Tacky Tricks Or Savvy Marketing?

As an author shy about book marketing, I’m interested in seeking your opinion regarding some of the tactics I’ve seen others employ.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not mocking these folks. They probably sell far more books than me. But as I struggle to get comfortable with the marketing side of publishing, I’m curious to know whether these outside-the-box maneuvers are more likely to annoy potential readers than reel them in.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Marketing Strategies I’ve Witnessed

1. The Speak-Up-In-A-Crowd Technique

During the question-and-answer session of a medical conference I attended, a woman stood, cleared her throat, and said, “I don’t mean to plug my book, but…”

She then proceeded to give a detailed description of her nonfiction book—which, to her credit, complimented the lecture topic—and offered to leave a stack of bookmarks for anyone interested.

Eyes rolled, heads shook, and snickers loomed around her. One man even mumbled, “So much for not plugging your book.” But she forged on nonetheless.

Clearly she sparked some interest, because after her brusque announcement and hijacking of the Q&A period, a few attendees approached her.

Who am I to question her tactics?

2. The Plaster-My-Book-Everywhere Technique

At a recent writers’ gathering I noticed all sorts of interesting advertising. Book covers splashed tote bags and purses. Laminated images morphed car doors. Title pages hugged luggage bags. T-shirts boasted giant-sized novels. You name it, they displayed it.

I could never imagine wearing my book cover, but is that my bad? Do people take notice, jot down the title, and later secure the novel on Amazon?

If so, then once again, the joke’s on me.

Purse marketing at Readers Fav 2

3. The Search-For-Potential-Readers Technique

One day, perusing my inbox, a strange email caught my eye:

“Dear Ms. Rubin. I notice from the reviews you’ve left on Amazon that you seem to enjoy thrillers. If that’s the case, you may be interested in (name of her book). I’d love for you to give my novel a try.”

Um, okay. So she’s combed through my entire list of reviews and tracked down my email address. That’s a bit creepy.

Or is it? Did she capture a few new readers with this maneuver? If so, once again, she’s selling; I’m not.

4. The Endless Pass-Out-Bookmarks Technique

Between medicine, public health, and writing, I attend many conferences. During some of these conferences, an author surfaces, and like clockwork, out pop fistfuls of bookmarks and business cards.

“Say, can I tell you about my book?”

Most people politely smile and take a proffered bookmark, but their tight lips suggest their feelings mirror mine: Annoyed with a capital A.

At one event, during the evening cocktail hour of which I had to attend to receive a certificate (otherwise, this introvert would be nowhere in sight), one author thrust his bookmarks at half a dozen bewildered bartenders.

“Here’s my new book. Read it, you’ll like it!” he said, grinning.

As they struggled to accept the cards while mixing drinks and uncapping beers, their own smiles suggested, “Whatever, dude, just leave me alone.”

I suspect dozens of bookmarks littered the hotel trash bins that night.

Or did they? Am I wrong yet again? If so, he’s selling books; I’m not.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

What Do You Think?

So I ask you, as readers or writers or both, are these methods clever? Annoying? Reasonable? If you think they’re clever and reasonable, maybe I need to slip into something more aggressive.

Heart palpitations and teeth-chattering aside…

*    *    *

Carrie Rubin is the author of The Seneca Scourge, a medical thriller.

334 Responses to “Tacky Tricks Or Savvy Marketing?”

  1. Helga Bolleter

    Bookmarks were great years ago, but a yawn by now. # 1 is almost always annoying annoying. The email stalking from an Amazon review shows some ingenuity, but feels creepy. Yet, yet, they are all fine line really. Can’t blame an author for trying after all their hard work, but trying too hard backfires and is uncouth. A lighter touch shows class and some kind of promise that the book has quality. But maybe that’s just my introverted personality.
    Love your blog!


    • Carrie Rubin

      It is a fine line, isn’t it? I suppose what helps one pull off something well is confidence. With it, a marketing approach may be indeed be savvy. Without it, the tackiness might surface.

      Thanks for stopping by. Much appreciated!


  2. davidprosser

    The only one I could manage there would be Number 2 as I did have a couple of shopping bags printed up for my wife and daughter and a teeshirt for myself. That meant people would have the choice of approaching us to ask about it rather than us getting in anyone’s face,
    The worst I’ve done was have some postcards printed up which I asked a couple of local cafes to put on their counter for interested people to pick up. One kind owner actually attached one to each menu as well. I want to sell my books but would hate to be seen as a nuisance to potential customers.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxxx


    • Carrie Rubin

      I love the idea of leaving postcards in local stores. I asked around if I could leave bookmarks (which took a great deal of courage!), but the local businesses around me don’t allow anyone to leave their product info. Guess there are too many authors in my neck of the woods.

      I’m thinking a tote bag might not be a bad idea. As you say, I wouldn’t be pushing it on anyone. They could check it out if they wanted to or not. Thanks for your thoughts!


  3. Curt Mekemson

    I think you should have the cover up front on the right hand corner of your blog, Carrie with a link to buy and a blurb about the book. Ask for reviews and post them. I certainly plan on doing that when my book is ready. It is part of who you are, just as your blog is part of who you are. –Curt


    • Carrie Rubin

      I do have that on my blog. It’s on my home page and my other pages. But unfortunately my side widgets don’t show up on my post pages. It’s the theme I use. Gives it a cleaner look. Maybe I should change themes, but I’m not that convinced people look at side widgets much. For now, I decided to add a blurb at the end of each post. Maybe I’ll have to switch themes. Thank you for your thoughts!


        • Carrie Rubin

          Oh, don’t feel you have to! You’re very kind. This post was meant merely to generate discussion on how far is too far in marketing. 🙂

          I’ve actually just been playing around with themes (when I should be working…), and I think I’ve found one I might switch to.


          • Curt Mekemson

            It will be fun to see your theme. And the proper response Carrie is “Great, and please share it with your friends!” (grin) –Curt


            • Curt Mekemson

              This is funny, Carrie. My wife, Peggy, and I were discussing your book and she decided to download it on her Kindle. Peggy specializes in award winning female mystery writers. She went to Amazon and was informed that she had already downloaded it, which led her to go scrambling through her Kindle. Sure enough, there it was. “This was good,” she remembered. Now it’s my turn. 🙂


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