Infographic courtesy of Mashable.com
Anyone who knows me knows how paranoid I am about conflict of interest. When I began doing publicity, I discarded my book critic hat. I don’t handle publicity for media outlets as I believe could pose a conflict when it came to covering my author clients. Most people will call me overly paranoid, but anything that I avoid anything I feel may cause a conflict.
So, when I read this article in the New York Times, I was saddened and appalled:
Was I surprised? No. We live in a world where we can buy Facebook likes and twitter followers. Buying a book review isn’t a far leap. But it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth for a variety of reasons.
First off, it diminishes the value of online reviews. Most media outlets have “sponsored reviews” which are clearly marked as such. Readers like me dismiss those reviews because, clearly, they are inaccurate. But it seems the reviews this company posts are not clearly marked as sponsored, and therefore, appear to be unbiased. If readers don’t know which reviews are real and which aren’t, it diminishes the value of all online praise.
Second, I’m saddened that authors would pay for this service. With a little internet research, they’d find that these reviews are dismissed by the general public and are a waste of money. If you are an author, self-published or otherwise, do not pay for reviews. It doesn’t help sell books and it makes you look like an amateur.
On top of it all, it signals that there’s more of this to come. As the self-publishing bubble swells and more online review outlets pop up, there will be more of a market for this pay-to-play service. Call me paranoid, but I still believe in journalistic integrity. This goes for all journalists, whether you’re a reporter for the New York Times or a librarian with a book blog. I believe reviews should be unbiased and truthful, not pay to play.
No one gets ahead in life without a helping hand. As a debut author, you’re charged with the task of asking authors for blurbs, an intimidating proposition for most. How, as an unknown author, are you supposed to ask a veteran author to take the time, read your book, and offer praise? But the truth is, someone did it for them and most will try to do it for you.
If you are that veteran author, I encourage you not to forget where you came from. While I don’t advise to blurb every book that comes across your desk, you shouldn’t dismiss requests either. It’s good karma, high tides raise all boats, etc. Here are a few ways to give back:
Tweet, Facebook, and spread the word. If it’s pub day for a newbie author you respect, announce the book launch through your social media networks.
Share the stage. As a lesser known author, you always wanted to get a joint event with a big name. Now you’re a big name, so honor another author’s request to share the stage. Who knows, if it’s their home town, they may draw a bigger crowd than you expect.
Talk about what you’re reading. When RL Stine tweeted that he was looking forward Marcus Sakey’s book or Gillian Flynn told Vulture how much she enjoyed LOSING CLEMENTINE by Ashley Ream, both authors received a bump in sales and website traffic. If you’re fortunate to have a big media appearance and the interviewer asks what you’re reading, consider giving a shout out to someone lesser known who deserves the bump.
Has an author done something for you or have you done something for another author that made a big difference? Feel free to share your own suggestions for paying it forward in the comments section.
As a blogger, we love comments. After all, without comments, we’re just standing on a soap box preaching. Without comments, there is no conversation. It’s also validation that people are reading what we write and are interested enough to participate in the discussion
For a while, I’ve been advising my authors to read blogs and always comment with a thank you when a blogger posts a positive review. This engages the blogger and cultivates the relationship. I feel that it shows you appreciate what the blogger does and it makes you available to address readers’ questions.
But recently, I’ve heard from other authors that bloggers don’t like this. They feel that it’s spying, and often, not sincere. And since the last thing I want to do is offend book bloggers, I’m advising my authors to take a step back.
Instead, I recommend commenting on posts not related to yours. Start a conversation, cultivate that relationship. Plus, when you comment on blog, it increases your exposure. It’s a win-win, that is, if you’re sincere.
I am curious though, have any authors heard this from bloggers? Bloggers, do you like it or hate it when authors comment on their reviews? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section, because as a blogger, I love receiving comments.
I read a lot of blogs, but the only ones I will claim I read regularly are the ones I subscribe to. Subscribing to blogs is like subscribing to magazines and newspapers: they show up in your inbox whether you remember to check it or not.
Currently, 365 Days of Book Publicity receives an average of 1500 unique visitors each day, but has less than 100 subscribers. This means that while people are visiting the website on a regular basis, they haven’t committed to reading all the posts.
I’d like to change that.
If you are one of the 1500 people who regularly read 365 Days of Book Publicity, then I urge you to make the commitment and subscribe. It’s painless. Just click the “subscribe” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen and enter your email address. Then, you’ll receive the posts in your inbox to read at your leisure.
Your commitment will not go un-rewarded. If we have 100 subscribers by this time tomorrow, everyone will receive a free book, courtesy of Kaye Publicity. I’ll even send you something based on your reading tastes.
Come on, what do you have to lose?
Forgot to get mom something for Mother’s Day? A book is always a thoughtful gift:
Photo courtesy of Tres Sugar. Click here for the full list of Mother’s Day books.
So much of what we do is duplication. Writers are inspired by novels and attempt to capture the same storytelling fundamentals in their own work. Agents follow trends of what’s selling and what’s not. They look at how their mentors shape their client list and attempt to do the same. Publicists look at what other publicists are doing, find out what works and what doesn’t, and try to replicate those efforts. But if we’re all just going through the motions, duplicating the efforts of those that came before us, how will we adapt?
There are certain tasks that have a right way and a wrong way of getting accomplished. Swapping business cards at conferences: right. Badgering reviewers at conferences: wrong. Following up with media professionals: right. Calling every day until they say yes: wrong. But it’s impossible to rise above the noise and set yourself apart when you’re just replicating the actions of your colleagues/competitors.
Potential clients always ask me about publicity efforts based on what they’ve seen other authors do. They ask about blog tours, twitter contests, and other efforts that are being done to death. While some strategies are implemented because they work, many of them are just spaghetti against the wall, hoping something sticks. So instead of looking what others have done, how about thinking what others haven’t done?
I posted about individuals who were creative in their strategies and have successfully set themselves apart from the rest. None of them went with the status quo; they all tried something that no one else had thought of yet. So when you’re strategizing about publicity, think about new ways to reach your readers, even if it’s different and a little “out there”. In the end, what do you really have to lose?