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Marketing and Promotion Advice > Marketing Forum #4: Author Etiquette

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message 1: by A.F. (last edited Aug 23, 2015 08:12AM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
In this discussion we'll chat about how to approach bloggers, reviewers, and how to present a good impression on social networks.
Feel free to list pet peeves, ask questions, give advice.


message 2: by A.F. (last edited Aug 24, 2015 10:44AM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
As some may know, I also run a blog where I feature other authors. So I'll open this discussion with one of my pet peeves for contacting a blogger: Cold Emails

I think this technique for authors is overrated and badly used. Mostly because, A) authors don't do their homework before sending these emails, and B) they use them to mass email people. This leads to unwanted and impersonal emails. The WRONG tact to take with a blogger.

Most book bloggers have guidelines (also editors, publishers, and other professional services) that CLEARLY state how to contact them, what they do, and how to submit.
We have the guidelines for a reason, namely to make the process of appearing on our blogs easier for both parties. If you ignore these rules, you annoy us. Annoyed people are NOT inclined to help you.

But if you do choose to send cold emails, especially mass emails, be aware many people will not be happy, or will inquire as to why they received the email. ALWAYS be polite, and try not to burn your bridges.

Here's a true example of a badly handled cold email:

A few days ago an author included me in a mass email, sending me copies of his book and an information sheet on the book. Normally I would have simply deleted such an unsolicited email, but he addressed it, Dear Editors. I thought perhaps he had me confused with someone else, so I emailed back and asked him who he was, and why he sent me his book.
He became evasive, rambling on about a mutual friend I never heard of (I still don't know what this person had to do with his book).
I replied that no, I never heard of this friend and I couldn't help him.
He became belligerent, saying my attitude stunk.
I told him act like a professional.
Then he started insulting me.
That's when I told him he was a desperate idiot.
He stopped emailing.

And I still don't know why he sent me his book.

This type of behavior will not win friends and influence people. It will make them click delete, spam, and block.


message 3: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Holiday (jdholiday) | 24 comments So true, A.F. I get annoyed with authors who send not only emails like this but their links to check out and like their page with disregard for the fact that you are an author, too, but they are no interest in you. It happens on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

JD


message 4: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Younger (goodreadscomglennyounger) | 6 comments If this were a writing prompt, I'd HAVE to put him in the next scene moaning about how hard it is to make authentic connections electronically. :-)

Back to real life, my sympathies to you! That couldn't have been a fun exchange, especially since you were trying to help.

The way you wrote it, though, was highly entertaining. Kudos to you.


message 5: by A.L. (new)

A.L. | 7 comments I personally don't believe in email lists. I don't ask anyone to join mine and I don't often join anyone else's The only thing I have is set up by Amazon where a person has to actively click a button or check box to "get updates from the author you are following."

So I follow my favorite authors and get updates when they release a new book and others can follow me and get updates when I have a new book out. Otherwise, no other e-mail lists are in my inbox.

As for approaching bloggers and reviewers, I decided to hire a "promotion" company for that instead of doing it myself.


message 6: by Marianne (new)

Marianne Perry | 37 comments Interesting discussion and much appreciated. I certainly don't want to engage in offending behaviour and your advice is welcomed. Thanks.

Marianne Perry
Writing inspired by genealogical research to solve family mysteries.
http://www.marianneperry.ca


message 7: by Robert Steven (new)

Robert Steven Goldstein | 5 comments This is very good advice, A.F.; thank you for dealing with this important subject. I agree that, as an author, it is vital to be courteous, professional, and sensitive to the needs of anyone to whom you are reaching out for help. To put this in some perspective however, publishing a book and trying to get it seen by potential readers can be a judgement-altering experience, especially for the uninitiated. My own personal story is that I wanted to write all my life, but could never juggle working and writing, so after a thirty-five year corporate career I retired early and wrote my first novel, which I published in 2012. I never did mass emailings but I must confess that I became irrationally obsessed with trying to make the book visible to people. In retrospect, although I don't think I ever quite rose to the level of "rude jerk" I did things that were completely unlike me and perhaps reeked somewhat of desperation. I can only apologize and hope that when I publish my second novel (hopefully next year) I will have all this a bit more in perspective.


message 8: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
J.D. wrote: "So true, A.F. I get annoyed with authors who send not only emails like this but their links to check out and like their page with disregard for the fact that you are an author, too, but they are no..."

So true. For me, LinkedIn is especially spammy.


message 9: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Glenn wrote: "If this were a writing prompt, I'd HAVE to put him in the next scene moaning about how hard it is to make authentic connections electronically. :-)

Back to real life, my sympathies to you! That co..."


