I am in the middle of promotion myself so I shouldn't say it. But here goes--I am sick of reading about published authors' self promo, blog posts and guest posters on every mystery discussion list, Twitter tweet, and Goodreads group that I'm on. I'm guilty of it. We have to promote or die, right? But one of my favorite mystery discussion lists (mysterymostcozy) is talking about quitting just because all of the "discussion" has turned into author promo.
Tell me folks, is there another way? Because right now, I feel like I'm helping ruin some of the places I enjoy the most.

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I'm sick of it, too, Christine. My mailbox is full of BSP every day. At least on Crimespace, most of it stays down in that EVENTS section. For me, the best promotion has turned out to be meeting librarians and booksellers, getting some to read my work. These people are like Super Readers -- they pass on the word about what they like.
I hate it too. I recently 'unfriended' one author on Facebook because all I was getting was BSP. It actively makes me decide not to read a particular author. I love hearing about new books from authors established and new, but I only take notice if what's said is "Donna, I think you'd really love this book by X", rather than "Donna, you'll love this book written by me, me, ME!" I read blogs such as Bill Crider's. He talks about good books he's been reading (today it's Al Guthrie's SLAMMER, which, if I hadn't already read it, I would be rushing out to buy). Not only do his blog posts tempt me to read the authors he recommends, but they also tempt me to read HIS books...despite the fact that he's not actually talking about his own books. Similarly, Declan Burke at Crime Always Pays. Both of them are models of how to sell yourself without actually ripping your clothes off and prostrating yourself in front of their prospective readers in a despersate bid to gain attention.

I read review sites such as Eurocrime, and a few blogs of readers and writers. And I'm on groups such as Crimespace, 4-Mystery_Addicts and Friendfeed where, not only have I made some great online (and in person) friends, but the recommendations and book discussions are excellent.
I think boundaries are important. When I'm promoting a book, I don't pretend I'm not. I also try not to pollute forums or discussion boards with BSP. But this is the age where disseminating content is no longer a challenge -- we all have the most powerful distribution network every created at our fingertips. The challenge is getting noticed. So I can sympathize to some extent with feelings of desperation and ceaseless promotion.

To some extent. The boundaries are important. If all we do is market to each other, it will be a lousy conversation and we won't discover much beyond our commercial facades.

I like this forum because it seems like there are good discussions here. Thanks for pointing to the boundary.
I'm going to have to look up Bill Crider's blog. I need somewhere to find good books since the discussion lists are going belly up.
Jack, I think we'd all prefer to just market to booksellers and librarians. Tell us your secret.
I started with libraries close to me, others I found semi-close on BookTour. Pitched myself as speaker. Did even better with some MWA/NY friends, speaking as a panel of mystery writers, and after I hired PJ Nunn as my PR lady. Started my own mailing list of every New Jersey library, pitched my New Jersey crime series through postcards. Wouldn't call anything about my fiction career successful (yet), but NJ libraries have been a bright spot. Booksellers, not so much.
I knocked myself out doing promotion last fall after my first novel published. But after several months, I realized there was no way I could keep up that pace. More than that, I became sick of all that promotion - so tired of answering interview questions and writing guest blog posts and op-eds that tied into my novel that I could barely bring myself to answer my email.

Obviously, I needed to find a balance, and I believe that now, I have. I can write this note without feeling compelled to add links to it, for starters.

I don't fault an author for feeling as though they have to get the word out about their books, especially a new author who's experiencing that enormous sink-or-swim pressure. And I probably did influence book sales - perhaps my promo efforts were even what pushed my novel past the tipping point so that it did well enough in a lousy economy to where my publisher recently bought another from me, hooray! But -

I'm not a promotion machine, I'm an author - a talented, creative person. I'm glad I found that out relatively early in my career, so I can keep on writing books!
Karen, you're right. I can't fault anybody for doing this. We do it because if we don't tell folks about our books, no one will. But how effective is a technique that turns so many people off that a thriving discussion group wil quit just to get away from it? I know that I got turned off DorothyL for the same reason. You couldn't even say something like "I like reading a good cozy," without being flooded with emails from authors recommending you try their cozy.
We need to find another way to promote. I like the idea of the bookseller/ librarian thing that Jack talks about here. And I will give that a try. I'm doing a blog tour next month too. But I'm thinking this stuff where we post everywhere about what we just blogged or posted about has got to end. The result is just noise and not pleasant noise at that. I don't have the next promo fad answer but I'm hoping this one is about to end fast.
Well, speaking of blogs: the ones that just talk about the blogger's books or signings, nobody reads. And the ones that start "Got up this morning and had no idea what to blog about. So let me talk about my family instead" we don't read either. Without a reliable interesting subject matter, blogs are ineffectual. Blogs that are very rare (as in once a month) are also quickly forgotten, even if the author spends time and energy on the posts.
One of my biggest fears about all this promo stuff? Is that we're only talking to each other.
The challenge in this all! new! and improved! marketplace, in particular the Internet marketplace, is to find the readers out there.

Reaching out to local libraries is always a good thing, they love authors and they really love local authors. I was just taking to my hometown librarian last week, and while our public library has always been very well supported by the public, lately she's seen a big uptick in patrons in and books out. Of course it's partly the recession and people saving their book money for non-essentials like food and shelter, but I wonder if perhaps it isn't also because there are fewer bookstores. The indies were where you could trust the staff to find you a book you'd like. With them gone, libraries would be a reader's next stop.
I rather suspect that libraries are a reader's first stop. Not sure yet how much help libraries are to writers who'd like to sell a few books. Initially, of course, they are great because a new author gets known that way, but the fact that lately every new release gets on the shelves of the library as quickly as on those of the bookstore makes me nervous. And then libraries now offer free access to electronic versions of books. I have no idea how those downloads are controlled.
Still, libraries are usually friendlier than places like B&N.

My first choice (leaving aside what publishers should do) is still the Internet. Only, an author cannot badger people with constant promotion. That just becomes so much SPAM.
I tend to agree with Dana - It's all well and good to be an active part of the mystery/thriller community, and authors are indeed also book buyers. But if we really want to reach readers, we have to move away from the writers blogs and discussion boards and out into the 'world wide web.'

One very effective way to do that that I've discovered is to write opinion pieces that tie in with the subject of my novel. I've had several op-eds accepted at The Huffington Post, and what's cool about that is that many sites automatically feed from and reproduce HuffPo content. So as soon as I put a blog entry up, poof - it appears on a dozen or more other websites. I can't track all of the results, but I'm sure I'm reaching many potential readers I otherwise wouldn't have. Additionally, I was contacted by an person from an environmental website who had read my opinion pieces and thought my novel sounded interesting. After they interviewed me and reviewed the book for *their* website, within the hour, *that* article was on 16 other environmental websites.

A marketing person I know called that "lateral spread." Whatever it is, I suspect it's a whole lot more effective for getting the word out than just writers talking to other writers on all the same websites and listserves.
I'm in a promo mode, too, so I'm trying to respect the boundaries of blogs and social spaces like this one. I agree that reaching out to libraries and bookstores, conferences, book fairs and readers' clubs are still the best way to go because we get to meet people face-to-face. Blog tours and such seem ok, but the BSP does, indeed, get tiring.


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