Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

10 Author Online Promotional Don’ts

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

At RWA, I along with SmartBitch Sarah, Ann Aguirre, Barb Ferrer, and Carrie Lofty (ABC Girls) will be giving a seminar regarding online promotions. I’ve been paying attention to online promotion around the internet so I can say something worthwhile at the panel. I’ve been online, perusing the online community and bumping into authors here and there since 1997. Here are few of my observations regarding Author Online Promotional Don’ts.

1. Don’t say that most the novels in x subgenre are awful and that’s why you decided to write a novel in x subgenre. You are just asking for everyone in x subgenre to rip your work apart.

2. Don’t enter a reader discussion regarding a) books they like, b) books they don’t like, and c) topics they are interested in reading with a recommendation for your books. It’s intrusive and rude.   The readers are engaging in a discussion and if you haven’t participated before it looks like you are hijacking a thread for your own selfish purposes instead of engaging readers in a conversation.

3. Don’t use a social media tool like twitter and facebook and fail to use the social part of the tool. In other words, interact.

4. Don’t have a blog with a bunch of flash. No matter how cool you think it looks, it’s a good bet that at least half your existing or potential readership will be annoyed and click away.

5. Don’t stick to just the romance community. Surely you have other interests other than writing romance? Go forth and seek out new and fertile ground.

6. Don’t use poor grammar in blurbs, either in comments or in recommending your book in situations such as No. 2.   It makes readers wonder how good your writing actually is.

7.   Don’t stay off the internet, immobolized by fear of the do’s and don’ts of interacting. Find a safe haven where you can feel comfortable.   There are places where the message board hosts allow for only positive interaction.   Go forth and use these forums to get your feet wet.   Authoring is solitary endeavor and the internet provides you some interaction, albeit through your laptop, but it’s still interaction.

8. Don’t ever type a comment or blog post while angry.   Step away, call a friend, eat an entire pie.

9. Don’t spam readers. Authors are on facebook, twitter, goodreads, librarything, and every other social network on the internet but the readers on these places are there to interact and not to be spammed.

10. Don’t be fake. In other words, don’t try to adopt a persona that you are not. Readers flock to authenticity and turn away from facades. Unless it is a damn good facade.

In general, employ the golden rule. If it pisses you off, don’t do it. If you wonder if you should do it, don’t do it (or at least phone a friend and ask for a second opinion).   Unless, of course, you are as cute as the kittens in the picture then rules don’t apply to you. Your cuteness overcomes all. Got more don’ts for authors?   Have a problem with my list? Sound off!

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

138 Comments

  1. Sami
    May 26, 2009 @ 04:39:41

    Ooh, I hate that hijacking a thread thing. By the way, did you know I have another book coming out later in the year :)

    I don’t do much promo at all. I have a site and a blog and I post on other blogs when the mood strikes, but that’s more about me spouting my ever-at-the-ready opinions than a deliberate promo attempt. Occasionally I buy ad space for a book cover, and that’s about it. Boil it down and the fact is I just don’t have time. I tried to start a Facebook page but it was all so much trouble. Perhaps I’m getting too old for it all, because the fact they demanded my age really pissed me off (there wasn’t a ‘none of your f*#$%ing business’ option on the drop down menu so I was left with no recourse but the Back button).

    Oh yep. Definitely too much of a curmudgeon to spam people. “If it pisses you off, don't do it” said it all for me. Do unto others…

  2. Nora Roberts
    May 26, 2009 @ 05:16:02

    As someone who’s broken it in the past, I’d like to say Rule #8 deserves repeating.

    Respecting that single rule can save authors–and readers–a lot of trouble and regret.

    Plus, MMMMM, pie.

  3. Michelle
    May 26, 2009 @ 05:35:25

    Don’t defend plagiarism, ever. That alone will have me cross you off my list faster than your head will spin. (Lori Foster did this on the romantic times board-luckily I can’t stand her work so no loss for me. But I just don’t understand how authors can defend plagiarism unless they are guilty of it themselves or are planning to do so in the future).

    Also don’t be rude and arrogant about other authors. Don’t attack other authors by calling them greedy, or talentless hacks. When you attack popular authors you come off as jealous or petty. ( I remeber when one author went on a rant about J.K. Rowling-not good. I don’t care if you don’t like an author’s work but when you go off on personal attacks it makes you appear unstable).

  4. Kristen
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:11:09

    At last! Permission to eat an entire pie! This is a very good day.

  5. Carrie Lofty
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:11:57

    ABC Girls. Nice. I’m getting all antsy for July :)

  6. Emma Wayne Porter
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:16:23

    It’s been said a thousand times, but once more can’t hurt: Please don’t have music on your website.

    And keep your email signatures short and simple.

  7. katiebabs
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:28:37

    Eat a pie? LOL. I would say have a beer or a few shots, but then getting drunk of commenting or going on Twitter and dwittering is not a good thing either.

  8. Leeann Burke
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:35:03

    I agree with all your rules, specially #8. If I get upset over an email, blog or post I write my response in a word document save it and come back to it a few hours or even a day later when I’m calmer. Usually (95% of the time) I simply delete the response and let it go.

    Before I sold my book I used to participate in reader loops a lot . I love talking about books I’ve read, still do. However I found that the moment authors started to post about their books on loops readers participation would start to drop off. Now that I’m published I still try to take part in the reader loops (not as much as I used to) but I don’t talk about my book on the reader loops.

    Jane when is your workshop scheduled and will be open to everyone or PAN member only? I want to make sure not to miss it if I can attend it.

  9. joanne
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:50:04

    Maybe there should be a Don’t Forget Who Is Reading Your Online Posts?

    I think the answer is: You never know.

    If you say something that is germane to the site you are on but a lurker sees it and doesn’t understand the essence of that site –or they don’t get that what you are responding to is an ongoing or ‘inside’ joke — they may/will take it out of context.

    Eat the pie.
    Better yet, keep writing the books.
    Readers WILL find you, you probably just don’t want them to find you when you’re having a really bad day.

  10. Elaine
    May 26, 2009 @ 06:59:03

    #9 joanne:

    I was just mentally writing something along the lines of “don’t confuse your professional web log with your journal” but you said it better. Although I like hearing about writers’ personal lives, there is such a thing as Too Much Information. Perhaps writers should adopt some sort of fictionalized ideal reader of her web log: envision writing letters to a beloved great-aunt, who was somewhat racy in her day but Still Has Standards.

    I also don’t want a lot of angst. If I want angst, I’ll read the news and political and economics blogs.

  11. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 07:10:24

    Oh, god. Musical websites. I wish they could be banned from the Internet. Hey, I like music. I just don’t like being ambushed by music. There is a difference.

    Oh, and videos that start on their own are just as bad, you know. I do not know how many times lately I’ve loaded a site and been doing something else and suddenly there’s this “noise” of someone talking that I don’t even know where it’s coming from — only to find out it’s a video on another site that’s loading in the background on top of whatever I’ve already trying to listen to.

    Okay, what were we talking about? ;) Personally, I think the biggest mistake most authors make online is wanting to sell or defend their own books and wanting to be a reader buddy at the same time – without shifting gears, mindsets or whatever you want to call it. There is a time and place for both and they do not mix. Thinking they can is what leads authors to believing it’s okay to pop up in the middle of reader discussions or anywhere else for that matter. When authors are talking about their own books they are not another reader.

    I did think the entire pie thing was going overboard, however. I’m more of a cake person. Of course, it depends upon the pie. ;)

  12. Lynne Simpson
    May 26, 2009 @ 07:19:06

    @Emma Wayne Porter: Amen! If you’re determined to have music, have it off by default and let users click a button to switch it on, if they’re so inclined.

    Email signatures any longer than three lines are over the top, IMO. One for your name, another for your web site URL, and maybe a third if you’ve got a book out now. That’s plenty.

  13. Jessica G.
    May 26, 2009 @ 07:52:01

    I see a lot of bad author promos on GoodReads. They’ll post blurbs in forums that are completely irrelevant (a humor travel bio in a forum dedicated to reading the classics, srsly?). I hate when authors friend me the most. They’ll add me even though I don’t read their genre and we have no groups in common. If it was an author I have on my shelf already, I’m ok with that. But otherwise I know you’re just trying to add as many friends as possible so you can push your book.

  14. Alyssa Day
    May 26, 2009 @ 07:55:23

    #8 is a biggie and I’d add “stressed out” to “angry.” I’ve shot off posts when stressed and then read it when sane and found that I was a big pile of toxic overreaction. I always regret it.

    Also, PIE!!

  15. Jane O
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:07:07

    Since I am just a reader, I am, I suppose, part of the target audience for those promoting books on line, so let me put in my two cents.

    1. I hate when an author pops into a discussion of a book with, “Hey, if you like X, why not try my new book, Y?” Guaranteed I will not try it. Ever. That’s just plain rude.

    2. I have sometimes encountered discussions in which an author will express patronizing tolerance/disdain/contempt for an entire subgenre and its readers, especially inspirational or erotica. This is rather like the “superior” attitude of those who dismiss the entire romance genre as bodice-ripping porn. I find this arrogant and would rather not spend my time in the company of such people, so I do not want to read their books.

    3. Like many people, authors have strong opinions on a variety of political and social issues that may have nothing whatever to do with the books they write. However, when they express these ideas online, they may affect readers’ perceptions of their books. It seems to me that it would be a good idea for authors to have separate online personae -’ one private and opinionated, one authorial and circumspect.

    4. Exception to 3: when the subject is one that is relevant to authorship, such as piracy or plagiarism, all authors should speak up.

  16. Julieb
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:13:59

    Amen to so much here!

    If you have the opportunity to sit on a panel at a convention, remember that it isn’t all about you – unless you’re the only panelist. There’s no faster way to turn off your readers than hijacking every conversation to pimp your book. Double whammy points if you do that from the audience.

  17. Maili
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:14:45

    For me, the most important rule: Don’t abuse your relationship with your readers (or fans, if you prefer to call them).

    Too many times I have seen authors asking their readers to attack other readers or reviewers for making negative comments about their books.

    I’m also sneery of authors who used their readers to launch a single war to push their books up a list or win a contest. There’s a difference between “It’d be fun if my book wins. Vote for it if you loved it!” and “I put EVERYTHING in my book. I NEED you to justify that by voting for my book!” or some other emotional blackmail BS they liked to pull.

