I see it all the time these days. Writers commenting on blogs and forum threads while including a not so subtle reference to their latest book or their latest blog post or their latest signing.

I'm guilty of it myself -- although I try to go the subtle route. Notice, if you will, that in this post I won't ever mention the name of my own book. Yet some of you will undoubtedly click over to my CrimeSpace page and there it is, in living black and white (or white on brown).

Not exactly blatant self promotion, but some of us don't seem to hesitate to practice the craft.

The question is, is it really necessary? Should we sound the trumpets or is it better to simply contribute semi-coherent, thoughtful blog comments and forum posts and hope that the readers will discover you've actually written a book or two or three?

There's a certain no-shame factor that kicks in when sounding the trumpets. And it requires a gene that I don't really possess.

So, tell me, what's a poor humble idiot to do?

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As I've said before, the best promotion you can do on sites like this and on blogs is to be interesting, so that people will think "hey, I want to read more from this person.."

All that said, our books are so much a part of our lives, it's hard NOT to talk about them.
Rather than necessary, I think a better question might be, how effective is it?

I don't think anyone can discount the need for marketing, and most authors have to do their own. Some certainly do it better than others. But I think BSP is only going to be as effective as the medium in which it's placed.

How many people are reading Crimespace? There are, what, 300 or so members? How many of them are the people you're really trying to get to? The ones who don't know you, who've never heard of you before? The ones who might buy your book if they only knew about it? Some, certainly. Possibly a lot. But chances are pretty good that the people on this site are the kinds of people who would probably read your book, anyway.

I think that blogs, like Amazon rankings, can give a false sense of where someone stands. Their benefit isn't in their accuracy of numbers or widespread appeal, it's in their push-the-button-get-the-pellet speed of response. I can look at my sitestats every hour and see just how many people look at my blog. You can look at your Amazon rankings and see... well, I'm not quite sure what you'd see because I've never understood how that number is calculated.

The danger is in extrapolating one set of data into an entirely different sphere. Amazon rankings tell you nothing about Wal-Mart sales, for example. Blog comments tell you almost nothing about how well your book is doing in the wider public.

Like trying to look at a black hole, you only have the things around it to infer its existence.

So, yes, I think that BSP is necessary, but I think it needs to be weighed against where the message is being targeted and who is trying to be reached. A shotgun approach might work out the best for one author, whereas more selective BSP aimed at a particular target might be more effective.

All that said, and in the interest of public disclosure, no, I don't have a book out. I'm lucky that way. I don't have to deal with the actual pressures of doing this stuff, yet.
If you're gonna BSP, at least tell us where to buy this book! ;-)
Like Ray, it helps me find which books to avoid :o) Seriously, I want authors to tell me about their book, and if the question is about writing then it's obvious people are going to talk about their books and possibly at some length and that's perfectly fine - it's what the question called for, and I am interested in hearing the answer. No author should feel bad about mentioning their books. And mother authors either say too little or just the right amount about their books. But there are two forms of SP of the most B variety that really turn me off.

I am on several authors' mailing lists and I love being there and don't consider them as spam. I read their newsletters avidly when they come in, and am keen to hear about new projects and books. But I can safely say that if anyone adds me to a list and starts sending me unsolicited e-mail about their books (especially those which start "You will love my books - they are set in 14th century Burkina Faso and the protagonist is a monk who talks in nothing but rhyme" - well, no, actually, you DON'T know that I will love your books, especially as the reason you added me to your mailing list was because of a post I made once saying that the 14th century is my least favourite century, I once had that unfortunate incident in an elevator in Burkina Faso, 3 of my ex boyfriends mysteriously became monks after going out with me, and I am allergic to poetry) then that's a sure fire way to get me NOT to buy your books. By all means, ask me if I want to be on your list, but don't just add me willy nilly.

I have absolutely NO problem with authors promoting their books (and, indeed, welcome it, as it's one of the ways I get to hear about new books), but I am a bit turned off by the author who answers every question with reference to their own book, even if the link is as tenuous as a spider's web across the Nile spun by a very lazy and drunken spider who missed spinning classes for a year.. When the innocent question "Does anyone know of any books set in Turkey?" is met with the response "Have you read my book 'Gobbling At Christmas'? The protag drives past a turkey farm on page 72", then I shall make a mental note not to bother buying any of that author's books.

