Go Home, Self-Promo, You’re Drunk

We’ve all seen that meme of something obviously wrong, and the caption, “Go home, BLANK, you’re drunk,” right? (If not, scroll to the end and witness some lovely examples.)

Well, I’ve got some bad news. Your self-promotional strategy may be drunk too. Pull up a chair, pour a drink of your choice, and listen a metaphor story. Or, scroll past to get to the handy tip sheet on Twitter self-promo without a storytime.

***

Jill is throwing a party. She’s invited friends, including Author Friend Amy, and Bookstore Owner Brandon. Amy has recently released a book. The party starts. As the guests arrive, Amy greets each one with a handshake, and the exact. same. message. “Hiya! Thanks for coming. Buy my book!”

No one listens to Amy. After all, they’ve just met her.

The party kicks off. Someone asks, “Hey, does anyone know anything about ballet? My daughter was–”
“THERE’S BALLET IN MY BOOK!” Amy shouts, sprinting across the room. She’s got the sharp hearing only a desperate, post-launch author could have. “ON PAGE 17! BUY IT!”

No one listens to Amy. The conversation was about ballet shoes. Not books.

Jill, trying one last time to help her author friend out, sets the table so that Amy sits next to Brandon. He’s enjoying his pasta, and hoping his sales clerk isn’t putting copies of Fifty Shades of Grey in the Children’s Coloring Book section again. In other words, Brandon has had a rough day.

“Hey Brandon!” Amy shouts. “HERE! Have ten copies of my book! Autographed! You can give them to anyone!” Amy drops the books onto Brandon’s plate, splattering pasta everywhere. Even if he had liked Amy’s book, he will now always remember it as the book that ruined the one peaceful meal he’s had this week. He had been planning to reach out to Amy, but not until after his dinner.

Brandon the bookseller does not listen to Amy.

The party melts into drinking and dancing. A lovely time is had by all. Except Amy. She’s shouting at no one, standing in the corner. “BUY MY BOOK!” “LIKE ROMANCE? SO DO I! BUY MY BOOK!” “AMAZON loves my book! Here’s a link!”

No one listens to Amy. She is babbling to thin air, about a book no one’s even had a chance to ask her about.

***

This situation may sound extreme, but it’s a mirror of a tactic many author use on Twitter. The insta-DMs as soon as someone follows them, the inserting a mention of their book into every conversation mildly related to them, and the never-ending promotional tweets. This won’t sell any more books than Amy’s attempt will. No one likes to be constantly pitched at, shouted at, or bulldozed over.

Plus, even when I do read a tweet of a book that sounds cool, I view the author’s Twitter page to learn more about her. If her whole page is all promo tweets, I’m less likely to connect to her, and far less likely to buy the book. Selling is about a personal connection. Volume of exposure can’t beat quality of engagement.

Here’s a handy guide to sober up your self-promo

  • NEVER auto direct message new followers.
  • Have at least five normal tweets or replies before sending out another promotional tweet.
  • Don’t jump in unrelated conversations or hashtags to pitch your book.
  • If someone reviews your book and you want to signal boost it, do so once, then keep it on a list of reviews links on your blog.

Promoting yourself on Twitter is a dance, not a boxing match.

If you ever feel like no one listening to your promotion, don’t be like Amy at the party and shout louder. Instead, work on making real, honest connections with other writers, booksellers and readers. Just think of how much more effective that party would have been if she waited until Brandon the Bookseller asked her how she was doing. Then, she could have said, “I’m doing great. I just released a book.” And Brandon, having consumed a yummy dinner, and not having heard thirty shouts about her book already, could say, “Excellent. Would you like to host a workshop and book signing at my store?”

Bam. Success. Well done, sober Amy.

And now, for those drunk memes as promised. (That’s the only reason you kept reading, right?)

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