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On not being a promotion kind of guy

Hobnob with Authors

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1LShelby
Sep 14, 2017, 1:59pm Top

...or in my particular case, a promotion kind of gal.

I have been chewed out several times for not, for example, having a email signature line saying "Hey I'm an author, remember? Have you checked out my books yet?" (But with slightly more subtlety, I assume.) And you know what? I still don't have an email signature declaring my author-hood. I just feel really uncomfortable intruding that piece of information into every email conversation I have. I'm sure lots of the people I know really have no interest whatsoever in my books. And why should they? I don't exactly write "portal" books for encouraging non-readers to come into the fold. My stuff is more aimed at the "75 Book Challenge" crowd, and only the fantasy/science fiction lovers from out of that crowd, at that.

But I am thinking maybe I should at least start collecting a email list of people who want to know when my next release is. I am realizing that I should have been doing it from the start, and that right now is a case of better late than never. But... I'm not sure how to go about it. :(

(When I first released any books, my thinking was more on the lines of "So I bet nobody will actually read these," not "I need to make it easy to get in touch with the people who like these.")

2Cecrow
Sep 14, 2017, 2:07pm Top

It wouldn't be too forward to have a footer with your name followed by a personal web site address, which I presume you have. A simple URL isn't in-your-face. Then do all your promoting on the web site.

3gilroy
Sep 14, 2017, 2:22pm Top

There are different newsletter companies or freebie sites where you can create newsletters.
Then it's just a matter of deciding on the content.

4Cecrow
Sep 14, 2017, 2:43pm Top

I subscribed to an email list on Terry Brooks' web site. Once in a while I get an email that summarizes new information recently posted, with direct links to that content. Handy way to attract people back who may be forgetting about you. Voluntary sign-up for the email list; if someone signs on, it's because they really want to know and it clears the air about you having to sell yourself to them.

5LShelby
Sep 14, 2017, 2:47pm Top

>3 gilroy:
Saying "a newsletter" gives me the shivers.

I tend to associate newsletters with people sending me regular messages telling me all sorts of things I'm not really interested in. (The reason I'm so bad at promoting is because I hate getting promoted at so much?)

What about the rest of you? Would you be more willing to submit your email address to sign up for an author's "newsletter", or simply to get on a list to be to be informed about book releases?

And if you did sign up for a newsletter, would you be disappointed if you then received nothing at all for over a year?

>2 Cecrow: That is a good point.

Michelle Bottorff
www.lshelby.com

That is certainly not too in your face to bother me as an email footer. :)

I'm not sure how well it would work as promotion, but on the other hand, it can't hurt, can it?

When I was active on usenet my footer for the rec.arts.sf.composition group went something like :
Michelle Bottorff -> Chelle B. -> Shelby.
L. Shelby, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writer: www.lshelby.com

But that was a group for talking about writing fantasy and science fiction, so obviously it was on topic to say, and it didn't bother me to have it on the bottom of every message.

When I joined LT I decided that I would just sign up using my pen name so that people wouldn't have to try remember two names for me. :)

6LShelby
Edited: Sep 14, 2017, 3:07pm Top

I cross posted with >4 Cecrow:. :)

I can create a sign-up form on my website. That's not a problem.

I am not sure that anyone actually goes to my website, though.

And why would they when I posted all of 4 times in 2016, and have only posted about that many times so far in 2017?

I do put my website address in my books, but it's a bit like putting it in my email signature:
I'm not giving anyone a reason to go there, so I figure they probably won't.

I have wondered if I should at least say what they will find at my website: Behind the scenes worldbuilding info! Artwork! Games and Quizzes!

... that they can sign up to be informed of new releases?

Something like that?

7gilroy
Sep 14, 2017, 3:06pm Top

New cover reveals! Special only at the website (or newsletter)!
Offer a free short story to subscribers, or something like that.

>5 LShelby: I have author newsletter subscriptions I forget I have until something shows up. I sometimes only see things once every two to three years. So nothing in a year? Normal. :)

8LShelby
Sep 14, 2017, 3:39pm Top

>7 gilroy: "So nothing in a year? Normal."

That's good to know.

"New cover reveals! Special only at the website (or newsletter)!"
I usually don't start painting the cover until the book has been sent off to the copyeditor, at the earliest. That means that everything else gets finished first, and the cover art is the very last thing to get done. So instead of "revealing" the cover, we always just publish the book right away, and announce that, instead.

