sidebar, with click-through online seller links, if I didn't want them to generate sales. If my motives were really pure, I'd never post new covers, talk about my work or give away author copies. Every writer blog is definitely a marketing tool.

    Where I hope is that here, it's not all about the hard sell and the Almighty Buck. I want to give back something for what I receive. I don't like the way writers are treated, and how hard we have to work to survive in this industry, so I get to grind a few of those axes, too.

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  19. Nonny wrote: As a reader, I can't stand authors who are zooming around trying to get people to buy their book. Often, it comes across as desperate...

    Yeah, and that desperation is often painful to behold. One thing I've learned not to do is respond to it, because the desperate quickly turn into the vicious if you call them on it. One guy went ballistic because I joked about an unnamed author who was uber-BSPing a novel, and he decided I was talking about him. Funny thing is, I wasn't.

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  20. Sandra wrote: I've never written a space pirate story, but I think an exotic bird from another planet that looks like a parrot but can empathically link w/ the pirate and warn him/her of danger would be a good excuse to have one around, eh?

    I know I'd buy that book in a heartbeat. :)

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  21. Shiloh wrote: Readers are more likely to relate to somebody that has made an effort to get involved in their online 'community' for something other than just BUY MY BOOK!

    Yep. I don't know if it's cynicism, as Lee mentioned, but I have a hard time getting interested in all-about-me blogs. Intellectually I understand the reason behind them, but other than rabid fandom, who is going to enjoy a salespitch 24/7? I don't care how many copies you sell, no one or their books are that interesting.

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  22. Andi wrote: Butt into every board on the planet, finding "witty" ways to connect your book to the conversation is unpaid prostitution - and just as unattractive to view.

    I just flashed on this one BSP author in fishnets and stilettos, working the floor at BEA. Thank you for that image, lol.

    I read the blogs of authors who are PEOPLE. They aren't authors 24/7; they have lives, and interests, and they're human beings who have something interesting to say. I read their books because I like who they are as people. Their self-promotion is that they show me they're ordinary folk. I think that's a lot more effective than all of the snazzy icons and elaborate shows.

    I can't count how many books I've bought simply because the author's personality and blogging about other things captured my interest (Kristopher Reisz, your ears should be on fire.)

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  23. Buffeysquirrel wrote: I've been doing a lot of this on my own blogs regarding my story Sundown, about which I'm very excited because it's taken years of rejections to find a home for it.

    That's terrific -- congratulations.

    I'm not convinced it's doing any good, but it hadn't occurred to me it might be doing me harm to keep mentioning it every time I get an excuse (like whenever the magazine it's in gets a review frex). Oh me.

    You have been an interesting part of so many discussions here, and yet I can't remember you even once mentioning your story. I should do more "What's happening with you?" posts, because sometimes that's the only way I can pry the information out of you guys.

    I have no interest in reading reviews, so the review thing is definitely one of my personal quirks. If you get a good review, there's no valid reason to avoid mentioning it. I can skip it.

    I think what makes my head pound are the bloggers who do nothing but post every single glowing review they get and then gush over them like it's this huge surprise, they're so not worthy, etc. It's as authentic as crying pretty when you're crowned Miss Universe. You know, spare me.

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  24. Martie wrote: I think 90% of the pushy self-promotion is misdirected at other writers instead of at attracting or enlarging the depressingly small percentage of the population that reads and buys books.

    Writer cons would not exist, if not for marketing to other writers, published or otherwise. There are writers who devote their entire self-promo to bombard their peers.

    I do a great deal of self-promotion away from the blogging community; all of it involves handing out copies of my books to people who are in a position to need or want something to read. I've had success at airports, hospitals, fire stations, libraries, colleges, waiting rooms of all types, churches, and even non-publishing conferences (I was a huge hit at a local businesswomen's monthly meeting.) I ship books overseas to soldiers every month; I'm giving out some of my inspirationals at an upcoming regional quilt show I plan to attend. So far it's worked well for me, and even though it may only represent a couple books per week, I think over the years that I've gotten quite a few readers that way.

