Book Promotion Etiquette

Lovelier05Last week, I blogged about Marketing for Introverts. I listed a few marketing tips I hope will be helpful. Today, I’d like to talk about marketing etiquette. As an author and a book blogger/reviewer, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share with you. Recently, there have been some rumblings on Facebook and Twitter in which other bloggers have voiced their frustration with authors. It seems there are a few authors who might need to brush up on their communication skills. For some of you, the following list of tips might seem like common sense. For others who are new to the art of book promotion, some of these tips might come in handy.

Book Promotion Etiquette:

  1. Paid Blog Tours: When participating in a paid blog tour, you might be tempted to fall back on the old adage “The customer is always right.” As a paying customer, you have the right to certain expectations (you’ll receive the amount of blog spots you paid for, the blog tour company will be courteous and professional, any promotional materials purchased will be provided in a timely manner). As an author, you have certain responsibilities. You must be sure to answer interview questions, provide cover art, or forward excerpts as requested. Blog tour companies work very hard to make sure their tour hosts have the materials they need. You should make a reasonable effort to do your part in making the blog tour a success.
  2. Setting up your own blog tour/ Seeking Reviewers: This category makes up a huge amount of your promotional efforts, so I’m going to break this down:
    1. Be as polite and accommodating as possible. Most bloggers review books and interview authors on their own time. They are not paid for their efforts and receive very little (or no compensation) through ads posted on their site. Since they are promoting your book at no cost to you, please acknowledge their efforts by thanking them. You’d be surprised how many authors fail to do this.
    2. Do not hound the blogger by asking how many hits their blog gets in a month. If you’re not paying us to promote your book–if we’re basically doing YOU a favor–please do not interrogate the blogger or treat our communication like a job interview. I understand that as a busy author, you want to maximize your promotional efforts. We’re busy too. Please don’t ask us how we intend to promote your post. If you do a little research, you can figure out how many views the blog receives or how often the blogger promotes their posts.
    3. Send requested materials before the deadline. Proofread your excerpt or interview answers. Don’t make the blogger have to beg you for materials or put them in the position where they have to do extensive proofreading before posting you promotional spot.
    4. When contacting book reviewers, you need to prepare to do some research ahead of time. It is critical that you thoroughly read their policies and follow their instructions. Does the reviewer accept your genre? Are they accepting reviews at all? Be sure to send them the information they need in the format they’ve requested. If they’ve asked you to email your book information, don’t post your Amazon link in the comment section of their blog. Don’t send them a PDF when they’ve clearly indicated they only accept a MOBI. Don’t tell them you’re only looking for 5 star reviews, and if you can’t provide that, they shouldn’t read your book. And, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT tell them to BUY your book in order to review it. (Yes, people do these things. Yes, that’s why I no longer accept unsolicited review requests.)
    5. After a promotional spot has been posted, it’s okay to notify the blogger if your name is misspelled or if there’s a broken link. Most bloggers are perfectionists and we want our posts to be perfect. If there’s a mistake, let us know.
    6. Correcting misinformation is one thing–demanding that the blogger reorganize his post is quite another. Please don’t email us five times throughout the day demanding that we re-order the interview questions. Or suggest we mention their book won a cheesy cover contest. Or tell us how many times a day we should Tweet about your special sale price.
    7. Prepare to promote. Most book bloggers will promote your post on Twitter or on their own Facebook page. I usually promote twice on Twitter and once on Facebook. If you want your post to receive additional exposure, you should be prepared to share it with others. Not only does it help your book receive attention, it also makes the blogger feel like you appreciate their hard work.
  3. Pimping your book on Facebook:
    1. Groups: There are lots of promotional groups/writers groups on Facebook. Each group has their own rules. Please read and follow the group rules. If the group is strictly for discussion, do not post your book link unless invited to do so. Even groups that allow promotion frown on spam-and-go members. If you don’t intend to interact with members, you shouldn’t join the group.
    2. Pages: In order to promote a book on a Facebook Page, you’ll usually need to contact a Page Admin. Read the “About” section on the page to find out what genre the Page promotes. Be polite when contacting the Admin. You are not in a position to demand anything, so please be courteous when making your requests. Most Admins are more apt to promote your book if you are a regular follower who participates on the page by making comments or sharing.
    3. Your own Newsfeed or Page: I can’t tell you how often to post book links on your own page. Do what feels comfortable. Just be aware that less is more. If you post several times a day, you might find yourself with fewer friends and followers.
  4. Pimping your book on Twitter: I don’t have a vast amount of experience on Twitter, but there are a couple of things that really irk Tweeps:
    1. Misuse of hashtags: Hashtags are used to categorize your Tweets. It’s a way to make keywords standout and can also be used to spark conversations with likeminded people. For example, #amwriting is a hashtag used by writers who are talking about the craft. It is NOT used to promote your book or Facebook page. Be careful when using hashtags. You won’t get kicked off Twitter for misusing hashtags, but you might alienate a bunch of people.
    2. Overusing hashtags: #Check out my #new #book. #kindle #twilight #american idol #awesome #buy now. Be careful not to use too many hashtags. Two or three are quite enough.
    3. Direct messages that link to a Facebook or Amazon page. I’ve never unfollowed someone for sending me a direct message, but some people will. If you want to send an automated tweet to new followers, I won’t stop you. Just be aware most people will delete the message without following your links.
  5. Book Signings: If you want to have a book signing at a bookshop or library, it’s wise to consult their website first to find out what their policies might be. When calling a bookshop, be polite and professional. Find out what materials are provided (table? chair?) and what materials you should bring. Don’t bring candy or cookies unless you clear it with the bookshop owner first. Be sure to clean up afterwards and thank the bookshop owner (in writing) for accommodating you. Some stores will allow you to leave a stack of bookmarks or business cards, but do not do so without asking first.
  6. Asking friends and other authors to promote your book: Here’s where it gets tricky. Authors like to help other authors, but there are limits to what we’re willing to do. If an author-friend shares your book link, it’s nice to reciprocate. You don’t have to do it right away, but be prepared to share their book link somewhere down the line. If they Retweet one of your promotional Tweets, it’s nice to do the same. Share. Reciprocate. And always thank those who help you. So, where do authors draw the line?
    1. Do not ask someone to review your book if they have not read it
    2. Do not “remind” your friends that they “owe” you a review. If they read the book and didn’t like it, you’re putting them in an awkward position.
    3. If an author/friend has been kind enough to review your book, don’t ask them to remove/alter the review because they said something you didn’t like.
    4. Do not ask an author to one-star another author’s book because you’ve engaged in a petty war with that person (This isn’t middle school, folks)
    5. Do not ask other authors to vote for your book in a contest. It’s fine to share a link to the contest to let others know your book has been nominated.
    6. Do not post YOUR book link/book cover/blog link on a friend’s Facebook timeline.
    7. Do not complain about other authors on Facebook/ Twitter. It’s petty and will always come back to bite you in the a$$.

