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Advertising of own books

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Initial post: 10 Apr 2010 21:28:46 BDT
February83 says:
Are others as fed up as I am of people using this forum to try and flog their own product? Every thread, whatever the subject, seems to be hi-jacked by these self-promoters. Can we all agree to put a firm NO next to all such postings, and get back to genuine, disinterested recommendations. I am a published author but would regard it as totally crass to push my own work this way.

Posted on 14 Apr 2010 10:43:34 BDT
Annie May says:
No, sorry, cannot agree with you. There are some real gems out there that would otherwise be missed. Simply skip the postings that are not of interest to you, and stop being such a killjoy.

Posted on 14 Apr 2010 12:05:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Apr 2010 11:16:50 BDT
Travelman says:
Annie May, thanks for your commonsense approach to this. I have been a contributor to these postings for a while now and when the opportunity arises I will plug my books. I dont go to every thread and simply say read my books. I wait for someone to ask for or about the specific category that my books fall into and then advise that one of my books may well fit the bill. I think that is the right way to do it. No one is forced to go to my books on Amazon or even read my posts. Live and let live, that's what I say.

Posted on 14 Apr 2010 12:23:45 BDT
C. Rucroft says:
I would agree that I don't want them putting in every post, whether it is relevant or not. That gets on my nerves. But I don't want to see them disappear altogether. I think where it's appropriate, self promotion is a good thing.

Posted on 23 Apr 2010 21:42:25 BDT
M. Dowden says:
I started a thread in the Fiction Forum for authors to advertise their books, and I believe there are a couple of others as well. I am not an author but can't see anything wrong with them plugging their own hard work. I like loads of others supply links to books on this site that I have really loved, and in that sense all of us could be accused of plugging.

Posted on 27 Apr 2010 16:29:24 BDT
ajk77 says:
I would tend to deprioritise any self-promoted items as compared with disinterested postings.

Posted on 30 Apr 2010 20:30:36 BDT
annie frame says:
Such a many great writers out there under fire for self promotion! What else is available? A huge pot of money and Max Clifford perhaps??

Posted on 1 May 2010 11:25:21 BDT
M. Dowden says:
I am not a novelist but I love when I come across something new and different, that no one had heard of before. Some local bookshops have a Local Authors section which can be useful, some of these bookshops are also willing in holding events that can help promote a book. Ultimately even if you get a novel accepted by one of the big publishers it can still be held back by lack of advertising or promotional ideas. The poor unheard of author can be led into a feeling of despair as his or her book is ignored. Look at A Confederacy of Dunces, it was turned down by publishers, but when the author was dead and his mother pushed it it became published. Now this is considered qute rightly a comedy classic. Shelley the poet was largely ignored until Mary Shelley pushed his work. Without a new author pushing their work it could become ignored, and then years after their death it is found that they were a literary genius. Unfortunately they had stopped writing anything else and we are left with just one great masterpiece.

Authors should be able to plug their work, the only time I don't like it is if they use a different name and say how great this author is, or when they post on a forum about their book, which has nothing to do with the genre, etc. that is being discussed.

Posted on 4 May 2010 00:36:14 BDT
James Bullen says:
I agree with the original post. This is not the place for authors and publishers as they can "push" their product elsewhere. This space is for us ordinary mortals to give our views, good or bad. Very few authors will give their product a bad review so why include them.

Posted on 4 May 2010 12:22:03 BDT
Travelman says:
Mr Bullen. Where can we terrible self-promoters "push" our work if not on a website that actually sells our books? The space is, as you say, for ordinary mortals. Are we, the selfish, nasty self-promoters, not ordinary mortals too? If someone wants to read about the subjects my books deal with then I shall self-promote. If they are asking for poetry or chic-lit, then I will not since my novels do not encompass these subjects. It really is that simple. Live and let live is what I say.

Posted on 4 May 2010 16:51:11 BDT
February83 says:
The point is that if people are pushing their own product, overtly or covertly, then there's no objectivity. No recommendation is trustworthy, no book can be assumed to have been praised on its own merits. The point is not, as Travelman seems to think, that we are looking for books on specific subjects, but that we are looking for GOOD books on those subjects. Self-promoters like him are not, and cannot be, objective - they are trying to make a sale. Their activity undercuts the genuine recommendations of other, disinterested readers.