Not being a promotion kind of gal, I'm not sure if this is wise or not. :(

9macsbrains
Sep 14, 2017, 5:21pm Top

I forget the name of the website (maybe fictfact?), but I know there's a site for series lovers that notifies their users when the next book in a pre-existing series comes out. If you're writing a sequel, that would probably be a good place to let it be known, since that's the purpose.

As for my own discovery habits, I have a couple of author e-mail alerts set up on Amazon for new releases by my favorite authors (though I don't usually end up needing them), and Goodreads sometimes lets me know about secondaries in my catalog (whether I want to know or not...) Even with all my reading, there are only 5 or 6 authors that I will drop everything for, but for those authors I am pretty devout and will go the extra mile to make sure I know about new books early enough to have them on pre-order for 9 months. (Some of them it's so early I can't even pre-order yet...) Extra mile includes all the social media nonsense which I mostly only have for this purpose. I have signed up for a handful of newsletters, but at this point that's kinda old fashioned and I usually know about those books from other channels first (especially if traditionally published vs self-published).

I think it's good for the author to have some indication on their webpage that they're not dead and still producing, however slowly. I check in every so often with every author I've ever liked a book from, just to see if I need to make my wishlist longer.

I'm the kind of book shopper, though, where books often just show up randomly at my house, whether by extreme pre-ordering or from book swapping sites where I've set automatic acceptance of books on my wishlist. I wish I could just have authors debit my account directly just send me books and then I wouldn't even need to be notified at all. Patreon is good for this.

10jonidee
Edited: Sep 14, 2017, 6:32pm Top

Hi chaps,

yes I hate self promoting too, but I guess it goes with the territory no? The problem is always especially with places which you are new too... You want to push the book but then again nobody knows you so you come across as a promo man, who only wants people to see your book rather than engage in real conversatiob.

Lshelby was sweet enough to send me message explaining how things work and that I shan't be getting alerts, much like in goodreads. On the other hand, i joined another community which i'll refrain from mentioning and for sending my book release etc I was nearly lynched... I mean, you can't be in every forum for 4 years before you post your first promotion post... surely they must realise that...

I am using for emails MailerLite App which is fab. it gives users control whether they want the newsletter or not and it gives you a very specific report on who pressed what link (scary the amount of info you get these days!)

on another side of things, a couple of authors and I have created BookGobbler which is a "poor man's NetGalley" aiming to help authors get exposure and post giveaways while collecting reviews. If you are not a "self promoting gal" and would like to use us, then we would welcome u with open arms, it's a free service (At least until we start having much operational costs). The address is http://www.bookgobbler.com and we have a readership of 1,000+ with 100 people signed up to request giveaways, which is not bad for 3 weeks of running.

Would wlecome your thoughts on the above matters.

Many thanks for giving me a warm welcome here
Joni

11reading_fox
Sep 15, 2017, 4:50am Top

>5 LShelby: - In general no I wouldn't want every author I've read to send me notifications of their next book. But for a few favourites I would, because it is hard to keep track. I am signed up to a couple and they are certainly in the 6month-1 year output. I can probably find some old ones and PM them to you if you're interested.

I'd certainly include contact details at the back of an ebook, a final page to so of 'visit my website for more!'. Again I have followed those links for authors I've enjoyed.

>9 macsbrains: Wow. FictFact.com it is. I'm investigating that now!

I'm not sure including a weblink in every LT post would be appreciated by the wider community. It's fine here in Hobnob, where we readers are looking to interact with authors, but outside they get a bit touchy as there are sooo many who overstep the bounds of restraint.

(Does this mean there's a new book out??? :-) )

12LShelby
Sep 16, 2017, 10:36am Top

>9 macsbrains: "but at this point that's kinda old fashioned and I usually know about those books from other channels first (especially if traditionally published vs self-published)"

Yeah, I usually have no real problem finding out that the latest book in a traditionally published series that I'm interested in is out. One reason why it didn't much occur to me that it would be an issue for my own readers, until recently. But now I sit there going... "Most of the people who read Across a Jade Sea did so because of reviews by Author X and Reviewer N. I can send Author X and and Reviewer N a polite note telling them that I've put out something else, and hope that they review the new one also, but that leaves me once again depending on the kindness of strangers, and wouldn't it be nice to just be able to tell people directly?"

That FictFact site looked sorta cool, but...
... Is it lazy of me to just wish that LibraryThing had a tool for that?
Because I don't think I'll find the time/energy to go to another site just to track my series. :(

>10 jonidee:
So this Bookgobbler thingy... if you include a paper copy, that copy is raffled off between everyone who requests the book once the time limit runs out? And everyone else gets the ebook version then? Or you just send off the ebook versions when people ask for them, and then raffle the paperback at the end?

