Turning the reader off: when “self-promoting” turns into “self-absorbed”

I’m on a lot of social media nowadays.

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It’s something you pretty  much have to do, whether you’re a brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box indie author or a well-known and traditionally published household name. You gotta Facebook blog, Tweet, Instagram, and Snapchat yourself and your books all over the place. It’s just the way it is.

But despite decades of having been advertised to, it seems that most of us. including all the advertising “gurus” who are now hawking their wares all over the net, haven’t learned a damned thing.

No. Seriously, you just keep doing those things that don’t work.

 

You need to listen to yourself and think a lot harder about what it is your advertising is for.

This is pretty important. If your FB page and Twitterfeed is populated entirely by either people offering to advertise your book (for a price) or other authors hawking their stuff, you haven’t hit your target audience.

And this shotgun approach means that even on retweets, there’s a good chance your cozy mystery is going out to people who only read vampire fiction with a lot of sex.

Those people…they aren’t even LOOKING at your ad.

  • Saturation

Apparently the concept of less is more has no meaning on the internet.

And yet, if you analyze your own response to ad campaigns that are just that little bit (or way too much) repeated ad nauseum, you’ll notice that the main result is ad-fatigue to the point where one actively will NOT buy the thing. Even if it’s what they want. Because it looks old and tired by the time they decide to look for a book about whatever.

  • Overselling

It’s pretty much the most off-putting thing around when an author describes their book as “the best” or “the most” or anything else superlative. You don’t get to say that about your own work. Yeah, you think you’re the bee’s knees.  But no one likes a braggart.

It’s the reader who gets to decide that it’s the best book ever, not you. You don’t get to say “My book is the most exciting new take on Steampunk you will ever read.”

That’s how you wound up with that one-star review. Because you were an arrogant prick who couldn’t deliver.

  • Underselling

The flip side is to do the self-mocking, “my book is awful” ads.

Because people will believe that, and then…well, why would they buy it?

  • Variety

It’s the spice of life, and yet, when it comes to ads on the internet, all I see is the same tagline, endlessly repeated.

Look, if it didn’t make me click the first time, why would I click on the 1001st?

  • Engagement

Engagement is not measured by volume.

Sure, your friends share and retweet your buy-links. Sure, lots of people “like” and “favourite” those posts. But that’s not really engagement.

Engagement means that you make an effort to connect with people as something more than dollar signs. If the only thing you ever post – even on your author page – is urgent pleas for people to buy something, you aren’t selling yourself.

 

There was a time when people didn’t care so much about the personality of the writer. They read a review, or they looked at a book cover and a blurb, and made a choice. They either wanted to read the book, or they didn’t. The closest they got to “knowing” an author might be if you got a radio or tv or newspaper interview.

What they cared about was whether they liked the books.

Nowadays, with all this communication happening, you can’t expect to entice new readers to follow or friend you on social media unless you are offering one of two things.

Either you are just there to increase their numbers or venues for advertising, or you are giving them something of value beyond endless shilling of your books or services.

And those authors who only ever tweet or post the same old buy-links with boring or repetitive or over-the-top taglines – well, I don’t know about anyone else, but frankly, I mute/hide those people pretty ruthlessly, because out of the thousands of tweets or posts I need to wade through every day, those are kind of a waste of time.

A “friend” offers more than a “What can you do for me?” interaction. A “friend” talks about something other than themselves, at least once in a while.

There’s an old saying that to have friends, you need to be a friend.

Meatspace or on wifi, it still applies.

 

*NOTE: The other really important thing about all this is that we know that “word of mouth” is what really sells – and “word of mouth” means that you tell your friends and family why you like a particular novel so much that you are willing to “sell” other people on it.

When you retweet or share, don’t you think it would make more of an impact if you included a few words about WHY you think this book is worth reading?

That’s what you need to do for your author-friends, and what they need to do for you.

 

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