Killer Year–The Class of 2007


The Fine Line With BSP (and how not to cross it)
August 9, 2006, 9:00 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

What author self-promotion turns readers off? And what works? What has inspired readers to try a new author?

Will new authors ever be asked to cross lines they might be uncomfortable with? How far are you willing to go to promote your book?

I asked author Kevin Wignall about that. Kevin said, “When People Die was first published my UK publishers based their publicity hopes on me coming out as a former MI6 agent… I refused, of course, despite the fact that they secured me a slot in The Times to talk about my experiences. But rather than move on, Hodder’s PR vision crumbled to nothing on that refusal to play along. The lesson? If you weren’t in MI6 or if you’re not willing to talk about it, you better be sure you have something else that is worth talking about.”

The name’s Wignall. Kevin Wignall.

Hmmmm. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Not to mention that he’d have to give up the Pimm’s and drink martinis. Sounds like a PR group that was looking for a British version of Barry Eisler.

At first, I thought this was pretty ridiculous. Wouldn’t an author be found out? But I suppose, since spy agencies seldom confirm or deny allegations about former operatives, the official statement would be no statement, wouldn’t it? Maybe if they’d offered Kevin one of those cool cars he would have reconsidered, but I’m tempted to take a detour off the main track here, and this post is long enough already.

I think what’s critical about this is the idea that authors even have to consider fundamentally changing who they are in order to appease their publishers and try to sell books. I keep hearing people say if you can find a hook for a story about your story – something it connects to that’s newsworthy – you’ll get a lot of extra publicity, and there’s something sad about the idea that art so quickly gives way to marketability.

A few weeks ago, in my post about Harrogate Crime Festival I talked about aspiring authors blogging when they don’t have books done. I didn’t do a good job of fully explaining myself. I sympathize with these writers, because one of the things I was told offhandedly was that all books submitted were evaluated for the caliber of writing and storytelling, and then for the marketability of the author and the story. It isn’t enough to write a fantastic novel. There’s more to getting published than a well-written book – something my friend Bill Blume recently gleaned from JA Konrath.

If you don’t have a web presence these days, you aren’t just fighting an uphill battle: you’re pushing a loaded bus up a mountainside. It helps to have profile.

I find myself worrying that the quality of the books being put out is being compromised by the marketing machine that starts from before book 1 is even done, and only kicks into high gear once a writer actually makes a sale.

And then the book actually comes out…

You know, you just want to be a writer. Not a marketer. Well, okay, maybe JA Konrath harboured a secret fantasy to work in marketing, but I didn’t.

I remember the good ol’ days, when I just thought you had to worry about writing the best damn book you could, and find a publisher. I didn’t think about distribution networks, persuading people to carry my book in specific bookstores, organizing tours, having a blog, being on myspace, a website, whether I post too much or too little on DorothyL…

Now, I actually like traveling and meeting people. Yes, I have a shy streak, but I do like the idea of interacting with readers. That’s part of the reason I choose to blog. Nobody is forced to come to my blog – I consider it a safe space to talk about what’s happening with me without being intrusive.

I posed those questions about what turns readers off and what entices them to try new authors on DorothyL and a few other places. Many people responded, but not two days after I asked readers to chime in I read this on DorothyL:

“If a new author can’t SPAM you, can’t do book signings, and can’t get space on store shelves, how do we show you what you are missing?”

Let me climb right up on my soap box – I don’t know who said new authors can’t do signings or get space on store shelves (certainly Cornelia Read, Louise Penny and Stuart MacBride have, to name a few) but SPAM? Could someone seriously be suggesting authors are hamstrung because they can’t SPAM people?

I decided to do this post because I was reading discussions about sending out emails to promote one’s book and all I could think was, “For God’s sake people, if you’re emailing, at least know who the hell you’re sending it to.”

If your back is going up, remember something right now. I’m an editor. I get this stuff sent to me. Believe me, there are ways to piss me off, and SPAM is one of them. I average a few hundred emails a day. Adding to that volume with unsolicited crap ticks me off – and don’t twist that. I love getting emails from people who read my blog and people I know. I don’t love people who think nothing of invading my inbox with advertisements. In fact, I hope there’s a special place in hell for them. Not to mention that SPAM is illegal and subject to an $11,000 fine per incident. Anyone suggesting an author use SPAM (this means sending unsolicited email advertisements) to promote their book is encouraging them to break the law and take an enormous financial risk.

