How-To Discussion of Promoting and Marketing Novels and Written Works

Discussion in 'Writing' started by juzzza, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Good post, Kerry. It reminds me why I kept my hair nicely trimmed during all of my years in the financial trade. You have one chance to make that first impression. Why work against yourself?

    --WB
     
  2. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    And here's the best testimony yet for a good display - an Amazon review (I highlighted):

    Uniquely satisfying, wish I had talked to the author at ConDFW, but his booth led me to buy the ebooks. I'll happily read them many more times in the future.

    Everything is in the first impression as you said, WB.

    Kerry
     
  3. CaptainZ

    CaptainZ Racer City Gangsta

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    Don't over do it. I think.
    Let it come naturally. Don't force a taco down my throat. Nagging me about a book. Reference it then if I'm interested then I'll check it out.
     
  4. roozmarry871

    roozmarry871 Registered User

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    its good effort i appreciate it. its very interesting and we get knowledge from its.
     
  5. TheFreshPenOfTO

    TheFreshPenOfTO New Member

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    Hmmm this is something that I'm interested in. If I have a relevant comment to a forum that is insightful and thought. And then slip in the end that if anybody is interested they can check out my latest short story here is that good communication or shameless self promotion?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2012
  6. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    Fairly simple, Fresh Pen: look at how many other people don't do it here at SFFWorld.... we usually ask for people to quote here or precis, so that that doesn't happen.

    The fairly new Promotion Zone may solve that issue a little - was meant to - but you'll find (as if the comments in this thread haven't shown you by already by now) that people here purely to self-promote are not well-regarded by members. Strange, but true.
     
  7. TheFreshPenOfTO

    TheFreshPenOfTO New Member

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    Thanks


    Thanks so much for the quick reply. I appreciate it. Now I know.
     
  8. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    I looked through the last couple of pages to see if this had been shared, but thought it fairly apropos in light of Mark's last comment:

    Waterstones bookseller found trolling self-published author

    The title of this article is interesting, given that it's somewhat incomplete. The article takes a sympathetic view of the self-published author's situation, giving no mention of how the article's writer discovered there was a story here to be told -- yet does repeatedly mention the title of the book, and even links to it on Amazon. There is no legal action involved, so no real public record to draw from. In order for this article to exist at all, someone had to bring it to the attention of the article's writer.

    The self-published author in question happens to have a day job in PR. Though the article doesn't say, given the nature of self-promotion, I'd wager it's a fair bet that the self-published author contacted a Guardian blogger with a penchant for the self-publisher eBook world. The result is that he has given himself a platform by having her write his story, and has created name recognition. And, by having your name mentioned and paired with blog tags, he has ensured that his name will appear in news aggregator sites all across the web, thereby driving up his hits. (This is the modern face of internet self-promotion -- gaining tags, creating backlinks and crosslinks, and keyword dropping.)

    The comments on the article are interesting to browse through. The author gets involved. The views expressed by commentators represent the various attitudes toward self-publishing and self-promotion, I think.

    Which brings me back to the interesting title of the Guardian article. Personally, I think self-promotion often is a form of trolling. Certainly one might discover they are in a conversation started by a self-promoter for the purpose of self-promotion -- the entire conversation having become a ruse, simply a ploy to generate web hits, tags, and for name/title dropping. Isn't that trolling? My question about this article: is the article's writer complicit in the author's self-promotion scheme?

    So the whole situation is pretty intriguing. I post this NOT to promote the author in question, but as a question about this whole thing as a promotion technique. What's going on here? Is it as sneaky as it might seem?
     
  9. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Hiya Fung Koo -- Yup, it looks as if there's a fair chance the writer had a connection with the Guardian blogger. And I must agree with Waterstone's that the act of placing one's advertising lit in their store--especially as it promoted a competitor--was childish. In certain jurisdictions, it might be considered a form of trespass. Of course, it almost goes without saying that the angry employee at Waterstone's responded in an equally childish fashion.

    That much said, I do NOT believe that all self promotion is trolling or is necessarily dishonorable. On the contrary, self promotion exists in every endeavor, from commerce to academia to religion to politics. In the situation that you cite, however, it was a fairly slimy move.

    Thanks for the post. It's certainly fascinating to learn what goes on in this industry.
     
  10. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks Fung: I missed this article when it was first published.

    The issue there, as I read it, is that the author's been into the property of another and self-publicised your book without their permission. Not only that, but they've encouraged those who might be interested in buying the book from another seller - not even the one they've tried to promote their work in!

    So: wrong on both counts, though admittedly what the Waterstones employee allegedly did in return was just as bad!

    As WB's said though, trolling implies (to a degree) that such actions are done with malice, and in that respect the Waterstones response was that, at least based on what I've read here. Although the Waterstones employee was not acting on behalf of the book chain, it is rather immature from my point of view.

    Not all self promotion is dishonourable - far from it, and I think at SFFWorld we have the fortune to have members who pretty much play by the rules. In fact, I know of some members who go out of their way NOT to put posts that could even be remotely thought of as self-promotion!

