Saturday, 5 January 2013

the idiot's guide to self-promotion...

UPDATED VERSION!
Most idiot guides work on the premise that by the time you've finished reading them you'll be less of a fool. This one is just going to tell you what an idiot does - from personal experience!

As all new authors will tell you, selling books is a marketing game. And it's a game I'm rubbish at. I think it's genetic. It goes against the Scottish grain to stand up and shout: "Look at me, I'm so wonderful. Look at my work, isn't it fab? I'm so special. Buy my books. They're the best ones, in the whole history of the world, ever."  I don't know why, but as I wrote that I had an image in my head of Billy Connolly saying the words! Which is my point exactly. Can you see Billy saying - "look at me I'm so fab" - in anything other than a completely ironic tone? Scottish people don't do this - we leave it to the English. :) 

So I was handicapped by genetics even before I started publishing my own books. I figured it was a job well done getting the blooming books out there, anything else was a step too far. Unfortunately, people don't read your books if they don't know about them. Thus began the spiraling journey down into the murky depths of marketing hell.

Here's what I've  learned so far on this journey:

          1.  Write a statement about your work BEFORE you need it. Otherwise when you're put on the spot you might come up with something like this:

My writing is the literary equivalent of an Aero chocolate bar. It has no nutritional value for your mind or your soul, you'll consume it quickly and it's probably full of holes!

 Yes, there is a website out there with this statement on it. People are not flooding to Amazon from it to buy my books...

2. When promoting yourself on Amazon's forums - make sure you're logged in using your own name and not your husband's dodgy profile name. Otherwise all your posts about being a sensitive writer of romantic fiction come from someone whose user name is:  'Big, Hairy and Proud' . And whose interests are listed as beer, football and watching Bay Watch reruns… (Just in case you were wondering this isn't a description of my husband - he thought he was being funny…  Yeah. Hilarious.)

3. When you give away complementary copies of your book, make sure you're giving away the whole book and not just the cover. Yep, I sent the wrong ebook  file to people. To make matters worse, I then deleted their email addresses and ticked this off my to-do list. If you're reading this and you're the proud owner of a janet elizbaeth henderson empty book - please email me again! I'll try harder next time. Promise.
           Point 3B. When writing a blog post - aim for clarity, not humour! Amazingly, the two people who didn't email me back straight away to say they had received a duff book, got in touch - along with several others! I've given copies of The Davina Code to everyone who asked. I hope that you all enjoy it - regardless of how you came by it! :) This unofficial giveaway is nowofficially closed!

4. Take some time to learn about social media - before you use it. Kidnap a local 12 year old if that what it takes to get the tutorial you need. Otherwise you will email the wrong people, post messages that disappear forever, delete things that are important and have no way of getting them back, and send useless messages to everyone just because you want to change one damn picture and keep getting it wrong. Oh, and my favourite - spend two whole weeks with your facebook page up and running wondering why you have no friends and no comments, only to discover you've marked everything for your eyes only. The word is PUBLIC,  people. Pages need to be public!!

5.  When sending out a press release - spell check. There are people out there who think I've written a book called Laura's Big Beak…



6.  And last, but not least. When you send out a press release to every news organisation you can think of, telling them about your brand new book - don't forget to MENTION THE BOOK!!!

Now you know everything about book marketing that an idiot knows. Well, this one anyway!





42 comments:

  1. ROFLMAO!!! I will be sure to remember these points Janet. They are so...'ME'! And as usual you have definitely stated them in the humerous manner we are becoming used to with your work.

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    1. Do you know what would be really funny Natasha? If I didn't actually do these things in the first place!!! Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  2. Fabulous and funny post!! And so glad to hear am not the only one who has floundered in promo land:)

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    1. I suspect there may be a lot of us out there Alissa. Maybe we should start a self help group for people who stink at self-promotion?! :)

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  3. Oh, me, me, me! It is *SO* hard to promote/market. Good to know I can blame it on my Scottish ancestry. ;) And the Irish half... the Irish half will be quiet right now, rather unusually, for the sake of decorum. Thanks so much for making my evening (morning?), I needed the commiseration and the laugh. All the best to you!

