Friday, November 18, 2016

Writing: Worst Advice For Authors

Some time ago, author Michelle Gagnon, on The Kill Zone Blog, published the worst advice she thought  a newly published writer could receive. Remember these "dos and don'ts" are her opinion, not mine, but I thought it would be interesting to share some of the negative ones:

1. Send a quirky mass mailing to every independent bookstore
-Bookstore managers get so many of these, they fill a wastebasket twice a week.

2. Flog that book on the social networks like it’s a half-dead mule carrying twice its body weight up a mountain.
-Many of the people on these networks are other authors flogging their own books. A grand total of 4% of book purchases are credited to Facebook and Twitter.

3. Hire a publicist

 -Michelle’s experience was a disaster. Unless you have the cash to hook up with a serious promotional firm (five figures), it’s a waste.

I agree with the first on the list, but I'd amend it to say it IS worthwhile to make the acquaintance of the people who talk with customers every day, just not in that way. These people can go a long way toward getting the word out about your writing. And cookies or similar foods for the break room are always appreciated.

The second admonition brings up what I've heard called the 30/70 rule of social network posting: mention your book in 30% of posts, but devote the other 70% to subjects that will interest your readers and let them know you better. I don't know where the 4% figure of book sales attributed to social networks comes from, but I'm pretty sure the true figure is low.

My reaction to the third one will vary, depending on 1) how much marketing effort your publisher is willing to put into your novel (if you get a conventional contract), 2) the experience and performance of the publicist. Thus far I've been fortunate in #1, so I have no experience in #2, but I have my eye on a couple of potential winners if it comes to choosing one.

So there they are. What would you add as the worst advice an author can receive? I'd like to know.

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