Dorothy: “What are you gonna do?”
Wicked Witch of the West: “What do you think I’m going to do? But that’s not what’s worrying me– it’s how to do it. These things must be done delicately… or you hurt the spell.”
And there you have it… marketing. These things must be done delicately or you hurt the spell.
Don’t beg your readers to do your work.
Does that mean as an author you should not include book covers and the titles of your back-list at the end of a story? Excerpts from other works or upcoming releases? Links to a website where readers can learn more about you and engage in communication with you? Include away! Please! I’m a reader – I love links to authors’ websites. If I enjoy a book, I want to follow an author– I want to know what else she’s written and where I can find her books.
If I like an author’s work, I’ll tell everyone I know about her books. I’ll scream my love from the mountain tops. She doesn’t have to ask me to do a single thing on her behalf. Telling others about books I like is second nature to me.
In fact, if she did ask me to do something marketing-related, I’d feel downright uncomfortable– as if an invisible barrier had been crossed and the author felt she had license to intrude upon my personal space simply because I’d read her book.
As an author I think that’s an impostion. As a reader I don’t want to be imposed upon.
I love to chat with readers. It’s fun. I’m grateful for every single reader and every book sold. Period.
Asking readers to market is like panhandling. Panhandlers make me uncomfortable.
1. They are in need.
2. They play upon my guilt because they are in need and I am a people pleaser.
3. My guilt makes me believe I should give them money.
4. If I don’t give them money I feel more guilty.
5. If I do give them money I’m pissed off because the truth is I need my money.
6. Giving money to one panhandler causes the other panhandlers to race in my direction like a flock of pigeons after a crust of bread which then makes me…
7. Swear to never ever give money to another panhandler because…
8. It’s not my fault they need money.
Some panhandlers are in my face scary and most of the time I run like hell. I loathe and fear those kinds of panhandlers.
The occasional panhandler is funny and creative and I might toss him a couple quarters, but I don’t feel like giving the next guy anything because I already did my bit.
Some panhandlers have a dog.
And sometimes it’s the homeless who are obviously in great need but don’t ask me for a damn thing who get lunch or a cup of coffee or a five dollar bill. Therein lies the secret. Stand up straight. Have a little pride. Let your book do the talking.
There’s one author in my world who gets a free pass. He can ask me to do anything, within reason, and I’ll do it for him because he’s earned my favors many times over. Yes, mom, if Lawrence Block told me to jump off a bridge I’d do it… just not a very high bridge… and not if there’s quicksand below… or water moccasins… or not it it’s one of those two bridges in Costa Rica I hiked over, the Pray-to-Heaven Bridge and the Oh-My-God Bridge with the crocodiles beneath… But other than that I’m doing it, mom!