Category: book promotion

The Passive Voice: Blog Tours Waste of Time? Isaiah Washington Gay Slur

The Passive Voice: Blog Tours Waste of Time?

You know how I’m always saying that every author has different experiences. Well this is a good example of that. There’s a post at The Passive Voice Blog today where author, Elene Sallinger, talks about how blog tours (I’ve always known them as blog hops, so that’s how I’ll refer to them from now on in this post.) haven’t worked out very well for her. She also talks about how she’s been disappointed with a PR firm she hired. This is one experience she mentions:

The bloggers on the tour didn’t always post when they promised they would. Many didn’t post on the advertised day (some never posted at all) or didn’t post my giveaway.

From the way this all reads, her PR firm got her into these lackluster blog hops? I’m ending that with a question mark because I don’t have a PR firm, I’ve been in tons of blog hops over the years, and frankly I didn’t even think PR firms did that sort of thing. It really is news to me.

Now, I’m not saying if you only have 100 followers that I don’t want to be on your site, I’m simply saying, I want to truly know what I’m paying for and if I’d understand the lack of reach I was going to be getting for my money, I would have looked elsewhere before signing up and throwing my money away.

First, you can’t judge a blog by followers. Most blogs get far more traffic than what the “follower” list suggests. I read many blogs, and I don’t officially “follow” them. This is interesting, too.

I’ve found that excerpts garner a good bit of traction as do guest posts, but over all, the only truly great exposure for a book is a review.

She goes on to mention more about how important book reviews are, and then ends with this on her own blog.

Right now, my US publisher, Sourcebooks, is setting up a blog tour for me. Perhaps, with an established publisher booking the stops, there will be a difference in quality. I hope so, because right now, I’m just frustrated and over the whole process.

I can’t dispute anything she’s written because it’s different for every single author, and it always will be. From the way it sounds, she’s new to publishing (I’m not certain, though) and she’s trying to figure out what works best for her. Obviously, getting a guest spot on The Passive Voice Blog helped her get some exposure…only I’m not going to buy or read her book, ever, as a result of that exposure. I’m only posting about her experiences with blog hops. I personally find guest posting a waste of time. I have my own blog for posting.

It’s not a simple process to promote books, with or without a PR firm. I’ve been writing genre fiction for over twenty years and it took that many years to reach a point where I get five to eight thousand hits a week on my blog. And that’s considered small. I wish I could say there was one standard rule…or secret…but there isn’t. My readership also tends to be more discreet, too. In my case, I prefer to keep it smaller scale. In other words, I don’t write to be the next E.L. James. I write because I love to write.

As for blog hops, I’ve found them to be beneficial for me. In the same respect, I’ve never actually gone out and hunted one down, and I’ve never had a PR firm get me into a blog hop. I’ve always been asked to be part of the blog hops I’ve done by other authors/bloggers. And it always came out of the blue when I least expected it. This summer I did two, and I had two give-aways. With each hop I increased traffic for the blog, I got a chance to get to know more of my readers personally, and I thoroughly enjoyed the blog hops with each step of the process. In fact, whenever I do a give-away for a blog hop, I always give a consolation prize to each person who commented on the blog. I don’t mention that up front either. I wait until the end of the hop and surprise them. In fact, I have something very different and very interesting coming soon the weekend of GRL that I will announced very soon.

But I will honestly admit that I sometimes groan when I’m asked to do a blog hop. It’s a great deal of work and in my case, by giving away even more prizes, it takes hours to just figure out the e-mail addresses and names. In the most recent blog hop I did the first prize was a set of picture books from Tom of Finland that I had to mail to a reader. It took me days to find just the right box with which to ship the prize by snail mail.

But I’m not complaining at all. You see, doing a blog hop…or any brand of promotion…is something I’ve always enjoyed as an author. I don’t think of these events in terms of “reach” or how much I’m going to get in return. The blog hops I do are always focused on something important…something that deals with equality or issues I care about. And because I feel passionate about these issues, I want to see others become as passionate and the blog hop becomes fun for me in spite of how much work goes along with it.

So I think this is a good example of how differently authors deal with promotional events like blog hops, and how different authors view them. Don’t ever take just one author’s advice. For me a blog hop is spreading the word about something that’s important to me. It’s also about having fun and getting in touch with readers I normally wouldn’t get to meet. For others it’s all about getting more attention for a book and garnering more book sales. I probably should be more mercenary when it comes to these things. But when you’re a gay author and your entire life has been spent looking for equality, that’s the only thing that matters and whatever happens after that is just something extra.

In the end, it all comes down to the love. Just like with cooking, or anything else, you need to have the love or it’s not going to work…no matter how many PR firms you hire or blog hops you do. You either have the love or you don’t. And with blog hops the most important thing to me is spreading the word about something deeply significant in my life.

