I’m wearing a sandwich-board sign that says “Harry Connolly, author”


Yesterday (the day before? omg–must get handle on life) Sherwood Smith linked to and discussed Sarah Prineas’s rant against authors who market their books (titled: “I will be your friend but I won’t be your fan”). I recommend reading both, including the links comments (corrected).

And yeah, I get it. I do a little marketing here and there: I’ll retweet a nice review, or give books away on my blog. I try not to be obnoxious about it, but everyone has different tolerances and I’m bound to annoy someone.

That said, I know very well that there’s little I can do to affect my own sales beyond write a book people want to read. The number of copies I’ve given away and whatever effect that might have, is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of books I’ve sold. But I do it anyway; don’t ask why.

I have my limits. This blog will never turn into all hard-sell all the time. First of all, because it would annoy me even more than it would annoy you. Second of all, because that’s not my job. Third of all, because even if it was, that job would suck and I’d quit. I won’t be sponsoring complicated contests where you have to type out a long string of book titles. I won’t be sending Facebook “fan” requests.” I don’t plan to do any readings. I won’t be asking people to give my 5-star reviews on Amazon.com or anywhere else. I won’t be asking people to call all their local bookstores and ask if they have have my latest in stock.

I will do other things, though. I’ll keep sending my books to reviewers (anyone want to recommend some? I don’t want to duplicate efforts from the first round, but I’m interested in finding new review venues). I’ll still donate books to charity auctions; this is my favorite thing to do, because it does a slight bit of good for the world at large. I’ll still sign bookstore stock. I’ll still have giveaways. I’ll still mention that most people can ask their libraries to stock certain books, hint hint.

Probably the most effective thing I’ve done is contact folks I know online who have large followings and offer the book to them in the hopes that they’ll review it. I try to emphasize that it’s at their convenience and I wouldn’t ask them to gin up a fake positive review. That doesn’t always work, of course. Sometimes they never get around to reading it. Sometimes the review is middling. That’s fine by me–I’m grateful for their time. But when they really like the book, that’s a big deal.

I mean, basically it’s all about word-of-mouth, but when we’re talking about online reading communities, some mouths have access to more ears than others. For ex: According to his figures, John Scalzi’s blog gets 35-40 thousand unique visitors a day. My blog? 52, and that’s on a pretty good day.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t want to leave everything up to other people. Maybe it’s just that I want to do my part in making the book succeed.

What do you guys think? Is there a level of promotion you like and expect (“You have a new book out? Why didn’t you tell us?”) and where do you get exasperated and turned off? Was there a particular author promotion you thought was effective? Have you ever bought a book because of an author’s marketing?

And just because, if you want two copies of Game of Cages leave a comment on my main blog or LiveJournal saying so. I’ll choose a random winner sometime tomorrow morning. The extra copy is so that, if you like the book, you can give it to a friend; if you don’t like it, you can give it to an enemy.

4 thoughts on “I’m wearing a sandwich-board sign that says “Harry Connolly, author”

  1. Anja

    Well, I bought Child of Fire because I read about it on Whatever…

    For me it’s important that an author has an uptodate homepage, where I can find out what books they have out and what is coming.

    To find new authors I rely on blogs of authors I already know as well as blogs like the “Fantasy Book Critic”.

  2. I’ll be looking up “Fantasy Book Critic” when I get home, but it sounds familiar. Thanks.

    A lot of folks tried Child of Fire after reading my Big Idea piece, and I’m grateful to John for the opportunity he gives us.

    Also, I changed my home page when book two came out because the old version, which just had the picture and a couple of links, made readers click through to the actual book content. That’s a bad idea, so it’s better now.

    And I agree about keeping web pages updated. If an author is writing a series, I want to see all the books and the order they were published.

  3. Rob Smith

    The blogs are very important to me as a reader and a buyer. They are like director commentary on the novels or short stories. Even when you are not specifically talking about your books. It definitely comes down to the work of fiction in the end. So no amoun of cajoling or hard selling will get me to read more. Which you are not guilty of in my opinion.
    Oh and thank heavens for Annalise’s appearance in Game of Cages. Also I think Ray’s next adventure should take him to a health spa. You owe it to him.

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