I think we’ve all made mistakes when it comes to marketing and social media. A little kindness, gratitude, and common sense is all you need to navigate the wild world of book promotion and social media. Bloggers, reviewers, and authors are generally nice people. If you’re courteous and professional, most people will be willing to help you out.

Okay, authors–what unwritten rules can you add to the above list? For book bloggers/reviewers out there–what would you like authors to know? Please feel free to add your comments below.

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32 thoughts on “Book Promotion Etiquette

  1. One thing that should be added to pimping on Facebook: Don’t pimp your posts to EVERY group or page you belong at the exact same time! There are numerous people who belong to the same groups as you do, and If a person sees the same post show up in rapid succession on their newsfeed, they tend to ignore it. I know I do.

  2. Things that will make me ignore you on Twitter: Auto DMs (even a “thanks for following” seems really insincere if it comes 30 seconds after I follow and is clearly automated), never tweeting anything but your own promos and/or RTing other people’s promos, and constantly promoting sites that help you unfollow people who don’t follow back (I’ve unfollowed for this alone). I use Twitter to connect with people, not to be marketed to, and not to play a “who can get the most followers?” game when no one is listening to each other, anyway. Oh, and tweeting the same thing over and over makes me think you have nothing else to say.

    If you seem like a real person and talk about real/interesting/amusing things most of the time, are actually PRESENT, and take the time to engage with people once in a while, I’ll be happy to click through when you do link to your book. Otherwise, you’ll get muted. I don’t have time to read people who do nothing but promote.

    Great post! Like you said, this should all be common sense (be polite, don’t take advantage of people, don’t assume that your time is more valuable than everyone else’s or that you have a “right” to be heard), but it’s just not. I think I’ll probably go too far the other way when it’s time to promote– I won’t want to be a bother to anyone, so I’ll be hesitant to approach bloggers or promote my work. Need to find a balance…

    • I never, ever bother with direct messages on Twitter. The quickest way to get hacked is to click on a DM link. I agree – those instant “Thanks for following” DMs make it pretty obvious they’re using an automated service.

      I think you’ve made a great point with your comment. There’s a sense of self-importance among some authors who think they’re too busy to engage with others. They have time to beg others to share their links, but don’t have time to thank anyone who helps them. True story: A woman befriended me on FB. We never interacted until she messaged me and asked me to vote for her cover in a cover contest. When I didn’t respond right away, she messaged me again to remind me that the contest ended soon. Needless to say, we are no longer ‘friends’ on FB. I don’t mind helping someone out, but when you’re demanding I stop what I’m doing to vote for a book I’ve never read? Nope.

      • Exactly. Be kind, be friendly, share interesting things that are NOT your book and help other people out, and then you’ll have a community that’s willing to help you. At least, I hope so…

      • Sorry that happened to you, Tricia. Sometimes I wonder who’s really trying to connect because they like me as a person, or who’s just using me for networking opportunities. I couldn’t be pushy even if I wanted to; I’m too shy. Which reminds me, I have to read your how to promote for the introverts :)

        Keep smiling,
        Yawatta

  3. OMG I’m a book reviewer too, and I totally agree with you about some authors needing to learn asking etiquette. A lot of people are nice to the point that I wouldn’t mind working with them again. But some people (not all, but some) are really pushy. They demand I change something in a post or that I add my review to 10 million other sites (even though at the beginning, I list the ones I use), or just give send me their other books expecting a review without asking me if I’d like to spend my time doing that for them.

    Sorry about the rant LOL…I’m all about helping other authors because I like reading and getting to know people. It’s cool if a review or an author interview helps someone with promotion. in no way, shape, or form would I ever think an author owes me because they helped me out.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

    • Feel free to rant anytime! :)

      Like you said, most authors are very polite and gracious. I truly don’t expect anything more than a thank you from them. I’m happy to help out any way I can, and I think most authors are willing to do the same. There are only a few who are rude or pushy. Thank you for everything you do to help authors. I hope the few authors who are pushy don’t deter you from continuing to do reviews. I appreciate you!

  4. Tricia, as always, an excellent article. One piece of advice particularly resonated with me, not posting your links on someone else’s page. This’s happened to me twice recently & I was furious. How rude can you get posting links on someone else’s page, without even asking? Anyway, keep up the good work..

    • Exactly, Kate. It’s the height of rudeness. I fixed my privacy settings so that no one can post on my page without my approval. Sorry that happened to you. It’s very aggravating.

  5. Pingback: Blogdom Feb. 26-Mar. 26, ’14 | The ToiBox of Words

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