Is it Tacky?

Hello there, Scribes fans. Sugar, here.

I’ve been published for almost a week now. And these past few days people kept asking me how I felt about it. Like they were expecting me to be irrevocably different just because I had a book on the shelves. I’m not sure how it is for other debut others, but I feel…. exactly the same. I still go to work and get teased by my brothers. I still write my thousand words a day and doubt every sentence that goes on the page.

The only other difference is that extra layer of worry that I carry around with me, that nobody is going to buy my book and if they do they are going to hate it. But other than that I’m still the same person I was a year ago. Just with a different set of worries.

And one of those worries is promotion related. How much is too much? We all know the “BUY MY BOOK” messages we see authors splash across their Twitter and Facebook accounts are annoying and not effective. Some might even call them tacky. I don’t think those writers spam us with those things to be annoying. I think they just want to attract more readers to their books and as writers we all want that.

But how do we do it?

I keep asking that question and nobody seems to have the answer to it. I’ve heard blogging is dead and that Facebook is passe and that tweeting is like screaming into the wind. I heard people say that ads on websites are like white noise and that most people don’t notice them because they are inundated with so many.

So what’s left?

Street teams? A street team, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is basically a group or team of people who hit the “streets” to promote something. For authors a street team might hand out books marks, request that your book be carried in store and leave good reviews for the author on Amazon and other sites, talk to your book up to anybody who will listen and a variety of other things. In return these dedicated fans get swag or free books and the author’s many thanks.

I personally hold all judgement on Street Teams. They seem to work beautifully for some authors. But lately I’ve been seeing a few authors bash them. One author I follow is of the mindset that it’s the author’s job to promote their book and it’s wrong to ask fans to do it for them. That readers should only leave reviews if they want to. They should only recommend books that are truly worth recommending, not because they are loyal to the author. And that word of mouth should spread naturally.

I think it’s an interesting position to take. Doctor’s don’t ask for reviews, and neither do hairstylist, restaurants or teachers. Could you imagine if after a meal your waiter asked you to immediately go home and get on Yelp and rate his performance and the food that evening and tell everyone you met about how great their restaurant was? Wouldn’t you be a little taken aback if that happened?

People do leave reviews for restaurants and hairstylist and even doctors nowadays but only because they want to not because they are asked.

But on the flip side of that argument. Nobody is forcing anybody to join these teams. People do it because they want to support an author and in the end is that really such a bad thing?

I do think there is a certain etiquette a writer must have when conducting themselves. But what is it? There are no written rules.

So I have some questions I hope you can all help me answer about what is tacky and what isn’t.

This week I have gotten six emails (from strangers!) telling me how much they loved my book and can’t wait to read more of my work. Would it be tacky to ask them to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter or leave their reviews on Amazon?

Is it tacky to email a blog that you have never commented on and don’t regularly visit and ask to be featured there? (Having a blog tour set up for you is a different story.)  Isn’t it like inviting yourself to a party?

Is it tacky to ask your friends to pimp your book on their Facebook pages? I have wonderful friends who did this for me without asking. And I have never been asked to do it myself. But if I enjoy a book or simply like an author I will.

Is it tacky to curse of social media? I don’t know if you know this, but elementary school teachers curse more than anybody else on the planet. Simply because we have to keep it together all day and be positive role models for small children. Sometimes I find really funny someecards that I want to post on my fan page that have the bad words in them, but I don’t because I’m trying to keep it classy, even though I’m a little bit trashy.

Are naked man pictures tacky? If cursing is taboo then why isn’t man butt? I’ve seen some authors post pictures that are just shy of soft core porn. Would we stand for it if a male author were posting pictures of nearly nude women everyday?

Keep in mind I pass no judgement on any of these things. I’m simply wondering what folks find tacky these days? Please share your thoughts with me.

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5 thoughts on “Is it Tacky?”

  1. Good blog Sugar, I would much rather see a sexy guy’s butt than gal’s, but I guess that make me a sexiest too! LOL But I think women are also spending most of the big bucks on Romance books so that why they get away with this sort of tacky behavior. All of which I have participated in, on Face-Book! OH MY! Yes I will get around to piping your book more as soon as I finish it. 🙂

  2. I have no idea about any answers, but I appreciate the questions. The most I manage is telling them that if they want to read my other books, they could sign up for my newsletter. I’ve sent out a couple and they seem fairly useless.

  3. Hey, I didn’t realize it was you, SJ, when I saw this blog on the list! It just seemed like an interesting topic–I’m not subscribed to too many blogs. I have a blog and have published a few articles, but I’m not a writer, I’m a performer. So my opinion is not an insider’s perspective.

    In this day and age a lot of people don’t read entire books. Some folks aren’t aware of this but in the USA, about 45% of the population are only functionally literate or are illiterate–I believe some of these people are on FB, Twitter, etc. but they just aren’t going to pay much attention to book reviews or ads since reading an entire book is not something they do. The time I spend on FB I take seriously (I could be doing other things) so I am moved to write reviews, attend events and read articles based on what people post. I found out about your book by your FB post.

    I don’t think it is tacky to advertise on any of these media. This is the “press” of today. If someone read and liked your book then by seeing “buy my book” on a FB page or e-mail, is not going to change that. On the other hand you may pick up a few people who didn’t know about it who decide to check it out. I never have been dissuaded to do so just because someone wrote “buy my book, buy my CD, come to my concert, look at my video”–quite the contrary. I get e-mails and tons of FB invites about friends and colleagues projects (including books). I don’t think anything negative about it. It is a free way to advertise these days–for the younger generation internet IS the “word of mouth.”

  4. The following are just my opinions and in no specific order but:

    a) as much as I like pics of half naked men, I do find them offensive on the principle you mentioned. If a male author were to post pics of a half naked woman, that would knock him down several pegs on my respect meter. I wouldn’t do it myself, but i also write YA and not adult romance.

    b) if readers email me and tell me how much they liked my book, I reply with a heartfelt thanks and mention that reviews are very helpful in getting the word out to other readers. i also have no problem offering them the opportunity to follow me on FB/ Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter etc. so they can stay tuned about upcoming releases. So much of promoting depends on your perspective and approach. There’s a difference between begging someone for something and offering them something. it’s all how you approach it.

    c) If you have a core group of friends who have offered their support, I say, by all means ask them to share your post or a great review, but as K.H. mentions, don’t expect your friends to be your sales force. There’s a balance between what’s enough and what’s too much and we authors walk the line all the time. As a newbie and indie publisher, I didn’t have much guidance in this department and I sometimes overstepped, but I don’t think it has hurt me in the long run.

    d) Bloggers who blog about books are there to support great books. Again, I say offer your book up for their review/hosting pleasure. Or ask if they are interested in an interview of a debut author with St Martin’s Press. Bloggers want to bring readers to their sites so yes, they would be interested in a debut novel that’s getting great reviews.

    Bottom line is that you need to think of writing as a business. You are producing a product that a certain demographic of consumers will want to know about and purchase. Don’t be afraid to sell your book or yourself. Just don’t become the Fuller Brush man.

  5. Honestly Sugar, i don’t know what is acceptable or not. And when it comes to my turn to shout to the world — hello here’s my book, I don’t know what I will do. In any business, you must learn to sell the products you represent. Should you hire a marketer? If you could work on a contingency, that would be a great way to promote your work. It is not easy to find someone willing to work for nothing at the start, with the promise of a questionable big prize later. So we are all in the position of promoting ourselves. Looking at those that have gone before is a great way to travel. As a member of CTRWA, you have quite an advantage.

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