I’ve received some SPAM from authors this year. I keep it in a special file, to remind me of books I will never buy. Occasionally, I reply and suggest they send an ARC so I can review the book. None have ever responded.

But let’s dispense with my pet peeves. Let’s hear from readers. What turns them off? (And do remember each of these comments came from a reader who took the time to answer my questions. Which means this is their experience, and it really did affect them enough to motivate them to tell me about it, so I think it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say.)

The Greedy Author

(The author who, at a signing, said) raise your right hand and repeat after me I solemnly swear not to lend or borrow any of *&%& #* & %$%*$%$’s books so help me…whoever. – Del Tinsley

Pushy and Forgetful (at least play dumb if you can’t remember!)

An author who verbally pushed her book so hard that I bought it in self-defense. This occurred before a SinC meeting where local authors read from their books that had either just come out or were coming out in the very near future. After the meeting she continued to push her book. We both happened to be wearing red & black & she commented in her signing “to her twin in red & black.” I saw her (a few) months later & commented that we weren`t twins that day & she looked at me & said, “Lady, I have no idea what you are talking about. I never saw you before in my life!” I told her that she had just lost a reader… – PMJ

Sell Sell Sell!

”(An author who, at a reading, immediately) started opening boxes and pulling out all of this stuff-his back list, articles he’d written, signed reviews-just about anything you could think of and started hawking them to the audience. He barely talked about his books or characters at all-instead just hawked his junk… I won’t buy another thing from him.” – CSC

A number of readers also commented on being put off by the promotional efforts of spouses. The specific commentary ranged from the spouse being too pushy to annoyance that the author couldn’t be bothered to interact with readers.

Other readers complained about specific authors that come across like they’re always attacking other writers in order to make themselves sound better.

Why Not Me, sniff sniff?

“I remember an author on DorothyL asking why members had not read his book. What about it made them not read it? He seriously wondered what he was doing wrong but it sounded whiney. The fact that this question came during our lists of favorite books of the previous year and that he was wondering why we weren’t including his turned me off.” – KR

What do you mean I can’t review my own book and manipulate you into buying it?

Every now and then, some author shows up at BookCrossing. He sets up a minimum of 3 accounts under different names. He registers a copy of the book he just published (usually self-published in some manner, but I don’t want to imply that all self-published works are rubbish). Rarely does he identify himself as the author of the book. Then he proceeds to write glowing reviews under each account name. Oddly enough, these “independent reviewers” all have similar turns of phrase and misspell all the same words, and nearly identical reviews show up on amazon.com and bn.com. Then he proceeds to the forums, where he cross-posts in all-caps about this FABULOUSE NEW AUTHER he has discovered. Some forum readers, willing to reserve judgment, pose questions to him about the book and/or its author; he refuses to be engaged in conversation. Any BookCrosser who has been in the forums for any length of time immediately dismisses him, often with a harsh admonition that mistaking literary addiction for weak-minded stupidity is, well, weak-minded and stupid. Stina Branson

Look At Me, Look At Me! I don’t care who the hell the rest of you are!

Worst BSP is when someone… joins DL and immediately starts promoting his/her (usually his) own book, saying how we’ll all want to read it, when the person hasn’t taken much time to read the list or get to know us. – Lonnie Cruse

I don’t have a specific worst example, but I dislike authors who (1) never post except to promote their new book or (2) respond with their book every time someone asks for a book suggestion “I’m looking for books set in Spain” whether their book is appropriate or not “Although my book isn’t set in Spain, the protagonist dreams about Spain.” – LJ

Staying on that theme, “The author who never posts on DorothyL until he has a book to promote, then only writes about his own book. Second is the authors who turn every question into a plug for their own books, no matter how tangential to the subject.” Jane C.

These comments were of specific interest to me, because in the midst of the dozens of emails on this subject, a few people took the opportunity to address me, specifically. A person said I posted too much. Another inferred, because my book isn’t yet listed on Amazon or B&N for pre-order, I’m self-published. Being self-published came up more than once, along with a suggestion that if I am I should quit while I’m ahead.

Now, it’s hard not to respond to comments like that without sounding like I’m taking it personally. The truth is, it’s incredibly frustrating. As another author I discussed this with said to me, it isn’t as though my posts on DL are all about me, as anyone who reads them knows. In fact, since another person mentioned that my name had been discussed on other lists with the question, “Who the hell is she?” as the theme, clearly I haven’t done a good job of telling people who I am. The argument could be made that I actually need to post more and actually talk about myself…

But what I learned was that, no matter how much information is available about you on the web, some people will form conclusions based off of essentially no information and go with those assumptions. I’m not on Amazon yet, I must be self-published – that was one conclusion someone had drawn. Okay, fair, I know numerous authors who have books coming out later next year that are already available for pre-order. Did I lose a potential sale by not being listed on Amazon yet? It seems assumptions become conclusions that equaled facts in some people’s minds and now every appearance of my name was automatically discounted.