    :)
    Chantilly

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    1. Oh Chantilly - you're doubly stuffed!!! :) With Scottish AND Irish blood it's going to be an uphill struggle for you too! As I said to Alissa, I think we need a support group! :)

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  4. Janet you are so not alone.

    I love your funny irreverent sense of humour....big, hairy and proud....LMAO!!! I can just imagine it.

    But hey it's this knack of self-deprecating humour that has propelled you up the charts.

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    1. Thanks Shirley - but I'd like to move up the charts WITHOUT making a fool of myself at the same time!! :) Wonder if that's even possible? :)

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  5. *Snigger* *snort*
    Great post, Janet! Loved it!! By the way, I think you're doing a fabulous job at promo. I suck big time at it. If only our books would sell themselves...sigh
    Thanks for the laugh! :)

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    1. Yes! Wouldn't it be lovely if people flocked to the books and all we did was write the next one? Ah, bliss... :)

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  6. Loved the post, Shirley! Did you really forget to mention your book in your press release?! lOL! I guess this is a case of "marketing idiots love company" because I'm right there with you on the crazy mistake meter!
    Stephanie Queen

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    1. unfortunately Stephanie, I really did send out a press release about my as a writer - with no reason as to why I was doing it, and no mention of The Davina Code... you live and learn. I hope!

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  7. I don't know, but Big, Hairy, and Proud is kind of catchy. :) Memorable. Sounds like Bigfoot. :) And Laura's Big Beak sounds like it could be a really funny book, too. :)

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    1. Have to say Terry - Laura's Big Beak does make me grin every time I read it. It might have been the better title to go with!

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  8. Hilarious! And, you are not alone. I've done, well, let's just say, stupid things! Now I know I'm in good company - thanks for the great post!

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    1. I'll keep you in mind for my self help group Marlie! :) Those of us who are inept at marketing need to stick together!!

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  9. Laura's Big Beak. That made me laugh out loud, girl.

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    1. me too, Roxy! Thinking it might have been the better title...!

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  10. Thanks Laura...still laughing about Laura's Big Beak

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Cathryn. Fortunately the book is as funny as the misspelled title, so all is well! I hope! :)

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  11. I have no idea who you are, but I certainly can tell you write a great, very entertaining book. What a fun post filled with self-deprecation (readers love for an author to run herself down--I do it naturally, and decided to stop...if I can--and also filled with good hints on better marketing practices.
    The main thing, as you said, is that you must get your name and face out in the public. No one is going to read your book if they don't know you.
    Plus--about FB--yes, mark it Public. I have friends who have gasped when I said my entire FB stuff is public, free for anybody in the world to look at and read. Why? There's not a thing on there that cannot be already found in countless places. In addtion, and more importantly for me, my FB doings is all about ME--not my husband, or children, or grands, or anything family related. I'm the only one, and everything I do or say or post on FB is to: (1) get attention because of my books, (2) never discuss politics or religion so I don't make enemies, and (3) as my mother always told me--if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. And so, I do not argue with anyone.
    That's my simple marketing strategy for FB.
    Thanks for writing such an informative,light-hearted post.

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    1. Unfortunately 'the public' is a very big place Celia and I keep telling the same people I'm here over and over - they must be sick of me!:) I'm going to have to suck it up and read a proper idiot guide to marketing and actually learn something for a change. In the meantime, thanks for the tips!

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  12. I'm in the same boat as you and Chantilly. Full Scot on me mum's side. No Irish, though, but German from Daddy. (Can't imagine that's much better....)

    At least now I have a reason why I sooooo hate the whole promo scene. It's my mom's fault. :)

    Thanks for a great post. Fabulous way to start my Sunday!

