How to Annoy Readers (Or How Not to Promote Your Book)

My guest today is Olivia Cunning, author of Backstage Pass. Combining her love for romantic fiction and rock ‘n roll, Olivia Cunning writes erotic romance centered around rock musicians. Olivia’s second novel, Rock Hard will be released in April, 2011. Olivia writes:

Since I’ve become a published author, I’ve been doing a lot of observation.  My study is in how to sell books and gain attention without annoying readers.  It’s a very fine line to tread.  I’ve gained little insight on how to get attention without being a book whore (as I like to call it), but I have definitely determined things that annoy readers.  Things that should be avoided at all costs.

So here is a brief primer on how to annoy readers and get yourself blacklisted as an author to avoid.

1. Go on the Amazon forums under a fake name (or make a friend do it) pretending to be a fan and post a topic about your book. Make sure you rave about this new book you love. Say it’s the best thing since sliced bread and insist that everyone should read it because it’s literary genius (or entertaining, or whatever your particular slant happens to be).  You can be clever and list some other people’s books while you’re at it, so it’s less obvious what you are doing.  They will still figure it out.  It’s like a school of piranhas over there.

Why this is a no-no…  Those who frequent Amazon forums are actually a rather small community of readers.  If you show up and post one post about a book, you will stick out as a newb with an agenda. They will hunt you down and out you for the book whore you are and proceed to rip you to shreds.

2. Go on the Amazon forums under your real name and post links to your book on every comment thread.  Even if you have something of use to say on the topic, as soon as you put a link to your book, you are considered a spammer and much grousing will ensue.  People will mark your comment as unhelpful and follow you around to harass you on other topic threads because they obviously have nothing better to do.

3. See number 2, except link your book in all the Amazon book reviews you’ve done.

For the record I have not done any of these things.  Was I tempted?  Hell yeah, but before I jumped in with both feet in the allure that is the Amazon forums, I observed what happened to other authors who tried any of these approaches and it always backfired.

4. Friend every person and all their relatives/kids/pets/coworkers on Facebook/MySpace/Social Network Of Choice and talk nonstop about your book.  Make sure to respond to everyone else’s status with a little tidbit about your book.  Tom writes “I’m sick of shoveling snow.” Author responds, “In my book, Dancing with Snowflakes (ISBN ########) the lead character also hates shoveling snow.”

5. Suggest to everyone on your friends list that they should “like” your author page.  I did this once.  *hangs head*  Forgive me. I was young and foolish. (It was several months ago.) I won’t do it again, I promise.  If you like me, you will find me.  I now have a little “like” button on my website.  Fans find me that way, not by me suggesting a “like”.

6. Post your blog tour links on the Wombat thread every day for a month.  GUILTY!  Sorry guys.  I know it gets annoying.

7. On Goodreads, friend random people and then post spam about your book on their status page, their blog feed, their reviews, and by all means send them an obvious form letter with links to every book you’ve ever written (got one of those today, tyvm). A hint on when to reject a friend on Goodreads (because they will spam you).  If they have 2000+ friends and 5 books (all their own) and 5 reviews (all giving themselves 5 stars) you should deny that “friend”.

8. On Gather, only write articles about your book and put links to your book (and or FCR entry) on every comment.  Dang it all, I did that too.  Sheesh!  Bad form, author.  Bad form.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things and I’ve no doubt you’ve been annoyed as a reader at some point in your life.  What are some things that authors have done to try to get you to buy their book that have annoyed you?

*prepares to take notes*

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5 Responses to “How to Annoy Readers (Or How Not to Promote Your Book)”

  1. Lisette Brodey Says:

    Great blog. So many important lessons in here. It’s really interesting how differently people do things. If you’re on Twitter, for example, it’s really important to get to know people, to offer great content, be yourself, help promote other writers, and if you do that about 80% of the time, it’s okay to shout out about yourself 20% of the time when you have something to say.

    I recently followed someone back on Twitter who immediately sent me a DM (Direct Message) telling me to go buy her two novels and enjoy! Yeah, right. Sure. I don’t respond well to anyone selling me a product when I first meet them. Often, depending on the message, I will immediately unfollow the person. I know many fellow authors who do the same. I don’t know anyone who likes spam.

    Today, I *almost* followed someone back until I saw that EVERY tweet on his page was a book plug. Everyone. If you’re going to use Twitter; understand it. It’s a community. A place to share.

    On Facebook, I have an author page, but even there, I don’t make it 100% about my novels. And I never send emails to those who are kind enough to support me there. I have “liked” some pages and have been very upset when I’ve received a plethora of emails.

    I know that I respond best to authors who genuinely care about other people. There are so many books out there to read. When I read books by independent authors, it’s usually because that person stands out in a very positive light and makes me want to read his/her work.

    Such an important topic; so glad you addressed this topic.

  2. Jen Knox Says:

    I agree on all fronts.
    That said, please buy my book at…

    Kidding! People can be quite annoying (and the thing is, when people promote like this, consumers notice).

    Great post!!

  3. Jen Knox Says:

    And funny enough, as soon as I read this post, I went to Facebook and someone had posted his book on my page. Ha!

  4. Jackie Paulson Author Says:

    I learned so much here on spam! I wish you would of tested out your theory! People post to me about their books on good reads, I don’t mind. I have friends on facebook and they do it there too. I have found some great books to buy as well.


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