Isaiah Washington Gay Slur

I think I posted about this when it first happened, but I can’t seem to find the link anywhere with a simple search. In any event, it was reported a few years ago that Grey’s Anatomy TV star, Isaiah Washington, made a negative gay comment to another star on the show, T.R. Knight. As a result of this gay slur, Washington claims no one in Hollywood would “touch” him for a long time and it hindered his acting career.

Currently promoting his new film “Blue Caprice,” the 50-year-old actor told HuffPost Live, “After the incident at the Golden Globes, everything just fell apart. I lost everything. I couldn’t afford to have an agent…I couldn’t afford to have a publicist…I couldn’t afford to continue.”

After this news broke, T. R. Knight came out in public as a result. What Washington did evidently started a shitstorm that continued to affect everyone. Knight eventually asked to get out of his GA contract. In this aritcle it explains the reason why. The show’s creator is Rhimes.

However, Knight says complications arose between him and Rhimes immediately after the incident, when he decided to respond to the sticky situation by outing himself. The actor says Rhimes was among those who wanted him to remain in the closet — though in the EW article, the creator herself denies this.

When Knight was asked to appear on season six of the show — in flashbacks — he flatly refused, opting to move forward with other projects. In September, he’ll headline a stage production of “Parade” at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum and in February will hit Broadway in the Stanley Tucci-directed revival of “Lend Me a Tenor.”

And there you have it. Hollywood at its best, once again.

Free Social Media Tips for Authors…Plus Advice from Anne R. Allen

I mention the word free in the title because I’ve heard there are companies who guarantee increased sales results if you pay them to show you how to work with social media in order to market and promote books. Or, some claim they can do it for you. From what I’ve heard, they promise to make you the next bestseller…for a fee of course.

The only thing I can say about that is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And, if these things actually worked wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Maybe I’m too cynical, but I’ve seen too many “too good to be true” scams over the years and I’ve learned through my own mistakes.

So when I see free advice being given by people I consider reputable, I try to pass it along. The articles to which I’m linking below are all things I’ve done (or have not done) in the past by learning them the hard way…mostly by trial and error…and there’s really nothing I can disagree with. I would also like to add that not every piece of advice will work for every individual author. In most cases you have to figure out a plan that’s right for you, and a plan you think you can handle without becoming overwhelmed. If you’re like me and you enjoy social media, it makes things easier. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll have to figure out a way to embrace at least something. While I don’t think social media overkill helps, I do think in this day and age of all things cyber authors have to build some kind of an online presence. In fact, I think that’s far more important now than book signings and traveling to events, for some authors.

How Do Authors Reach Readers?

Today we have a visit from one of my favorite online author-friends. I knew her even before her name was Roni Loren 🙂 Roni is an awesome blogger who always has something innovative and thoughtful to say at her blog for the Fearless Romantic. She’s become a bestselling author for Berkley Heat through her smart use of social media, so this is market-tested advice. My experience with Twitter and Facebook mirrors hers. I much prefer Twitter, but the readers seem to be on Facebook.

This is a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s blog I literally found by accident. I highly recommend reading anything on this blog about social media because Anne co-wrote an excellent self-pubbed book this past year with bestselling author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, titled, “How to be a Writer in the E-Age.” I reviewed the book here. And Anne’s blog is also one of the top 50 blogs for authors. In this case, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Is Social Media the Magic Bullet to Promote Your Self-Published Book?

I don’t think there is much of a difference between authors with small start up e-presses and self-published authors anymore, so that’s why I’m linking to articles related to self-pubbed authors. They’re all doing basically the same thing now: publishing e-books. When it comes to marketing and book promotion with small e-presses, you’re basically in the same position as the self-published author. Small e-presses are excellent if you’re not comfortable with the details and business end of self-publishing, or you can’t format, but you’re still going to have to do all the promotion and marketing on your own when the book is published, like it or not.

Eight Tips for Self-Published Indie Authors

It’s not about saying ‘Buy my book’; ‘Look at this review about my book; ‘Here’s why you’d like my book’.

Again, everything in this post can be applied to authors with small start up e-presses. And for those authors with small e-presses who think you’re too grand for reading anything relating to indie authors, take a closer look at what you’re actually doing. And like I said earlier, not everything is going to work for every author and you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. But I think this article gives a realistic approach, and doesn’t freak authors out too much.

Eleven Deadly Sins of Online Promotion for Writers 

This one is interesting because it talks about what not to do. And believe me, I’ve seen a few train wrecks with authors and social media.

Never dedicate every single social media post of your life to your writing. If you’re on social networks, be social. That is, act like a human being who does human being things—as opposed to an all-promotion, all-the-time automaton.

I’d also like to add that getting too political can be really annoying and offensive. During the last Presidential election I can’t tell you how many people I hid from my news feed because of their political rants. I really don’t care about your politics unless you’re actively involved in politics and giving up your money and your time. Unless you’re Barry Eisler, and you really know how to post about politics in a smart, educated, informed way like only Barry Eisler can do, I think it’s better to just stay away from it altogether. It stands to reason at the most basic level: you’re trying to get people to buy your books and that’s not going to happen if they don’t agree with your politics. In fact, they might hold it against you forever.