  18. limecello
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:17:49

    Ah, here we go. While I’ve talked about some similar things, #3 gets me. Why would an author have say, a Facebook page, or a twitter account, and make it private?
    I can understand if it is the author’s personal account. Yes- hide the hell out of that thing. But using his/her pen name? And book cover as an avatar – and then forcing someone to follow/friend/request to see any of your information?
    It… just makes no sense to me.

  19. Lynne Connolly
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:32:10

    8. Don't ever type a comment or blog post while angry. Step away, call a friend, eat an entire pie.

    Have you seen how much weight I’ve put on recently?

    I’ve done it – sent a mail or added a comment when I’m angry or upset, and I’ve usually regretted it later. So these days, I tend to write it and then save it in my drafts folder, then go back to it later, and see if I either need to scrap it, or edit it. Chances are it gets scrapped.

    Maybe I should move to Wigan.

  20. Anon76
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:35:31

    Don’t mass email promo without paying heed to the rules of the sites or loops you are posting to.

    While I understand that it can be a real pita to find the time to promo while continuing to write, work, have a life, raise kids, whatever…blindly sending out promo in mass quantities can drive site owners nuts.

    Many sites have rules in place because of the vast number of authors seeking free promo opportunities. These can range from things like PG rating, to number of promos a month, to restrictions on graphics sizes, etc. Pay attention.

    And please, for the love of God, don’t post excerpt after excerpt after excerpt. Readers get tired of 1) reading the same excerpt over and over, or 2) reading half the darn book in excerpt form. Why would they bother to purchase it after that? Your name becomes an automatic skip-over, so your promo efforts are wasted.

  21. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:37:47

    You know the one thing that has always bugged me, not simply as a reader, but I think in general, is when author’s talk about books being their children.

    I hate that.

    And the longer I’m online and the more I hear it, the more I hate it. Why?

    Because it’s another one of those walls that I do not want to cross. It creeps me out. Authors, I do not want your kids! No thank you. And if that’s truly the way you feel about them – stop writing. Please.

    I want a good story to read. Nothing more.

    Okay. I feel better. ;)

  22. Michele Lee
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:38:00

    I say this, not as a reader, but as a fellow writer, don’t pay people outrageous fees to do things you can do yourself. I just blogged about this company that approached me to do reviews because I discovered the “promo” they offered for $600 was articles posted on their blogs (and any other blogs they could rope into working for them), a youtube video, spamming social sites & message boards and press releases on Google News.

  23. Donna
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:42:06

    Many times I have been in a book discussion online when suddenly a author who has never joined in the discussion before wants to recommend her books. It really annoys me.

  24. Maili
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:49:14

    @BevBB

    You know the one thing that has always bugged me, not simply as a reader, but I think in general, is when author's talk about books being their children.
    I hate that.

    Yes! I can’t help but wonder, “If you see your books as children, does this mean you’re OK with selling your flesh-and-blood children?” :D

    I also think it’s a good clue on how they may react to negative reviews or comments, e.g. not very well. It’s natural to have that reaction, but I’m referring to those that openly slam a reviewer or reader for failing to appreciate their book/child. Or bring in her army of “fans” to deal with those horrible reviewers/readers.

    If a review upsets you, feel free to react badly as long as it’s done in private.

  25. Shiloh Walker
    May 26, 2009 @ 08:52:42

    You hit most of my pet peeves-the spamming thing on FB and Myspace drive me nuts. But here’s a new personal annoyance…

    DON’T SPAM MY BLOG

    Had somebody come in and leave a comment and then an entire paragraph about raves for her book. Very annoying. I deleted the raves and made judicious use of the edit comment feature.

    Music and sig lines have already been mentioned…I hate music on websites. Ugh. HATE HATE HATE

    Sig lines drive me nuts…I’m sorry. Maybe you like seeing all your glowing reviews, your awards and your best seller status FOR LIKE YOUR LAST FIVE RELEASES listed in your sig line, but I’ve got better things to do than read it. Repeatedly. Keep it short and sweet. So much easier (and more considerate)

  26. Jane
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:00:52

    speaking of online publicity, this is the pr piece I received for LKH’s book latest book. It sounds vaguely bitter:

    As one of the leading writers of modern vampire fiction, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton needs little introduction. Her phenomenal Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series hits the top of the bestseller lists with each new installment, most recently with The Harlequin (Berkley 2007) and Blood Noir (Berkley 2008). Now, Anita's story continues with the seventeenth book in the series, SKIN TRADE (Berkley Hardcover; June 2, 2009; $26.95).

    SKIN TRADE begins when Anita Blake, the most successful vampire executioner in the country, gets a package from Vittorio, a Las Vegas-based vampire serial killer. In the box is a severed head. After learning that ten officers and one executioner have also been killed, Anita takes off for Las Vegas to track down Vittorio and put a stop to the murders. When Anita gets close to the bodies she senses that powerful weretigers are involved with the crimes and is relieved to have fellow vampire hunter, and sometimes rival, Edward on hand for backup.

    Long before paranormal tales like Twilight and HBO's True Blood became pop culture phenomena, Hamilton's Anita Blake was on the scene and blazing up the bestseller lists. Hamilton also broke new ground with a bestselling comic book series based on her novels published by Marvel Comics. And IFC-TV has just announced that Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, and original television movie based on the books, will air in summer 2010. With each new novel and expansions into other popular media, Hamilton’s readership continues to grow. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says, “vampire hunter Anita Blake hasn't slowed down through 16 novels.” SKIN TRADE keeps the momentum going.

    About the Author:

    Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family. Visit her official website at http://www.laurellkhamilton.org.

  27. Joe-the-writer
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:03:00

    Don’t spend too much money. Be realistic about what you’re doing and who you are. If you’re writing e-books and e-romances, we’re talking about less than 1% of the market. While it’s growing, and I hope it continues to grow, it’s still not worth spending hard earned money on promotions that are nothing more than a waste of time. I’ve seen writers do this, and it never works. It’s like advertising a cute little mom and pop coffee shop in the middle of nowhere on television. And we all know what happens to those cute little mom and pop coffee shops these days.

  28. Virginia Kantra
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:15:57

    It seems to me that it would be a good idea for authors to have separate online personae -’ one private and opinionated, one authorial and circumspect.

    Circumspect is good. Although I was at a conference once and someone meeting me in person for the first time blurted out, “But I thought you’d have a bun!”

    Nothing against any particular hairstyle, you understand, but for that one minute I felt like whipping off my virtual glasses and letting my cyber hair down.

  29. Mike Cane
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:16:45

    >>>4. Don't have a blog with a bunch of flash.

    Also:

    1) No autoplay music
    2) No autoplay video
    3) No annoying sound effects when clicking on buttons
    4) If you post a lot of YouTube, put all but the first *behind* a More continuation

    If you know someone with an old creaky computer, test your site on *that*. If it takes longer than 4 seconds to load, you’ve already lost most people.

  30. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:19:59

    @Maili:

    Yes! I can't help but wonder, “If you see your books as children, does this mean you're OK with selling your flesh-and-blood children?” :D

    It’s odd, too, because I don’t think it bothered me nearly as much originally. Either it’s wearing on me or I’m just getting older and more hormonal but lately whenever I see an author use that one I just want to do a “Gibbs” on them so they’ll get over themselves. Books are not kids. Oye. ;)

    (For those not Jethro Gibbs educated, that’s a reference to the back of the head “taps” he gives when he’s displeased with or wants the attention of his underlings on NCIS.)

  31. KMont
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:20:28

    @Jane
    Thanks for posting that LKH promo bit.

    All I can say is AYE CARUMBA. Trying to oust Twilight and True Blood from any kind of popular position isn’t going to make the current Anita Blake sound any better. And I wonder why they chose to site True Blood as opposed to the book series, specifically, because obviously the books started it all. Maybe it’s more about that pop culture bit? Bitter for the fact that those have succeeded beyond the usual print/audio formats and into TV/movies?

    I puked up a review for the latest Sookie book just today, which I wasn’t at all happy with, yet after so many books, one bad one isn’t that bad. Can’t say same for Anita.

    If/when Anita transcends to any kind of movie or TV format I can’t say I’d be very excited.

    @BevBB
    Similarly for me is when authors describe the characters as the ones that lead the whole show. Sure, I can totally understand that they have to let everything flow and can’t force characters to do certain things, but really – the author DOES control it ultimately. They’re writing it, it’s their skills making it happen. When they say their characters start “speaking” and the author tries to say they aren’t in charge and can’t be responsible for what the characters say/do/want – literally – now that’s creepy.

    So, please, let’s try not to be creepy.

  32. jmc
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:22:55

    @Jane: The first sentence of the first paragraph and the third paragraph do seem a little sour-grape-ish to me. Like someone is saying, hey, wait, I was here first, writing about vampires before Charlaine Harris, so I should be getting all the attention, and the HBO series, and the pretty reissued covers.

    If she needs little introduction, why waste three paragraphs telling me how awesome she is?

  33. KMont
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:33:45

    The more I read that third LKH promo paragraph the more it looks like a tongue wagging and spitting. Nah nah and all that childish jazz. They should have promo-ed strictly about LKH and the continuing “success” of her work. Sour grapes is right. Actually takes away from the fact that her series is finally going beyond the usual reading formats.

    And this is an author that many others have claimed a gracious inspiration of. Pffttt.

  34. RStewie
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:36:38

    I don’t like when
    1. The site takes too long to load,
    2. The author shares TOO much personal info–there’s nothing wrong with a “author site” and a “personal site” (…I’m sorry, I don’t like kids, nor do I want to scroll through 18 pictures of your dog to get to your release update), and
    3. Please don’t have a site that you will then abandon as soon as I find it; regular updates are appreciated.
    4. Also, poor grammar and punctuation are a real turn-off.

  35. Misfit
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:44:18

    I agree about the poor grammar being a turn-off. I’ve noticed one YA author who gave a recent interview to a book blogger and she wrote like she was text messaging, all lower case and all those irritating “u” for you kind of short cuts. What a turn off.

  36. SandyW
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:47:33

    Ancillary to #8: Try to ensure that your dear friend/significant other isn't going to listen sympathetically to your rant, then immediately go online and Behave Badly on your behalf. This defeats the purpose of ranting instead of posting.

  37. Anton Strout
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:48:06

    Oh, how many times I have eaten The Pie of Anger!

    I have failed my save against it many a time…

    then I go to I Can Haz Cheezeburger, check out some kittehs, then go back to writing.