    But there is this feeling 'out there' that you must, must, MUST promote, all the time, in every post, and not just contribute to debate for the sake of just being involved. I'm so pleased that that is not what we do.
     
  11. Fung Koo

    Fung Koo >:|Angry Beaver|: <

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    I was referring most specifically to the Guardian article/blog as being of dubious intent., but self-promotion in general is a slippery subject.

    Blogging for a publication with a decent journalistic reputation should, theoretically, bind the blogger to a certain level of professional conduct. There's nothing factually suspect about the content of the article, really -- but it's mere existence, coupled with the link to the item that is for sale that's in question, and its biased presentation of the situation, all suggest to me that the reader isn't exactly being treated honourably. Especially if the blogger is writing this after being contacted by the self-publishing author.

    I'm not so naive as to believe that professionally published authors with agents and the like are dealing with the media any differently. Obviously the whole game is to create the appearance that people are talking about it without it being apparent that someone is paying/making people talk about. If Viacom makes a movie and then has their Viacom-employed movie reviewer give it high praise in the Viacom-owned paper, it's basically the same thing (the reason why NBCs affiliate news entities all say NBCs new fall tv lineup is super awesome, and ABC and CBS, etc., likewise...). But in those cases, the ownership and intent is a matter of public record, and so the credibility of the reviewer rests on their own reputation and that of the organization that employs them. The reader can draw whatever conclusions they like.

    This situation doesn't have that available clarity. The relationship between the blogger and her subject is not made clear, but the conclusion about that relationship, though seemingly self-evident, can be denied as no more than reader opinion/enmity. In this case, I think probably the blogger is tricking us -- I think there's some intentional deception involved here. And the author, presumably, is the source of the deception. A story is being spun about a self-published author being victimized, yet the nugget of truth in the story is there if we're paying attention and we know the victim story is rubbish. If we're paying attention.

    And that's the troll -- in this case, the trolled individuals are anyone read the article and discussed it as if it's an issue of a poor independent self-published author being the victim of Big Corporate's bully underling. What's his book called again? I should check it out and support him...

    I wonder if it worked.
     
  12. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    Yes, it did. At least, I checked out his book. Didn't buy it, but I checked it out. I didn't check it out because I thought I should support him, but rather to see what the hubbub was about.

    What he did was wrong. What he and the blogger did was wrong. And we all just have to hope that there is some karma in the world and he'll get his due.

    Mind you, when I saw the name, I did recognize it. My recollection was shrouded in some other dubious circumstances, so I fear this guy has been developing a reputation - and not necessarily a good one. You reap what you sow.
     
  13. Starchaser3000

    Starchaser3000 Registered User

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    I pretty much gave up on self promoting myself on these types of forums for awhile now. But thats not the reason why I have been scarce on the forums nowadays. My inspiration to continue writing has been mentally and emotionally spent for quite some time now. Not saying I won't do it again. Its just at this point in my life I am just not...feeling it....anymore. With that said, I am satisfied with the reviews and critiques I have received over time. With the encouraging evaluations and constructive criticism, it has made me believe that what I have written so far has some sort of literary merit, even if its not as commercial friendly as it could have been. My satirical fiction/fantasy book series is not for everyone. And its definitely not one to reach a broad demographic. But I am OK with that and I remind myself that I should not worry because I did not write with the intent to be a hip commercial success in the first place. I wrote it for my own leisure and did not consider what commercial readers think.
     
  14. zachariah

    zachariah Speaks fluent Bawehrf

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    ^I applaud this message:D
     
  15. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    I find this so true when attempting to promote on writer sites...it's like a hen selling eggs in a hen house. What worries the hell out of me is that the genuine open review sites such as Goodreads and Scribd have been bought up by companies whose self interest will further restrict and distort the few places left for folks to get honest reviews. Barnes & Noble bought Scribd and Amazon grabbed up Goodreads. No conflict of interest there (ahem).

    Kerry
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  16. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    The Writing Forum here and other writing sites are not for promotion of works. They are not advertising sites. They are instead for support to writers, and information, including suggestions about how to promote elsewhere. Other "hens" may check out your book, but if all you're doing at a writing site is trying to promote, then you're not using it as a resource and you're pretty much wasting your time.

    Promotion on a discussion forum is very specific. It's about you talking about other people's work, letting people get to know your name and possibly check out your book, then talk about it as they will. There are ways you can make people aware of your work without selling to them, which can be helpful. It's a very slow form of promotion, it requires being part of a community to one degree or another, but it is free.

    For any book, there's a potential audience and the Internet allows that audience to be reached much more easily. Promotion, for fiction, is always targeted, not a general broadside to the whole audience, though anyone is welcome to buy. So if you think a story is unusual and the audience for it is specialized and small, figure out how to market to that audience. And that audience may not be principally the SFFH category audience, though you can cross-market to them as well. If you think the main readers for your story are race car drivers and enthusiasts, figure out how to market to them. There are numerous methods from buying ads to giveaways to slow forum discussions, etc.