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  25. When I was writing Kiss Her Goodbye, I thought...

    Just kidding. Frankly, I HATE self-promotion. Not that I don't do it. But when I do, I feel as if I'm asking for a favor -- and I hate to ask for favors.

    In fact, rather than BSP, I think it should be BB: Blatant Begging.

    Some people do it with great subtlety and I admire that. I haven't yet figured out that particular trick.

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  26. How perfect you are with your timing! I just last week started a site devoted solely to my writing and that of other authors whose work I enjoy or find inspiring. Even have an Interview category for guest authors.

    However, after a week and seeing it as a whole, I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking! I just find it a bit narcissistic and am seriously considering closing the site. Perhaps it was the name I came up with (café muse) and the overall feel of the site that attracted me to create it, but Wordsmith has been around long enough that my readers know where to find me and my work if they want to.

    I’m all for self-promotion, but I just don’t want to be so blatant about it, you know?! I really think it turns people off.

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  27. Isn't it sad there are so few readers these days?

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  28. "brazen hussy" actually made me giggle, but this is a good topic.


    I like your description of neighbors. That's how I see it. And when I see one of my neighbor's books in the store, I think, "hey, there h/she is!" And then somehow the book follows me home. There's really a sense of community online, and I love that.

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  29. This is chock full of insight. No more hijacking threads, or at least do it with class and pertinence.

    Now can I tell you all about the book I'm writing? ;)

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  30. jill terry, I like your blog. You're a very talented young woman. Don't be ashamed to write what you feel.

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  31. Rob wrote: When I was writing Kiss Her Goodbye, I thought...

    Lol.

    Just kidding. Frankly, I HATE self-promotion. Not that I don't do it. But when I do, I feel as if I'm asking for a favor -- and I hate to ask for favors.

    Same here, with a very few exceptions. Once in a while I'll do invitational stuff online for people I like or want to help. I was invited to do a group author promo weekend thing over at Romance Divas last year that was a lot of fun. I don't think I offended too many people that time. The folks who run these group online things make the difference.

    Some people do it with great subtlety and I admire that. I haven't yet figured out that particular trick.

    I can't speak for the guy writers, but with my female peers I'm pretty sure it has something to do with a secret society no one told me about. The Sisterhood of the Thick Red Lipstick and the Breast-Disguising Jacket, maybe. Where is Diana Peterfreund when I need her expertise?

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  32. I usually charge the blatant self-promotion off to inexperience. I would hope people learn a better sense of timing. Some people, in writing as in life, just don't get it. (And if I really was supposed to "shut up, Jean" instead of laugh and reply, I'm one of those people) ;).

    Sandra, I love the space pirate idea.

    Jordan's closet analogy works for me. Eeewww.

    Andi? Amen on the PEOPLE concept. Done right, the blogosphere is a neighborhood. Sometimes you're not fond of your neighbors, but the beauty is they are easier to avoid than when they're mowing their lawn next to you or having a loud party on a weeknight (or any night for that matter).

    As for the cover thumbnails with links, author copy giveaways, and similar things, you do it very tastefully. With the white background, the thumbnails brighten the place up. Besides, it's crazy to think you need to do the Internet equivalent of rubbing ashes on yourself and walk around whipping yourself as being unworthy. Readers want to know how to get to your work. They just don't want to be clubbed over the head with it. There isn't a club in sight here.

    I don't air kiss in real life. I'm not about to start doing it on the Internet.

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  33. Hi, PBW! I'm late, so before I get to my regularly scheduled comment let me start with: Welcome back! I'm so glad that everything is going better at home, and I'm glad our prayers and good thoughts helped! I would have wished you a welcome back sooner, but I've been stuck in bed with the flu.

    Anyway, enough of my problems, onto the comment! I agree that people seem to forget that even though we're not face to face, we're still interacting with people. The internet is way more personal that we think.