  38. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 09:49:04

    @KMont:

    Similarly for me is when authors describe the characters as the ones that lead the whole show. Sure, I can totally understand that they have to let everything flow and can't force characters to do certain things, but really – the author DOES control it ultimately. They're writing it, it's their skills making it happen. When they say their characters start “speaking” and the author tries to say they aren't in charge and can't be responsible for what the characters say/do/want – literally – now that's creepy.

    So, please, let's try not to be creepy.

    Oh, god, yes.

    I’m laughing here, too, because I think I still have a partial article saved on OneNote that I started and never posted anywhere that starts “I think all authors are nuts” and it’s about exactly stuff like this.

    To be fair, it’s also about my own experiences with story and character ideas popping in and out of my head related to TV series I like that I don’t necessarily want to write about either. So I’m not completely critical. I am sympathetic of the idiosyncrasies. ;)

    It’s just that I think there is a point of a little bit too much sharing of information online about the writing process and for that matter the publishing business at times. There is such a thing as keeping the mystery alive. It’s a balancing act. It’s always that. Just because they’re online and have instant access to readers nowadays, writers can’t forget that part of the mystic still has a bit of celebrity included. To play on that, they have to separate the writer persona from their reader persona. And us.

    At least some of the time.

    That’s part of the reason I stay far, far away from writer forums (meaning sites, blogs, message boards, whatever) unless I actually do want information about writing. I am only a reader.

    Most of the time. ;)

  39. Shannon C.
    May 26, 2009 @ 10:01:30

    The whole butting into reader discussions to pimp your book thing gets on my nerves. Sometimes it’s warranted. Usually, it’s not. And for heaven’s sake, if you must pimp your book somewhere, don’t use a sockpuppet and then get all annoyed and full of injured dignity when you’re called on it. It just makes you look really, really tacky.

  40. katiebabs
    May 26, 2009 @ 10:19:29

    LKH is bitter that she didn’t come up with JC sparkling first. At least LKH can lay claim to shower gel as a lube and a heroine who has a super vagina that will take on any type of male creature for the good of the supernatural community

  41. Courtney Milan
    May 26, 2009 @ 10:27:59

    Re: LKH, do keep in mind that it’s very unlikely she wrote that paragraph, and quite possibly has never seen it. Sometimes you really can’t help what publicity people say. It does sound bitter, but maybe this is all marketing and none of her own fault. I know a lot of authors who have never seen the letters that accompany review copies of their books, and more who have absolutely no control over covers/cover copy and the like.

  42. Darragha
    May 26, 2009 @ 10:33:21

    Good topic. I am sooooo reading through it right now.

    1) I have a lapband. Pie, for the most part, is still edible por moi. Can’t have cake…but oh, my, pie!
    2) Can I pretend to be angry, take a step back and then get some pie?
    3) Pie is a great saboteur.
    4) So is posting when in a rage.

    Thank you,

    Darragha

  43. Susan/DC
    May 26, 2009 @ 10:40:34

    Definitely don’t try to make your books look better by putting other writers down, especially in an ad hominem way. Saying you didn’t like Author X’s plotting in her latest novel may be okay depending on the context, but it’s generally not okay to say you don’t like Author X personally.

    Don’t stereotype whole groups of people for good or for ill, but especially don’t portray them as somehow “other”. I’m tired of the “us vs them” mentality on the political front, and I don’t like it on the book front either.

    And if you are especially upset or angry, have ice cream with that pie.

  44. SonomaLass
    May 26, 2009 @ 10:54:46

    What Courtney said — LKH does some self-promo, sure (and IMO could benefit from some of Jane’s advice above!), but I’m sure her publisher does a lot of promo on which she has little or no input. So yes, there are definitely some comments in that piece that sound like sour grapes, but they aren’t necessarily LKH’s. (Aside: is this the same book people were Twittering about, where Anita Blake crosses another line and sleeps with a minor?)

    Back on the main thread, I agree with pretty much everybody. Not often I get to say that! One thing that deserves repeating, I think, is the political/social views caution. Of course every author is a person, with beliefs and values and (hopefully) a voting record, but it behooves you to think about how much of that you want “out there” for public consumption. Some authors are very open about their political and social views, even extreme ones; as long as you know that can affect sales (and not always positively) and you’re okay with that, go ahead. But DO think about it, please?

  45. Terry Odell
    May 26, 2009 @ 11:02:45

    Since my publishers do very little author promotion, and distribution of my books means people have to hear about me and know where to find them, I rely heavily on an Internet presence.

    Music and sig lines have already been mentioned…I hate music on websites. Ugh. HATE HATE HATE

    May I add: Please Please Please Please: Don’t use light text on a dark background. I can’t read it. Simply CAN’T. If you think it’s cool, then use a BIG font.

    Can’t tell you how many websites/blogs I haven’t read because it’s too painful on my eyes.

    And can the pie be chocolate?

  46. joanne
    May 26, 2009 @ 11:15:15

    by Jane May 26th, 2009 at 9:00 am
    speaking of online publicity, this is the pr piece I received for LKH's book latest book.

    Is that a Don’t?
    I mean, my question is, under normal circumstances would anyone actually read that whole thing?
    Obviously you did Jane, but was it because you always read everything or because it applied to this particular topic and you brought it out?

    If the PR people are trying to promote the book then the synopsis is the point, isn’t it? Even if, as Courtney Milan stated, an author doesn’t read their PR releases (and sweet lord, why aren’t they reading them?) shouldn’t they want the synopsis and release date to be first and the rest of the kudos & krap to come after?

  47. hapax
    May 26, 2009 @ 11:31:36

    It's just that I think there is a point of a little bit too much sharing of information online about the writing process and for that matter the publishing business at times

    I dunno. I agree with pretty much what everyone has said, but I really really like hearing about the writing and publishing process. Maybe because I really like books-as-objects as well as books-as-story-containers.

    I do feel somewhat for the poor authors, though. Judging by these comments, I’d be hearing “Yes, promote your book online, and update frequently, but don’t do it on other people’s sites, and don’t tell us about the writing process, your personal life, your political opinions, or your candid feelings about other authors! Interact with us, but don’t get take anything we say personally, act too pushy OR too remote, or ask us to do anything!”

    I know that isn’t the *intent* of these comments, but if I were a tyro online self-publicist I’d be cowering under my computer desk by now.

    However, sites with auto-music or flash intros are just Teh Evil.

  48. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 11:34:08

    @Terry Odell:

    May I add: Please Please Please Please: Don't use light text on a dark background. I can't read it. Simply CAN'T. If you think it's cool, then use a BIG font.

    A big font ain’t gonna help if people still can’t read it due to glaring colors!

    This is where my inner graphic communicator is going to come out to play. I know people have this misconception that dark backgrounds on the web are the logical alternative to light ones. And so darn cool. And they are. Somewhat.

    It’s still all about communicating what one wants to say and using colors properly with adequate contrasts for readability, though. Put the wrong colors together on a dark background and they’re going to glare just as badly – or worse – than they will on a light one.

    So choose wisely. And either pick a program that automatically plans for different browsers or check them out on different browsers before settling for those color variations. Not all of them work together. Some of them are simply headache material. Big time. There are reasons why most programs offer such limited sets of themes packaged in them that usually seem so boring to most creative types. It’s because they’ve actually proven to be readable on most browsers. There is nothing wrong with simplicity with a few tweaks to show personality. ;)

    Back to being a reader now. :D

  49. Courtney Milan
    May 26, 2009 @ 12:21:46

    Even if, as Courtney Milan stated, an author doesn't read their PR releases (and sweet lord, why aren't they reading them?)

    @joanne: Because we don’t get them, honestly, and sometimes can’t. I know people who have asked to see the letters that accompanied review copies of books, who have not been given them.

    If this came from an outside publicist hired by the author, there’s no excuse. But in-house publicity… authors are ceded almost no control over that.

  50. Janine
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:08:22

    I would add: If you send out review requests and interview requests to blogs, please do spell check and grammar check them. Also, in your review requests, don’t go on about how nervous you are about being reviewed in the blog you are requesting a review from. I’m not saying don’t be nervous, but keep your nerves to yourself or share them with your best friend. Telling me you feel nervous about the prospect of being reviewed just makes me feel nervous about the prospect of reviewing your book, and therefore more likely to review a different book in its place.

  51. stephanie feagan
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:11:56

    I’ve distanced myself from a few writer friends because after they sold, it became All Promo, All The Time. I suddenly felt my friendship was looked upon as some sort of opportunity to advance said friends’ careers. I’ve also noted a certain disinterest in friendship when it became evident I wasn’t playing along – and further tanked because my career is on slow simmer. Do well and you have oodles of friends. Run into a dry spell and you find out who your real friends are. I know that sounds bitter – it’s not. Just the way it is. But I say this as an add-on to how to effectively promote yourself. Lighten Up, Already. Enjoy yourself. At the end of the day, you won’t give a good damn how many books you sold – it’s all about the friends you made and relationships built along the way. Serendipitously, being a genuine friend will make all the difference.

    I used to be active in author and reader communities, but serving on the RWA board has effectively made me persona non grata, so I mostly lurk and keep quiet. And I eat a shit-ton of pie.

  52. Jane
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:14:01

    @joanne I posted it here bc I mentioned on twitter (@jane_l is my handle) that I had rec’d a promo piece that wasn’t very positive. One of the twitterers wanted to see the promo piece so I thought this would be a good place to post it.

  53. Ann Aguirre
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:20:21

    Building on what Stephanie said: please don’t look at other people for what they can do for you. I can totally tell the difference when someone is interested in me as a person and likes my writing and when that individual just looks on me as a stepping stone.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

    Aspirant: Oh, I love your books. Who’s your agent? Is she here at the con?

    Me: Laura Bradford. Which of my books is your favorite?

    Aspirant: Y’know, the one with the girl…

    Me: What girl? What’s your favorite title? And what scene did you like best?

    Aspirant: Uhm.

  54. Sandy James
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:33:09

    My problem is that I do the interacting just fine. I find it almost agonizing to “pimp” my books. I have a hard time hopping up and a down and yelling, “Look at me!” Can’t everyone just find me without the promo? It would sure make things easier (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

  55. Betsy C.
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:38:49

    Two promotion techniques that have disgusted me recently are bribery and GoodReads spamming.

    Bribery: I’ve seen an author promising a reward (I don’t remember what the reward was) for posting positive reviews of his book on Amazon. That’s not OK.

    GoodReads: I’ll add back just about anyone who requests friend status with me on GoodReads, but I’ll drop anyone who adds me just to link to his or her poorly written (bad grammar, misused words, rambling, cliche-ridden) online samples.

