Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Promotion Etiquette

Last 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?

  • Do not ask someone to review your book if they have not read it
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Do not post YOUR book link/book cover/blog link on a friend’s Facebook timeline.
  • 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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