Pre-ordering how many months ahead on Amazon? What do I know about this? I guess this is the new ‘must’.

But I also got some nice comments from people, who referred to my posts on DorothyL as ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘insightful’.

And I made a decision for myself that I never wanted to be one of those authors who only went on DL to talk about themselves and their book, so I actually try to participate in the discussions.

Too much for some, while my participation has obviously not been a problem for others.

To be honest, I didn’t anticipate the level of responses I received, which is why I’m going to have to save the comments on what did appeal to readers for another post. As it is, I’m continuing with this topic at my own blog today, because there was so much there.


One person did say, “I have absolutely no problem with self-promotion by authors. These days most publishers do blessed little to help their authors, especially authors with a first novel. I applaud any authors’ efforts to put their work in front of people, as long as there’s still the option of the delete key! I hope that no author tries to influence the content of any review, however, especially by offering a free copy for a good review — that seems dishonest at worst and unprofessional at best.

Honestly, BSP doesn’t usually influence me to by a book or check one out of the library. I might take a look at the author’s website, if there is one, but only because I’m trying to construct one of my own and want to see what others are doing. If an author responds on DL to a review, good OR bad, graciously and with humor, I’m more likely to look for his/her book than if he/she tries to promote it herself/himself.” – KH

If there is one thing I learned, it’s that you won’t please everyone. Some readers will be forgiving. Some will not. Some will judge you for what you do, and others will make assumptions. You will rarely get a chance to discuss your motivations and reasons for your action. My advice? Step outside yourself and your goals and your perspective long enough to think about your own negative experiences with sales people and before you do anything, ask how the person on the receiving end might feel about it. I’m not saying do nothing. I’m also not suggesting you try to placate the people at the extremes – I don’t feel I’ve included extreme comments here – but I am suggesting that you listen to readers before you try to persuade them to invest their money in your book.

I’ll tell you something on a completely personal note. The first time I met Simon Kernick it was at Harrogate 2005, at a book signing the first night. I introduced myself to him, but quite honestly, all my copies of his books I owned to that point were here, in Canada, so I didn’t have anything for him to sign. He ended up telling me about living in Canada, and then he told me something pretty personal about himself. It was surprising, but interesting that he shared something with a reader – and that’s what I was then, nothing more than ‘Sandra, from Canada’. The next day I bought his latest book. He hadn’t tried to twist my arm, or told me that he had a new book out, or tried to guilt me into buying anything.

He was just a great person, who happened to write books I’d thoroughly enjoyed, and being friendly bumped him up to the top of my purchasing list. Something I’ve never regretted, as A Good Day To Die was one of my favourite reads of last year. I’ve venture to say it’s on my top 10 list of best reads, ever, if I ever made such a list.

There’s something to be said for being a nice person, not just a walking advertisement for yourself.

I do wonder if any of the quotes I included here surprised you. What have been your bad marketing experiences? Has the BSP of authors prevented you from purchasing their books?

And if you want to know more of my thoughts on this topic, visit my blog today for some stories, and a great joke that does relate to sales, and a final chance to enter the contest to win an ARC of my debut novel. If you’re interested in what did entice readers to try new authors, you’ll have to check out this blog post.

And if you missed 20 Surefire Ways To Get Your Book Published go have a hearty laugh.

Sandra Ruttan
Author of Suspicious Circumstances
January 2007
On Life and Other Inconveniences

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28 Comments so far
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A few weeks ago, I had trouble with my email account for a few days — things getting bounced or not arriving. Seemed the server wasn’t deleting old mail for some reason, but it was quickly dealt with and all was well.

A side effect of the problem was that I stopped getting DorothyL. I presume their mails to me got bounced back and I was auto-dropped. I tried to restart, but no luck. Maybe under a different email account.

But I haven’t done it. And as I read your post here I realized I may never do it.

DorothyL scares me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some lovely people on DorothyL, and the passion they feel for mystery and suspense is a passion I share. But there is this proprietary undercurrent to the list, a “We own Mystery, and you cross us at your peril” attitude that makes me want to run and hide. Another writer spoke of feeling worried that if she said the wrong thing, they’d rise up against her and destroy her career. And I’d felt the same thing. Now, folks pshawed and told her not to worry, but it didn’t comfort me.