  56. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:41:02

    @hapax:

    I do feel somewhat for the poor authors, though. Judging by these comments, I'd be hearing “Yes, promote your book online, and update frequently, but don't do it on other people's sites, and don't tell us about the writing process, your personal life, your political opinions, or your candid feelings about other authors! Interact with us, but don't get take anything we say personally, act too pushy OR too remote, or ask us to do anything!”

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t expect anything out of the authors that I don’t expect out of the readers or anyone else when you get right down to it. Be honest, are any of you going to sit here and tell me that you want to know about the daily job process, personal life, political opinions and candid feelings about competitors of everyone who posts comments on every single one of these blogs/sites that you visit every day? All of them? About everybody?

    That’s what I mean by too much information. Overload and overkill.

    Unless, of course any one of those things is the purpose of the forum in question.

    Now, I’m sure that we all have a select few individuals that we do get to know personally and have different levels of “intimacy” with online but that certainly doesn’t include everyone just like we don’t know everything about everyone in real space or whatever it’s called nowadays. Unless we live in that fictional small town in some books. (Okay, that just had to come out. So sue me. ;)) The thing is, though, that generally people who break the accepted rules of etiquette online are considered trolls. Or worse. Yet, for some strange reason, many authors seem to think having a book to promote exempts them from being seen as a troll by the very people they’re trying to impress.

    It doesn’t.

    Which is why after a while one stops feeling sorry for some of them when they don’t learn from their mistakes. Or helpful hints.

  57. Anon
    May 26, 2009 @ 13:57:45

    hapax said:

    I really really like hearing about the writing and publishing process.

    Sometimes I like hearing about it, and sometimes I …don’t. Because the more I hear about it, the more I learn, the more depressed I get.

    You know what’s kinda sad? I think I was a lot more fulfilled before I finished my book. Before the contest finals, before the agent and editor querying, before the business of writing took over. When it was about the words, the story, the characters. When I was actually WRITING – you know, that thing that authors used to do a lot more of before they had to make time to shoulder most of their own promo – and pay for it, too. The prospect of loop-whoring just makes something in me shrivel up and die.

    Sorry for the downer, but …please, can someone remind me why we do this again? When most of us will never make a living at it?

  58. MaryK
    May 26, 2009 @ 14:28:28

    @Sandy James:

    My problem is that I do the interacting just fine. I find it almost agonizing to “pimp” my books. I have a hard time hopping up and a down and yelling, “Look at me!” Can't everyone just find me without the promo? It would sure make things easier (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

    Interacting is promo. That’s why all the do’s and don’t are important. I frequently click through the name links in the comments on this site and others. Sometimes it’s because the commenters impressed me and sometimes because they didn’t. If people know you’re an author, they’ll view your interaction more critically; and if they like it, they’ll likely check out your book.

  59. Monica Burns
    May 26, 2009 @ 14:33:34

    @maili

    Yes! I can't help but wonder, “If you see your books as children, does this mean you're OK with selling your flesh-and-blood children?” :D

    Ok, there are times when I’d PAY someone to take Oldest off my hands. I’m SOOO ready for her to enter college the end of August. LOL Although I’m sure I’ll miss her when she’s gone.

    @BevBB

    (For those not Jethro Gibbs educated, that's a reference to the back of the head “taps” he gives when he's displeased with or wants the attention of his underlings on NCIS.)

    And if you hadn’t clarified NCIS, I STILL wouldn’t have known who you were talking about! I’m TV challenged beyond, Medium, Heroes, LOST and Ghost Whisperer. *grin*

  60. Monica Burns
    May 26, 2009 @ 14:47:11

    @anon

    Sorry for the downer, but …please, can someone remind me why we do this again? When most of us will never make a living at it?

    Because even though the business can be demanding and cruel, there are STILL moments when you write a good line, a good paragraph, a good page, etc. and you look at it and go, “MY GOD! I wrote that. I really love that.” You hope others will love it as much as you do, but in the end, it won’t matter if they do or not, because you love it. Writing is definitely a business/job, but not everyone has a job they love to do.

    I refuse to give up those rare giddy moments of doing a job well, or at least well in my own mind. *grin* All this is IMHO.

  61. MaryK
    May 26, 2009 @ 15:01:56

    More do’s and don’ts for the list:

    1. Aspiring authors should start minding the do’s and don’ts before they’re published because blog readers remember.

    2. Please don’t give cover blurbs to all your author friends. I only respect the opinions of authors who blurb/recommend judiciously.

  62. Sunita
    May 26, 2009 @ 15:04:12

    @Maili @BevBB

    Writing and publishing a book has some similarities to gestating and delivering a child, I suppose, although once the book is out, your work is done, whereas once you’ve had a child, the easiest part is over. :-) But what drives me beyond batty is when people talk about a specific book as being their child. Um, no. You devalue the human and you show absymal ignorance about what producing an inanimate object entails. It means as much to you as a child does to someone else (or to you)? Eeuw, but that opinion is your prerogative. But it’s not comparable, any more than pets and children are comparable beyond the training/patience/driving-you-crazy thing.

    As for websites: No Flash. No Music. No video that I can’t turn off. No cutesy names for categories like “my books” (someone mentioned this on a previous thread). I don’t care if all the fancy European fashion houses use flash and music. They’re wrong. And they’re not using their websites to sell stuff, just to show off.

  63. Julieb
    May 26, 2009 @ 15:23:25

    So, if a book is my child, when the rights are reverted, is that the equivalent of coming home to live in the basement? ;-) (I’m joking here.)

    Might I add one more “do” for aspiring authors? The time to start social networking is NOW. Be engaging. Be fun. Be interesting. When the time comes you can say, “BTW, I’ve got this book coming out…” And you’ll know the appropriate moment because you’ve been watching and learning from how others operate. And when you do make a mistake (we all have at one time or another) people will tend to be more forgiving because you’re part of the community.

    Speaking of learning from the mistakes of others: webpagesthatsuck.com. The aim of the site is to teach good design by showcasing the truly awful stuff.

  64. K. Z. Snow
    May 26, 2009 @ 15:36:16

    if I were a tyro online self-publicist I'd be cowering under my computer desk by now.

    Thanks, hapax! ;-)

    Holy keerap. This post has started reminding me of all the “don’ts” I’ve read regarding m/m fiction. Daunting, let me tell you.

    Hey, nobody’s going to get it completely right. We all have our pet peeves and head-scratchers when it comes to online promo, just like we have them when it comes to books themselves. So far, it’s likely every author has been pilloried, however inadvertently, so I’m not going to add my personal irritants to the mix.

    Except the black-background thing. Really, people, if you think you’re adding atmosphere with a black background, rethink that assumption. All you’re adding is an element that drives people away in droves. It’s just plain too hard on the eyes.

  65. Laurie Viera Rigler
    May 26, 2009 @ 16:04:40

    My book is my book.

    My cat is my child. And yes, she’s on my website. It’s in her contract.

    Thanks for the very wise rules. Particularly Rule #8. However, I advocate eating an entire pie when happy. You’re more likely to savor it.

  66. Jessica G.
    May 26, 2009 @ 16:19:35

    @Monica Burns: I loved this comment so much, I just checked your books out on the Sony ebookstore and I’m snagging one tonight. If you aren’t happy (well, you can be a little sad) that your kid is going off to college, you’ve got problems :p

    See how this works? LOL! Now I just have to figure out if I want Mirage or Dangerous…

    I often click author’s profiles on here, and I do like the promo threads. I’m always on the lookout for new authors. But there is a place and a time.

  67. Sheila Deeth
    May 26, 2009 @ 16:40:36

    Murder by 4 had a link to this. Many thanks. So now I know the don’ts. But I’m still wondering about the do’s. Well, still dreaming about the author bit too.

  68. jep
    May 26, 2009 @ 17:08:53

    My recommendations to new authors:

    1. Don’t defend your writing, ideas if someone does not like your book. It may turn off potential readers.

    2. Discuss only other books on forums unless you are asked to be interviewed on a blog–. A web site with a title or two as your signature line is enough. That link should have an excerpt and a contest for a free book always helps.

  69. Sandy
    May 26, 2009 @ 17:13:49

    @ MaryK

    Interacting is promo. That's why all the do's and don't are important. I frequently click through the name links in the comments on this site and others. Sometimes it's because the commenters impressed me and sometimes because they didn't. If people know you're an author, they'll view your interaction more critically; and if they like it, they'll likely check out your book

    Good advice. I’d never thought about it quite that way before. Thanks! Now I can justify why I spend so much time in loops and online. I’m networking. :-)

  70. Barb Ferrer
    May 26, 2009 @ 17:32:47

    One other addendum to #8 (or perhaps it should be its own) but a good general rule to follow is don’t post something on a blog in terms you wouldn’t use to someone’s face.

    And eat pie.

    ABC Girls– heh, I’m sandwiched between Ann and Carrie.

  71. Kerry Allen
    May 26, 2009 @ 17:35:11

    Someone in one of my Yahoo groups issued a plea just this morning to go bury a negative review under a ton of positive ones, seemingly regardless of whether anyone had actually read her book, solely on the basis of group solidarity, which I thought was tacky beyond belief.

    I propose a Rule Zero, so it’s always at the top of the list: Everybody isn’t going to think your book is a rose-scented, gilded rainbow of awesome. People who hate it are just as entitled to their opinion as people who love it. If you can’t accept that, stay away from your reviews.

  72. cc
    May 26, 2009 @ 17:50:45

    Cute kills- When I to go to your site I want to: get a feel for what you write, have easy access to your backlist, know what is upcoming, and how to get in touch with you.

    I do not want to have to figure out cute category titles or find links hidden behind pictures of elements taken from your latest series. This may make sense to the person who has been following your work forever, but I just followed the link in your name on a blog comment and want to find out a little bit about your work. If I can’t find the basic information I want in three clicks or less I’m gone.

  73. Monica Burns
    May 26, 2009 @ 17:59:37

    @JessicaG

    I loved this comment so much, I just checked your books out on the Sony ebookstore and I'm snagging one tonight. If you aren't happy (well, you can be a little sad) that your kid is going off to college, you've got problems :p

    See how this works? LOL! Now I just have to figure out if I want Mirage or Dangerous…

    ROFL – And here I was on the treadmill tonight going…you idiot. People are going to think you’re a terrible Mom. Why do you open your mouth and post? You try to be funny online and you suck eggs at it. In person, I’m a lot more fun. Probably because there’s no Google cache to catch my screw ups. LOL

    So thank you for checking out my books (I would have emailed privately, but no email :D) Dangerous is darker than Mirage. It’s a little over the top, but personally, I like it better than Mirage. Everyone else seems to like Mirage better, so I’m not much help in that arena. LOL Thank you.