    Now as for interrupting to promote your book, I agree, that's rude. Working the book in if it pertains to the conversation, that's different, but to just blatantly interrupt to pimp your book--no matter how politely--is still rude.

    Welcome back, PBW! You've been missed.

    Jason

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  34. Lynn said: "Have you got a copy of that article online, Simon? Would love to read it."

    Given the topic of the blog you can understand why I wasn't about to post a link in my original comment!

    The article in question is here

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  35. A pro writer dropped by my LJ to mention her books; one of my posts had triggered a google alert.

    It was nice of her to comment, and did so very nicely, but she didn't join in the discussion. That left me feeling a bit miffed.

    It's a bit like a pro guitarist like ringing the doorbell: "Hi, I can hear you're having a jam session so you must like rock and roll. Here's a flyer for my gig. Gotta go."

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  36. Lauren5:10 PM

    I think drive by spamming is not only distinctly rude and unhelpful as a promotional tool, I think it's actually a marketing negative.

    People remember that sort of behavior and it's one of my chief complaints about myspace and book/publishing loops. I hate it when other authors use my myspace page to pimp themselves and spam me. That's what *their* pages are for, not mine. It's just basic common sense as well as acting with a bit of civility and manners, IMO.

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  37. Thanks for the congrats, PBW :).

    This discussion reminds me of the writer who friended me on MySpace, and then sent out a bulletin to all their MySpace friends complaining somewhat unpleasantly about people not thanking them for the add. I defriended them promptly. Who needs the hassle?

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  38. Jill wrote: I just last week started a site devoted solely to my writing and that of other authors whose work I enjoy or find inspiring. Even have an Interview category for guest authors.

    Jill never sleeps. I am convinced of this now.

    However, after a week and seeing it as a whole, I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking! I just find it a bit narcissistic and am seriously considering closing the site.

    I know what you're saying. It's hard to talk about yourself and your passions without a certain self-congratulatory tone coming through. Also, it's not fashionable for a writer to be satisfied and happy with what they do. If we don't suffer, it's not art.

    Perhaps it was the name I came up with (café muse) and the overall feel of the site that attracted me to create it, but Wordsmith has been around long enough that my readers know where to find me and my work if they want to.

    I don't think you should avoid trying new things, though. Maybe if you rethink the idea, trim away what bugs you and approach it from a different angle, it would be more comfortable?

    I’m all for self-promotion, but I just don’t want to be so blatant about it, you know?! I really think it turns people off.

    People can be pretty horrible to self-promoters, too. Even if they're very polite and diplomatic, they get slapped down daily by people who dislike what they do, or use them as an opportunity to vent, or both. To put up with that for every new venture -- I tried, exactly once -- I just know I couldn't do it.

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  39. Robin wrote: Isn't it sad there are so few readers these days?

    It's not as sad as it is challenging. I think about people not reading every time I hand out books. I talk folks who haven't read a book in years into reading mine, or one of the books that I love. I bully family and friends, constantly. I handed out four copies of StarDoc today to complete strangers. Maybe only one of them will actually read the book, but she belongs to a reading group, and if she likes it, she said she'll recommend it to her friends. If we all do a little of that regularly, we'll create new readers, or bring the ones who gave up on reading back to the shelves.

    I'm getting down and backing away from the soapbox now, I promise. :)

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  40. Charlene wrote: I like your description of neighbors. That's how I see it. And when I see one of my neighbor's books in the store, I think, "hey, there h/she is!" And then somehow the book follows me home. There's really a sense of community online, and I love that.

    I'm with you -- I love to see books by author/bloggers I know in the store. It's beyond cool to chat online with someone, and then go to the brick and mortar to face out their copies or handsell one to a passing browser. I get even more jazzed when I see one at the grocery store (I don't know why, but it impresses the hell out of me when I see someone I know from online there.) My shopping list should read Get a carton of milk, a dozen eggs, Jo Leigh's latest....

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  41. K wrote: This is chock full of insight. No more hijacking threads, or at least do it with class and pertinence.