...I probably should have read the "for readers" page also instead of just the "for authors" page. ::oops!::

I would really love to have an excuse to get a physical copy of Cantata or Pavane into someone's hands (maybe I should just offer reading_fox a copy) because of a facet of the cover artwork which I worked so very hard on cannot be properly appreciated in ebook form. But they aren't my most "accessible" books, as they say -- marketing-wise, giving away the first book in Across a Jade Sea is probably more effective.

My biggest problem is that Bookgobbler asks for an amazon review in "payment" and I hate pressuring people to review if they don't like to. (Being one of those people who doesn't like to review myself.) Of course, they can then just not ask for a free book... but that's not to my advantage either.

Hmm.... I wonder if I could offer free books in exchange for something else. Or, even better, a choice of things? In payment I would like A) An honest review on amazon, B) Fan art, or come visit my website and C) leave a comment on one of my blog posts, or D) play one of my webgames. Something like that?

>11 reading_fox: "I'm not sure including a weblink in every LT post would be appreciated by the wider community."

I generally figure that here on LT, anyone who is curious about my writing knows that it takes two clicks to get to my author page.

But elsewhere... it's not like I'm one of those people who is forever spamming everyone I know with all the irrelevant details of my life. I should be bolder. ::rueful::

"(Does this mean there's a new book out??? :-) )"

Alas, no.

I have one book at my copy editor, one book that I am revising based on feedback, and a duology that I need to find some beta-readers for*. In theory I could have any and possibly all of them ready to go out before the end of the year... except that they need cover art. My publisher said he would hire a different cover artist for two of them (ie, someone that isn't me), but he hasn't found anyone he likes and can afford yet.

So, next year. Something will be out next year. Probably more than one something. :)

*Lioness is a fantasy story that is set in the same world as Cantata in Coral and Ivory and Pavane in Pearl and Emerald, but plotwise is a little closer to what I did in Across a Jade Sea. I like to hope I have sort of split the difference between them, and created something that the fans of either of my previous series can enjoy. But I might be totally deluding myself. Therefore, I could really use a few readers who would be willing to read it, and get back to me telling me if it is working or not.

13jonidee
Sep 16, 2017, 10:44am Top

Hi LShelby,

Regarding your BookGobbler questions:

a) You can sign to eBook, Paperback, or both.
b) eBook are sent straight away, the paperback is raffled at the end.
c) We don't pressure anyone to do anything, we send a kind reminder to post a review when the giveaway end (2 months normally is plenty of time to rate or write a short review). We dont pressure beyond it but don't give further eBooks to whoever keeps on asking without reviewing.

Personally, i think that if u took the time to write a novel, the least someone who got it for free can do, is help out with review. It doesnt have to be a NY Times editorial. 2 sentences of why you loved the book is quite enough.
Plus the rules are known in advance, so nobody gets suprised. You don't want to review? fine, sign up to all paperback raffles but the eBooks we give out are saved to people who will give something in return.

It's only fair I think. besides, NetGalley has been doing it for years, we haven't invented anything new, just making it a bit more fair to authors without big (cash) backs behind them.

14LShelby
Sep 16, 2017, 11:06am Top

>13 jonidee: "Personally, i think that if u took the time to write a novel, the least someone who got it for free can do, is help out with review."

I like to think my labor is worthy of its hire, so to speak, but I am dubious as to how useful Amazon reviews from unverified readers actually are. I would MUCH rather they "helped out" by buying all the sequels.

...Unless they didn't like the book. In that case I am even more dubious that a review would help me, and I am happy to forgo it. :D

Not that I think you were wrong to set up the site like that. I actually think you were probably right. My hangups on the subject of compulsory reviews are just my hangups, not a critique of your methods. :)

But at the moment I am kind of charmed by the idea (possibly because its new and shiny, I will keep turning it over in my head for a while to see if the appeal wears off) of offering to let people skip the review in exchange for some other similarly beneficial activity.

Do you think I could put a rider to that effect in my book description when I posted a BookGobbler giveaway, or would it be an administrative problem for you?

15jonidee
Edited: Sep 17, 2017, 3:47am Top

I'm open to any good idea which will prompt readers to sign up - Not rigid like Goodreads (they made me edit my giveaway 5 times because I implied I'll give the eBook for free - it was a paperback giveaway).