And the sad thing is it all might have been avoided if he only answered my original questions.


message 10: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
A.L. wrote: "I personally don't believe in email lists. I don't ask anyone to join mine and I don't often join anyone else's The only thing I have is set up by Amazon where a person has to actively click a butt..."

Promotional companies can be helpful, but I'd advise anyone considering using one to do good homework before choosing. I've done posts for authors using promo companies. Some are great, very polite and accommodating. Some have added me to their email lists without my consent and became bothersome. Not a fan of that behavior.


message 11: by A.F. (last edited Aug 23, 2015 01:42PM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Robert wrote: "This is very good advice, A.F.; thank you for dealing with this important subject. I agree that, as an author, it is vital to be courteous, professional, and sensitive to the needs of anyone to wh..."

True, there is a tricky balance between marketing and spamming. To me it is not so much someone cold contacting you, as in how you do it. I'd be far more receptive to a mass email that is slightly personal or even slightly apologetic (as in, I know everyone hates mass emails, but I have to get the word out). I might not be able to help, but I'd feel some sympathy and most likely read it. As opposed to skim and delete. Rudeness in a message or email, for me, is a guaranteed spam or delete. I've had authors or other writing professionals friend me on social networks, and then five minutes later hit me up to buy their book or service. That's true desperation.


message 12: by Doug (new)

Doug Lamoreux (douglamoreux) | 16 comments Enjoying the discussion. Thank you.
If I could toss in a few cents regarding social media, I'd say talking to people gains you far more than merely trying to sell them something. On Twitter, spend more time engaging and re-tweeting than you do tweeting. On Facebook, spend more time 'like'ing and 'share'ing than you do posting. Make friends.


message 13: by Entrada (new)

Entrada Book Review | 52 comments It is all about the golden rule. If you are willing to help someone, they are more willing to help you. Make your efforts to contact blogger/editors/etc. a win win for both parties.

Bloggers always need more content and free things to give away. You can always offer reviews, swap services, refer people, etc.

Just my two cents.

-Rachel


message 14: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "Enjoying the discussion. Thank you.
If I could toss in a few cents regarding social media, I'd say talking to people gains you far more than merely trying to sell them something. On Twitter, spend ..."


That's what I've always tried to do. In my personal experience I've found engagement gets more notice than repeated promotion.


message 15: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Roscoe | 51 comments This has been a very interesting topic to follow. I help authors by having them on my website for a couple of weeks, promoting on Fb, Linkedin, Google+ but very few return the favour. I also don't get feedback as to how if at all it helped them which would be nice.
I generally let authors know I do this free so haven't had any cold e-mails as yet, but I know what you mean regarding manners.
So in that regard, fellow authors, feel free to contact me and you are welcome to have a slot on my website www.pjroscoe.co.uk. Questionaire is optional or you can send me whatever you'd like to promote.
I have had a few kind authors/bloggers interview me and it's a nice feeling so I like to return that kindness.
Blessings
P.J Roscoe


message 16: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (authoramandag) | 7 comments I have read every comment, and they are fantastic. Thank you all for your opinions, and feedback. A great discussion A.F. Thank you.


message 17: by A.F. (last edited Aug 26, 2015 06:12PM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
I have another winner in the "what were they thinking sending that email" category. Note: This one came, not to my main email, but and older, secondary email, and there is the possibility that it was phishing email. Also possible it came via LinkedIn. But regardless, never send an email like this:

It had no introduction.
The subject line said 'tweeter'
The body contained a link to a book blog, a name, proclaimed the author to be 'award winning', listed a genre I do not write in, nor promote overly on my social networks, and listed two of the author's websites. And nothing else.

It went straight to the spam folder.

Always, always (and I can not state this enough) state who you are, and make it clear why you are contacting someone. Never assume people know you, or your books, or remember which site you may have connected on.


message 18: by Doug (new)

Doug Lamoreux (douglamoreux) | 16 comments A.F. wrote: "I have another winner in the "what were they thinking sending that email"..."

Absolutely, A.F.

And forget the ego. You MAY BE the greatest writer ever. But, until they read you and become a fan, they don't care who you are or how good you say your book is. A quarter of a million books are published every year. We can't afford to annoy potential readers. Friends and fellow readers are a lot more forgiving.

Funny and fascinating attract me. Not here's my link and list of awards.


message 19: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "A.F. wrote: "I have another winner in the "what were they thinking sending that email"..."

Absolutely, A.F.

And forget the ego. You MAY BE the greatest writer ever. But, until they read you and b..."


