The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Self-Promotion: Pitfalls, Triumphs, and How To Avoid The Promo Police

Every author knows that self-promotion is a vital part of the writing process. We can hide in front of our computer for months writing that masterpiece, but once the damned thing is done, we must crawl from our cave into the light of day and...gulp...promote it! For those of us not comfortable tooting our own horn, this is a daunting and potentially painful process. Since immersing myself in the world of romantic fiction promotions (the other Quirks call me the Promo Queen), I have discovered the good, the bad, and the pile of rotting carcasses piling up at the Amazon reader boards. Here's a bit of wisdom I have learned (special thanks to author Emily Bryan, whose blog today inspired this one). 

#1) Don't waste time promoting to the disinterested....for example, if your husband's friends are over for poker night, waxing on and on about your new erotic menage story with lots of steamy M/M sex might not be such a hot idea. On the other hand, if you join an erotic romance yahoo group, they might be a bit more receptive to your subject matter.

#2) This one is directly inspired by a "blog pirate" at Emily Bryan's site this week. If you visit a blog where an author is promoting her book about Christmas cookies, don't leave a comment (and convenient link to your website) with a blurb about your rocking new book on the history of Bosnia. Rude. Nuff said.

#3) Find supportive, enthusiastic, excited communities who share your joy of romance! There are on-line groups, book clubs, check-out girls at the grocery store. Anyone who appreciates the romance genre is your target audience. I just had a great chat with a bunch of moms at my son's school yesterday who did not know I am a writer. They were so supportive and excited to hear about my new book. Spread the word!

#4) Talk to other writers. Do book trailers work? How about bookmarks and pens? Where does the traffic come from for their sites? Pick the brains of experienced and well-sold authors. They are your best resource.

#5) Make a cool website and blog. Get a facebook account. Give interviews. Write reviews. Talk at your local library, kid's school, or writer's conference. (I actually talked to a bunch of kindergartners about writing, and it was a blast).

#6) Enjoy your promo triumphs...I wrote a comment about Dalton's new book on an erotic romance board, and someone followed the link, checked out the book, bought the book, read the book, and emailed Dalton to tell her she's a new fan and can't wait for her next story. This, my friends, is promotion at its best. 

#7) Some sites are warm and fuzzy to readers, reviewers and authors alike. (The AAR boards, for example.) I can leave a comment with my blog url and people actually thank me for the link. Other sites will skewer you like a small rodent and leave your rotting carcass on the road to be picked at by a bunch of vultures. (Can you tell I'm a writer?) The Amazon boards are notorious for their Promo Police. God help the poor schlub who attempts to promote his first novel on the Amazon romance boards. The readers actually make a pact (a freaking pact!) not to purchase said book until "hell freezes over"- and I am quoting from one of the hostile readers. Why the incredible hostility toward new writers attempting self promotion? Not entirely sure, but it's a tough crowd at the Amazon romance boards, so watch your back. 

This, my friends, is promotion at its worst. People might ridicule you, your book, and the horse you rode in on. There are some communities where any sort of promotion is frowned upon, and avoiding those places might be advisable. 

My final suggestion is stay positive and continue searching for supportive communities. I am a firm believer in what comes around, goes around. If you help spread the word about romance in general, other authors you have read and enjoyed, and show support and encouragement to your colleagues, they will in turn support you and help promote your delightful book when it's your turn to toot. When all is said and done, that's one of the things I love most about this profession. 

Promotion Penny (hey, alliteration!)


Michelle Polaris said...

As always, you as our promo Queen have much wisdom to share. Just reading this blog makes me excited about promo, something I've yet to ever feel about this daunting venture.

Isabel Roman said...

It seems I have much to learn, Master. I agree that many sites/people live to skewer only because they can.

Thanks for the great information!

EmilyBryan said...

I know how the puppy who piddled on the floor feels. Many authors make promo mistakes because we know no better. Just because we're published, it doesn't follow that we have any clue how to get our message out there.

Thanks for sharing some timely, sensible tips. Wanna come on my blog and share them again?

EmilyBryan said...

Penny! Congrats on your first sale!!!!! I'm so happy for you!

Penny Watson said...

Michelle- can't wait until I get to promo your first publication!
Isabel - glad you like the post...I am totally feeling the whole "Master" thing, too!
Emily - thanks for the congrats...I am very excited! I would love to come on your blog - anytime! Thanks for the invite.

Dalton Diaz said...

Well said, Penny. This is great advice. I bow to the promo queen.
There are sites, such as LoveRomanceCafe that do it well by explaining the promo rules to everyone in advance. Makes it easier for authors, readers, publishers, and promo groups, tho policing it must be a bear.

Penny Watson said...

Dalton- that is a very good point! If the boards you are posting on say NO PROMO EVER, don't do it. If they tell you that certain days of the week are OK for author promo plugs, then follow directions. Some want you to put PROMO in the header. Following the rules is polite and fosters good will toward authors!

Ashlyn Chase said...

Great blog!

Thanks for the warning re: Amazon. I just made myself an author page over there, but I haven't plugged any of my books. Now I won't.

I've had a few stilettos to the teeth because of self-promotion. Now I've decided that my philosophy is to do whatever promo I think is fun. If it's not fun for me, and I get steeped in hot water for it, I'll resent the effort required.


Penny Watson said...

Hi Ash! When you want a plug on the Amazon boards, get a friend to do it, in a "casual" manner....much more effective, and we won't have to pull your carcass off the pavement!

EmilyBryan said...

Ooooo! I think you've hit upon a plan there, Penny. A cooperative circle of mutually plugging friends is bound to be better received than self-aggrandizement. I routinely promo my fellow Leisure Ladies and they've been known to say nice things about my work as well.

Aubrey Watt said...

Thanks for the step by step outline for promos. I've just started publishing short erotica and I'm really excited to get better at every aspect of it! Thanks again for your help :)