    What exactly do you think that they are going to do to the reviews when they sell all the books being reviewed? They are not going to turn all the reviews to happy, positive reviews, because A) that drives people away and they want people there talking to each other; and B) that means it's difficult to have lists of most popular, bestselling, etc., and those lists are a very useful PR tool. The booksellers bought the sites for two things -- so they can do advertising and purchase paths on them, which was already occurring but now can be more directed to deals they are running and direct traffic to their sites; and the data from the readers/reviewers, which they can not only use themselves but sell for good money to other companies. So if you alter people's reviews, then the people go away and you lose the data which is one of the most profitable parts of the site. So they're not going to do that. The reviews will still be honest. But the buy button marketing and the ads will get heavier. There will be more promotions for special deals run on those sites. There may be annoying formatting changes which may include changes to ranking systems or support pages.

    And that may drive people away, but might not, but booksellers are very well aware that trying to control the review process is futile. (And they don't have the man power to do it anyway.) They don't have to bother because offering reviews of any kind is a promotional tool for them. They sell all the books and any books that aren't liked by one group will be liked by another.

    Even publishers, who instead have only one group of titles to sell, will have forums and databases that are meant to encourage people's participation and provide advertising income and promotional opportunities. The reviews on Tor.com aren't dishonest, nor are they directed or limited to Tor titles. They're not even necessarily glowing about Tor titles. Tor doesn't have to bother with that; it's not effective. But having the site is, and letting authors and columnists go to work on it and letting people comment on the material is a big promo boon to them.

    I'm not saying that these companies can't ruin these sites with various forms of ineptitude, but they're not going to bother with the reviews. There are a couple of million people blogging reviews on the Net. Reviews are really not an endangered species.
     
  17. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    We had some interesting statistics done by one of the Burst authors who was an analyst who searched out patterns and stuff at a particular intelligence agency. He did a ROI on those advertising banners you see at websites and the return was terrible. Can't say I remember ever clicking on one of those things myself. In my experience, the best long-term advertising tends to be from blog spots, social networks, and reader sites like Goodreads. Really an iffy business just the same, me-thinks. Of course, writing something great helps. I am kind of edgy on giving books away as it might infer that you're doing that for a reason other than just promotion, but that's just me. I have been known to trade books for t-shirts and stuff at conventions (and speaking of that, conventions are a great form of advertising in my opinion).

    Kerry
     
  18. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Yes, because fiction readers are marketing resistant. :) Advertising for fiction has a minimal rate of return, especially as it's a higher cost, and is done in fiction in three prongs: targeted ads, bestseller ads and co-op ads. When a book is a bestseller, then advertising has a higher rate of return in building on what is already name awareness. That's why bestsellers get most of the ads. Targeted ads are a limited run aimed at getting the name injected into various areas, such as ads for a SFF novel on a SFF site. Co-op ads are done with bookstores and other vendors, whom are paid to put the book among the offerings of the ads for their business. Getting you to click on the ad isn't necessarily the goal for fiction. You seeing the name in the banner ads, so that you recognize the book with vendors or recognize it when people are talking about it in forums is the goal. So targeted ads can help raise name awareness of an author to some extent, though it's hard to measure.

    But the main method is word of mouth, which comes in part of people being aware that the book exists. And there are a lot of different ways to attempt that. We had the people who were selling a fantasy novel along with jewelry at Renaissance fairs. We've had lots of authors doing giveaways, of both books and other promotional items. And the convention system has been a major asset to SFFH authors for a very long time. It isn't easy and most of the time in books it is very slow, but it does occur and an audience and word of mouth can build over time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  19. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    One of the more successful ad campaigns I've seen was run by a Smashwords indie author who bid for ads on Project Wonderful -- an ad jobber that connects second & third tier websites with budget-minded advertisers... and no bid is too low. Let's say he bids 5 cents per day for banner ads in a gamer's website that heretofore has run few or no ads. That's $1.50 per month. His ads were always for freebies: gratis downloads of a free e-book, first of a series. The follow-on e-books in the series were linked from the end of the first one. His book series was built on a gamer's world, so the target audience was being addressed directly. Clever, yes, and it has made for a prosperous biz.
     
  20. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    One of the bigger surprises for myself is the rise of Comic Cons over the SF/F cons (especially the literary ones). I've started moving toward the Comic Cons because of the MUCH larger crowds there and the growing segment of conventioneers who aren't necessarily there just for comics. The only down side so far is that these things tend to be a bit more expensive, but with the usual SF/F con seeming to struggle beyond, say 400 attendees (most of whom were there year after year), the added cost of a Comic Con table in Artist Alley seems worth the price. I also have more fun at these larger gatherings. Heading to a relatively new Comic Con (Space City Comic Con) in Houston in two weeks. Slated for the one here in Austin in November - decided on attending it over World Con in San Antonio (couldn't afford both).

    Kerry