I agree. The one thing that tuns me off, especially in book promos, is saying your book is a "must read" or something similar. To me, an interesting book blurb is far more of a hook than any hyperbole.


message 20: by A.F. (last edited Aug 30, 2015 05:08PM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Here's another pet peeve of mine. Personal messages asking you to donate to an author's fundraising campaign, such as Kickstarter. Now I don't mind if someone asks for generic support, something along the lines of a "can you spread the word", "check it out if you'd like" sort of thing. I'm happy to tweet their campaign and help out.
It's when they specifically ask for a donation that bugs me. Putting me on the spot like that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I don't like high pressure sales tactics (they tend to make me do the exact opposite), and find it very rude behavior.
What are your thoughts on direct requests for money to support author fundraiser campaigns?


message 21: by Doug (new)

Doug Lamoreux (douglamoreux) | 16 comments Agree. Detest it. I too tweet and share many campaigns for many authors but am in no position to donate to all of their publicity schemes. I'm in no position to donate to my own.
A potential reader recently made contact with me asking for a paperback copy of my novel for review (she didn't like to read digital), but didn't specify which novel she wanted. Although all are easily available, I wanted to be agreeable and asked which book she wanted to read. She replied saying she wanted... and named off forty dollars worth of novels (and fifteen bucks worth of postage). Sorry, folks, free books are not free.


message 22: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "Agree. Detest it. I too tweet and share many campaigns for many authors but am in no position to donate to all of their publicity schemes. I'm in no position to donate to my own.
A potential reader..."


So true. I rarely use paperback for review copies because of the cost. And you can never be certain whether they'll follow up on the review, either.


message 23: by Marianne (new)

Marianne Perry | 37 comments So much to consider in our writing world. Enjoy reading the discussion groups and contemplating what to do. Thanks.


message 24: by J.J. (new)

J.J. White | 8 comments Of the 1000 or so connections I've made on Twitter-LinkedIn, etcetera, most are authors like myself. We seem to spend most of our time promoting our work to one another though I believe they have as little interest in purchasing my book as I do theirs. I've come to the conclusion it's better to mix up your connections with those who have a variety of interests and not just writing. Do you think this is wise or should writers stick to connecting with only writers? This could apply to music and the arts also.


message 25: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
J.j. wrote: "Of the 1000 or so connections I've made on Twitter-LinkedIn, etcetera, most are authors like myself. We seem to spend most of our time promoting our work to one another though I believe they have a..."

I do agree you should mix it up. Having author connections is great and necessary, but spreading your book into the big wide world is the goal. And however you market your book, you're going to encounter spam and unwanted contact. Dealing with it in a professional manner is the key.


message 26: by Entrada (new)

Entrada Book Review | 52 comments I agree with J.J. also. The simple truth is that we start marketing to people that we know, simply because we know them. Have you ever noticed that when a family member starts selling the MLM product of their choice, (Avon, Noni, Amway) they always seem to tell you about it first, whether you are interested in it or not.

The good thing is that most writers are avid readers so they can not only be a good springboard but if their reading style aligns with your book, they can be a champion as well.

-Rachel


message 27: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Here are some of VERY important pieces of advice when sending inquiries to bloggers:

READ THEIR GUIDELINES. I can not stress this enough. Nothing annoys me more then someone asking me to spend my time to help them, but it is very clear they couldn't spare five minutes to read the guidelines I posted on my blog.

DO NOT SEND BLOGGERS INFO IN A PDF. You cannot upload a PDF to a blog. For images I need jpgs or gifs, or pngs. If all your images are on a PDF, that means more work for me (again that's annoying). Also, PDF text formatting does not always translate well when copied and pasted onto a blog. Again that means more work. So DON'T SEND A PDF.

WHEN QUERYING FOR A REVIEW, DO NOT SEND BLOGGERS YOUR BOOK. Wait until they actually agree to review the book before sending them a copy. Otherwise you are being presumptuous and rude.

SEND BOOK LINKS. I mean this, especially the Amazon link. I want to check out any book I may feature, and I add those links to the finished post.

STATE YOUR NAME AND THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK. This may seem obvious, but I've had a few emails where this information was missing.


message 28: by Kate (new)

Kate | 5 comments This isn't about approaching bloggers, but more about presenting yourself on social media. I came across this article urging authors not to respond to reviews on Goodreads. It links to an archived thread (that was deleted) in which an author goes bananas on a 1 star review. It created a little internet maelstrom on Goodreads and the author's account ended up being banned. Check it out:
http://bookriot.com/2015/06/10/dear-a...


message 29: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "This isn't about approaching bloggers, but more about presenting yourself on social media. I came across this article urging authors not to respond to reviews on Goodreads. It links to an archive..."

I have to agree with not responding to bad reviews. It can backfire spectacularly on the the author, as it has in a number of cases. Bad reviews are part of the business. I would add though, if you feel a review is inappropriate or a personal attack to flag or report it. I recently flagged some yahoos on Barnes and Noble that were posting fake zombie reviews on one of my books.


message 30: by Julia (new)

Julia Bell (juliabellromanticfiction) | 48 comments Now and again I've had some very disappointing reviews, but I've never responded to them. Stiff upper lip and all that. However, recently a reader/writer asked me questions on my Goodreads email. I answered her in a friendly manner, even though I found her questions rather odd. Her next email criticised my story even though she had only read the first two chapters and I felt disappointed that she hadn't continued reading and allowed the story a chance to unfold. Had she given me a one-star review I would have winced, but sending it to my personal email I reckon was mean. She obviously wanted to make sure I got her critique whereas I might not have seen it in the review section.

Needless to say I did not answer her final email, maintaining a dignified silence. But it still hurt.


message 31: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Julia wrote: "Now and again I've had some very disappointing reviews, but I've never responded to them. Stiff upper lip and all that. However, recently a reader/writer asked me questions on my Goodreads email...."

Some people can be rather thoughtless and rude, and these days everybody seems to have an opinion. But you did the right thing not engaging her; that's probably what she wanted.


message 32: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Holiday (jdholiday) | 24 comments Anita, I agree with all you say there! Are you my sister from another mother and father? :D

~JD


message 33: by A.F. (last edited Nov 02, 2015 07:00AM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Okay, I'm back from busy October of promotion, and I have a few tips regarding blog hops and blog tours.

-If you agree to be a tour host or hop participant, POST ON TIME. Both Blogger and Wordpress have scheduling features, so use them. Get those posts up and scheduled, and waiting to go live. If there's a glitch, inform the tour organizer (with an apology) and get it fixed (if you can) as soon as possible.

-Good post titles. Try to mention the tour/hop, or book title, or author, so when shared people know. Also, try to make the title Twitter friendly (under 140 characters).

-Photos. Use them. Generally cover pics are provided for blog tours, but with a hop you may have to provide your own. Get at least one photo in that post.

-Preview your post before publishing. Sometimes (especially if you are using html code) things go wonky, or photos don't fit. You may need to adjust bits and bobs, so always preview.
How to adjust html code for photos- if a tour organizer sends for html code you can copy and paste, it can cause problems in layout, especially with photo sizes. Now with Blogger you may be able to just click select the photo and choose the small, medium , large, or extra large option to adjust. But if not, or you're using Wordpress, some code toggling may be needed. See if the photo code has width and height sizes. If it does simply alter the numbers until you get the proper fit (just save a copy of the original code in case you goof up).


message 34: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT TIP

When sending messages on Goodreads avoid solicitation for reviews or things like contest voting. Goodreads has a policy against this and these types of messages could get you flagged. Not to mention it's kind of tacky.


message 35: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Holiday (jdholiday) | 24 comments A lot of the notes I get from authors on Goodreads are just that. They are usually friend though.


message 36: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
J.D. wrote: "A lot of the notes I get from authors on Goodreads are just that. They are usually friend though."

Notes from friends, or other people you may be acquainted with is fine. If you know the person doesn't mind the message, no harm, but email requests send out blindly might result in being flagged as a spammer. That will get you in trouble with Goodreads.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of direct requests (unless I know the person well), but I understand the why behind sending them so I don't flag. Some people will, though, so authors need to be careful.


message 37: by J.D. (last edited Nov 09, 2015 07:24AM) (new)

J.D. Holiday (jdholiday) | 24 comments Sure, I don't like getting these request either.

I've had emails (not on Goodreads) from people for a review who argue with me to try and get me to do the review. :D

~JD


message 38: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) I think the rules of how to conduct yourself haven't changed since kindergarten: manners matter, and read and follow all directions.

My own pet peeve is when I'm asked to review a book. As with all readers, there are certain plot elements and themes that I prefer not to read - prolonged scenes of violence, for example. There are also genres that I don't read, and therefore don't feel qualified to review honestly. And my personal standard for reviewing (on Amazon) also hearkens back to earlier days - if I can't say something nice, I don't say anything at all. I may have given one 3 star review (even then, found something nice to say about the product) but generally, if I can't give it 4 or 5 stars, I don't review it at all.


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