I just finished reading a heated discussion on one of my Facebook sites regarding promotion. The chief complaint was that a site the reader/participator belonged to began as a place to hang out and chat about a specific genre of books had taken a turn for the worse. The specific gripe was that lately it had become a place to post begging for those "likes" and "tags" everyone seems to covet. There were over 100 responses and it was a mixed bag as far as how the responders felt.
My two cents: I am not one of those people who requests likes and tags. Frankly, I don't even understand the tagging thing. And more to the point, some people spend what must be an exhaustive period of time self-promoting on the social network sites. Time I simply don't have. I am a full-time working mother and wife, my life is very full, and when I have the free time, I'd much rather be writing than pounding the virtual pavement begging for someone to like me. That being said, I do see the other side of this.
I have two publishers who are delighted to give me contracts for my work, and for that I am grateful. But, I did try the self-published route and may again. And trust me, I learned my lesson. The main complaint about people who self-publish is that their books are not ready for the world, not edited or formatted correctly and as a result, are giving a bad name to those that are. Well, I am not too proud to say, my first self-published piece was guilty of that. TEETH AND TALONS was not formatted correctly. I edited the crap out of it and am happy that no one reviewing me has mentioned bad editing. But, I was SKEWERED on the formatting. And they were right. It was amateurish, poorly presented, and badly executed. I deserved the criticism. So, I understand why it's there.
Back to self-promotion. If it wasn't for facebook and some of the genre-specific groups to which I belong, I would not have had anywhere to promote my book. I tried to do it sparingly, and only in groups that I believed it would be well-received. Happily, I got some good reviews in spite of my tragic formatting. And I was rewarded with new followers on my blog and tons of new friends on my facebook sites. (A disclaimer here: I rarely turn a friend down. A great marketing director told me that any friend is a potential reader, and I remember that all the time.)
But I am annoyed by certain people who ONLY promote. We are always being reminded of where their books are sold, for how much, and how little time we have to take advantage of the staggering discount they are offering. I am also a bit tired of being told how many more likes they need to get to 100 or 500 or 3000. But not enough to begrudge them the right to do so. I just skim over their post and move on. No harm done. But I hope they know: next time I see their name I may be tempted to skip their post altogether. And in my experience, alienating your potential readership is no way to garner more.
And lastly, you don't need to promote all the time to have friends, and tags and likes. I've discovered the secret and am prepared to share it with you here, now. Ready? Here it is: write a good book. Then write another one. And another one after that. You'll be surprised how talent will beget readers. I know I was. Happy reading!