Monday, July 15, 2013

Promo Machines, Pseudonyms and GlobalWaves, Oh My!

My seemingly non-sequitur topics this week have a common thread. They're about a few of the many faces of book promotion--and how it can be a very double-edged lightsaber.

Promo Machines 
(Boring Bots and other promo-goblins)

I have a peer (just for the record, not a Brigader or SFR author) who's had a rather meteoric rise on the publishing front. This author has also been so obnoxious with her promo that I now ignore all her posts and tweets and don't pay any attention to her new releases. This is someone I know and respect who has made such an ass of herself online that she's completely soured me on her work.

Not that her work isn't brilliant.

Not that her books aren't worthy, engaging reads.

But because her constant, hammering ad nauseum messages for the past two years have been "Buy my book! Look at my great review! Look what my book has done now!" These posts have been plastered absolutely everywhere. On private loops, in closed Facebook groups, in a constant stream of Tweets, absolutely everywhere...until I just want to scream: "OMG, make it stop. Make it stop!" (Who am I kidding. I have screamed it. But on the internet, no one can hear you scream.)

And the lesson for me has been How NOT to Promote My Book (as taught by someone who knows better but does it anyway) when I become a published author.

And the scary thing? She's not alone. I can probably name a half dozen Promo Machines right off the top of my head. Many of the Facebook groups and Yahoo loops I'm a member of are inundated by these BUY MY BOOK! posts, to the point there's little of value left in the feed.

So here's the question: If you're turning off your fellow peers who respect and look up to you, not to mention a potential audience who is studying everything you say and how you say it to see if your writing appeals to them, do you think maybe you're not doing it right?

I think Captain Picard knew the secret. Engage!

Engaging your audience makes the difference between the endless dull drone of a Promo Machine and someone who is truly invested in what their readership is interested in. It's been a valuable lesson that makes me stop and think every time I post anything anywhere: Am I falling into the trap of a Dreaded Promo Machine?

Now, let me contrast this with Jeffe Kennedy, who always gives the reader something of value on her blog and has appealing things to say in her Tweets, Facebook and Yahoo loop posts while introducing readers to her work. And to Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express who themes on the literary universe of Science Fiction Romance, having scored an avid following. Check out their blogs and scroll through the recent posts. These are shining examples of what effective promotion is all about. It's promotion where something is given back, and the audience learns things while getting a taste of the author's voice. This, IMHO, is how it's done.

So please, think before you post another in a long list of BUY MY BOOK! promos.

And remember, Friends Don't Let Friends Become Promo Machines.

A Pseudonym Goes Supernova

Trending on Twitter: Oh my, my. Is the timing perfect for this big reveal or what?

It seems the ex-military male author Robert Galbraith, writer of the critically acclaimed detective novel "The Cuckoo's Calling" is...are you ready for this?...none other than JK Rowling.

What a development on the Misogyny in the Publishing World front. Those reviewers who ONLY review male authors are so very red-faced and sputtering: "But, but...she used a pseudonym and pretended to be a male!" Deal with it guys. It's been done for decades. The real issue is that a female writer dazzled you.

Here's one article that was trending on Sunday. (Check the current trend feed on Twitter. It's probably had many updates since this writing).

And here's an article from USA Today.

One quote by a reviewer is getting a lot of attention via this Tweet, which is a snapshot of his utterly anti-female author commentary.

A summary of the outcry? She used a fake name! (Yeah...and your point is...?) And "Well, it's not selling well!" (It's currently a top seller on Amazon, and yeah, don't think there's much chance it won't go anywhere but up from here.)

This is the novel in question: The Cuckoos Calling (on Amazon).

By the way, this book has been out since April and this 'controversy' has just surfaced. Along with this media explosion, there's also rumblings there are two more Harry Potter books in the works. If this was some sort of major publicity stunt, JK Rowling should be declared a genius. And even if it's a happy accident, these misogynists are playing right into her hands in terms of promoting her book. There's nothing like a little bad-mouthing (by those who are eating their own review words) to shoot a book into the stratosphere. Godspeed, JK.

(Promotion as a Fun Event)

How do you get the word out about a free anthology of eight engaging Science Fiction Romance stories written by eight brilliant writers who run the gamut from debut author to best-selling, RWA RITA winner?

How about organizing a #GlobalWave?

What is it?
It's like a stadium wave, except it's an assortment of Tweets from dozens of participants around the globe (in place of raised hands)--culminating in a joint shout out for the anthology that begins in Australia/New Zealand and ripples across each time zone to reach the entire planet over the course of 24 hours. The #GlobalWave was organized by members of the SFR Brigade.

The focus? 
Introducing The Tales from the SFR Brigade free anthology to Twitterers who may be interested in reading it.