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    1. I find blaming my mother is a good all round solution for most of my problems! Thanks for coming to my blog Lynda!

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  13. Janet, I Loved your post. I think it's the Kiwi in us that holds us back from shouting about ourselves from the roof tops. I can feel my Irish great grandmother's stare of disapproval at self-promotion.

    Your sense of humour shines through. What a gorgeous book you've written.

    I am off to spell-check everything though. Laura's Big Beak had me laughing and crying at the same time.

    Hayson

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    1. Yes! Spell check. Then get someone else to read it - slowly. That's where I fell down. Word sees nothing wrong with Laura's Big Beak and the only person I had available to spell check at the time was my Dutch speaking husband! Next time I'll email a friend before I post anything to the press! Seriously Hayson, how many times can a person repeat the same mistakes? - I'll let you know! :)

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  14. What a great post! You are funny and although I haven't read any of your work, I can tell from this post, your stories must be pretty funny too.

    Now on another note, we all started the same way--did some really stupid things and found out they didn't work. Eventually, your name gets out there and the readers see you're really serious. When that happens, so do the sales. Hang in there.

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    1. Aw, Carolyn, thanks for the encouragement. I'm hoping that in a few years time this will all be a bad dream - a funny one, but a dream none the less! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  15. Amazon has FORUMS?!! Smack forehead. Render myself unconscious. Wake up saying (to myself because no one else knows I exist), "You forgot to check out the forums on Amazon, you idiot!" Thanks for the advice Janet.

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    1. Be careful Bess, remember you're taking the advice of an idiot! Plus the forums are a minefield. There are warnings everywhere that authors shouldn't promote their work. I can't imagine any other reason that an author would brave the forums in the first place! Catch 22 for the poor wee writer... :)

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  16. So cute and so true for most of us. You gave me a great laugh...hope that's what you wanted...LOL!

    Lynn

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    1. Yes! Please laugh at me!! :) Seriously, if we can't laugh at our screw ups then there's no hope for us. Glad you enjoyed my blog post!

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  17. What can I say? I write media releases for a living! Email it to me I'll check it for you!!!

    The Big, The Hairy and The Beak..........LOL xxC

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    1. Now I should have thought of that! Next time will definitely send them to you before the rest of the world. :)

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  18. Thanks for sharing the highs and lows of your marketing experience. After reading your account, I feel less of a lonely fool and more like I am one in an exclusive club.

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    1. Welcome to the club Amy - you're in very good company! :)

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  19. Oh this made me giggle! I feel ya though. I think we all do. I've recently opened the doors to being a small press, and now I have to be good with not only my stuff, but others as well. The world is DOOMED! LOL!

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    1. Jesse! I didn't publish your second message - but it did make me laugh! I often post double messages too, because I can't see where the first one went. Hoping all goes well with your new venture. Not sure I could cope with the pressure of other people's work as well as my own - so good on you!! :)

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  20. Put me down for that self help group too, Janet. Hiliarous post; I laugh out loud every time I read "Laura's Big Beak"! I also am thrilled to be able to blame my mother (again!) for my Scottish heritage if that's why I don't have the guts to put out an author's FB page. And a news release about my books? My mother would be horrified at such bragging... As you can see, I have some work cut out for me. You've done a great job at getting your name out there and I'm going to study you. (Don't worry. I'll do it from Florida:-)

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    1. Yes please study me! I've always thought I should be studied - but usually by a team of psychologists... :) Keep in touch Stephie!

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  21. Very funny post. And so like something I would do too! So what I want to know is, the press release where you forgot to mention the book - did they print anything?

    Plus I love the "Laura's Big Beak"!

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    1. Rowena - you are so sweet to think that anyone might have used any of the press release stuff I've sent out! The answer is no. I think next time I might write - Obscure writer releases new run of the mill book that no one gives a hoot about - and see what they do with that! :) Although I did get quite a few people writing back about the Laura's Big Beak release - mainly to laugh at me...!!

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