When Promo Backfires…

This has been bugging me for awhile, but I haven’t said anything because I understand why writers do it. But, speaking as a reader, it annoys the hell out of me.

Okay. First off. I follow over 200 blog feeds via Google Reader. That’s not including the people I keep track of on my LiveJournal. That’s a lot of reading, but I skim a lot of the stuff that doesn’t interest me, so it really doesn’t impact my time as much as you might think. (Now, when I have stuff I want to comment on, that’s a different story. ;))

Over the past six months or so, there’s been a growing trend in promotion. Instead of or in addition to shameless self-promotion, get your friends, readers, relatives, whatever, to post your book info on their blog, group, etc.

I understand why writers do this. It’s important for them to get their names out, especially new writers (in the case of print publishing, they need to make a certain number of sales in order to remain published). I’ve posted promo for my friends before, too. (Though I’m bad about remembering to do so… like blogging in general. >_<) But I've seen authors who already have several books out doing it, too. Why does this annoy me? The other day, I scrolled past what must have been over twenty blog posts that were exactly the same thing. All promo for one specific book. Now, it’s a book I intended to pick up anyway, because I liked the first and am very interested in seeing what the author does with the follow-up, but Lord and Lady… when I’m scrolling through some fifty-odd posts, it’s bloody annoying for them to all be the same thing. I’m still getting posts in my Google Reader for it.

Sure, you’re getting your name out in front of people, but I’m not so certain it’s in a “good” way. Speaking as a reader, if I’m annoyed enough at the constant promo spamming (and at a certain point, yes, I do consider it equivalent to “spam”) my feed reader, by the time the book comes out several months (in some cases) later, I may not remember why I was annoyed… but I’ll most likely remember the negative connection. It’s possible I might assume it was a bad advance review I read; my memory isn’t the greatest.

I also have to question the effectiveness of this method of promotion. In many cases, I can point to the vast majority of people posting these stock promotions to a single group of writers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but how many people outside that group are you going to reach? I’ve noticed that the promotions don’t tend to pass beyond the first circle of people doing them; that is, say you have the Original Author posting the request. Circle A (let’s say about 20-40 people) posts them. Unless there is some significant prize for posting the promotion (such as the case of Dear Author’s viral blog experiment a month or two back), it won’t advance to a Circle B.

Certainly, there are exceptions to this, and perhaps I’m wrong. If so, I would appreciate someone pointing out such, along with links. I don’t follow the entire blogosphere of romance writers; I don’t have that much time! 😆

On the other hand… when J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened came out, I saw a lot of people blogging about how excited they were about the release, or how much they loved it when they read it. I saw probably as many posts about that as I have with the stock promotions. Again, speaking as a reader, I’m much more likely to pick up a book based on posts by people who have read the book vs. people who are posting for a prize. If there’s that many people getting excited about the book, then there’s probably a reason for it.

Frankly, I’d rather see that sort of promo in my feed reader, both as a reader–and as a writer.

Just my opinionated 2c, as usual. 😉

6 Replies to “When Promo Backfires…”

  1. Yknow…I participated in said blog-thing…and I still don’t get it. Then again, I have about three people who read my blog on anywhere near a regular basis, so I’m not sure how my blogging about it would help. My guess is that it increases web presence, making google hits tend to bounce back that book more often than not. That’s a wild guess, of course.

    I’d rather blog about books I like, and plan to do so more often. I like reading people’s opinions of books, too. Especially if I disagree.

  2. I participated too. Considering the fact that I heard the same sort of complaint about this from another blog circle with my alter-ego, I don’t think I’ll do it again.

    I’ve considered writing up something to be blog-posted in the past but I’m agreeing with you, Nonny, I think it becomes spam pretty quickly, and I don’t need to add to the spam in the world. So. I’ll let my stuff float or sink as it will with the promo that gets done.

  3. In general, my rule is to never blog about something unless I’ve actually read it and liked it. I did make an exception for the ‘dear author’ experiment, because it was a) an experiment, b) had a great prize and c) I really really liked the blurb and excerpt.

    As a reader, I don’t take any notice of a promo blog unless I know the blogger has read the book. I, too, understand why writers do it – it’s the equivalent of sticking posters up round your town. But after reading a few, they start to become wallpaper. Like junkmail and spam and those little ad banners at the top of MySpace. If they’re really compelling I’ll take notice. Otherwise my eye skims straight past them.

    I’m not sure what I’ll do if and when I need to promote my own book, though. The fear of your precious masterpiece sinking without trace is, I’m sure, very strong!

    Anyway, great blog. 🙂
    Immi
    x

  4. Dayna, I think every little bit helps. Readers add up, after all. One here, one there… they matter, especially if they love your book and get excited about it in return. 😀
    Thing is, though, if you blog about something you love, blog readers are much more likely to pick up the book. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve bought because someone raved about it on their blog. (My male probably could, though. LOL.)

  5. Sara, so have I. With my upcoming release from Cobblestone, I’ve been thinking about ways to promote it. After seeing so many people jump on the “Blog This!” bandwagon, I considered it at first… but really, if it annoys me as a reader, it’d be more than a bit hypocritical to do so. 😛
    I think it was a cool thing when one or two people were doing it. Now… I think it’s to the point it’s just spam.

  6. Immi, I did too, mainly because it was an experiment more than auto-promo. The prize certainly didn’t hurt, either. 😉 I’ve also posted promo for my friends in the past. I don’t mind as much if someone’s mentioning in their post, “Hey, my best friend / crit partner / whatever just got her book published, here’s some info about it, check it out if you’re interested.” That’s understandable, and I really don’t have as much of a problem with it.

    When everyone and their sister is running “contests,” though, it gets to be, just as you said, little more than wallpaper.

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