    Now can I tell you all about the book I'm writing? ;)


    Lol. Only if I can tell you all about mine. ;)

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  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  43. Jean wrote: I usually charge the blatant self-promotion off to inexperience. I would hope people learn a better sense of timing. Some people, in writing as in life, just don't get it. (And if I really was supposed to "shut up, Jean" instead of laugh and reply, I'm one of those people) ;).

    True enough. And the order to shut up came from the fact that I could hear you snickering inside my head as I was writing about how reserved and quiet I am.

    Sometimes you're not fond of your neighbors, but the beauty is they are easier to avoid than when they're mowing their lawn next to you or having a loud party on a weeknight (or any night for that matter).

    I'm embroidering this on a pillow, to remind me to behave the next time I'm tempted to stuff one in the mouth of an annoying neighbor.

    As for the cover thumbnails with links, author copy giveaways, and similar things, you do it very tastefully. With the white background, the thumbnails brighten the place up. Besides, it's crazy to think you need to do the Internet equivalent of rubbing ashes on yourself and walk around whipping yourself as being unworthy.

    Not that there are plenty of people who would pay money and stand in line all day to see me do that.

    Readers want to know how to get to your work. They just don't want to be clubbed over the head with it. There isn't a club in sight here.

    I know, but my situation is a little weird. I started this blog, long before I went public with it, as a way to share info and stay updated with a few writer friends. I didn't gear it toward readers at all; I had the web sites for them. I guess that's why I still feel off-kilter with the self-promo aspect of the blog. Yeah, it's there, and I put it there because the web sites came down, readers have been coming here looking for info and it needed to be done. But still! My motives were pure! Lol.

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  44. Note: deleted comment was mine. Somehow I double-posted what I wrote to Jean.

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  45. Jason wrote: I'm so glad that everything is going better at home, and I'm glad our prayers and good thoughts helped! I would have wished you a welcome back sooner, but I've been stuck in bed with the flu.

    Ugh, I'm sorry to hear that last part, Jason. If it's not too late, Gatorade slushies help a lot whenever I have a cold or the flu.

    I agree that people seem to forget that even though we're not face to face, we're still interacting with people. The internet is way more personal that we think.

    Way more personal, and heavily-laden with incessant self-Googlers. It's amazing how many people I've been accused of insulting when I didn't even know them. It's like the Ugly Stepsister Syndrome; if you put a shoe out here, lots of people are going to shove their feet into it and declare that it fits them perfectly (and does that make me a Princess?)

    Now as for interrupting to promote your book, I agree, that's rude. Working the book in if it pertains to the conversation, that's different, but to just blatantly interrupt to pimp your book--no matter how politely--is still rude.

    One thing I've noticed -- if you can work in a mention of your book during a discussion and its funny (the mention, not the book), 99.9% of the people don't take offense. There is always going to be someone who hates you no matter what you write, so that's the 1% who will badmouth you, but humor may be the key to non-blatant self-promo.

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  46. After I demanded a link, Simon wrote: Given the topic of the blog you can understand why I wasn't about to post a link in my original comment!

    You are the soul of discretion, sir. And thank you for the link -- excellent article, with very sound advice. I wish we weren't on opposite sides of the planet, because I've always suspected you are as fun in person as you are online (and for those of you who don't want to scroll up, you can read Simon's article by clicking here.)

    The article in question is here

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  47. Ignore that last line on the above comment. I'm stuttering tonight, I guess.

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  48. Zornhau wrote: A pro writer dropped by my LJ to mention her books; one of my posts had triggered a google alert.

    It was nice of her to comment, and did so very nicely, but she didn't join in the discussion. That left me feeling a bit miffed.


    Lord, I hope that wasn't me. I think I've commented on your blog a few times, but after one of your more important visitors made an ignorant remark about me, I stayed away, mainly to avoid embarrassing him and by extension, you.

    It's a bit like a pro guitarist like ringing the doorbell: "Hi, I can hear you're having a jam session so you must like rock and roll. Here's a flyer for my gig. Gotta go."

