Write Like an Author & Think Like a Reader

MugIt happens a lot. Three, maybe four times a week. Mostly I try to ignore it, but it’s not always easy. Most online magazines and blog sites to do with writing or publishing experience it. Some might simply call it spam. I don’t. Most spam comes from people (or robots) who target websites irrespective of content and deliberately deposit comments about how to get hold of cheap Gucci handbags, medicines or aids to address penile dysfunction. Some of this kind of outright spam manage the remarkable feat of saying absolutely nothing in 50 to 100 words while depositing the deadly link at the bottom of the comment. They may all have their merits on the right website and for the right audience (if you just happen to be looking for a Gucci handbag and also have problems in the bedroom department), but this is not quite the spam I’m referring to. I’m talking about so-called ‘book promotion’ perpetrated by inept self-published authors who don’t know the difference between marketing and squatting.

The spam I’m talking about was never intended to be spam, but it is the equivalent of wrapping the content or back cover copy of your book in a garbage bag and (literally, ahem!) dumping it in your neighbour’s front garden in the hope that they will take the time to open the bag, sift through the ruminants of yesterday’s dinner and soiled diapers to discover your magnum opus.

I call this kind of author promotion — the literary heist! It’s like running into your local Laundromat, slapping down your latest novel on the counter, and yelling, ‘read it, I’ll be back to collect in a few days.’ You are pretty unlikely to win any new friends or readers, and you can be certain you will be washing your clothes at home (washing machine or no washing machine) for years to come. The literary heist has no place in any marketing strategy for a book.

I get the fact that it is tough for self-published authors to get the word out about their new books, but just like the Laundromat, directly sending me details about your book or posting the back cover copy into the comments section of TIPM is unlikely to capture potential buyers and readers of your book. The TIPM audience is unlikely to be the audience for your book. Now, if your book is about self-publishing, the publishing industry or some related area, then I may very well be interested in reviewing it or drawing some attention to it. But even if your book is up my street and something I might want to feature on TIPM; pitch me, explain to me why my readers here will want to read your book, offer to write a guest post and share something of why you decided to write the book. Like any kind of query or submission, it might be a good idea to find out my name. It’s not difficult to find here, and emails I receive beginning with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’ (and to any editor) are usually followed by circular content sent out to tens, hundreds or even thousands of recipients.

Some subtle and constructive things to do and think about that will help make people aware of your book without spamming:

  • Use an email linked to your author/book website and ensure the signature features a thumbnail of your book cover, a ten word hook line and buy link.
  • Make sure you have a Goodreads account.
  • Use your social media accounts to provide readers with information and value — don’t just use them as ‘buy, buy, buy’ loudspeakers.
  • Free is fine sometimes, not all the time!
  • Your readers are the best promoters of your book — encourage them to discuss your book and post reviews.
  • Build a subscription list of readers instead of cold spamming non-readers — respect that not everybody wants to read your book.
  • Most writers love to read, but not all readers love to write — your audience are readers, not other authors!
  • Write like an author and think like a reader when you market your book.


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