Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Promotional Etiquette

I feel it’s as good a time as any to post a guide for writer’s etiquette. Like most writers, I’m connected to several social networking sites and groups to ‘expose’ myself, meet new and interesting people, and promote my works. For a short time, I even did ‘Pay It Forward’, where I featured an Indie author on my blog, and in return, they were to either feature an Indie author on their blog or read and review an Indie author on one of the large outlets, such as Amazon or Goodreads.

I recently searched for a writer’s guide to marketing and promoting etiquette, but I haven’t found one. Since I was unable to find anything, and I’ve come across some annoying behavior, I thought I’d start A Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Promotional Etiquette. All authors, traditionally and self-published, need to learn some etiquette when it comes to getting the word out in a way that can be digested instead of making us swallow whole (No, this is not an erotic post).

You wrote a book and you want everyone to know about it. It’s your mission to get the word out and put your book in the forefront of the hundreds of books published every day because, quite frankly, you’ve written the best book of the millennium, right? You join all the social network sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads; join groups that are connected with these sites; and ask for reviews and author features on people’s blogs. Great! You’re headed in the right direction. These are all great ideas for online promotion, but with these promotions come some etiquette. The way you conduct yourself while promoting your book, can either make or break your sales.

1)  If you have a Facebook page, and you plan to ‘like’ everyone else’s page, you should ‘like’ their page and leave a nice message with a link to your page. We’re all busy, and it takes time to find someone’s Facebook page. Providing a direct link to your page with a simple, “Hello, I came across your page on Goodreads and thought I’d stop by to say hello” is a great start to a possible long friendship.

2)  If you only have a Facebook account to promote your works, then you’ll have problems receiving acceptances to your friend requests. Most people like their private life to remain private, and they don’t want a nameless, faceless person snooping around their Facebook digs. It’s important that you create a Facebook page for promotional purposes.

3) If you’re following people on Facebook, you should periodically respond to their posts, such as congratulating them on their successes or sharing their new publication. When people see your name pop up enough, and you’re spreading the word about their accomplishments, they’ll definitely remember you. Simply following someone isn’t scoring you points.

4)  If you’re on LinkedIn, and signed up to several writing groups to promote your work, promote your successes the right way. Don’t send out a mass email to everyone you’re following, letting them know you just published your book, and everyone who read it gave it a 5-star rating. Bull crap! We’ve all published or are in the process of publishing, and we know that you got the 5-star ratings from family and friends. Unsolicited emails are an intrusion, and quite frankly, when I receive them, I mark them as ‘pain-in-the-ass-newbie-author’ and most likely wouldn’t buy your book.

5)  If you’re on LinkedIn, get involved in group discussions. People are more apt to buying your book after having some conversations and learning about you than they are coming across your promotional link.

6)  If you have an author page on Goodreads, and you belong to groups, get involved by entering into discussions. Post your promotions in the appropriate places. Goodreads is an opportune place to connect with readers and writers. Don’t burn bridges ... or books.

7)  If you’re doing an author feature on a blog, it’s YOUR JOB to provide all the necessary information and to make sure it’s edited. When you do an interview, and there are several misspelled words, run-on sentences, fragments, anyone reading it will assume your book is a grammatical mess. How you write is a reflection of you and your books. We all have mistakes in our works, but keep it to a bare minimum. Also, provide all the information needed to promote you and your book, and that includes links to your website, blog, where they can buy the book, etc.

8)  If you’re doing an author feature on a blog, it’s YOUR JOB to promote that blog post. Don’t expect the author feature to post on the blog, and you’re going to get an influx of people swooning to know you and to buy your book. It doesn’t work that way. Promote the blog post on all your social network sites AND keep returning to the post to respond to comments. When an author can’t even take the time to thank the blogger for the post or respond to comments, then readers probably can’t find the time to buy the book.

9)  If you request a book review, and someone reads and reviews your book, thank them. I don’t care if they gave you a 1-star or 5-star rating. Send them an email, thanking them for their time and review. We all hate those low ratings and reviews, but when you ask for a review, you should expect nothing but an honest one.

The more people get to know you, the more they’re willing to buy your book. The more annoying you are, the more likely you’ll lose some readers.

