Hello Dear Readers,
I realize that most writers have to market their own work, especially in this era of e-publishing. The self-published novel seems to finally have lost its stigma (a stigma that was mostly benefiting the traditional publishing houses). Even those with a glossy hardcover being released from one of the Big Five (or is it Big Three now–I’ve lost track?) have to do a certain amount of self-promotion, unless their last name happens to be King. I get it. I sympathize. Heck, my day job is in marketing and public relations–when I get published, I’ll be right there with you. But there is a fine line between doing it well and just plain over-doing it. And too many seem to be falling into the latter category these days.
Take Facebook. It’s a social networking site, right? But it didn’t take long before entrepreneurs saw its untapped potential. Soon every corporation,company, and product had its own Fan Page (and yes, I have one too–something I created for a school assignment and am still not completely comfortable with), and that’s fine. If I choose to “like” the page of Sally Twopens, Writer, I am consciously (most of the time) opting to hear how things are going with Sally’s writing. If her best-seller, Writing My Way Out of a Paper Bag, gets released in paperback, I probably want to know. If it gets nominated for a Governor Generals Award, I may want to know that, too. I’ll most likely want to comment, “You go, Sally!” or something equally poetic. If Sally gets her own website and meets her agent for lunch and they bond over tuna fish and then she decides to write a movie script, all in the same day…well, I may decide I’ve had enough of Sally for a while. But at least I opted to get those news feeds.
What about if you’re just my Friend? Do I really want to see incessant status updates of “buy my book…buy my book…BUY MY @!@%@^#^*^^*^(%^#%#@ BOOK, ALREADY!!! Hey, how come no one is buying my book yet?”
Um, in a word…NO.
Like I said, I can sympathize. I know as writers, we’re often reduced to trotting out the push-carts and hand-labeled signs. But self-promotion needn’t give way to pimping, and on Facebook, no less. If I’m your Friend, I want to hear about you. Show me something that amused you. Tell me something interesting once in a while. Tell me there’s more to you than what you have to sell. Because otherwise, I’ll start to feel like you only want One Thing from me. And trust me–if I’m feeling that way, others are too.
A recent independent survey of Facebook users held by an advertising company showed that the number one reason people delete Friends, Fan Pages, Groups, or block news feeds was “too frequent updates”. As in sales pitches. People do not delete Friends for being witty, charming, and interesting. They delete them for acting like Amway sellers.
There’s another reason this constant pimping doesn’t work. It comes off as desperation. If you’ve got a great product, by all means, mention it. But then shut up about it, and go back to being the wonderful person your Friends know and love. Let word of mouth do its job. Five readers posting about how great Writing My Way Out of a Paper Bag is has got to be at least fifty times more effective than Sally Twopens telling us to buy her book the same number of times. After all, she’s Sally Twopens. What more does she have to prove?
Have you come across this common Facebook sin, Dear Readers? Does it drive you crazy? Share your story of social networking faux pas! And if you’ve discovered the perfect way to market your book without losing friends and family, by all means share.