    Could be comfort zone, too. You and your guys at the blog are all so knowledgable about swords and fighting that I know I felt like an ugly freshman at Prom the one time I got into a discussion about them. That's silly, but hey, I'm a girl.

    I know. I'll visit every day and make you lower your comment expectations! Lol.

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  49. It's a total turnoff for me when authors post to an email group something like, "Popping up out of deep lurk to announce ....," or "Hi, I am new here and so excited to announce ..."

    Like I am going to rush out to buy the book of an author who does nothing on a list but post about her own books. YUK.

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  50. Lauren, whose comment I missed last night while I was catching up, wrote: I think drive by spamming is not only distinctly rude and unhelpful as a promotional tool, I think it's actually a marketing negative.

    Sorry I skipped this, L. Drive by spamming -- perfect description.

    People remember that sort of behavior and it's one of my chief complaints about myspace and book/publishing loops. I hate it when other authors use my myspace page to pimp themselves and spam me. That's what *their* pages are for, not mine. It's just basic common sense as well as acting with a bit of civility and manners, IMO.

    I've yet to hear of an author who created a MySpace.com page for any reason other than self-promo, dupping their blog, or because all the other authors were doing it. I hope no one decides authors jumping off a cliff would be good for sales.

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  51. Jude wrote: It's a total turnoff for me when authors post to an email group something like, "Popping up out of deep lurk to announce ....," or "Hi, I am new here and so excited to announce ..."

    The sincerity meter definitely flat lines on that one.

    Like I am going to rush out to buy the book of an author who does nothing on a list but post about her own books. YUK.

    I tend to give immunity to rookies announcing their first release, because I know how exciting that moment is; you want to tell everyone in the world, and you can't understand why the entire world isn't as thrilled as you are. It's like getting married for the first time, you're in love with love, and everyone gets the gilt-edged invitation whether or not they like you and/or the groom.

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  52. Thank you, Lynn and Pat Logan, for your uplifting comments and suggestions. I’ve decided to float with it for a while and see where the winds carry me.

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  53. I do attend authors chats from time to time, typically to support the authors who I love their work, or that I know them personally. I have also attended book/industry chats to ask an editor questions about guidelines, etc. However, I do not go to any of these events in order to pimp my own work. To me, shameless self promotion at someone else's event seems a little desperate and unprofessional.

    I have; however, been singled out a time or two at such an event with questions about my books by the rare person who happened to recognize my name. To be polite, I personalize my response to that individual so I am not hogging the thread, and always keep my response to their question brief and to the point.

    I've seen similar things happen when I've hosted/attended other author chats, and I do appreciate and admire an author's finese at handling that kind of situation. Being brief but polite, keeps the main topic on track, and at the same time, is respectful to the person asking the question.

    As for the blog thing... That is a matter of perspective, I think, and I make allowances for those that blog only promo in theirs. It's fine with me if that's what they do; however, I don't typically return again and again to those blogs.

    I personally write all kinds of crazy things in my blog: daily life, stuff about my kids, my family AND my books. I do post promos when I have a release coming out - all that on top of a bunch of other things. If someone wants to sift through all that and read it, that's great! Just keep in mind when you're reading about my wrangling with the laundry, or that I'm ripping out the bathroom tile, while you are a welcome guest to peek in on my life and struggles, my blog is there for me.

    I recently came across a blog where a reader circle was complaining that authors spend too much time blathering on our blogs, and that we should stick to blogging about our books. The problem I have with that, is this: shouldn't that information be the meat and potatoes of their author website - which is where I am going to go if I want to find out about their books? I read an author's blog when I've read their books, and want to know more about the woman/man holding the pen.

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  54. Lynn said I've always suspected you are as fun in person as you are online

    Fun in person ... thanks! (And likewise, by the way.)

    I have a very dry sense of humour and I'm hoping people suddenly stop in the street 3 hours after speaking to me and start laughing as they realise just exactly what it was I said. (I hope so, because they sure as hell don't laugh when I say it...)