Promoting is a lot of work, and we can’t put all of our time into it. I’ve been guilty of poor etiquette myself, but I plan to change it. It really helps to have family and friends spread the word. If you can concentrate on one social network at a time, move to the next, and then the next until you’re back at the first one, people will at least get a glimpse of you, and then you continue the circle. Remember, you’re trying to build an audience, like other writers, so reaching out and connecting with people is one of the best ways to do it.

Do you have any tips for marketing and promotional etiquette?

Writers and Etiquette,


  1. I am one of those weird people that I don't talk on most networks very much. I prefer to spend time talking to people where they have invited the conversation (their blogs). Well that and facebook. I am usually more inclined to send notes back and forth (like we are sitting in freshmen chemistry together).

    So many times I drop a link as an invitation to come talk to me. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. My etiquette is probably horrible.

    1. I was like you Jon, regarding talking on social networks. I did NOT want to open a Facebook account, but every talked about how a Facebook Page would help get the word out. Now I have to say, I do enjoy communicating with people on Facebook. Probably because I live in another country and it's my way of keeping in touch with family, friends and other writers.

      I've received links to people's blogs, and like you said, sometimes I visit their blog and sometimes I don't.

  2. So my only tip is this: keep your personal and your professional accounts separate.

    I have an author friend who uses her Facebook for both personal and professional reasons. She is SO politically charged, to the point that she'll make posts like, "If you voted for (certain candidate), then you have to be f---ing braindead," or "guns should be outlawed and anyone who thinks having a gun is okay is a f---ing moron!" etc... on the same Facebook page she uses to promote a book!

    She loses so many fans that way. I just think, yes, I have my certain political hot buttons too, but you'll never see it advertised on A Beer for the Shower because that kind of crap will lose you readers, guaranteed. Keep it private. I read Terry Pratchett because I find him amusing, not because I want to know his innermost thoughts on gun control.

    1. I completely agree. If you want to rant to family and friends about your religious or political views, or any other touchy subject for that matter, you should do it in private. Using your writer's Facebook Page to voice your opinion isn't helping you build an audience.

  3. I'm still learning so much about what to do and not to do when it comes to marketing and promotion. This is a great idea for a series of posts. Who knows? You could probably even turn it into an eBook! I know I automate too much of my FB and Twitter posts, so I'm seeking to find a better balance. The key to social sites is how they are SOCIAL so I am also aiming to make my blog more interactive over the next few months by putting more of a focus on readers. You can never underestimate when good connections will me made. I just happened to stumble across the post about Net Switch reviews on LinkedIn, and now we comment on each other blog's and social networks all the time.

    1. I am too, Jeri. I'm in no way an expert about social networking, but I had run into so many disengaged, rude authors who just didn't 'get it' that I had to write this post. And you're right, I might turn it into a series of posts.

      I recently read a post from another blogger that stated your author website is for readers and your blog is for writers. I don't know how much of it is true, but I like diversity. When I started my blog, I didn't want it only to be about one subject--writing. I wanted all kinds of people to take part in it. To me, blogging about your life, writing, publishing, etc. lets people see who you are as a person.

      I'm so glad you stumbled across the link on LinkedIn because it's been a pleasure getting to know you.

    2. I've always enjoyed your variety, Denise. I am so over and done with rules and must-do's—like the website is for readers, blog is for writers, blahblahblah... These types of statements almost paralyzed me and turned me off from blogging altogether.

      When it comes to self-publishing, it is all SO new. It's not even possible that anyone can claim it must be done in a certain way, and that way only. It's a learning process. Take what you need and leave the rest. :)

      In the meantime, yes, manners and etiquette are what will make you stand out from the rest. Thanks for all the tips!

    3. Thanks Barb. I walked away from the so-called writing 'rules' way back when--too constricting.

      I'm still trying to figure things out when it comes to self-publishing, especially the promotional aspect of it all. The reason I wrote this post is because we don't know it all about writing or self-publishing, but we should have basic manners when it comes to marketing and promoting.

  4. If you are recommending that people avoid grammatical errors and run-on sentences, shouldn't you at least get the grammar right in that sentence?

    1. If you feel the grammar is wrong in that sentence, then you should have pointed it out. But since most people have the decency to identify themselves when posting and pointing out a writer's error, I'll just assume this comment is spam. I don't like censorship, so I had the decency to post your comment ... and I'm assuming you might be one guilty of many of the above.