Obviously it’s not a monolithic, homogenous community. There is debate and dispute and disagreement. As you say, you can’t please everyone, and frankly, you can’t piss off everyone either.

But something about it worries me. I feel safer outside. And as for BSP, well, you reminded me of an encounter I had last weekend, so I’m off to blog about it! (Heh.)

Comment by Bill Cameron

You know Bill, there have been times I thought of leaving DL. There are discussions on there that have driven me mad.

But there are also wonderful people who’ve emailed me and encouraged me, popped up as blog readers and become friends.

It is, like all things in life, a mix of positives and negatives.

I will admit, the person who told me I posted too much was hardly outweighed by the people who told me they enjoyed my posts. If you’re like me, you’ll always take that criticism to heart.

Thing is, when I put out the questions to readers, they responded. And in full context, I don’t think any of them were extreme. I was surprised by some feedback, but I agreed with much of it.

And I think when you read tomorrow’s post about the things that did work, you’ll see the other half of the equation that balances this out nicely.

Now everyone go read Bill’s post too!

Comment by killeryear

I’ve been urged to join the DorothyL list by several people, and I’m stubborn enough to resist for just that reason. It’s like a co-worker constantly asking to come to your house so he can tell you about AmWay.

To chime in on pushy authors shooting themselves in the foot: a bookstore I once worked at hosted a signing by a thriller writer from Portland. It was his second novel. We had a table set up near the front of the store, with plenty of copies of both books on display. As soon as a customer came through the door, the author started giving them his sales pitch. His wife, meanwhile, trolled the aisles for anyone the author might have missed. My manager wanted to ask them to ease up a little, but was worried about offending them. End result? A two-hour signing during which not a single copy of that author’s books sold.

Comment by Patrick Shawn Bagley

DorothyL is just one of many private and public lists that discuss mysteries. I hardly think they have the power to ruin someone’s career. The list is comprised of 3,000 people. Yes, we want all 3,000 of them to read our books, to tell their friends and libraries to buy our books. But there’s more to life than DorothyL, and new authors who are getting their marketing together need to remember that.
That said, I enjoy DL because I get so many great book recommendations. DL can’t do anything but help, and is at best a neutral entity in the long run.
Am I totally off base here?
Oh, and ridiculous BSP will kill my desire to read your book. My feeling is, if your work is that great, others will do the BSP for you.

Comment by JT Ellison

JT Ellison Says: “I enjoy DL because I get so many great book recommendations. DL can’t do anything but help, and is at best a neutral entity in the long run. Am I totally off base here?”

Probably not. I honestly don’t know much about DorothyL, only that people keep expressing shock when they learn I’m not a member. But I’m already on too many listserves and usually don’t have time to read their messages, even using the “daily digest” option. And yet, somehow, I find time to comment on blogs. Go figger.

Comment by Patrick Shawn Bagley

Patrick, I went through similar arm-twisting, but I think JT has summed up DorothyL well. Your example of overkill by an author is astounding – I suppose if the publisher wants to invest in anything, perhaps it should be a class on marketing and what not to do? Geesh, someone should teach that!

JT, your comment about if work is great others will BSP for you is astute. I think what worries authors is always how to get people initially to read their stuff so it gets to that point.

And in tomorrow’s post, I’ll be looking at that side of the equation, referencing what readers said enticed them to try someone new, as well as comments from Ian Rankin about his breakthrough.

And I don’t want to make this about DorothyL. I asked people there for their feedback. As much as I have received some abusive mail in the past off of DorothyL, at least those people signed their names to the opinions they expressed. It’s no different than the odd problem person who pops up on blogs. I’ve experienced far worse on forums – the freak who shut down the Rankin forum comes to mind. There are people a bit extreme everywhere.

To be honest, in the past month there are two names that have come up on a listserve that I now have a strong aversion to. I’m trying to be reasonable, but people do have to consider how their behaviour makes them look, or they’ll be like that couple in the bookstore, working hard at failing miserably.

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

I admit that part of my impression of DorothyL comes from my foolish decision to defend Prologues there. I got a direct email (off list) from someone who said, “Obviously your novel must have a prologue, which means it’s weak by definition. I can’t imagine why anyone would bother to read it.”

Huh?

Admittedly that was just one person. And quite a number of people agreed with me. But it, um, disturbed me.

