Social Media is not the way, the truth and the light. It is a tool. Just a tool.
Just because it's a tool doesn't mean you've got to be a tool too.
I added someone I didn't know on Facebook the other day. He was already friends with several of my writing contacts. He declared himself an author so, fair enough, I thought.
Immediately I got a message - not a private message, but a message on my wall. 'My new book Title of Book, is now on Amazon ... it's about ... etc etc'
By posting on my wall, he was promoting his book to all my contacts. I deleted him immediately.
And then I felt guilty.
Because his publisher/agent/editor probably told him: 'You've got to blog/tweet/facebook'. And he was only trying to be a good author.
Oh but come on! Do you really think that posting a link to your book on a total stranger's wall will make you a sale?
PROMOTE TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE PROMOTED TO
There is nothing wrong with promotion. But promote to people who want to be promoted to.
When is a weed, a weed? When it's growing in the wrong place. When is junk mail, junk? When it targets the wrong person.
We knew that even in the dark ages of direct marketing (You don't know what direct marketing means? Remember when you used to get those letters in the post? No? Then you're waaaay younger than me!).
The problem is: the internet and it's VAST possibilities have triggered a kind of marketing fever.
Suddenly all the marketing tools are there, accessible to anybody. And they're mostly free! Suddenly we're seeing stuff go viral on the internet and we're all thinking, 'I want a piece of that!'
Some wise guys have even figured out a way to make money by farming likes on Facebook.
And then suddenly we were all 'content marketing' because Google changed its algorithms so that we would create better quality content. At the same time, Google wanted our content to always be new and fresh. Which means we have to blog more frequently to score with Google.
[On Notes from the Slushpile, we've all got better things to do than to blog for the sake of fulfilling Google's desires, so we've put up a notice there on the right. Please, follow us via email. We don't intend to up our blogging frequency sometime soon - we're too busy writing and doing our day jobs.]
Now Social Media has become ascendant and what does Social Media thrive on?... wait for it ... TRIVIA! So suddenly the advice is to create stuff that people can share. Which is hard on those of us who haven't got cute cats.
(Read this great post about the clash between Content Marketing and Social Media by my marketing guru Nick Usborne)
The fact is, the online world is suffering from marketing fatigue. Who isn't fed up with the hardsell status updates and tweets appearing on our feeds? The fact that everyone's trying to game the internet and get in on the action has got users suffocating under the mountain of information.
My author colleagues have long debates on when it is acceptable to post a heads-up about the latest publication/prize/book launch. We all know that this is important but we are afraid of pissing off our real friends (the not-real friends will just hide us on their FB feeds).
Recently book review blogger Sister Spooky wrote that she'd had enough of Blog Tours.
I wonder how much blog tours ACTUALLY help promote a book and if people even want to read/follow a tour. I find them interesting, but even as a blogger I know there are certain kinds of posts I won't bother reading. "Exclusive extracts" hold no interest for me because I'd rather just read a whole book when it arrives. Sometimes I'll take part in posting extracts if I'm really behind an author or want to show my support, but would rather pick another kind of post. People rarely read them. SISTER SPOOKY
I've never done a blog tour although I've considered the possibility many times. By design, a blog tour should be about raising your profile with new audiences courtesy of your host blog. Perhaps it would be effective in a big place like America. But within the UK, aren't we just talking to the same audience from different blogs? I don't know.
(If you're wondering how to do a good book tour anyway here's some great advice from the Curiosity Killed the Bookworm Blog)
Sister Spooky mentions that being contacted by publicity departments for viewing figures left a bad taste in the mouth. To be fair, the publicity departments are probably under pressure to produce data.
All the marketing geniuses declare that a campaign is only useful if there's data to study. Which is true. But at the risk of treating a generous human being as a marketing tool? No, no, no!
(I've said it before and I'll say it again: Being Human is the Best Kind of Marketing)
FOUR TIPS ON HOW TO SURVIVE SELF PROMOTION
Have you noticed how there are so many blog titles these days that are 'Five Tips to ...' 'Ten Ways to ...' 'Six Things ...'?
That's because web metrics show that such titles get more readers.
But here are some tips anyway:
1. If you're going to blog, blog well. Don't just blog because your publisher told you to. Don't just dash it off because you've sworn to blog everyday. A blog post is a long-term investment. It will continue to be found long after your tweets have gone to tweet heaven. So blog well.
2. Don't bother with building a new platform (knocking on doors, inviting strangers to your table). Everyone's doing that and you'll end up with a lot of irritated strangers. Instead, identify who your audience is and go to your audience. Guest blog on blogs that are read by your audience. Join their groups. Hang out in their hashtags. Find their Tumblr fandoms.
3. Serve your audience. The problem with some self-promoters is they think it's about talking about themselves. Be human, dammit!!! Think: what does your audience need? Put them first. Make stuff for them to share on social media. Look at John Green making videos for young adults. Write about things they care about.
4. DON'T BE A SALESPERSON. There are people employed by your publisher who do that. Your job is to be the author. Think of your favourite author, the one you have friended on Facebook. What do you want from him or her?
YOU'RE AN AUTHOR, NOT A PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT
When you read marketing blogs they talk about the 'call to action'. It's a prompt - a link, a button, a message that tells the user what to do next.
You're an author, not a publicity department.
So your call to action is not BUY MY BOOK, it's ... READ.
Who you are is not about blogging or tweeting or facebooking or tumblring, it's about writing the best book you can write.
Your online presence should not focus on self-promotion, but reaching out to your readers.
Your readers are not search engines. If you start thinking in web metrics, you might find yourself serving only the great god Google ...
Be human, be human.
*Apologies for the lack of pictures. I was too tired.