  74. DS
    May 26, 2009 @ 18:46:12

    Just wanted to say– I had that telephone circa 1979. Had to pay extra Ma Bell extra for the color!

    Also if an author is a good, entertaining, thoughtful poster, as defined above, I will buy your books as gifts for friends even if I am not your audience.

    Edited to add– I looked at the IFC cable channel and I still can’t quite figure out what it is about.

  75. Jessica G.
    May 26, 2009 @ 18:59:41

    @Monica Burns:

    Don’t worry, I think you’re a better mom for saying that :) Does that make sense? I knew you weren’t being serious, don’t stress over it :)

    Hrmm… thanks for the advice, I’ll think about it. I was already leaning towards Dangerous anyway.

    I’d also like to add the “keep your site updated.” There’s been a couple authors I’ve found that will just give up on their site when they’ve got nothing in the pipeline.

  76. Virginia Kantra
    May 26, 2009 @ 19:04:15

    @ Anon

    Sorry for the downer, but …please, can someone remind me why we do this again? When most of us will never make a living at it?

    From Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird:

    I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do – the actual act of writing – turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

    Thanks for asking the question. I needed the answer.

  77. BevBB
    May 26, 2009 @ 19:04:43

    Another simple concept that authors sometimes miss in their rush to get fancy graphics and pizzazz on their websites is a complete and printable list of their entire backlist, preferrably in chronological reading order (not necessarily copyright) with reference to what groups/series a book might be connected to – that they keep updated. (Don’t forget ISBN, either.)

    If you keep nothing else on your site updated – update this list religiously and make sure it’s the first thing new & old readers can find when they get to your site. Then have fun with all the graphics, colors, covers & excerpts.

    We’re readers. We like finding new authors and are devoted to those we love. We like to shop for books. We like to take lists with us and check them off. We’re the best source of promo for you ever once we’re sold. We can’t do that if we can’t find up-to-date lists and you are our best source of information about all your books.

  78. Monica Burns
    May 26, 2009 @ 19:52:05

    @ by Jessica G.

    Don't worry, I think you're a better mom for saying that :) Does that make sense? I knew you weren't being serious, don't stress over it :)

    Yes that makes sense and thanks.

    I was already leaning towards Dangerous anyway.

    I love Lucien. Actually I love his brother too. It’s too bad Nigel’s dead because I’ve yet to figure out a way to give him his own story. LOL And I have no wish to mimic KCole on bringing a ghost back to life. *grin* Or at least that’s what I’m expecting if I could find time to finish the book. Dark Needs Nights Edge (think that’s the correct organization of the title)

  79. Miki
    May 26, 2009 @ 20:24:57

    I’m not sure how helpful my comment will be – given that it seems counterproductive to all the push to promote.

    I go to authors’ websites to get basic details (book lists, release dates, book blurb, excerpt, related book/series titles, maybe look for a contest). I visit authors’ blogs if I’m interested in reading a little more of their personal experiences/thoughts. I join authors’ Yahoo groups if I want to talk books to death (conspiracy theories in the latest urban fantasy, for example) and hope to get some lovely hints from the dedicated fans who have an inside scoop – or even the author themselves.

    That’s enough! I don’t want to tweet or socially network (I think the website designs on MySpace and FaceBook are awful, to be honest!).

    I know that there are others, though, who’ll do MySpace before ever visiting a Yahoo group.

    But I have to admit to feeling a little frustrated when a favorite author (who’s Yahoo group I’ve belonged to for the last five years) posted “come on over to my FaceBook page to learn the secrets of …” her latest character. There is such a thing as too much, IMHO. I can’t spend my whole evening bouncing between all her various sites!

    And maybe this was what someone was talking about making a FaceBook page private? But when I went there, it wanted me to create a profile or login or something. No thanks! As more of her energy goes into those pages, though, I see her less on the Yahoo group. And if that continues, I’ll probably drop that group…

  80. Bully
    May 26, 2009 @ 20:54:55

    A great list that ought to be circulated to every author. As many people above me have commented, #8 is something you really oughta watch. Here’s a really good example of what not to do.

  81. Kathryn Smith
    May 26, 2009 @ 21:33:40

    If I were add a ‘do’ to the list for authors, it would be to have a sense of humor about yourself, your work and the world in general. I guess some people would lump this under having a thick skin, or not taking things personally, but being able to laugh at a situation has kept me from indulging in #8 more than I care to admit. ;-)

    I try to think of being online as being at a party. I try to be friendly and meet as many new and interesting people as I can. I also try not to drink too much or put my foot in my mouth. And if I mess up, apologize and try to move forward.

  82. stephanie feagan
    May 26, 2009 @ 21:42:37

    @Bully: Holy smokes! That’s one pissed off guy! In the hottest of flame wars on romance sites, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered anything quite that…er, passionate.
    Jesus – somebody needs anger management, am I right?

  83. XandraG
    May 26, 2009 @ 21:56:17

    This is an excellent list to heed. My policy as an author is to participate in places that interest me, but not as an “auteur” – just a participant in the discussion. I’m not here at Dear Author to pimp the books I’ve authored (but I claim authorization to pun with authority :P).

    As I’ve seen on loops, one thoughtful, relevant post is worth a hundred “congratulations” “Me too” “LOL” or forwarded Joke-of-the-day posts to get your name out there. As a reader, I will remember you more for that relevant and thoughtful post than those hundred silly forwards or newsletter promo posts. I would much rather have a quiet or low-volume list than a list populated with a horde of authors furiously posting anything and everything in an attempt to generate a reaction. And as an author, I’d much rather spend my time either writing more books, or composing thoughtful and relevant posts. I favor blanket thank-yous, and it is safe to assume that if you posted some happy news, my congratulations are present, but silent.

    Number 8 is total win, by the way. Be sure to make it an appropriate flavor of pie, though. If you’re feeling snarky, make it Key Lime for that zip and zing. If bitter, a strawberry rhubarb. If you’re angry, chocolate peanut butter will stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth long enough for you to think twice before posting. And now I’m hungry.

  84. stephanie feagan
    May 26, 2009 @ 21:58:57

    @Bully: On the other hand, I was pretty much howling at the ensuing commentary. I really adore guys. Girls are all slappy pissy, but guys go right for the jugular. It must be the worst insult ever to say a guy’s never touched a girl’s breasts. Who knew?
    Still laughing….

  85. Sami
    May 26, 2009 @ 22:14:31

    @Bully. The craziest thing I’ve read in a while. Was he not joking? This fool really thinks he can punch somone out for not liking his work? I really, really, can’t imagine caring that much. Perhaps JPL needs to get something else going in his life.

    @ Stephanie. I so agree. Love the flaming insult thing.

  86. Georgina
    May 27, 2009 @ 02:07:11

    A great list, Jane.

    Whilst there’s lots of things an author can do to turn the reader off, the number one thing she can do to make me want to buy her novel is something very simple.

    Authors, please put the first chapter of your novel on your website. Not an excerpt from the middle of the book where I’ll get confused as to who the characters are and what’s going on, and not an edited excerpt, which I saw recently. The first chapter draws me in and allows me to replicate the experience of browsing in a bookstore. I recently bought a YA novel, Courtney Summers’ Cracked Up To Be, because I read the first chapter on her website and thought it was amazing. And I hardly ever read YA.

  87. Maili
    May 27, 2009 @ 02:35:42

    @stephanie feargan

    @Bully: Holy smokes! That's one pissed off guy! In the hottest of flame wars on romance sites, I'm not sure I've ever encountered anything quite that…er, passionate.

    Oh, a romance author doesn’t threaten violence, she will be an online stalker instead. :D

    If she doesn’t have the time to be one, she will create a website or blog to mock the subject of her anger. Here’s one example: Mrs Gaggles.

    As far as I know, six different romance authors did something like this. Unfortunately for them, quite a few readers and reviewers eventually discovered who were behind these antics. It certainly didn’t – and still doesn’t – make these authors look good.

    @julieb

    Might I add one more “do” for aspiring authors? The time to start social networking is NOW. Be engaging. Be fun. Be interesting. When the time comes you can say, “BTW, I've got this book coming out…” And you'll know the appropriate moment because you've been watching and learning from how others operate. And when you do make a mistake (we all have at one time or another) people will tend to be more forgiving because you're part of the community.

    So true. Last night I was so frustrated with Fictionwise with its geographic restrictions that I whined on Twitter. @RFLong commented something like “Ugh. So annoying.” Seeing that comment, I remembered she was an author and asked if she has books at Fictionwise. She named those titles and I bought The Scroll Thief.

    Another thing about Twitter, I have been away from the rom community for a few years but after a couple of months on Twitter, I learnt or reminded quite a few authors’ names. Off my head: RF Long, Nadia Lee, Courtney Milan, Meljean Brook, Victoria Janssen, Victoria Dahl, Megan Frampton, Shiloh Walker, Saskia Walker, Portia Da Costa, Cathy Yardley, Anne Frasier and many more.

    They all didn’t promote their own books (published or not), but because I like their tweets, I checked out their web sites or blogs, which got me making mental notes to buy some of their books. I also learnt what their interests are and that helps me to imagine what their books or writing might be like.

    Not just that, once in a while there would be a flurry of book recommendations. I bought a few books because of that. Occasionally when I state an interest in reading a certain type of stories or characters, I get suggestions. I recently said I love scholarly heroes and some responded: Nora Roberts’s Vision in White and Courtney Milan’s Proof by Seduction. I bought ViW and plan to buy PbS when it’s released next year.

    Conversations on Twitter are largely organic and that’s what makes it so fun.

  88. Elizabeth Chadwick
    May 27, 2009 @ 05:23:33

    Someone else has already mentioned this, but don’t give endorsement blurbs to all and sundry. I know one very prominent novelists who has given blurbs to novels she has not enjoyed because she feels obliged to help out the writer. But it’s about the reader and about personal integrity. Basically don’t be an endorsement whore. I quite often pick up books as a reader and curl my lip to see yet another endorsement by an author who seems determined to get their name on the back of as many novels as possible. If you’re going to endorse a book – mean it from your heart.

