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Promotional tips for authors - why "buy my book" doesn't work

It's NaNoWriMo month and I'm taking this opportunity to get a manuscript finished, rather than start a new one. So I apologize for being away from the blog. I have a list of topics I'd like to bring to you, but today I want to talk about book promotion, specifically why the "buy my book" plugs on social media don't work.

Firstly, let me begin by saying that I have just spent a few minutes this morning unfollowing authors who do nothing but post links to their books and covers on Twitter. I don't need to see this every time I log on. It makes me groan. And if it makes me grown, it's making genuine readers groan. And sites dedicated to promoting books also make me groan. They advertise that they can push your book to 45,000 readers. It has the same effect as a billboard on a highway. It's there, but it's not connecting with you. You need to build a rapport with readers. Peddling the "buy my book" message doesn't do anything to connect with buyers.

Word of mouth does not work by the author pushing their book down people's throats. It works by genuine readers pushing a book down other people's throats. Posting a book cover on Facebook and a plea to buy the book will never inspire readers to buy the book. It will repel them. Have you ever bought anything from a store where the owner begged you to buy something. Or worse, practically abused you for walking past her store and not buying something. I've seen rants on social media doing just that.

Why doesn't the "buy my book" technique work?

We are humans. We like to connect. I went to a market stall yesterday. There were about twenty different stall holders. I personally knew one of them from a photo session about a year ago. I bought two photos that I didn't really need from her but if I had to buy a print to frame then this was my preferred supplier. Why?

Think about Christmas. Why is it so popular to buy a whole lot of junk we can't really afford to give to people who don't even need it? It's not because the TV tells us so. Humans genuinely like to give as much as they receive. It is how we connect with someone else.

If I have a choice between buying an item from a friend or acquaintance or buying from a complete stranger, I'm more likely to buy from the friend or acquaintance.

Now add in the personal touch, this friend or acquaintance invites me into their life by showing me pictures on social media of their gardening, their hobbies, their baking skills, their love of animals, whatever, they are closer to become a trusted source. People buy from trusted sources. Corporations spends millions of dollars becoming the trusted source. This takes time.

The "buy my book" plugs on social media act as if the author has decided to skip the part where they need to become that trusted source with a reader.

Advertising doesn't work to sell books. If it worked, the big publishers would advertise. They very rarely do. They have come to accept that the author and the reader connection is a bond that can never be broken, and bonds that can never be broken are typically forged over time.

How can you avoid the agony that comes from the "buy my book" strategy, because I'm pretty sure you will not get results? Firstly, remember that nobody asked you to do this. It's the number one tip I give to writers at my workshops. Accept that NOBODY ASKED YOU TO DO THIS and move on. Send the time building rapport with the readers, and then write more books. Chances are the plugs for your book on social media are you preaching to the converted anyway.

My tip for promotion is to become that trusted source. Be the person that readers go to when they want a new book. If you don't have one for them to buy, maybe they'll ask you to recommend one. So review your favourite books instead. Share your life with your readers. Share the bits of you that make you the person behind the computer. By all means share your achievements, but promotion is more than slapping a cover on Facebook or Twitter and expecting results.

I hope this tip is helpful to your promotion campaign.

Good luck with your writing. I LOVE hearing your thoughts. Please do so in the comments.

D L xoxo


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