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Book Promotion: To spam, or not to spam

no spam!

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Yesterday I posted a too-long comment in reply to a post at The Taleist. (I recommend The Taleist heartily. Love his blog and bought his Kindle formatting kit, too.) However, I felt some despair at a guest post that seemed to imply it was awfully easy to offend people. The guest blogger, Norman W Wilson, is a Professor Emeritus, so what do I know? Still, my heart cried out, “What would you have us do?” Zip over here for the original post and below is my reply from the comment thread, reposted for your consideration. (Yes, I might very well be in the minority on this one.)

Often these strategies are not effective with many people. But they are effective with some people. I often get phone calls and email solicitations etc.,… and I, too, wonder, who would be interested in that, or who would fall for that? But spam must work in some small percentage of cases or the strategy would have been abandoned long ago.

My concern is that all that hectoring gives rise to cynicism. So an author asked you to buy his or her book in a place that offends you. I get that it offends you, but “inexcusable”? That’s an overcorrection. We excuse many offences that are far less egregious. Similarly, anyone with a new book is excited about bringing their baby out into the world. It’s the most natural thing in the world to make your cover into your avatar. What’s the real harm in that (except for a sensitive minority)? I skim right past that if I’m not interested. Are you offended for yourself or is this a perception that we just can’t take any more advertising? Some people really do like the taste of spam.

I’m not advocating tantrums and sedition in your forums. I’m saying let’s keep perspective and have some compassion for our fellow artists. When I get spam, I don’t get offended. I just ignore it as most people do. My book isn’t pollution in your space. It’s an option and an invitation you are welcome to ignore. (Who knows? You might love it.) I agree that aggression isn’t the answer for book promotion, but neither is obsequious timidity. No one ever succeeded hiding their artistic  lights under bushels of shame.

I especially worry that new authors who could have been helped are getting scolded instead. One example cited: Typical lines go something like this: “I just finished signing a contract for my new novel No Name with XYZ Publishing and would like to know how to set up a book signing.” That could easily be a genuine request for input from an excited, nervous newbie who looked to her more experienced peers for assistance.

I have no doubt your heart is pure, sir. However, too wide a net and too dim a view can catch  up innocent authors and batch them with the rabid spammers. It is not spam that has turned me off several Linked In groups (where I lurked but never posted, by the way.) I clicked “leave group” because of what I perceived as chronic incivility from veterans in the field who posted with their own sense of entitlement. Not all posters were impolite, of course, but enough were so cranky and cynical that I turned to bloggers because they have a vested interest in being sweeter to the less informed. I believe that’s how the less informed become better informed.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, Publicity & Promotion, Rant, , , ,

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