    If you want an example of funny in person, check my latest blog post wherein I detail the recent events at a staid teacher/librarian/promo/PD do.

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  55. Lynn said 've yet to hear of an author who created a MySpace.com page for any reason other than self-promo, dupping their blog, or because all the other authors were doing it.

    The blogosphere is mostly writers, whereas Myspace is mostly readers. There's a huge difference in the audience for each.

    I joined because I kept seeing Myspace denigrated on Slashdot, and I thought I'd go and see what all the fuss was about. And I've enjoyed every minute since - including making contact with a friend I knew at school 34 years ago, when we were both 6.

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  56. Hi . . .visiting via a link in Elizabeth Bear's blog.

    And speaking of writers linking to other writers, I think the nicest sort of promotion is when writers promote one another's work simply because they love a good tale (or a good blog entry, for that matter).

    As for self-promotion, perhaps it just has to be done according to one's strengths. For example, Robin Hobb uses a newsgroup for self-promotion and that works for her because she has a gift for making that virtual space feel like she has invited people into her home. It's cozy there. She found something that really works for her. Elizabeth Bear manages to post links to all her reviews, good and bad, on her blog with not a hint of hurt feelings when someone doesn't like her work. That makes posting the reviews seem okay. Some writers really can work Cons and gain readers that way: Scott Lynch can be hilarious in-person and I bought his book after seeing him on a couple Con panels.

    The rather sad thing, I think, is that a gift for storytelling is not always accompanied by the ability to blog wittily, or be funny at a Con, or even talk to other people in-person well. And when all writers feel pressured to promote themselves but some of them don't possess the gifts to do so, well, the results can be ICKY.

    Well, and now I shall go look up Lynn Viehl's books. This seems to be my new method of book-buying: find a blog, like a blog, buy a book. :-)

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  57. I think that if you can't take the topic at hand, veer around to the topic of your own writing, and make it sound plausible....then either you're way, way off topic, or you're not that damn good of a writer. Either way, you should hush.

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  58. Anonymous2:36 PM

    I've read most of these comments and no one seems to realize that if you go to persons blog, you will read about that person!! I know Janet and until you realize just how good she is at what she does, no one has any room to talk. Anyone on here published? Anyone know about POD publishing? I doubt it. It is thanks to Janet that Star publishing and ONLY Star publishing is on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and Borders. Check some of the authors there. You won't find any better anywhere!!

    Ron unwriter Berry

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  59. OK, I tried to post this earlier, but it didn'st show up, so I will try it again.
    First of all, I have NEVER had so much attention when I wasn't even in attendance. I'm thrilled that you have had fun with my article. It is good to know that it sparked such a heated debate.
    I would like to point out a couple of things. In the quote Lynn gave above, I said "POLITELY" and "if it comes up in the conversation..." That implies that you were already there and knew what was going on, and that the other parties know you, at least a little.
    I totally agree that it is rude, distasteful and just plain dumb to jump in and brag about your book, then disappear completely. I did not mean to offend Lynn (or anyone else) with my Brazen Hussies Code of Ethics. Anybody who knows me or who has read my column on a continuous basis knows that I love to have fun. I often say things with my tongue in my cheek. Once in awhile that backfires.
    I do hope this conversation will spark some interest in my column in Writers Journal. Who knows? This blog just might be the topic of an upcoming column. Lynn, are you up for some free publicity? I'll check back later to see if you will give me an OK.
    And now, in the interest of political correctness, if you want to see what my books are, I guess you'll just have to go Google me!
    Janet Elaine Smith
    http://janetesmithstarbooks.tripod.com

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  60. Anonymous7:42 PM

    It's unfortunate that a good writer is put down when her sense of humor is misunderstood. Of her 15 books, I've read 12 and will read the rest. Janet is an author I have heard of, but the others on this list are unknown. That should prove something.

    unwriter

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  61. I also know Janet and know her comments were mis-constued. Is Janet a brazen hussy when it comes to promotion--you bet. The thing is, she's just as likely to be brazen about promoting another author's book as she is her own--she wants share what she feels is good--and who doesn't think their own book is good? I wouldn't be seeing half the success I am with Storm if Janet hadn't been there pushing for me and helping me know what to do. She's good people AND good at promotion--we can all learn from her!
    Joyce A. Anthony http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/

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  62. There is a time to sow and a time to reap!

