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