  89. Promo no-nos « Trivial Pursuits
    May 27, 2009 @ 06:03:02

    [...] May 27, 2009 Promo no-nos Posted by shilohwalker under Writer stuff, Writing | Tags: Writing | No Comments  Jane over at Dear Author had a great post up about online promotional don’ts. [...]

  90. Barb Ferrer
    May 27, 2009 @ 06:20:29

    Well… if an author heeded every single warning and reader desire, they’d never be online. Which, sometimes, is maybe a good thing.

    Look, we’re all individuals– there are guidelines we should try to follow, but it’s the same as with respect to the actual writing– we’re never going to make everyone happy. I’m not a social networking whore- I kind of hate it. I’m not on Twitter, I yanked down my MySpace page because it got to be a pain in the ass, and I’m thisclose to pulling my Facebook page. I’ve gone to digest on all but one or two of my Yahoo writers’ loops because I don’t want to get spammed with forty-seven messages on how so-and-so guest-blogged somewhere or giving intimate details of their surgery or their cat’s surgery (not that I’m unsympathetic, but seriously– we’re talking about a professional writing loop!). The one thing I’ve done for years and continue to do is blog because I enjoy it and it speaks to all my varied interests, plus I’ve got a community of friends there developed over a number of years, some of whom are writers, but most who are not.

    My website at the moment is a placeholder because I haven’t had any new releases in nearly two years and when I provide a link to myself, it’s to my blog because that’s the content that is updated regularly. However, I’m fairly flexible– next book that sells, maybe things will change. I don’t know. (I still know I hate Twitter, despite the fact that I can see the value in it.)

    What I like doing most is writing for me. (Y’all are probably wondering about this point what the hell I’m going to be doing on this panel, right?) *g*

  91. Lynne Simpson
    May 27, 2009 @ 06:51:33

    @Virginia Kantra: I really need to read Lamott’s book. Thanks for posting that. :-)

  92. Do You Use Twitter? | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    May 27, 2009 @ 07:53:45

    [...] (@McVane) had a great comment yesterday regarding the promotional benefits for authors on Twitter.  I love Twitter for all the reasons I [...]

  93. Virginia Kantra
    May 27, 2009 @ 08:21:52

    @Lynne Simpson
    You’re quite welcome. Lamott is one of my “go to” writers. The quote I was actually searching for yesterday was this one:

    The problem that comes up over and over again is that these people want to be published. They kindof want to write, but they reallywant to be published. You’ll never get to where you want to be that way, I tell them. There is a door we all want to walk through, and writing can help you find it and open it. Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up. But publishing won’t do any of those things; you’ll never get in that way.

  94. theo
    May 27, 2009 @ 08:39:02

    Shiloh gave me a bit of advice a long time ago about the dark background with light writing and she was right. So much easier on the eyes to NOT have that contrast.

    There is an author site (for the life of me I can’t remember who’s it is) who has a very dark background, dark gray tombstones and RED writing! Bright red writing. And it…flickers.

    Ten seconds on the page and my head wants to explode.

    Please don’t do that. Ranks right up there with the bells and whistles that I have to wait through before I can get to the real website. If I want trailers and music, I’ll go to youtube or itunes.

  95. Nora Roberts
    May 27, 2009 @ 08:39:11

    ~I'm not a social networking whore- I kind of hate it. I'm not on Twitter, I yanked down my MySpace page because it got to be a pain in the ass, and I'm thisclose to pulling my Facebook page.~

    I will not tweet–I cannot be shoved, even kicking and screaming into what, for me, would be another time suck. I don’t have a MySpace page of a Facebook page. I just don’t wanna, and don’t have the time or the inclination.

    I like to read sites like this when time permits, comment or participate when I have something to say. I enjoy reading what others have to say on a topic that interests me.

    I don’t blog. I don’t have the time, inclination or that much to say.

    I think–and I think I’m reading Barb’s post correctly and agree with her–authors should certainly reach out to readers, keep informed, and participate if and when they can. But they should also do what makes them happy, what they’re comfortable doing, and what doesn’t suck up actual writing time, but can enhance it, or just stir those juices.

    We’ll never please every reader, either with our work or with our on-line style, level of interaction, opinions. So, I think, we must please ourselves while respecting, and hopefully appreciating, the reader and the many varied opportunities there are to exchange ideas and opinions. Whether we take those oportunities or–like me and Twitter–avoid them like the crumbly edge of a really high cliff.

  96. Terry Odell
    May 27, 2009 @ 08:52:03

    like me and Twitter-avoid them like the crumbly edge of a really high cliff.

    I knew if I kept at this writing gig long enough, I’d have something in common with Nora Roberts.

  97. BevBB
    May 27, 2009 @ 09:22:40

    @theo:

    There is an author site (for the life of me I can't remember who's it is) who has a very dark background, dark gray tombstones and RED writing! Bright red writing. And it…flickers.

    Ten seconds on the page and my head wants to explode.

    If someone truly has their hearts set on a dark background, it can be done and done properly. But they need to investigate several things before going live with it. First is whether it’s readable on a variety of browsers, including the many mobile ones used today. The second, and just as important, thing to remember is that there are ways to create alternative versions/formats for those with limited vision who simply cannot see stuff on the dark background even when everyone else can. That also includes those that have issues with the flash/contrast elements inducing headaches or other problems.

    Most professional or at least knowledgeable web designers can help with both of those issues.

    @Virginia Kantra:

    The problem that comes up over and over again is that these people want to be published. They kindof want to write, but they reallywant to be published. You'll never get to where you want to be that way, I tell them.

    As a reader, these are the ones that annoy me to no end. Seriously. It’s all in the attitude and it can be spotted miles away. For one thing, they usually don’t have a real love of what they’re writing and it shows.

    Which is why I have such respect for the authors that still manage to maintain that “love” day in and day out enough to continue putting words down to create the stories for us to enjoy. It takes true committment, just like in the books we adore so much. ;)

  98. Anon
    May 27, 2009 @ 09:35:05

    Thanks so much, Virginia. The timing on those Lamott quotes was absolutely perfect.

    I think one of the things which I find so discouraging about these online promo do’s and don’t’s discussions – and yes, it’s great information – is that there seems to be an assumption that you have to do online promo in the first place, despite the lack of data on which types of online promo (if any) are actually worth the expenditure of resources, be it time or money.

    I find that my personal perspective seems to align much more with Barb Ferrer’s at post 90. I personally read very few blogs, loathe book trailers, dislike tchotchkes like bookmarks, don’t enter website contests, don’t visit author message boards, don’t value autographs, and I really don’t need to know via blog what my favorite author wrote that very day. Many of my favorite authors have a website, and THAT’S IT. They do no online promo, and as a reader, that’s how I like it. I want to connect with their book. Period. Tell me when your next book is coming out at your website. That’s all I need – and frankly all I want. I would like to pattern my own writing career the same way.

    Since I’ve already checkened out and am posting anonymously, I’ll own up to my reaity: between a demanding day job and getting up each day at 5:00 a.m. to write a couple of hours a day, my brain is completely saturated. MAXED OUT. Facebook? I shut it down. MySpace? The same. I am consciously watching my boundaries. Until I cut back, I received far too many tweets, many of which were interesting and occasionally amusing, like cotton candy in my brain, but provided little or no lasting value. I receive hundreds of emails a day, receive far too many “I’m guest-blogging at…come read me!” author echo chamber posts for any mere human to address. Keeping up with dozens of Yahoo loops is a battle I’ve long since written off; I went to Digest many moons ago.

    Bottom line, my brain and body have told me, ENOUGH. I’m not willing to live that many hours of the day with my ass planted in a chair looking at a glowing screen – unless what’s ON that glowing screen is MY BOOK.

    Call me a contrarian; definitely call me unpublished. But until solid data emerges which demonstrates which online promo approach (if any) is worth the time and money, I’ll err on the side of my sanity, and take the advice of Kensington editor Kate Duffyas much as possible: “Get off the internet and write!”

    On edit: Just when I question my sanity for posting this, along comes one of those favorite authors now at Post 95! (winks to Nora)

  99. theo
    May 27, 2009 @ 09:59:30

    @BevBB: I agree and have seen sites that have the dark background but are easy on the eyes and easy to read. This particular one is owned by a prolific author and yet, looks like a no-experience wanna be designer did it. And I just can’t remember the name! ARGH! Price of getting old. Probably for the best in this instance though.

    I recently changed my template. I’m still trying to decide how readable it is. I’m one of the many out there who hope one day to be published. I have no budget :) But an author who is multi-pubbed should at least consider a small portion of their budget be assigned to some design help. Or at least a lesson in aesthetics. :)

    All this is to say, my list reads; if an author wants a site, it needs to be readable, easily navigated with a printable list of ALL of their titles, and a simple contact form if they don’t want to put an email address out there. And then update it with their latest info. Beyond that, it’s up to me whether I want to read any of their other posts and things.

    That’s what the RSS feed is for.

  100. Julieb
    May 27, 2009 @ 10:00:21

    One more thing. Do. Not. Spam. I’ve had promotional e-mails from people who have culled addresses from comment threads at blogs. This is probably against the law. At best, it’s intrusive. And clueless.

    And just because I know you or we’ve had contact via e-mail does not mean you have permission to spam me every time you have a signing or have published another short in an e-zine somewhere.

    If your book is available at Amazon or some other site, please provide a link directly to the book. Don’t just give me a link to Amazon and expect me to find you.

    If I follow you on Twitter, don’t send me a DM that says, “thanks for the follow! Now go be my fan on Facebook!” Unless, of course, you just want me to unfollow you.

  101. Lynne Connolly
    May 27, 2009 @ 10:24:33

    So how are we authors supposed to contact you readers to let you know we have a book out, we love it and we’d like you to consider buying it? What’s the best way of getting the news to you without annoying you? What about if you’ve never heard of us before but we think you might like what we have to offer?

  102. Jane
    May 27, 2009 @ 10:38:48

    @Nora Roberts We pretend you are on twitter anyway. We use the hashtag #dearnora when we talk about you. Behind your back. (it wouldn’t be behind your back if you were on twitter.)

  103. Shannon Stacey
    May 27, 2009 @ 10:43:34

    I’m so sad our #dearnora campaign hasn’t pressured Nora into twittering against her will. I don’t think Sarah was forceful enough in sharing the campaign while in Boonsboro.

  104. Anon
    May 27, 2009 @ 10:49:17

    I’d prefer that authors not contact or reach out to me at all. Let ME find YOU.

