I'm not overly fond of promo, but after eight months of trying out various venues for it, including Yahoogroups, Facebook, Twitter, my website, paid ads in RT and on the Romance Studio's site, having postcards, bookmarks and business cards printed, doing several interviews, running contests and starting this blog, I think I can safely say I've tried just about everything.
So you do all that, then you wait for your royalty statements and try to figure out what works and what doesn't. To be honest, I'm still not sure. All I can tell you is that in 2008, I spent more on promo than I've earned on the two books I now have in print. A lot more. But I expected as much. A new author's like any other type of small business - you have to spend money to make money. Every new business ends up with red ink on the books at the close of the year. (And believe me, I know from red ink - in my previous working life, I used to be a bookkeeper.)
I know how much it hurts to be out there swinging as long and as hard as you can, yet not seeing much, if any, results in the bottom line. It's frustrating to be just one of many different voices out there on Yahoogroups, all vying for the same small group of readers, all jumping up and down at the same time, yelling, "Hey, I've got a new book out too! Pick me! Pick ME!!!!"
One problem I've seen with a number of different authors is that they're always in promo mode, always pitching, always ON. And that gets real old real fast. People don't like it when they feel that you're constantly trying to sell them something. After awhile it all turns into so much white noise, and they'll start tuning you out. They see your name, and they instinctively cringe. That's what happened to me yesterday afternoon. I was on Twitter, reading tweets from all the people I follow, and there was this one author with one entry after another, all of it promo - and on Christmas Eve, yet! It was beyond obnoxious. I thought about sending the guy a private message advising him to cool it, but in the end I simply deleted him from the list of people I follow. Which was too bad, because he seemed like a nice guy, but he just didn't know when enough was enough.
I've never been a fan of the hard-sell. I don't even like putting myself out there on Yahoogroups or Twitter or Facebook, but it's something I've learned to do pretty much on auto-pilot. I slip into my alternate "author" persona, paste on a virtual smile, and go out there and work. I envy authors who aren't nervous and tongue-tied when they talk to people they don't know about their work, but I doubt I will ever be completely comfortable doing it myself. In that respect, I'm grateful that venues such as Yahoogroups and Facebook exist, because they provide that extra layer of separation (or should I say, protection!) between me and all those scary people out there.