Posted on 4 May 2010 17:25:36 BDT
Travelman says:
No one is forced to buy or read books promoted by disinterested readers or self-promoters. If I say try my book, it covers the subject you are interested in and the person decides to look at the Amazon entry and likes what he or she sees and buys the book, all well and good. If they dont like what's on offer, all well and good. No one is harmed, no one is robbed and no one is offended, whichever way it goes. A disinterested reader's "genuine" recommendation is just as likely to turn out wrong in the mind of a third party as my "genuine" self-promotion. I repeat, live and let live. If you don't like what's on offer, don't take it up. Siiiimple!

Posted on 4 May 2010 19:36:09 BDT
Bug DeLug says:
Surely the authors need somewhere to plug their books. I am not an author of any sort but do make music and videos online and understand that you have to get the word out there somehow. I'm not a spammer myself and prefer that people stumble upon my work by accident, rather than me posting about it everywhere, but this would explain why I get very few listeners or viewers of my work. Let them plug their books- I don't mind at all. Major corporations took over youtube and now advertise all over the place on there- major stars, big name authors and musicians get to flog their wares on chat-shows, etc. There are very few ways for ordinary people to get heard, so quit your whining and let them get on with it.

Posted on 5 May 2010 18:43:13 BDT
Travelman says:
WTA. Well said, sir!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2010 14:04:57 BDT
Bug DeLug says:
Thanks Travelman :)

In reply to an earlier post on 8 May 2010 22:36:43 BDT
James Bullen says:
Travelman. I still feel that the correct place for an author to push their product is in the product description section. If a discussion forum is used the post should clearly state that it is from the author.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 May 2010 02:21:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 May 2010 02:22:46 BDT
J A says:
How can you claim that anyone will be objective? Totally absurd. Every person has their own preferences, taste and perspective.

What is needed is consciousness that nothing you ever read in your lifetime is objective.

Random example: look at a random www page for stats of how many killed in Vietnam and web pages usually say 58000 killed in Vietnam. This is actually USA soldiers killed. Ignoring over a million human lives lost of the countrymen defending their own soil.

Following your logic we should ban all amazon editorial reviews because they are retailers, the title descriptions too as they are made by the publishing company's marketing people.

Define a GOOD book! If it could be defined then you and I could churn out best-sellers and be rich. All you will come up with is your own preference.

In fact all we need to do is enjoy this information at our disposal and use our own judgment and in the end a bit of risk and adventure in the hope of discovering something new and worthwhile as nothing is a sure-buy.

Posted on 9 May 2010 09:53:10 BDT
If your work is published, you will do all things possible to get it read. If in doubt when purchasing, look at the various blurbs and especially with Amazon, you can read the reviews.

Posted on 9 May 2010 12:58:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 May 2010 13:00:37 BDT
Travelman says:
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Posted on 17 May 2010 17:47:57 BDT
Alwyne Chappell
I always presumed that if you wrote a book, you just sat back whilst the publisher sold the product: apparently not so. 'Put yourself about a bit Alwyne' said my publisher. 'How do I do that?' I asked her. 'Twitter, Face book, Widgets, whatever it takes.' I imagined her shrugging a shoulder.
I stared despondently at my PC, that technological wonder that I hate with a passion, basically because whilst it's a mystery to me, my grandchildren can make it do anything, even before they have the ability to read Windows for dummies.
Now that my book is due to be released this week, I checked it out on Amazon and found the discussion section. Joy of Joy I read the line, Advertising Own Books. At last I thought, a conduit through which I could put myself about a bit. I read several messages roundly condemning authors who self advertised. So, that's me done for, can't be good to antagonise prospective book purchasers.
It's not all that easy to put yourself about a bit; is it.

Posted on 17 May 2010 20:48:23 BDT
Ian Walthew says:
Actually Alwyne, it is quite 'easy to put yourself about a bit' on Amazon. What you do is post under your own name and then add a product link to your own book. Like this: A Place In My Country: In Search Of A Rural Dream

Secondly, probably the only people reading this thread are authors, and my money would be on the originator of this thread being a first time author him or herself, testing the water (apologies if I'm mistaken), so in this context, do what you like Mr. Chappell.

What 'mere mortals' (how someone in this thread referred to non-author readers) may not understand about the publishing industry is that the quality of any given book has very little to do with how one comes to know about it.
Publishers pay large sums of money to recoup their investments on the books they have paid the most to acquire in the first place, irrespective of any review from man or beast the book may eventually get. Books they've spent the most acquiring get the lion's share of the annual marketing budget (which includes the discounts offered to the likes of Amazon and Waterstone's - you don't get on the 3 for 2 pile by having a pretty cover). These are the books that go in the front of their seasonal sales' material for book buyers; the books that the publishers' sales people have the highest targets for, the books that get advertised in the book trade publications etc. etc.

