Books, Public Relations
5

How NOT To Promote Your Book

There was one particular incident that happened to make me want to help authors sell the crap out of their books.

Story time.

I got a call that there was a package for me in the lobby of my apartment building. I was curious because I wasn’t expecting anything (although I do have Amazon open constantly in Google Chrome… dangerous that whole ‘Buy Now with 1-click’ thing), so I headed down to check it out.

In a package that was clearly holding a book, I was even more curious because I’ve only been ordering ebooks lately. I usually only buy a hardback if I’m meeting the author in person and want to chat with them and get them to sign my copy.

I got back to my place and cut open the package. And there, indeed, was a book.

A book… I’d never heard of. By two authors… I’d never heard of. From a publishing company… I’d never heard of. And also containing a receipt in my name with the return address of a public relations representative… you guessed it… I’d never heard of.

And in addition to all this? The book is in a genre that is not even remotely in my niche or of interest to my audience.

Perplexed, was what I was. To say the least.

I actually went out of my way, though, to contact the publicist. I sent her an invitation to connect on LinkedIn with a personalized message saying “Hi! I just received a book in the mail from you but there was no note or anything… only a receipt. I just wanted to say thank you and ask why you chose me to receive this book?”

I mean, there wasn’t really anything else to say. I wanted to be appreciative that she thought of me as a blogger with a certain amount of clout worthy enough to possibly review this book. But I wanted to find out how she learned how to target an audience for her client… because she’s a bit off base on this one.

So anyway, you’ll never guess what happened.

Nothing.

Oh that’s not true. She approved my request on LinkedIn (happy day).

This really kind of upset me. These are PUBLISHED authors! And their PR people are just looking up random bloggers online and shipping them a book? How in the world can you call that targeting an audience?

Cause here’s the thing. I’m definitely not going to tell anyone anything about the book. I’m probably not even going to read it. I’m having a hard enough time fitting in time to read books I actually care about from authors who actually care about what I think. I know this because they speak with me directly.

So let’s go over how NOT to promote your book:

  • Search aimlessly for bloggers who are “popular” or have a certain “reach” for whom to ship your book without any other rhyme or reason
  • Send your book to someone who doesn’t know who you or any of your people are without a proper note of why you’re contacting them
  • Be unresponsive to someone you found online when they try to reach you online
  • Let your publishing company do stupid things to market your book just because it’s included in the price

Okay. Now how about we do it right, huh? 

  • Think about who you know. Who cares about what you’re doing? Who do they know? Start with your immediate connections and find out their thoughts on helping to start the promotion process of your book. Let the word get out… starting with your greatest advocates.
  • Grow relationships with bloggers or writers you admire. Read THEIR book. Review it. Interview them. Do something for OTHERS before you want them to be there for you.
  • Check back in with bloggers you have grown relationships with and see if they’d like a copy of your book. Set no expectations.
  • Search and target relevant bloggers whose audiences would benefit from your book. Learn about them. Reach them. Be specific about why you’re contacting them. Get their feelings on reviewing or interviewing you. Don’t be pushy, but inquire sincerely.
  • Fall all over yourself to help others. I mean it. Just f*cking fall. Until you start having the mindset of what you can do to make others’ lives better, easier, more exciting, you aren’t going to get anywhere being a cocky, promotional jerk or an inconsiderate, flippity idiot. My example from earlier was the latter.

Moral of the story: Don’t send me or any other blogger your book out of the clear blue sky. Relationship building is EVERYWHERE. The Internet is no different. Make a connection first and proceed on their terms.

As a blogger, what would you add to the list of Don’ts?

Amy Schmittauer Visit Website
Amy is the Founder of Savvy Sexy Social and President of Vlog Boss Studios, a digital marketing agency specializing in video content creation. Connect with her on Twitter.
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5 comments
dontheideaguy
dontheideaguy

Pay no attention to the "Bull Schmitt" advice above!

I heartily encourage and invite anonymous PR firms and authors to randomly send me books of any kind without offering any sort of initial introduction or follow-up contact. There are two or three Half Price Books locations near me and these ineffective attempts at social media outreach keep me supplied with lattes and biscotti.

ClaudiaC
ClaudiaC

That's so weird b/c I received two books from a publisher I'd never heard of. I'd never heard of the books or the authors either. And there was no note - just like you described. To make matters worse, one of the books had a slash on the bottom of it (indicating it's a bookstore return). So weird.

Why did they send them to me? Who are these people? I have no idea on either front.

I put the books in the recycling bin. That's what I do with all unsolicited books. It might not be the right thing to do but what else can I do. Crazy.

SelenaBlake
SelenaBlake

Excellent points. Building solid relationships builds a readership I think. And yes, there's nothing like reaching out and hearing nothing in return.

schmittastic
schmittastic moderator

@ClaudiaC That's crazy! I think my book is new, but I'll have to go double check and make sure it's not a rejection from a book store because that would have made my blog even better... ha! I just can't understand that people call this "PR" or "Blogger Outreach"! Makes me wanna puke.

schmittastic
schmittastic moderator

@SelenaBlake Isn't that crazy? Like... didn't you want my feedback or something? And you didn't even return my email? Some people just kill me.