Bad Book Publicity
I’ll probably be talking about book-release stuff next week when Mermaid’s Madness comes out, which got me thinking about some of the really bad publicity strategies for authors.
I’m not claiming to be perfect. In the past five years, I’ve tried any number of things to promote my work that make me wince to think about ’em now. Bad home-printed bookmarks, obnoxious begging for reviews, etc. But I’ve tried to learn, and I do my best to keep my promotional efforts in check–trying to model them as the occasional commercial break as opposed to an infomercial, if that makes sense?
Anyway, I figured this might be a good time open things up for a discussion of some of the most annoying, ineffective, or downright bizarre promo efforts you’ve seen. Starting things off with five of my personal favorites:
- If a bookstore isn’t carrying your work, sneak in and leave a copy on the shelf. When someone goes to buy it, they’ll be forced to add you to the computer. Voila! Now you’re in the system, and sure to sell millions of copies.
- Stick your book cover on postage stamps! (This one comes courtesy of Writer Beware.)
- Run around posting five-star reviews of your own work. In your own name. (Yes, I’ve seen this done on multiple occasions.)
- Spam. Including e-mail, message boards, blog comments, and so on. ‘Nuff said.
- And my all-time favorite, Photoshop yourself into photos of successful authors. (Related: make up sockpuppet accounts to harass anyone who calls you on it.)
What else have you encountered that makes you cringe? What bad advice have you come across? (“You must spend your entire advance on promotional efforts, or your book is DOOMED!”) What annoys you to the point where you’ll deliberately avoid buying, reading, or even being in the same room with a book?
October 2, 2009 @ 3:35 pm
Related to item #5 on your list above is one I just saw happen on LibraryThing.
Author (self-published, natch) took his book to several book signings by prominent (but completely unrelated) authors. There he “exchanged” books with the prominent author through means I’m sure were underhanded and nefarious. Meanwhile he had a buddy snap a couple of pictures. I’m sure he has them prominently on his web site.
Anyway, the really idiotic part is that he then posted those pictures to LibraryThing under the prominent authors’ names (Jack Canfield and Leslie Nielsen…) with credits like this:
Jack Canfield and X, author “Retirement Income” exchange books.
X was linked to his web site. Retirement Income was linked to his book on Amazon. Jack Canfield was of course, not linked at all. We flagged them as spam.
I’ve also been to a few author readings/Q&As where some self published author started asking bunches of questions starting with “As I asked in my book Awesomeness Personified, …. ?”
October 2, 2009 @ 6:55 pm
All of those are insane, but the first is particularly staggering. Who would even think that up (let alone think it’s a good idea)? Yeah, I know, the answer is: probably enough people to be depressing. I feel so naive sometimes.
Sneaking into the bookstore and hiding fliers for your book inside best-sellers is probably the most tasteless promotional “advice” I’ve personally seen.
Jim C. Hines
October 3, 2009 @ 9:32 am
Interesting approach. I suppose it’s a step up from just Photoshopping yourself into the pictures, but yeah, that still jumps way over the line into tacky and spammy.
Jim C. Hines
October 3, 2009 @ 9:34 am
#1 is not only insane, but shows a total misunderstanding of how bookstores operate. But I’m going to guess it came from one of the less-than-reputable scammer presses. Because if you convince your authors to do it, that means they buy more books from you.