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How Not To Promote Your Book

I woke up this morning to this in my Facebook feed:

POST: “Does anyone even read paperbacks anymore?”

When a number of people answered yes—some with lengthy answers as to why they preferred physical books—the poster responded to each with the following:

“Great. Here’s a link to my book.”

I had to admit it was a brilliant strategy. I’d nearly gotten roped into that conversation myself. But there’s a right way and a whole lot of wrong ways to promote your book, and the above is an example of a really wrong way.

Self-published authors are becoming the used car salesmen of the publishing world.

I get it. I’m an author myself. I would love for everyone in the universe to buy my book. Self-promoting is hard. Really hard. It’s a time-consuming, mind-numbing chore. And after all the hard work of marketing, the average debut author is lucky to see a 1% return. It’s tempting to resort to shady tactics. But hear me out; you don’t want to fall into that trap.

Most people are far more likely to take an interest in what you’re offering if you’re upfront about your sales pitch. I don’t mind when the representative at the cable company tries to upsell me into a more expensive package. I know it’s their job to do so, and I also know that you don’t sell if you don’t ask. I may politely decline or I may ask for more information. But if Cable Person gets me into a conversation about my children, weaseling me into a personal connection, and then tries to sell me the perfect TV package for my toddler, I’m hanging up.

No one likes a sales pitch, but worse than that, no one likes being tricked into a sales pitch.

And then there’s the guilt pitch.

“If a few more people bought my book I could pay the rent.”

“If I sold just one more book I could get that operation for my kid.”

“If enough people bought my book I could leave my husband.”

All of those may be valid scenarios, but your author account on Twitter is not the place to bring them up. Avoid falling into the trap of cashing in on the human desire to help someone in need. You might sell a few books, but in the long run, your reputation is damaged—in many cases, irreparably.

It’s easy to forget that you’re not just selling this book, but every future book as well. Readers are fiercely loyal to authors they love, and those same readers can blacklist you forever if you inappropriately tug at their heartstrings. There’s a common saying in customer service—one happy customer will tell one person—one unhappy customer will tell everyone.

You’re a writer. You’re a salesperson. And, like it or not, you’re also a customer service rep. Don’t lose touch with the customer service side of being an entrepreneur.

Sell me your book! But remember—the trickier you are about your sales pitch, the less confidence I have in the quality of your product. Be honest, be upfront, and the far-reaching value of your sales will be immeasurable.

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