That said, Sandra, sorry for derailing this into a DL discussion. The larger discussion is much more interesting than my little anxieties about, as JT so aptly points out, just one particular group of 3,000 people.

Comment by Bill Cameron

Bill, no apology is necessary. Honestly, I understand the frustration with what people find it necessary to email people off-list about. I’ve also said stuff that people have taken the trouble to clarify with me, and had some terrific conversations with them as a result.

I think the hardest thing about DL for me was that there were so many inside things initially that I felt lost. ‘Bubba says hey’ is still lost on me. Then, in the early days when I posted, people would talk around me but never to me. It took a concentrated effort for me to find my comfort zone posting there, but once I did I was fine.

And oddly enough, the more I post, the less hate mail I get. It’s been a while since someone really told me off because of a DL post. I invited opinions on BSP, so I knew some people would remark on me. That’s fine. Truthfully, I got far more compliments than criticisms.

And Bill, I loved your story on your blog! That was wicked! Well, okay, I loved it because it didn’t happen to me, but thanks for sharing the story.

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Sandra et al,
This blog gives me the chilling feeling that a good suspense novel does. Who are these sinister people, on DorothyL and elsewhere, who bother to send out negative e-mails? What’s the point? Trying to build bad karma? Be the bully of the playground? Prove that you’re better somehow? Sandra, it’s time to sing the song.

Comment by Julia Buckley

Honestly I’m an easy going kinda gal. 🙂 So not too much BSP bothers me. I do agree with some of the examples people sent in. I don’t mind if authors talk about their books on DL but I’ll be more likely to remember them if they comment on other posts too. Not just talk about their books. As in wow they have some very insignful opinions/comments hey maybe I should check out their books.

Pushy and forgetful takes the cake though. To be rude to a potential customer is a no no in my book.

I’ve heard stories about a few of the more well known (as in best seller) authors that just turn me off. They act like they are the King or Queen bee and you are just some lowely little serf. Well us lowely serfs are the ones who made them best sellers so maybe they should rethink that behavior.

Comment by Andrea Maloney

How’s this for marketing?

I’m gonna add a bag of M&M’s to every book. Nothing sells like chocolate.

Comment by Robert Gregory Browne

Julia, I’m humming already!

There are always people who’ll be interesting. Always. If you blog, you’ll get email. If you just write a book. I could name someone who has gained infamy for their letters to authors, to the point of being mentioned on a panel at Harrogate, and not in a positive way either. And they have nothing to do with DL.

Andrea, you know, I think that’s why I was so wowed with authors I met at Harrogate last year – they didn’t act like they were better than anyone. My first experiences were so wonderful and enjoyable, and when people are great you want to talk about them. You want to see them do well. Hence my story about Simon – he gets my good karma 2005 award. If I could give all my good karma to one person for that year, it would have been him. The thing is, he’d say he didn’t do anything and that’s the whole point, but he encouraged me from the beginning.

People warm to people. If they like you and find out you’re an author, they’ll be more likely to be interested in your book, I think.

If I like a person and their work, I’ll promote them tirelessly. That’s just me…

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Rob, great idea! Women will flock to you!

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Only at certain times 🙂

Comment by JT Ellison

Rob, stick a martini in one and I can guarantee you at least one sale right here!

Comment by Bill Cameron

Hey, Bill, I’ll buy you that martini at Bouchercon. 🙂

Comment by Robert Gregory Browne

Hi,
Thanks for announcing the fine-line… on DL. This is my first time visiting your blog and I love it, Sandra! My first novel came out this month (NO this is NOT BSP)and I just want to say, I need all the help I can get. BTW, DL scares me, too. I don’t want to be eaten alive. I’ve seen it and it’s ugly.

Comment by Deb Baker

Okay, Rob! I’m there!

Comment by Bill Cameron

I don’t get the people that post the negative comments about someone else’s opinion. There are times that I am frustrated and a bit appalled at the responses to someone’s obvious well thought out post. I mean, isn’t DorothyL supposed to be about various people’s opinions on different mystery subjects?
I don’t mind authors posting about their own books, but I hate it when EVERY time the person posts its about their book and as someone else pointed out, makes every discussion about their book. (like books with cats? My book has cats in the neighborhood, don’t like cats? My protagonist doesn’t like cats either-never mind the book has NOTHING to do with cats,type of thing.)
I have found more new authors from posted reviews on DorothyL than any other way I believe.
I love it when authors post blog and website links. It makes me feel like I know them as people better and yes, makes me more likely to try their books.

Comment by Caryn

I don’t even know where DorothyL is. How’s that for clueless?

