I joined Goodreads a few months ago. For those who don’t know what it is, Goodreads is an online community of readers. You can rate the books you read and catalogue them in shelves. I like it because it means I can remember what I’ve read, and keep track of books I want to read. But a funny thing happened whilst I was on there. You might know about this feature on Goodreads already, the ‘recommend’ feature. You can recommend other books to people who are on Goodreads, ones you think they might like. I’ve done it once or twice with books I enjoyed, such as Cieran Collins’ magnificent The Gamal, which I think everyone should read. It’s a great little feature. Until that is, I started getting ‘recommendations’ from authors promoting their own books. The authors in question, and I’m not going to name them, clearly hadn’t seen what I had read, but just assumed I’d be interested in reading their work. I wasn’t, and their name now resounds in my head as someone I will never read.
It made me think more about how writers self promote on the internet and good, and bad around it all. Because, let’s face it, it follows that if you are a writer, you want people to read your work. That is why you are on Twitter, that is why you send your work out to magazines, anthologies and publishers. So you want a big audience to see what you’ve written. That’s fine. It makes sense.
But it also follows that there is, perhaps a finely tuned way of going about it, so I’ve come up with a list of Do’s and Don’t’s around How to Promote Your Work.
DO remember that Twitter is not a hole, it is a community. I once stood in an old cathedral and shouted my own name at all the gargoyles. My name echoed back a thousand times and it was clear that the gargoyles couldn’t give a shit one way or the other. Twitter is full of people shouting their own name who don’t understand that all the other people on there are not gargoyles, they are real people. Remember that, and interact with people.
DON’T send direct messages to anyone you don’t know with a link to your book It is the author equivalent of having inherited a fortune worth over £100 million and if I could just get your bank account details then you can probably have some too or get a bigger penis or something to do with women waiting for your call. It’s called SPAM. You have spammed people.
DO promote other people too. It’s the way of the world, you scratch my back, I scratch yours and maybe bring a knife to a gun fight or something else cliched. You promote someone else’s work, and you know what, chances are they’ll say nice stuff about yours. You acknowledge that other writers exist and are as good as you believe you are, and lo and behold, they’ll do the same and what’s this? You’ve networked. Well done. People have been networking since cocaine, it’s proper old school.
DON’T review your own book No matter how deserved of 5 Stars you think it is. Martin Amis talks about how good his books are all the time, and he’s the literary equivalent of a dead shoe.
DO thank people who say nice things It’s good when people do you a favour, and yes, a review is a favour, not a requirement. So thank them. They might just do it again.
DON’T insult your detractors Not everyone will like what you’ve done. Don’t take it personally, or do, or whatever. Just don’t take it out on the reviewer. It leads to this.
DO know your audience Will I be interested in your romance novel? No. Will Romance Authors? Yes. Sorted.
DON’T talk about your Amazon rankings Amazon are the present day pop charts. They matter for a minute. You don’t need to worry about it. Saying that your book was an Amazon No 1 bestseller for seventeen weeks puts you on about the same level as Bryan Adams, and no-one wants that, do they?
DO be a bit like Chuck Wendig He knows what he’s doing. Here is his Twitter. He has good writing advice, and despite promoting his books, he also does a solid for many other authors. He’s a good egg.
DO remember that it’s all kind of pointless in the end anyway. At least according to this piece.