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Today, I was cyber-eavesdropping on a Twitter conversation between Matt Haig and Ellie Warren on self-promotion. I didn’t join in because, as inarticulate I am in general, I’m much more so at 140 characters. For what it’s worth, however, I want weigh in, from a reader’s perspective, on what may be thought of as self-promotion.

Matt HaigEllieWarrenLarger

For those that don’t know Mr. Haig, he is the author of The Humans and The Radleys and Ms. Warren blogs at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. (How can you not love someone who has the twitter name of @patchworkbunny?) Mr. Haig makes the point that self-promotion is important or only the big splash thrillers will be sold due to their marketing jaggernaut. He also wants to be upfront with his followers when his is promoting his work. His solution for now, at least on Twitter, it to simply retweet reviews. The issue of stealth marketing came up – play the friend of all while indirectly pushing your latest book. He was disdainful, appropriately, of any misleading behaviour.

I don’t know what gets books sold; I’m not sure anyone really does. I do know, however, what I, as a reader, and sometime reviewer, prefer and what really turns me off. Before I go off on a rant, I thought it might be worthwhile to give a picture of what type of reader and, more importantly for this purpose, buyer I am. First, and probably most hated, I am an Amazon Prime customer and I read almost exclusively on my ereader (Kindle Paperwhite) or listen to Audible books on my Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 920); actually, I typically do both using Whispersync for Voice to go between the two. While I love independent book stores and I live around the corner from a Barnes and Noble, that’s my reading style. I know I should be pre-ordering hardback books from independent bookstores. I don’t. I can go into all of the benefits (read here if interested in my views of publishing disruption), for me on going this route (a lot of it has to do with bookshelves and moving books, the other is Whispersync for Voice), but that’s me.

Second, price does play a role but it is not the primary consideration, unless the ebook is more than the paperback. I rarely buy the book if that’s true. I just can’t get over that one.

Third, I read voraciously, which means daily but not nearly as much as I desire. I review most of what I read. I promote authors as I am able. I post on my own blog (this one), Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Amazon reviews for authors I read and like (the vast majority). I tell my friends about books I love. Heck, I wax rhapsodic to anyone who will listen. So, while I’m not an ideal reader, I am a writer’s friend.

So what works from my perspective?

– Do retweet (RT) reviews. If you’re reluctant due to believing you may be perceived as blowing your own horn, you’re not. Someone else is singing your praises and you’re passing it along. This makes your work and the work of the reviewer more visible.

– Do not simply favorite a tweeted review. This does nothing to make your work or the reviewer’s more visible.

– Do make yourself available as practicable (have a life) for interviews, Q & A and those road trip signings. Personal (even virtually personal) connections hook people. My commitment to those with whom I’ve conversed, real world or virtually, is quite strong; I don’t believe I’m alone in this.

– Avoid over-RTing the same review or too much in one day – spread it out. Don’t bombard folks. Daily RTing of the same thing is utterly boring. You become cybernoise and will be ignored if not “unfollowed”.

– Avoid pleading for someone to read your work because being a writer is hard, to “support” you or any other personal reason. People want to read your book because it’s good. Full stop. Yes writing is hard, the industry is hard and it’s hard to become known. That’s why people should write if they can’t help it; if the words are bursting to get out. It’s seriously hard. That you’ve chosen a hard profession is not, in itself, an inducement to read your work.

Since I’m rolling, one more pet peeve: avoid making your background image your book cover(s). Have you seen these repeating covers? Seriously tacky. A default design would be better. Get a friend who knows design to help.

OK – rant over. My interference was kindly meant, to borrow a phrase from Caroline of Pride and Prejudice. While she might have meant to be spiteful, being insolent is not my intent. If any of this was hurtful and not helpful, I apologize.