Another thing I don’t like seeing is “cute.” It’s hard to really explain this one. You usually know it when you see it. The gag reflex kicks in. Seriously, there’s only so many times you can rescue that puppy or save that basket of kittens before people start to wonder. I guess this falls into the category of “keep it real.” If you don’t, it’s going to start to show sooner or later. Also, remember you’re dealing with people who live in different parts of the country…or world…not just in your own small town. In other words, you don’t want to sound as if you’ve just hopped off the back of a turnip truck to someone in New York or Philadelphia…unless that’s a goal you’re trying to achieve.

10 Topics Writers Should Talk About When Promoting Their Book Online

Create an account for your main character. This is especially useful if you write a series that evolves around a single character. Create accounts for your character and engage the character in public conversation—author to creation. The results can not only be entertaining but can also go viral very quickly helping you gain momentum with your social media endeavors.

This article isn’t for everyone, and neither is the advice. Just based on number one above, if I did this I would have so many main character accounts I’d never be able to keep up with them. And, I actually did try this once with a hetero romance book I wrote with a pen name for the Home Shopping Network, title “Loving Daylight.” I gave the main character his own facebook page and it was a huge waste of time. It was not only creepy, but because the character was a vampire I had to write facebook posts after dark all summer that year. I learned my lesson that time by trial and error. However, if you are an author with one or two books out, this sort of thing might work for you. On that I can’t comment.

Ask for opinions and input. One of the best ways to really engage your followers is to ask for their input for something like naming a new character. Your followers will be more than willing to pitch in with the possibility of having their ideas used and if you do use their ideas, be sure to publicize it—they will be the first person in line to buy your book!

I’ve seen this before and it might work for some authors, so I’m not saying don’t do it. However, I happen to come from the school where the author works alone and owns his or her work. In other words, I love hearing suggestions from readers and I love input as well. But I work alone. In the same respect I actually named the MC, “Wilbur,” in “My Fair Laddie,” after a facebook discussion with LGBT book reviewer, Amos Lassen. I didn’t solicit his opinion, and he wasn’t offering it. We were just discussing character names and Amos mentioned that “Wilbur” was a character name he’d never seen. And I thought it would be a perfect name for the MC in the book.

Social Media Mistake All Authors Should Avoid

The key, in the early stages of your career, is to focus on becoming an expert in only one or two social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, plus an author blog.

Quality, not quantity is the rule here: If you take time to learn how to become highly adept at just a couple of channels to begin with, you’ll be far more effective at attracting attention and growing your readership, than by opening up 15 different channels and trying to use them all at once, without developing any effective user skills.

From what I gather here, it’s more important to take it slowly than it is to jump into every single social media network and crash and burn. So far, Twitter and Facebook seem to be the most popular social media outlets, and they can be daunting at best for a beginner. I would recommend facebook over twitter for those who know nothing about social media. On facebook you get more freedom, where on twitter you have to come up with a way to express a limited amount of information. And it’s not easy getting followers.

Blogging can be an excellent way to connect with readers, too. But don’t expect miracles at first. Blogging takes time, and sometimes you’ll never figure out why some posts are more popular than others. I’m still getting over a thousand hits a day for a post I wrote two years ago and I don’t have a clue as to why. I guess that post resonated with people for some reason. Which is why blogging is such a great tool for authors. I get most of my hits through random search engines and I have no idea how I do it or why they find me. This blog is linked to more than a few social media outlets, but the majority of my hits come from all over the world and always through searches, not something I posted about on another social media outlet.

These are only a few articles that offer advice. I saw a few more in my search but didn’t feel comfortable linking to them. But, as I said, there’s no set pattern for anything when it comes to marketing and promoting books with social media. It seems to work differently for all authors and what works for one might not work for another. The secret is figuring out what works best for you. And that’s going to take time, so don’t try to rush it.

A Short and Sweet Post About Blogging and Promoting a Book

This post is simple. It just happened to me and I want to get it down before I forget about it.

And, of all places, it happened to me on a literary agent blog.

The agent in question was promoting a client book and the book looked more than interesting. I never would have known about it if I hadn’t seen it on the agent’s blog.

But there weren’t any links in the agent’s blog post. So I had to trek over to Amazon myself and do a search to find out more information.

I know. Big deal. It took me all of twenty seconds to do this. But that’s because I had twenty seconds to spare tonight. If this had been a Monday morning, I wouldn’t have bothered and the author would have lost a sale.

Don’t be shy about adding links to blog posts when promoting books. You’re not being pushy and you’re not going to offend anyone. What you’re doing is making it easier for the reader to find the book you’re trying to promote, read about it, and then buy it.