Inspired by Doggy Hall of Shame, I decided to blast right into 2015 with my own Book Marketing Hall of Shame. Sadly, I’m pretty sure this list represents only a fraction of the bad promotional moves authors make (can you say “desperation”?). Please, don’t every let me catch you doing any of these things:
· The unwanted “gift”: A few weeks ago, an author I’ve never met emailed me a promotional code to his book. Six days later, he followed up with this message: It appears you are not going to redeem the iBooks store promo code I sent to you. Apple issues a limited number and each has a lifespan of only four weeks and then expires forever, so I am resending yours to Cat Channel to begin my effort to drum up some publicity for Christmas Season 2015. If you should ever decide you want to become part of the millions who will yet read this book, just let me know and I will check out another from of [sic] my quota of codes and send to you. Let’s start with the obvious: Don’t dump your books on people who aren’t interested in them. Don’t chide strangers for not using a “gift” they never asked for in the first place. And please. The millions who will yet read this book? Dear me.
· The spam blog comment: Recently, Mr. Z.H. left a comment on one of my blog posts: a linked title to a book, along with this book description: Author [name deleted, for obvious reasons] shares his triumphs and trials and experiences as an entrepreneur, car dealer, statesman, father and husband of 25 years and teaches us how to do more with less during tough times. He teaches how to leverage, barter, negotiate & stretch your dollar. These tips and tricks can pay big dividends throughout a lifetime. Dear Mr. Author (and your hired lackey, Z.H.), let me tell you what does not pay big dividends: spamming another author’s website.
· The false friend: One of my (real) friends got so fed up with over-zealous promotion on social media that she made this pronouncement: As a published author and current writer-editor who used to work at a publishing house, I am a very strong advocate for books and authors. However, when someone becomes a FB friend and immediately begins marketing their latest book and posting their book trailer and more on my timeline, I'm going to delete it and unfriend you. Here’s the deal, authors: It’s great to share your book news with your real friends. But be prudent. Think of how it looks on the receiving end, especially on Facebook where it’s tough to figure out why particular posts end up on our timelines. Facebook, by the way, is reportedly cracking down on posts that do nothing but push people to buy a product.
· The fake review: Online vendors do their best to target fake reviews and take them down, but judging from some of the adverts on fiverr (“fast glowing review,” “I will post a verified book review in 24 hours,” “positive verified review very fast”), the bogus review industry is still alive and well. Don’t feed it.
Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored fifteen books. Her most recent are What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive guide to book publishing and promotion, and Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist.