The question had arisen because, on Twitter, some writers have been bugging the pants off people by over-promoting. In fact, I've decided that the next in my series of writers' guides from Crabbit Publishing is going to be How to Promote Your Book Without Bugging the Pants Off People.
I think there are three main reasons why writers sometimes do too much jumping up and down about their books - bearing in mind that "too much" is going to be different depending on each beholder.
- Our publishers don't really do it for us. Most of us are expected to do vastly more than we used to have to; publishers' budgets have been slashed; and the window during which our publisher may do some activity has shrunk. Many of us (myself included) don't actually mind, and many of our publishers are delighted to let us do it.
- We can. Suddenly (and it really has been quite sudden) we have all the possible platforms of Facebook, Twitter, our own blogs, other people's blogs, etc, and they are free and easy. So it's easy to be a bit too free and easy with the opportunities. It's also easy for us to make connections with journalists and therefore easier for us to generate publicity opportunities in traditional media.
- Sheer blind panic at the thought that our much-loved, long slaved-over book might sink without trace, and a burning passion that people should get to read it.
I've read numerous pieces by highly successful self-publishers (including this piece by Joe Konrath and also a recent interview in the Guardian with Amanda Hocking) in which the value of tweeting etc in actually selling copies is regarded as over-rated. Joe Konrath has analysed sales movements in his ebooks (yes, we all get RSI from checking our figures!) and believes that it's not the tweeting or FBing or blogging or being interviewed anywhere that boosts his sales. He's not saying don't use Twitter or even that it's not useful - he's saying, and I agree, that it doesn't directly hugely affect sales, or not as much as we might think it would. What both writers do is write, and write lots. Amanda Hocking's sales rocketed because she put lots of books out there in quick succession, not because she found thousands of followers on Twitter.
So, is one conclusion that a better way of promoting ourselves is to promote ourselves less and write more?
I rather think it may be. I think that spending two hours a day on promotion (in whatever form) will not be four times as effective as spending half an hour a day on that, and an extra hour and a half writing something. In fact, I'm rather sure that spending more time writing and less time promoting would be a very good idea for many of us - myself definitely included - for lots of reasons.
What do you think? Do we all do too much promotion, even those of us trying to keep it at the non-bugging end of the scale? Do we do too much for our own good? How do you know when you've done enough? What do you dislike about it? Or possibly like about it? Do you like the idea of doing less and writing more?
I'd love to know!
(Here is the link to the post I mentioned.)
Ahem. If by any chance you'd like help with how to use Twitter like a sensible and unbugging person, you might be interested in Tweet Right - the Sensible Person's Guide to Twitter, currently at a crazy cheap price on Amazon. I'm cringing at that blatant plug and the irony of its appearance in this post. But what the hell: in for a cringe, in for a crossing the line - my newest ebook for writers is Write a Great Synopsis - An Expert Guide.
*slinks off to do some writing*