Harmless self promotion?

Whilst filling the recycling bin tonight I noticed the tag line on our local newspaper. Proudly announcing that this was the areas ‘leading weekly newspaper’ I was forced to point out to the world (OK no-one was actually by the bins, but if they had been I am sure that they would have been delighted to hear my logical reasoning!) that this publication was the areas ONLY weekly newspaper.

This got me thinking about the messages sent out by indie writers concerning their work on a regular basis. I remember over the christmas period receiving tweets about a novella which was ‘critically acclaimed’ – the reality being that the work had received 9 reviews (at that time), many of which rated it 3 or 4 stars. Hardly acclaim – critical or otherwise.

Now I am sure that the author will claim that it was meant as a joke, just a bit of harmless self promotion, an attempt to tweet a little louder than the millions of others – but does the strategy of enlarging the truth have a negative impact on everyone else?

Perhaps this is the scientist in me coming out. I have spent years dealing in facts – some may find that boring, but I am sure you’d agree that in the case of scientific developments it is better to be overly cautious rather than over exaggerate. But of course – novellas are not scientific developments.

I guess my worry is that, as people try to shout/tweet/blog louder than all the others, the use of words/phrases which promise more than is on offer will become so common we actually end up downgrading their meaning.

Surely as writers we should be protecting these words/phrases – rather than abusing them to push for one more sale?

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2 Comments

Filed under Opinion

2 responses to “Harmless self promotion?

  1. Hi James…

    The scientist in me agrees completely!

    In my tweets I tend to quote what people have actually said so that it’s not my view that is being portrayed!

    The cynic is me is convinced the market is saturated with books and that any sale is short of spectacular! I do think with an agent and a good publisher behind my name my Trilogy would do better and I think I will try to get one for my next project! The problem is it is sooooo hard, and the power is now with the consumer (the reader). The economist in me will rant about supply and demand – if the price is too low, people will think your writing is no good, too high and they’ll buy someone’s else book. But, the truth is there is no shortage of supply… it’s a buyers market!

    I will buy books of authors I know well, not ones I am unsure of… why would any other reader be any different?

    I do like the idea of Blog Tours, Awards, Promotions, etc… this is a fun way to entice new readers. And the KDP scheme has its merits, even if it monopolises books for the prerequisite 3 months!

    My New Years Resolution is to write… I will schedule Tweets, enjoy chats on Twiter & Blogs, but try to focus on the writing! Without it, I would not be here at all…

    Hope my rambles make sense…
    Vanessa 🙂 xx

  2. I know that the thrust of your post is about misrepresentation, but I’d like to take a slightly different angle: Personally, I’d seriously question how effective promotional tweeting is in selling books. The principle that repetition of the same stuff (an old advertising technique) hits people’s subconscious and influences them when they’re in front of the shelves doesn’t apply when they are mostly buying online. If you’re well-known and several-times-published, with a load of followers, you don’t need to keep tweeting what they already know. So when someone with thousands of followers and following thousands follows me, my reaction is: ‘You’re not interested in interacting with me at all!’ I can pretty much guarantee that their tweets will be endlessly self-promotional and that, if I leave them for a while, they will go away. Indeed, the ‘automatic follow’ is pointless; meeting someone by chance doesn’t create a bond and certainly doesn’t guarantee a sale. Like Vanessa, I think it’s better to concentrate on the writing, the quality of which sells the books. Promotion is a complex business, done in a variety of ways, and tweeting is not, for me, a crucial one for selling, however honest its message is.

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