The only thing is that the website is in its baby steps area, I.e. 100+ registrations and 1000 monthly visitors - so don't go offering something too grand, so that you won't be disappointed if it doesn't generate the buzz you want (I.e 15$ Amazon gift card is prob okay to lose if only 12 people registered, while 100$ is a bit over the top) :-)

16Chris123th
Sep 27, 2017, 7:06pm Top

I'm in the same boat as you! I hate promotions, ads, and all the other forms of getting your books out there. I feel like we have way too much of those already so why should I add to the clutter? I'm at a loss for a creative solution to this, but I'm sticking to my guns of not adding to the clutter of advertisements out there and will continue thinking about of a solution.

17LShelby
Sep 30, 2017, 7:33pm Top

Hi, Chris!

So far all my wonderful ideas have smashed themselves to splinters against the twin barriers of health concerns and lack of funds. ::rueful::

I will throw a few out there for other people.

First the obvious:

Setting up a table at a book fair, or doing an event at a bookstore.
(I figure this is generally not cost efficient, particularly if you only have a very few titles to hawk. But it might be doable if you could get a group together.)

Being a panelist/participant at a genre based convention.

Less obvious:
Doing something volunteer (and if possible writerly and/or topically appropriate to your book) as a way of getting the word out. Library programs, town festivals... possibly schools? That sort of thing.

Create, host or donate to a charity event.

Buy a bunch of copies of your books, and run all over the country dropping them off in Little Free Libraries, or the like.

Build an online writer/artist community, that somehow attracts hundreds of wouldbe creative folks who come to know about you through that community... (More of a pipe dream than an idea, that one.)

Get interviewed on the radio. (Easier if you have some kind of platform, or local tie-in or something. I am an expert in x... and by the way I also wrote a book using that as background. That kind of thing.)

18S.R.Gurney
Oct 6, 2017, 11:34am Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
hello everyone, I have just finished my project Beyond Absolute.

It has taken a long time, and I would be very welcome to other authors feedback and idea's and possibly reviews .

If you would like a copy then fee free to get into contact with my at scottgurney95@yahoo.co.uk where I can send over a free pdf copy for you to keep!

Many Thanks!
Scott Robert Gurney.
http://www.blurb.com/b/8210868-beyond-absolute?ebook=639659

19Cecrow
Oct 6, 2017, 11:49am Top

>18 S.R.Gurney:, I guess that's one way to promote. Just keep copy/pasting the same message into a dozen different topics, without doing a thing to address whatever we're talking about.

20LShelby
Oct 7, 2017, 1:14pm Top

>19 Cecrow: "I guess that's one way to promote."

I suppose it gives you what they call "coverage".
Maybe it works if your target reader is a clueless idiot?

Alas, I have reason to believe that clueless idiots can't even read my books. The words aren't small enough, and there's too much thinking involved.

I'm going to have to try something else.

21reading_fox
Oct 12, 2017, 4:21pm Top

Here's a slightly better way https://www.librarything.com/topic/245188#6203070 include something special with your books at a signing. It would get me to stop and see what was going on even if I was just passing.

22LShelby
Oct 15, 2017, 5:53pm Top

>21 reading_fox:
"she is selling both her book and jams she made from the fruits in her garden."

Selling jam?
Food does have attractive qualities.
I think you may be on to something there, reading_fox.

Free cookies, perhaps? That'll bring people over to a table, I bet. :)

23jc8802
Edited: Oct 17, 2017, 2:00pm Top

I used to feel that same way. Then I created a graphic showing all of my book covers lined up in a row, with my blog and mailing list addresses listed underneath. I use that as a signature for my email. Whenever I send an email, most people receive it with the signature listed as an attachment. If they want to see my books and links for themselves, they can click on the option in their email program to view it, or they don't have to. Nobody's complained once about it, since the "spammy" part of my emails are strictly voluntary.

Plus, it looks much more attractive than a simple line of text and a link.

24LShelby
Oct 17, 2017, 7:32pm Top

>23 jc8802: "Plus, it looks much more attractive than a simple line of text and a link."

I'm not sure I followed that. The sig file is an attachment? Would I be able to mistake it for something a virus sent, because I never click on attachments unless I know in advance what they are.

(I also have my email set to not download images unless I specifically ask for them. But I concede that most people probably don't even know their email reader has that option (if it even does.)

It does sound like a good idea, though. Thanks for the tip!

By the way, if you type a greater-than-sign and the number of the message you are responding to a little link will be created like the one at the top of this post. (If you want to quote it you have to so so manually, though.

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