    The primary things which influence me to check out a new/unfamiliar author’s book are:

    - reviews (on sites that don’t sugar-coat, like DA or SBTB)
    - word of mouth
    - when I read thoughtful posts on the few blogs I DO vist – like this one – I might seek out your website, blog or backlist.

    On edit: I guess one of the reasons why I knee-jerk so violently against a lot of online promo techniques is that, as a reader, I find a lot of them really, really annoying. It just becomes more spam to deal with. I read over 100 books a year, so I”m finding plenty of new authors to sample. ;-)

  105. Ally Blue
    May 27, 2009 @ 10:49:26

    Interesting post. Educational, too :)

    I have to admit, with very few exceptions, I do not like promo. It makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s a Southern Girl thing, I dunno. Chats are fun, as long as I don’t have to post a bunch of excerpts. But I DO. People generally like them, which is nice, but still. I always feel a bit self-conscious doing it. And I HATE sending out release announcements, so I generally don’t bother, except to my own Yahoo group.

    I like Twitter. It’s quick, it’s easy, it fits into my schedule better than most things do. I can actually TALK to people, wow! LOL. Plus release announcements and such are relatively painless *g* I have MySpace. I ignore it; TOO much trouble. I’m on a couple of group blogs; lots of time and work, but definitely worth it. The regular blog readers are fantastic and I love talking to them :)

    The only promo I really, truly love (more than the blogs!) is face-to-face. I had a ridiculous amount of fun at the last RT I attended, and I can’t wait for RWA. I’m a little nervous about the Literacy signing (what if no one buys my books??? ACK!!), but at the same time I can’t wait. I love love LOVE talking and meeting new people.

    Okay, I’m seeing a pattern here. Apparently for me, solitary promo = blech. Getting to talk and interact with people = FUN. Too bad there’s not more time in the day for being social. Curse you, EDJ!

  106. BevBB
    May 27, 2009 @ 11:07:41

    @theo:

    All this is to say, my list reads; if an author wants a site, it needs to be readable, easily navigated with a printable list of ALL of their titles, and a simple contact form if they don't want to put an email address out there. And then update it with their latest info. Beyond that, it's up to me whether I want to read any of their other posts and things.

    If I were an author, that simple but linked book list would be my home page or as close to it as possible. I kid you not. About the only thing I like better is the lastest book with cover and description. The booklist should be the primary backbone of an author’s website, not the afterthought as is so often the case. Why make it more complicated than that?

  107. BevBB
    May 27, 2009 @ 11:21:13

    @Lynne Connolly:

    So how are we authors supposed to contact you readers to let you know we have a book out, we love it and we'd like you to consider buying it? What's the best way of getting the news to you without annoying you? What about if you've never heard of us before but we think you might like what we have to offer?

    I was waiting for someone to ask this because I have a question of my own in response. How do you promo books in real space?

  108. veinglory
    May 27, 2009 @ 11:23:48

    I would add don’t assume that book reviewers want to be added to your mailing list. Don’t assume everyone who commented on your blog wants to be added to your mailing list. Don’t email everyone in the address book about your book, ever.

  109. Lynne Simpson
    May 27, 2009 @ 11:24:50

    @Julieb: And here’s another one. Sometimes a casual email exchange is taken as an invitation to auto-subscribe people to the author’s newsletter. It has happened to me a few times. I emailed someone after a local RWA chapter meeting to thank her for something, and the next thing I knew, she put me on her bi-weekly spam list. There was no link to unsubscribe, either.

    Newsletters are lovely, but they should only be sent to people who actually sign up for them. At the bottom of each newsletter should be an unsubscribe link.

  110. theo
    May 27, 2009 @ 11:35:35

    @BevBB: Yup. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked for an author’s booklist on their site and there is either none to be found, it’s incomplete or it’s buried so deep, it’s almost impossible to find.

    @Lynne Connolly: I find new authors a few different ways. By blogs such as DA, SBTB and others who review not only current reads, but backlists as well. There are a couple sites I visit that have lists of new releases for the month/year, usually with a link to the author’s site or the book, where I can read the blurb or an excerpt. I don’t have an Indie close to me so my only storefront is B&N and mine is very good about displays of new and upcoming releases in romance (though I know not all are). I also have a few blogs I visit regularly that do author interviews, have guest bloggers…

    As an aside: If the guest blogger has a new book out, please tell me other things beside a 500 word “Here’s my new book” post. Hopefully, there are other things in the guest blogger’s writing journey to discuss, that I’m always interested in. Telling me they have a new book out is fine. If I’m interested, I’ll make it a point to look it up. Telling me over and over and over is annoying and pushes me that much farther away as a potential reader.

    I have found a few authors I’d not known through blogs like DA though, when I’ve interacted with them in the comments section. And the ones I read post their comments the same as anyone else does. Without a book promo to be seen. I look them up because I find their general posts interesting. Which leads me to another comment. Unless the author has specific reasons for not releasing who they really are (and there are very legitimate reasons for that) please give me a link so I *can* check out your books! Don’t make witty, wonderful posts that make me interested in learning what you write, only to have to search the net for you. I want to click on your name and go to your site. Easy Peasy!

  111. Lynne Connolly
    May 27, 2009 @ 12:05:06

    Is there a site that has a list with links of all new romance releases every month from all publishers? That would be so useful. Upcoming releases would make it even better.

  112. Jules Jones
    May 27, 2009 @ 12:08:00

    Also — my being published in the same short story anthology as you does not entitle you to add me to your mailing list (I’ve been the victim of more than one episode of this).

    Taking off my author hat and putting on my reader hat — if I want to hear about your upcoming book, I will add your blog to my RSS feeds or your mailing list to my subscriptions myself. Send me unsolicited email promoting your wares, friend me on librarything in a blatant attempt to get me to read the ad on your profile, and I will get out my spammer skinning knife and the whetstone. I am a Grumpy Old Usenet Fart and I have signed the Boulder Pledge.

    This is why I am not tempted to spam-promote my books. I know there are people like me out there. :->

  113. theo
    May 27, 2009 @ 12:09:56

  114. K. Z. Snow
    May 27, 2009 @ 13:04:42

    I don’t even have a mailing list. It just seems intrusive to send pimpage directly to readers’ mailboxes. Ugh. On the few occasions I entered TRS’s “Book-a-Day Giveaway,” I ended up with author spam instead of books and wasn’t too thrilled about it.

    Maybe I’m too damned laid-back for my own good, but I figure if people like my work, they’ll find me. I update my blog every couple of days, or once a week at the least, and regularly pop in at other blogs and chat loops. It’s easy enough to keep track of me if one is so inclined. And it’s the inclination that counts.

  115. Heather (errantdreams)
    May 27, 2009 @ 13:07:05

    Lots of people hate auto-playing videos and music, which is a great reason in itself not to use them, but I think authors forget it isn’t just a matter of a site visitor rolling her eyes and being mildly annoyed. Someone might be surfing the web at their desk during lunch, and not only will they be mad if something auto-plays, but they’ll probably never go back to your site. Or my pet peeve—I’ve had so many of those sites startle a cat that’s on my lap out of a sound sleep and into bolting (owww… still have some claw marks). It isn’t that hard to put things up so you have to press “play” to enjoy them!

    Also agreed on “don’t post while mad.” If I really needed to rant about a review back when I was freelance writing, I’d rant in a draft, look at it later, and then either distill it into something sane or (usually) not send it at all. Or I’d rant to my understanding husband and leave it at that.

    Definitely don’t send your fans off to write hate notes to a reviewer or reader. It reflects badly on you. Believe it or not, it *is* obvious when a bunch of fans come in all at once to shower someone with vitriol that the author probably had at least an indirect hand in it. That makes the author look mean-spirited, yes, but worse, anyone who’s willing to stir up a mob in that way is someone I view with some real worry. Over-zealous fans are capable of making personal attacks, threats, hacks on servers, etc. Sure, it doesn’t happen often, but it *can*, and you’re playing with fire when you set that off. Just don’t do it.

  116. Lynne Connolly
    May 27, 2009 @ 13:12:47

    thank you Theo! I’m in the UK, so I tend to buy all the books I can in e-format. A big list would be great.

  117. theo
    May 27, 2009 @ 13:24:29

    @Lynne Connolly: You’re welcomed :) though I have to admit, I’ve never researched into how they compile their lists.

    And I have very few ebooks because I can’t read a long time on my laptop and have no reader, but I do check Samhain and EC regularly. Other than that, I’ve never really searched a clearinghouse for new releases in ebook, regardless of the publisher. There must be one out there. And if there isn’t, there certainly should be!

  118. Sherry Thomas
    May 27, 2009 @ 13:36:04

    I’ll confess to not interacting on Twitter.

    But I think I have a semi-valid excuse. I got on Twitter for the express purpose of using it as a tool to update my blog when I don’t blog. And until a few weeks ago, when I went looking for the url of my twitter homepage to put on my website, I had no idea that people have been replying at my tweets. No idea at all.

    Lame but true tale of ‘net ineptitude.

  119. Stephani Hecht
    May 27, 2009 @ 15:02:38

    Okay I’ll admit, I’m a Twitter whore. I can’t get enough of that site. That being said I never use it to pimp my books.

  120. Monica Burns
    May 27, 2009 @ 15:05:21

    Whenever someone enters a contest I sponsor, if they request goodies off my site or if they win a book/prize I donated, I send ONE email to them, because in some form or fashion, they’ve initiated the contact.

    BUT, this email is the ONLY one I ever send them unless they contact me later. The basic gist of my email is this, Hey thanks for contacting me, participating in a contest for my books, your bookmarks are on their way or congrats you won a book. If you’re interested in joining my mailing list, no obligation, here’s where you can join. If you’re not interested, I certainly understand, and that’s the LAST the reader will hear from me unless they contact/connect with me in the future.

    About 50% of those who receive the email probably won’t join my loop, which is perfectly okay, but they initiated the contact. For those who do join my loop/mailing list, there’s a benefit to them and me. Announcement groups are an excellent way to get the word out when the target audience is there because they want to be there.

    Facebook is for fun, but my Fan Page is for promotion. Two separate animals. And I only invite people to the Fan page who asked to friend me on FaceBook, and ONLY if I “think” they’re readers (can’t always tell that much about people who friend me or why). When I invite, I say thanks for finding me FB and say that if they’re interested in my books, join the fan page. If they’re not interested that’s okay and I won’t bother them again.

