Thursday, June 14, 2012

Want me to buy your book?

Of course you do.
You'd even want Satan to buy your book and  probably give him a discount if he bought enough copies for everyone in Hell while he's at it.

So, how you do it?

There are lots of good ways. Get short listed for an Edgar or Anthony. Get a nice review from Chief Temptress at Shelf Awareness Marilyn Dahl.  Be published by Concord Free Press.  Those are just for starters.

Sadly, those options are not available to all authors, so you have to find other ways.

It's those other ways that can trip you up.

Here's a recent email blast from an author:

TITLE is now available through every outlet you can think of. Sorry for the shameless promotion, but if I don’t tell you I have a new book out, who will? I encourage everyone who wants to buy the book to go to their independent bookstore, but if that’s not an option, here you go:
(tiny url)

Here's the first thing you don't see:

(1) Dear Janet.

If you're sending a promo email to "everyone you know" you'd be wise to send them individually with a salutation.  For starters, that will help you weed out the people you shouldn't be sending this to.

Here's the second thing you don't see:

(2) We met at X Conference and you liked (something).

Personalize that email if at all possible.  It reminds me that we've met, and that I like you.  It reminds me that I liked something about your first book.  Or liked something.  In other words, find the something that we have in common.  (Clue: what we do NOT have in common is that you want me to buy your book)

Here's the third thing you don't see:

(3) TITLE is the (what the book is about)

Honest to godiva when you send a promo and don't tell me what I'm asked to buy it makes hitting the delete button automatic.

When you promote your book you MUST tell me what it's about. At the very least let me know if it's the next book in a series or the start of a new series. Even your mum needs to know that basic info.

Here's the fourth thing you don't see:

(4) Title (Publisher) (price) (format)
Now, admittedly this might be just because I work in publishing but I think it's helpful to let people know if your book is trade paper or mass market or digital. And the price.

And here's the last thing you don't see:

(5) Full URL
 A tiny url is valuable in many places, and email can be one of them but I don't know what the link is to.  Even "here's the link to Amazon (tiny url)" would be better than nothing.

Is this a lot of work? You betcha.  It takes DAYS to do this, not seconds.

The reason you invest that extra time:  I would have probably clicked and bought the book if it had been a personal email.  I buy books by friends and acquaintances ALL THE TIME to support them.  I know and like this author, but this email annoyed me so much, I didn't.

There is NO INCENTIVE to click and buy when you treat me like a stranger on the street.  The first rule of marketing is people buy from people they know and like.  Your pr strategy MUST include a reminder of how people know and like you to have maximum effectiveness.

 Any questions?


Daisy Bateman said...

Aside from the annoyance factor, I've known enough people to have their email accounts hacked to EVER open a blind link in a non-personal email, even if it looks legit. It's not even close to being worth the risk.

BP said...

I'd say, in response to the title, NO, I told you, I want you to PUBLISH my book! But at risk of be decried "Too Soon!", I simply nod and keep a wary eye on that tiny url. I didn't even feel safe clicking it from the blog!

Kelley York said...

Seconding Daisy. It's becoming more common on Twitter, too; getting direct messages from friends' hacked accounts that say "Did you see this blog post that mentions you?" with a shortened URL. Creepy.

Ginger Calem said...

Great post, Janet. I totally agree and look forward to following all your advice as soon as I'm ready to sell my book.

By the way, we have met, at the LIRW luncheon years ago. I'm the one from Texas who was with Jen McAndrews and Julie O'Connell. Thought I'd say, Hi! :)

Jane Lebak said...

About Satan buying one's book: I got an email once from a woman who claimed that she was a Satanist and while she was communing with Satan, she read my book to him. She told me he hated it. :-) So I guess i"m one of the few people who can say Satan has read her book?

Andrew said...

Dear Janet, sorry but spam wouldn't exist if it didn't work. Back in the early days of spam, ~ 2002 I had lunch with 3 F500 CEOs and told them spam gave them a bad reputation. They responded, "Millions of dollars to our shareholders. Spam will continue." It's more refined & targeted today, but it exists because it works. It works for viagra, books, toasters, and literary agents.

Best, Andrew

AuthorAlden said...

Excellent advice. I can't tell you how often I get boring, cookie cutter messages from people I kind of know as king me to buy their book based solely on the merit of them asking nicely. How about telling me why I'd want to? It's more excusable on the Twitter machine, where there's a character limit, but if you're on Facebook or Google+ and hawking your wares, let me know whys I needs 'em.

Oh, and I agree . . . it's never a good idea to click strange links.

J.W. Alden

Janet Reid said...

Andrew, you raise an interesting point. Have you yourself ever bought a book that was introduced to you via ineffective means like spam?

Spam works because it only requires a tiny percentage of yes compared to the vast number of offers. 500 million spam messages for 500 sales.

Unless a writer has 500 million contacts, they're not likely to have an effective rate of return.

Most writers have fewer than 500 contacts. The difference between .000001 return and .03 return (mail order) and .1 return (targeted mailing) is the difference between
(per 100) 0 sales, 3 sales and 10 sales.

If you have different stats, I'd be glad to see them.

Stephsco said...

As a consumer, I agree. The people who put the time and effort into personalizing are the ones who get my attention.

Ali Trotta said...

I would, possibly on principal, never buy a book that was introduced through spam. A blog post, with a tweet, is far more effective than a random email. Actually, someone did that to me, recently. He stopped by my blog, found my email, and then sent me a message. The beginning was clever flattery. The rest was, "Btw, buy my book!" It was the quickest way to ensure I would never, ever read his work.

Wonderful post. Very enlightening and witty. :-)

Petrea Burchard said...

This is excellent advice, Janet. It seems simple the way you explain it, but obviously at least one person didn't think of it.

delilah s. dawson said...

1. The day you tweeted about my book was the equivalent of receiving a pony for my birthday.

2. Even if an author's spam email includes everything requested, I won't click the link if their book title includes the word "copulating". Learned this one the hard way.

TC Avey said...

While I don't have a book to promote, you can bet when I do I will be giving all the info necessary for people to purchase it!

Thanks for the tips!

Steven J. Wangsness said...

Yeah, I have a question. Can we be friends? Then I can send you a tiny url that links to my Amazon page. (I won't bother to mention that last part, though, cuz I know extraneous info really gets your goat.) (And finally, while I'm at it, what the heck does "get your goat" mean, anyway?) Happy Friday!

Anne-Marie said...

Thanks for this post, Janet. My head explodes regularly on Twitter from all the "buy my books" comments that stream 24/7, and simply cannot imagine what it must be like for you to be inundated with requests.

We have never met, but I we share two things in common: a love of Lunenburg, NS and its fine fruit wines, and an obsession with pens. If nostalgic 70s fiction with a rock and roll twist is your thing, I've published the first 2 of 4 books in my series Behind Blue Eyes in the major online book stores under my name.

Anne-Marie Klein

Anonymous said...

We have never met at a conference. My book is about an average, forgettable woman who goes a little berserk after years of hard work and dedication and does horrible things to a hot tub. (You thought I was going to say literary agent, didn't you?)

ETowns said...

Thank you for all of that information/advice. Although I would have personalized anything I sent you, it is good to have it emphasized here. It reminds me that every thing I do to market my book should be just as important as every word I put inside.