I want to hear about new books, but I don't want one particular book forced down my throat by the author at every opportunity (unless it is made of chocolate - in which case, Bring It On!).
PS. No-one on Crimespace in all the posts I've read either on this forum, in the bar, or on people's own pages has contained too much BSP. Just thought I would clarify that :o) I have, of course, avoided the one or two member pages that I KNOW will contain my least favouriute variety :o)
Donna and I are members of one or two of the same groups. One of the groups has coined a phrase when it's obvious an author is indulging in BSP

Drive by Author

They join. They was lyrical about their new book, mentioning it every chance they get and then they go quiet. Until their next book. Then they mysteriously pop up again. Not exactly subtle. However, an author who joins and participates in the group and then says. hey gang, I've got a new book coming out , usually picks up quite a few readers.
Exactly - personally I know - you start advertising to me and the mute button in my head goes on - I'm old enough to know BSP when I smell it and I'm allergic to it - profoundly allergic. But talk to me about lots of other things, throw in an "in context" reference to your work, tell me what authors you aspire to be like, tell me the authors books you admire, join in, participate, be part of the community, say something that's intriguing and I'll probably find myself attracted to your book.

I think my new signature line should be "I'm a reader, I can be contrary" :)
BSP has gotten such a bad rep. Any time a writer opens his or her mouth, posts on a list or blog, mentions a self-penned book -- it's BSP.

Come on.

A writer who doesn't talk about his or her books is an aberration.

To me, it's a question of intent. I comment on many lists and blogs. I know hundreds of people in our mystery community. Yeah, some of this is deliberate PR. But, you know what? Most of what I do is simply because I'm interested . . . not because I'm "trying to get my name out there."

Frankly, I've got such a weird name that most people can't remember it anyway; I'm truly considering pseudonyms for my new series. (Oops! Was *that* BSP?)
You have a point, Pari. But I think my concern is more about the DEGREE to which we'll go to promote ourselves. As someone mentioned above, a simple link to our blog or website in the signature goes a long, long way toward promotion. And if you say something provocative or informative, people are likely to click on that link.

It's the "Hey, check out my website!" kind of posts that drive me nuts and that I, hopefully, avoid writing myself. (I can't claim that I never have, only that I hope I haven't.)

I think the key word is BLATANT. It's the B we want to avoid, not the SP.
I think that's the key. The DEGREE to which one goes to BSP. As in
Laura's tongue-in-cheek post there are authors who, when you see their posts come up on certain
lists, or see them walking toward you in the bookroom at a conference,
you head the other way. They turn every conversation toward their
books. Harlan Coben did a great post when he left DorothyL some years
ago that sort of struck on this. (and I'm totally paraphrasing, here)
Someone used the word "the" in a post, and some enterprising BSPer goes
on and says, well, I used the 3,756 times in my book THE BLAZING MURDER
TRILOGY or some such.

Acceptable BSP is when you make a simple announcement: My book THE
BLAZING MURDER TRILOGY will be out next week. Or your sig line after
posting something intelligent that contributes to a conversation is:
Joe Blatant, award winning author of THE BLAZING MURDER TRILOGY,
http;website/info.

What is not acceptable IMHO sending out blanket e-mails to lists or
authors you don't know personally saying my book THE BLAZING MURDER is
eligible for (name the award). I don't vote for books I haven't read. I
get annoyed if someone sends me an e-mail to vote for theirs. If it's a
friend, I'll go buy the damn book, read it, and if I like it, vote for
it.

Another well-known NYT author told me that he/she gives new authors one
year to get over themselves, because he/she was also a new author and
did all the stupid things, up to the point that he/she realized there
is a certain etiquette when posting to lists, attending conferences,
sitting on panels, signings, etc., etc. If they haven't learned in that
time, he/she writes them off so to speak. I rather like that one year
rule. I know I did some really stupid things as a new author. I try not
to do them now. Annoying established writers is not a good thing. You
need the connections.
Robin,
I'm cracking up reading your post. I remember my first LCC -- in Pasadena -- and going to the MWA party. I was slobbering like a damn puppy. Steve Brewer took me under his wing and was introducing me around. When I met one well-known author and said, "I'm a first-time writer," she paused and looked me up and down.

"Yes, dear, we can tell."

Talk about a dagger straight to the heart.

I laugh about it now that I understand just how obnoxious I must have been. It's good people are forgiving in this community.
Pari, I met you on your first book tour, and you were charming.

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