Comment by m.g. tarquini

M. G., I don’t either. But I know what martinis are, and apparently both Bill and Rob are going to be drinking them WITHOUT US!

Comment by Elizabeth

Come to Boucheron, Elizabeth! We’ll share!

And, Deb, I have your book! I bought it and everything! (I haven’t read it yet though, I have to confess. It’s on my stack though!)

Comment by Bill Cameron

I notice Bill and Rob have left me out of the martini discussion. Hmph.

Hi Deb – thanks for dropping by! Yes, we new authors need this – I completely understand. This is part of why I did this. I struggle with this balance. And tomorrow, on my blog, the positives. How are new authors breaking through? There are ways to reach readers.

Caryn, typically I agree. Sometimes, I have to admit it’s amusing, but only in specific situations. I like it when there’s actually some discussion about topics, maybe even some movement on position. Okay, there are plenty of things that my opinions are pretty solid on, but other things I can be persuaded to reconsider.

I agree about people posting every time about their book. Ugh. And look – you discover new authors through DL and check out websites and such. Cool! See, this is good for authors to know!

MG, LOL! Your education shall begin tomorrow. Elizabeth, perhaps it will be a group thing. Over martinis!

Comment by killeryear

I love the suggestions of what not to do to promote your book. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a publisher that works hard to get my name and book out there in the marketplace (one of the benefits of going with a small independent press). However, I live in a very isolated area and can’t for the life of me figure out how to get people outside Michigan and Wisconsin to notice the book. The big chains are hesitant to carry it because it’s from a small publisher and yet … I love my publisher and word of mouth is spreading quickly.

I read an old intereview with Dana Cameron on http://www.mysteryguide.com recently and feel encouraged. After all, she’s in Alaska and doing just fine, thank you very much.

Comment by Nancy Barr

Woops. Just realized that was Dana Stabenow, not Cameron, on http://www.mysteryguide.com.

This is why I don’t post much on the Internet lists — not enough time to think before I speak. Sorry.

Comment by Nancy Barr

Good post, Sandra.

The whole promotion issue is so loaded. I think if authors do what they LIKE to do in this regard, they’ll be fine.

Perhaps that’s an overly optimistic view, but after working so long in PR I can say that customers can smell falsity with far too much ease.

Comment by Pari Noskin Taichert

It’s never about what you have to sell–it’s about what you have to offer.

I do a lot of promotion, and it always involves giving rather than taking.

People visit my website and blog for information, to win free stuff, and to find out more about my books–not so I can sell them X number of books.

This tour I’m on involves me giving out free copies of my new hardcover, 1000s of signed coasters, and taking down names of booksellers who will be thanked in my next book.

BSP is ineffective at best, annoying at worst. And it can be annoying to the point where you turn off potential customers.

The goal of branding is to become an automatic purchase. A well written book is the most important aspect of this. But chances very good that are no one will know about your book, so you have to inform them of its existence. You should do this by giving people an experience, not begging for their attention.

BTW, I never wanted to be a marketer. I wanted to be a ballerina.

Comment by JA Konrath

Nancy, I think your situation is one that authors should band together to address. An international coalition of authors that change some fundamental things in the industry – that it isn’t just about money getting books on shelves.

I mean, side rant here, but wtf is it with publishers paying big bucks for bookends to get their stuff noticed? You know, when I worked in Stedmans and Canadian Tire, you put up end displays because you, as the carrier of that merchandise, were hoping to push it and get it noticed, because it was on sale, because you thought it was a critical item for the season, like Easter Bunnies or Christmas Trees, and wanted to make it easy for your customers to buy.

But with bookstores, it’s whoever pays the big money gets the nice display. Just seems so backwards to me. I’m sure if I owned a bookstore, I’d like the money, but people think the big publishers put out the best stuff because it has prominence, and that isn’t it at all. They can just afford to get those NYT ads and end displays.

It’s all about money and not nearly enough about quality…

Pari, good points, and actually, I linked to your post from my blog today. Stuff all authors should take note of.

Aw Joe, you would have made a great ballerina! I can see you in a tutu, twirling through the crowds at Bouchercon…

But you’re right – you are one of the most generous people in this business, especially when it comes to giving advice and encouragement to new authors. Although we’ve bantered from time to time over things we disagree on, I have a lot of respect for what you do for others. And one of the reasons it works for you is that you’re a natural at what you do – like Pari says, people smell falsity. You can work it in ways I never could, and for you, it really works!

Comment by Sandra Ruttan




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