    I guess my thought is that if I’m polite about it, extend the invitation once and only once, plus the reader and I have connected in a way where the READER was the one to initiate the connection, then one email with an offer isn’t a bad thing. But that’s it. I don’t mine emails anywhere. I don’t like it when I’m suddenly on another author’s email list, when I didn’t sign up for it. I wouldn’t auto subscribe someone to my list. I never have, because I hate when it’s done to me. And I feel like a heel if I ask to be removed from a list where another author has mined my email.

  121. Julieb
    May 27, 2009 @ 15:17:48

    @ Monica Burns: Thank you for inviting people to your fan page only once. There’s someone who spams me once a week to join their fan page, and it’s getting old.

  122. Monica Burns
    May 27, 2009 @ 15:29:37

    @Julieb I’m betting it’s the same person who continuously invites me. LOL If I get invited one more time, I’m dumping them as a friend.

    The application deals on FB can be annoying at times, but occasionally there will be one that appeals to me that I’ll sign on for. But I just pretty much delete those.
    Did the What level of Hell one last night. That was fun because I told my friend that I was level two and she was level nine, which meant I was ahead of here. She responded that level hell meant she was more of a bad a$$ and I was a wimp. She was right. ROFL

  123. Barb Ferrer
    May 27, 2009 @ 16:04:30

    @Nora Roberts:

    I think-and I think I'm reading Barb's post correctly and agree with her-authors should certainly reach out to readers, keep informed, and participate if and when they can. But they should also do what makes them happy, what they're comfortable doing, and what doesn't suck up actual writing time, but can enhance it, or just stir those juices.

    Yep. That pretty much sums it up. Because honestly? If you don’t like doing it, it shows. Blogging for me tends to be a way to warm up the writing muscles while the coffee is kicking in. Or just sharing silly stuff with friends. I have one friend who refers to Twitter as the “office water cooler,” which is an analogy I can understand because in a way, that’s what my blog is to me.

    We'll never please every reader, either with our work or with our on-line style, level of interaction, opinions. So, I think, we must please ourselves while respecting, and hopefully appreciating, the reader and the many varied opportunities there are to exchange ideas and opinions. Whether we take those oportunities or-like me and Twitter-avoid them like the crumbly edge of a really high cliff.

    What Nora Said

  124. Julia Sullivan
    May 27, 2009 @ 20:49:29

    I'm so sad our #dearnora campaign hasn't pressured Nora into twittering against her will.

    I need my 2+ books a year from La Nora more than I need Tweets from her, so if she’s worried about it being a time-suck, I’ll take her word for it.

    Still, I like it. I’ve been doing Twitter book reviews as an experiment and the 140-character limit focuses the mind wonderfully.

  125. Promo Musings | Xandra Gregory
    May 27, 2009 @ 21:32:21

    [...] But over at Dear Author, there’s a lively and enlightening conversation going on about the top ten promo don’ts, and why you shouldn’t do them. Very good stuff for aspiring authors, newly-pubbed authors, [...]

  126. Anita Craig
    May 28, 2009 @ 21:39:14

    #8 brings to mind something else an author shouldn’t ever do: Don’t trash a former publisher on someone’s blog or a Yahoo list because you’re angry at that publisher. Most readers don’t care that you got burned by the publisher. You run the risk of sounding petty and vindictive. Your fellow authors won’t appreciate you costing them sales. The publisher will get pissed and…believe me this is true…will tell other publishers how you have behaved. You will get a reputation for being a loudmouth troublemaker and that is something you don’t need. Airing your dirty laundry in public is never wise nor is it productive. It comes off sounding like sour grapes and you just might lose a potential reader or alienate a former publishing mate. Keep your angry thoughts to yourself and don’t feel as though you have to share them with readers.

  127. Blog Hopping - Some Links Week 22 | Monkey Bear Reviews
    May 30, 2009 @ 04:44:56

    [...] at Dear Author has two related posts on 10 Online Author Promotional Don’ts and Readers and Reviewers Online [...]

  128. azteclady
    May 30, 2009 @ 13:16:44

    While I don’t expect (nor want) every author to follow every single reader wish expressed here, there are several (particularly those Jane listed) that should be inviolable. At least if authors want to continue selling.

    One of my personal peeves is the never updated website. Look, if you haven’t had a book out in two or whatever years, that’s fine. Keep the website up with your (accessible, prinable, backlist–heed Bev’s advice there) and keep in touch online in other ways. Blog if the urge stikes *waving at Barbara Ferrer* or comment on other people’s blogs. Just keep an online presence according to your publishing and writing schedule.

    What kills me though is the author with three categories (or more) out every year whose website hasn’t been updated since 2006 or something like that. Kills me, people, just irks me like you wouldn’t believe.

    Second peeve: spreading yourself so thin over the net that your presence everywhere is random, sporadic and meaningless. Please, if you are going to do it, choose your weapon, as it were, and budget your time accordingly. Seriously, if you’d rather tweet than blog, please tell us so instead of letting us come back to your (previously frequently updated and interesting) blog for three weeks without an update.

    Finally, @ Lynne Connolly: check literary escapism and My Book Garden, they usually have good lists. I haven’t found one yet that is one hundred percent comprehensive, but I get something out of all the previously mentioned and these two as well.

  129. Lynne Connolly
    May 30, 2009 @ 18:18:09

    Just wanted to thank you for your list suggestions. They’re all bookmarked now and they’re just what I wanted – a list of releases, e and print, so I can greed over them and work out what I can afford!

  130. Monya (Mary) Clayton
    May 31, 2009 @ 07:02:20

    Reading these posts (when I should be writing) is an education. I think I’ll give up trying to promote except on my few groups and my blog. Seriously, I’m not getting any younger and the constant pressure for promotion is, well, draining.

    I’ve published one historical and one contemporary, first as e-books and now in print. The big problem is – my publisher has turned down my second books in each genre, probably because I’m not selling in great numbers. The heroine of the contemp is “too old-fashioned” for her age, and the historical is too long. Both fixable, but I’ll be looking for new publishers, probably electronic, for both. And let it be known immediately I understand their position; publishers are in business and need to succeed to make a mark. Success = sales.

    The huge problem these days is of simple mathematics. I am one writer of thousands, my books are two of tens or hundreds of thousands. Publisher urges to promote my little head off because they don’t do it. So it’s back to basics. I’ll write and take my chances.

  131. Julieb
    May 31, 2009 @ 10:39:42

    The problem with the emphasis on self-promotion for authors is that we don’t get the tools and support. I’m attending an SF convention next weekend, and on the schedule I see a panel each on self-promotion for writers and authors, and one self-promotion workshop. The convention I help run is planning at least one panel on self-promotion.

    Too many small publishers have abdicated the role of promotion to their authors, and that’s just wrong. Back in my journalism days I got press releases and ARC copies across my desk. The releases from publishers and PR agencies were more professional, plus most had the resources to do at least one follow-up call. Someone was keeping track of how well their promotion efforts worked – not just in terms of sales, but in terms of who gave them what sort of air time and print space. Now we’re told to get a web site, a Twitter account, Facebook and My Space pages, and work them to death. How do we – or our publishers – define a return on investment?

    Perhaps I’m harboring an old-fashioned notion here, but isn’t a publisher in the business to sell books? If so, isn’t it worth their time and effort (and yes, expense) to market their products?

  132. MPH
    May 31, 2009 @ 11:36:11

    @stephanie feagan:

    Stephanie, I emphasize with your comment 1,000%. If I’ve learned anything in the past eighteen months or so, I’ve learned that 1) writers can be really wonderful people and it’s a joy to interact with them and “talk shop” 2) writers can be really scary attention-starved people who will turn on you in a moment if you’re not “into” their work.

    While I love writing and am thankful and excited about my epublishing opportunities I do not define my personhood and success exclusively by my writing. I’m in school full time and am looking forward to building a career based upon my studies. I have an extended family, friends, and pets who mean the world to me. I have other interests and hobbies beyond writing and these can take up my time.

    I’ve interacted with writers whose entire world is about writing — specifically whatever they happen to be writing or have just published at the time — and it’s pretty plain that if one’s not part of their “fandom” one’s friendship is devalued accordingly. It’s frightening and very sad to see this metamorphosis occur.

    One promotional “don’t” I’d like to add to the list is this: If you seek my opinion on a book, expect and accept my honest opinion and remember my opinion carries as much weight as anybody else’s.

  133. June Links
    May 31, 2009 @ 20:10:57

    [...] Author posted  a list of writer don’ts, which is not why I’m linking here. The comments are the fascinating part. At least to me it is, particularly all the stuff that writers do that [...]

  134. Welcome to June and a shinier ISBW blog! : I Should Be Writing
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 08:07:46

    [...] Best Writing Advice for the Day: 8. Don't ever type a comment or blog post while angry.  Step away, call a friend, eat an entire pie. From 10 Author Online Promotional Don'ts [...]

  135. V. Greene
    Jun 09, 2009 @ 13:57:04

    I can haz pie?

    Thanks for the tips, duly noted and memorized. You’re keeping a new kid on the block from screwing up too badly from the start (or, probably, several new kids).

    A question: if you write under a pen name, should your authorial Facebook page list your age or the nom de plume’s?

  136. Jane
    Jun 09, 2009 @ 18:08:00

    @V. Greene: I think it depends on whether you are trying to keep personal life separate but I never advocate fudging the truth with a reader bc that can only come back and bite you. How about not putting an age on there at all?

  137. Miki
    Jun 09, 2009 @ 19:11:09

    @V. Greene: I would agree with Jane on this.

    Two examples: I always got a kick out of the “author bio” on Lisa Marie Rice. It’s very obvious this is a pseudonym – and the fact that she says she’s “eternally 30″ suggested to me she was likelyat least 10 years older than that!

    On the other hand, I belong to an author list for an author who only recently “outted” herself in a recent magazine article as not only writing under pseudonym, but as wearing a costume (wig and kick-ass heroine type clothing) for book signings. There were members on the list who went a bit crazy – emails about how they were “lied to,” “betrayed”, “made a fool of”, etc. Now, the author didn’t owe anyone an explanation for the pseudonym – you really can’t control the crazies, right? – but I think it was that extra step of “playing dress-up” that freaked people out.

    So I would think you’d be better of to make it obvious you’re playing around if you create an character for your alter ego (like Lisa Marie Rice), or you could risk reader backlash if they find out later.

  138. Jason Rivera
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 12:57:42

    Online promotion is heavily done by internet marketers out there promoting goods and services.-’;

%d bloggers like this: