I'm quite positive that my own marketing efforts stay largely on the side of professional and polite. But during those hectic weeks leading up to publication, when every email we write seems to be a plea for something, how can an author be sure she hasn't crossed that line?
One way is to listen to those who constantly find themselves on the receiving end of poorly executed promotion. Lately I've heard the struggling cries of several overwhelmed book bloggers, and in their exasperation lies a tale of how not to do it.
Exhibit A: Book blogger Jen Karsbaek posted a tidbit to twitter about meeting her 2011 reading goals:
Take it from book blogger Karen Ballum, also known as @SassyMonkey on Twitter and BlogHer, where she is an editor. Last fall, she found the twitter pitches of authors so outrageous that she wrote an entire blog post about it, entitled Don't Pee In My Pool. She writes:
I am pretty used to bad pitches. I have been receiving them since 2006. I’m fairly immune to them by now, however, I am seeing a troubling trend. For the last year I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of authors and publicists pitching me outside of my inbox.
I get pitched on Twitter. Yes, people are attempting to pitch me in 140 characters. I’m sure someone told you this was a good idea. Stop listening to them. Oh and FYI — if I look at your stream and I see nothing but pitches? I report you as a spammer. Because you are.
Then there was the author that friended me on Twitter and Facebook. I hesitated before adding them on Facebook because I had never heard of them. I went against my better judgement and granted the friend request. Less than 2 minutes after I hit the accept button there was a pitch on my wall. I unfriended them and then blocked them on Twitter. I no longer friend authors on Facebook unless they are an author I know.
I get pitched in the comments of my posts here. Do you see them? Nope. That’s right. I delete them. I get pitched in the comments at on other sites. I ignore them.
I know that someone out there is telling you that you need to be on social media. I know someone it telling you that you should follow bloggers on Facebook and Twitter. I know someone is telling you that you need to read blogs. They are probably right.
But that does NOT mean that you should pitch me on Twitter. Or on my Facebook wall. Or in the comments of a post ANYWHERE.
I understand that you want me to read your book, that you want lots of people to read your book. If I were an author I’d want that. I get it. But here’s the thing — you are peeing in my pool.
You are interrupting my conversations with something totally off-topic and self-promotional. You are the telemarketer who calls at dinner time.
The comments at the bottom of Ballum's post are definitely worth reading, too. The bottom line is that you should always pitch professionally. Think about it this way: if you're going to pitch, why would you want to do it any other way? Put your best, most professional foot forward. It's just one more way to leapfrog over those writers who try less hard than you do--who don't do their homework. By caring enough to read each blogger's review policy, and then by writing a succinct, carefully worded letter putting forth the best hook for your book, you give yourself a leg up.
Now go get 'em! But do it properly.