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  63. Janet wrote: First of all, I have NEVER had so much attention when I wasn't even in attendance. I'm thrilled that you have had fun with my article. It is good to know that it sparked such a heated debate.

    Hey Janet, thanks for stopping in. Methods of self-promotion are a regular topic of discussion here, and I really enjoyed how you turned around that insult and made it work for you.

    Lynn, are you up for some free publicity? I'll check back later to see if you will give me an OK.

    If there's something here that would appeal to your readers, sure. I'd rather not have this turn into an blog vs. magazine flame war, is all.

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  64. unwriter wrote: It's unfortunate that a good writer is put down when her sense of humor is misunderstood. Of her 15 books, I've read 12 and will read the rest. Janet is an author I have heard of, but the others on this list are unknown. That should prove something.

    I see this more as a debate over advice, not a put-down. I've been recommending Writer's Journal magazine here for a while, and I thought Janet's article had a lot of merit to it. I also thought the suggestion I quoted could be seriously misconstrued by readers, which is why I brought it up. The problem with inappropriate self-promotion is one we wrestle with constantly here in the online publishing community.

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  65. Joyce wrote: I also know Janet and know her comments were mis-constued. Is Janet a brazen hussy when it comes to promotion--you bet. The thing is, she's just as likely to be brazen about promoting another author's book as she is her own--she wants share what she feels is good--and who doesn't think their own book is good? I wouldn't be seeing half the success I am with Storm if Janet hadn't been there pushing for me and helping me know what to do. She's good people AND good at promotion--we can all learn from her!

    There's a glowing endorsement.

    Before any more friends of Janet arrive to post their support, keep in mind that I don't censor comments, I don't encouragement trolls or flame wars, and I will not delete what you post unless it's obvious SPAM. That also goes for the several hundred regular visitors, many of whom are bestselling authors, who stop in here daily to discuss the biz.

    Let's try to keep it civilized, folks.

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  66. That encouragement up there should be encourage. I am Queen of Planet Typo today.

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  67. Thanks for your OK to use this, Lynn. No way do I want to use it for flaming purposes. I intend to make the most of it to show how much fun you can have with blogging, even if you are an "innocent bystander"! LOL!

    In fact, go to http://starpublishnews.tripod.com and look at my editorial this week on the Industry News page. You're up there, kiddo! I have also talked to Leon, my boss at Writers Journal, and we plan to make use of it for one of my columns. It probably won't show up until the Sept/Oct issue.

    Just look at it this way: I'm trying to save you all the embarrassment of having to do your own self-promotion!!!
    See you in print.
    Janet

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  68. Hey, Lynn,
    Would you please e-mail me at janetelainesmith@yahoo.com ? I host a weekly Internet Radio broadcast at http://internetvoicesradio.com and I would love to have you on as a guest. It is on Mon. evenings 9:30-10 ET. We are running over 80,000 listeners now!
    Janet

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  69. As always when there is "a thin line," there really is no line. It's a judgement call.

    "Speaking of pet care, you should buy my new novel about a one-armed robot private detective investigating a murder. He has a pet. It's a fish. And it dies on page two. Because of poor pet care." I suspect we'd all find this fairly tacky.

    On the other hand: "Speaking of brushing a cat's teeth, I have a piece coming out in Cat Stuff called 'How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth and Come Away with All Your Fingers.' Pick up a copy, and if you like the piece, let them know." I see nothing wrong with that.

    Of course, there's a substantial range of possibilities between those two examples.

    On your own blog or site, you can do what you like, of course.

    And speaking of self-promotion, I have nothing to promote. Although I'm thinking about writing a novel about a one-armed robot detective with a pet fish....

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