Other industries do strange things like running focus groups on new products and market testing, before fully allocating marketing budgets. Not publishers - who prefer to make massive punts in speculative auctions and then, if they 'win', open the marketing taps. If it turns out to be widely disliked by reviewers, professional or amateur, they'll go and spend even more, so desperate will they be to recoup something from their £800,000 purchase of a first novel by a school teacher in Leeds.

Meanwhile they spend as little money as possible on acquiring some smaller books which they simply throw at the wall and see if they stick. Rather like £1 bets on half a dozen Grand National outsiders.

If you're in the latter category, and you would like your book read, then it will be 100% down to you to promote your book - whatever you're told. I remain convinced that the general book buying public in the U.K and the U.S.A - the VAST majority of whom never post a review on Amazon - have next to no idea how they are being led by the nose to specific titles. They may have a sense that it's because of word of mouth, but rarely does word of mouth start without heavy initial marketing.

An example of this is the often quoted 'word of mouth sensation', A Year in Provence by P. Mayle and godfather of the godforsaken settlement non-fiction genre. In fact Peter Mayle was already one of Penguin's biggest selling worldwide authors (he wrote a couple of series of cartoon sex education books, followed by the 'Wicked Willie' series, both translated into a million languages) and when Mr. Mayle wanted to have his book about Provence published, Penguin naturally jumped to. It was their lead title, with a themed French lunch at their annual worldwide sales conference, in Torquay I think it was, with P. Mayle giving a speech to the sales force etc. etc. I think it is a book that says absolutely nothing about France, the French, downsizing - which he hardly was, he was a millionaire already - or anything else apart from revealing how few friends you have if you live in France and don't speak French (none in his case except people he'd employed to put in his new kitchen/pool/whatever). I digress: in short a heavily promoted book of unalloyed cynical artifice from the mind of an ex-advertising copywriter, which somehow became known as a 'word of mouth' sensation.

So 'mere mortals', please cut some slack for self-promoting authors. It won't change their sales figures and their efforts, probably, are down to realising that their publisher is going to do NOTHING to promote their little baby. It's a first-time author malady and it bites many of us.

As to Amazon? I live in France, I'm a heavy user as a customer and I find the reader reviews useful when buying or searching. I normally have a look at the discussion thread titles and see what catches my eye. Sometimes, like now, I might read, even participate.

I did have a run at using Amazon to promote my book but my strong sense was that Amazon users don't like it. And I can understand why, especially if the author is totally off-topic (easily avoidable on this particular thread).

I think what's needed is a system whereby Amazon presents books to its users - and I would appreciate this as a customer and as an author - based on the average star rankings proportional to the number of people who have written a review, and based on what professional reviewers have written. The current interface is based on sorting books on numbers sold, which isn't very useful for me as a book buyer. I have no interest in knowing what the 100 best selling books are on Amazon - if in doubt about my view on that, go and check out that list.

Amazon does let you list books in a given genre by average customer ranking, so the option is there, but I doubt many people are aware of it or use it.

I'd like Amazon to get their programmers to develop a way of ranking books in a qualitative manner and presenting them to me in that way - some formula that factors in a whole host of variables from their data that doesn't include sales volume. Because the volume figures are driven by marketing, and naturally the marketing of any product is no determinant of quality.

P.S Alwyne, one final point: you can always add your web address too. Like this:

Posted on 18 May 2010 11:37:17 BDT
Travelman says:
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Posted on 18 May 2010 14:10:31 BDT
Sou'Wester says:
Given the unashamed manner in which so-called celebrities "plug" their books (usually written by a ghost-writer anyway), I don't suppose we should grumble about less well known authors indulging in a bit of self-promotion on forums like these. It is a bit deceitful, however, if their involvement in a publication is not made clear. Nor is there anything specifically wrong in an author awarding their own work 5 stars and attaching a glowing review, but I don't think somone with that level of conceit is going to appeal to me.

Posted on 18 May 2010 14:48:37 BDT
Travelman says:
SWR: One man's conceit is anothers confidence. Authors are simply saying "I've written a book; this is what it's about; have a look at it because you may actually enjoy reading it." How else can we draw the readers to our product? Give us a break, we're doing no harm.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2010 15:15:46 BDT
Sou'Wester says:
Travelman: I am not objecting to authors posting their own reviews (provided they are up front about it), nor do I think they are doing any harm. However, and this is just a personal reaction, where someone awards themselves five stars and a glowing review - that would put me off.
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