The target zone? 
The tweets are linked to Anthology Central, aka The Tales from the SFR Brigade Anthology web site with links to sales venues, reviews, author bios, Goodreads listopias and other fun stuff. It's an "Everything You Want to Know About the Anthology" clearing house, and the side benefit is we can measure activity from the #GlobalWave event in terms of hits.

The purpose? 
Actively engaging potential readers by sweeping them up (assimilating them heh heh) via the Global Wave.

The outcome? 
So far, a big spike in visitors to the Anthology web site (which is hopefully prompting interested parties to download the anthology and be introduced to the big, brave universe of Science Fiction Romance).

The payback? forthcoming. We'll know more when we get a count of the number of additional downloads since the #GlobalWave began at 5PM on 7/14/13, eastern Australia time.

Ping Pong

@PippaJay  A big thank-you for your very active participation in the #GlobalWave event. (Also, Pippa Jay and Laurel Kriegler went above and beyond by carrying the wave across the dark ocean of time zones between Australia and the UK by ensuring round-the-clock Tweet coverage of the event.) We couldn't have done it without ya! Thanks also for your contributions to our new Research Lounge, which has enjoyed many visitors since being "opened" last week.

@Donna  Great points on WHOSE CHARACTER IS IT, ANYWAY? As authors, we write our stories for the world of readers, and not all may view our characters' physical attributes as they manifested in our own minds. To be an author is to share your universe. Oh a different topic, I'm sulking a bit as you head off to RWA Nationals in Atlanta this week. I will so miss the experience but I know you'll have a fantastic time and hope to see photos and hear all about it very soon.

@Sharon  Congrats to you on a series of successes in the past week, both professional and personal. You're definitely on a roll! I'm sure you'll be on pins and needles awaiting the big announcement next weekend. You know we're all rooting for you!



  1. Your annoying author friend comments made me think immediately of Amanda's current blog series on Overly Aggressive Marketing Syndrome. Every writer, published and unpublished, needs to read those posts!

    One of my CP's was headed down that path on Twitter. Me and our other CP staged a mini-intervention which actually worked, and now she's making progress with her Twitter marketing. She's a real person online, not a robot.

  2. Thanks, Rachel. I'll definitely have to check out Amanda's series. Effective promo training is a great thing for any writer to add to their transcript.

  3. Rachel, that is indeed a great series on Overly Aggressive Marketing Syndrome.

    I'll post the link here for the tag, but anyone visiting the MacGregor Lit blog will need to scroll down to get to Amanda's series (or read the first one too, which is an excellent piece by Holly Lorincz on preparing to make pitches).

    (I need to learn how to make links in a comment into a hyperlink. Can anyone tell me?)

  4. No, sorry, I don't know. I can't see how to do it either.
    A very good post. The promo thing drives me crazy. I'm just fed up of my Twitter feeds just being links. It seems to defeat the point to me. The odd link - fine but not every post you make. But I'm just jaded in my old age. maybe those who scream and shout loud and long enough are the ones who make it into the lifeboat.

  5. Thanks so much for the shout out and for your kind words!

    I must say, I'd be blogging about SFR even if I weren't writing it. I had needed an outlet for this interest for years, but it wasn't until blogging became a streamlined process that I was able to launch TGE.

    While I occasionally include info about my own books on TGE, the blog's focus will always be about the genre as a whole.

    Your point about engaging readers is spot on. Readers don't want to be bombarded with the hard sell, especially when reading for pleasure. And they have many other reading choices, so authors who use aggressive marketing tactics risk having the strategy backfire.

    This is an area where boundaries are so important.

  6. I just hope I'm not falling into the Overly Aggressive Marketing Syndrome. I must admit I promo a bit more on Twitter now than I used to, but having more titles out I can at least vary them so it's not repetitive.
    On the JK Rowling thing, I think the anger I've seen (aside from author envy and cynicism) is mostly that people believe it was all a marketing stunt. Yes, it worked (another reason perhaps people are annoyed because they didn't think of it) but I found it interesting to see the selling figures for the book ie before the reveal it wasn't selling hugely, and now of course it is. I can understand the resentment, especially as some readers may feel they've been misled, or in some way tricked. I am pleased, however, that JK proved being female doesn't mean you can't write something in a supposedly male-dominated genre, since this has been at the heart of the recent sexism in SF furore. I can also understand how she may have felt being the Harry Potter author had typecast her in much the same way as some actors are trapped into playing only certain types of characters. It must have felt quite liberating to write as someone else.
    And re the Global Wave - my pleasure! What a fun event! Maybe we should do that for other SFR events - maybe the next set of SFR Galaxy Awards?


Comments set on moderation - all spammers will be exterminated!

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.