Sunday, January 18, 2009

How Not To Promote Oneself

I've read a lot of blogs over the last year, gotten to know many fellow authors, attended and sat on panels and other events. I realize it's necessary to indulge in self-promotion and have done a fair bit of it myself. But nothing turns me off to an author more than one who talks about nothing but his/her own work, rarely has anything positive to say about another writer, and NEVER asks other authors about their work.

If I go to a panel, I want to hear about the subject, be it 'what makes a cozy mystery cozy' or 'sexed up thrillers' or whatever. I do NOT want to to hear an author answer every question by turning it into a reference to his/her book. Once in a while, sure. But every question? Jeez Louise, just shoot me! No, just shoot the author in question. With a tranquilizer dart, of course. An elephant tranquilizer 'cause some of these people have all the subtlety of elephants.

And if you're writing post on a publishers author blog, don't make every post an advertisement for your latest work. Or upcoming or past work, for that matter. Don't tell your readers to 'get those sales going.' Make sure your post will still hold together if you take the words 'I' and 'me' out of it.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of writers I've met are delightful people with genuine interest in other people, supportive and helpful to aspiring writers. Sisters in Crime Nor Cal alone has some of the nicest people I've ever met. Hailey Lind (current president of our chapter) is worth the price of membership alone. She is personally responsible for kick-starting my social life at last year's Left Coast Crime. Without her, I'd probably still be wandering the hotel halls, too shy to talk to anyone. Actually, if you're in SinC NorCal, just assume you're always welcome in my house. Unless you're allergic to cats. If so, you're still welcome, but bring Benadryl.

And so many of the writers I've met through Make Mine Mystery and Fatal Foodies...well, I've enjoyed both getting to know you and (slowly) making my way through all of your books. You offer good, solid advice and what promotion you do for yourself makes me want to read what you write.

Now I want to know, what drives YOU crazy in terms of bad promotion? What makes you turn and run the other way, vowing never to read a word a particular author has written..and if you do, it's only out of a morbid curiosity to see if their work can possibly live up to their own hype? Inquiring minds want to know...


Mark Troy said...

I've been to several conventions where people have approached me in the hall and insisted I read their book and pushed the book onto me. That really turns me off.

F. M. Meredith, author said...

I agree with what you're saying. There are two authors whose books I'll never read because of their behavior. One was a moderator of a panel and cautioned us not to hog the panel--then after our introductions we never were given a chance to speak again--all she did was talk about herself and her books.

Another author has a select group of people she runs around with at one conference and I've seen her shoo other authors away if they ask to sit with the group. I've seen this gal over and over, been on panels with her (and yes, she's a panel hog too), and she has yet to do more than nod at me.

Oh, and there's on other who complained about the fact that the legitimate authors had stayed away from a mystery con because too many authors from small pressed had come. Don't think I'll buy any more of her books either.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

You have a valid complaint! Yes, I've attended/been on panels where author monopolized the discussion with their work. Even just monopolizing it drives me nuts!

People need to remember the fundamental basic law of human nature - we are all most interested in ourselves! So when we talk to another person, they are not interested in US. Often, they could care less! Therefore, even when we are talking to other authors, we have to remember to ask about their work and not just blather on about our own. (And hope they know to return the courtesy.)

And don't you love the snobby authors!?!?!?!? Yes, I know several of those. I know ones who will be all buddy-buddy with you at a conference and then ignore your emails or social site comments. We are all just people!!

And I would have no problems with cat fur, Morgan! In fact, if you like, I can even bring my own...

L. Diane Wolfe

Dana Fredsti said...

Heh. Mark, I confess I'm such a reading hog, I'd probably take their books...but I'm also assuming they approached you with an ulterior motive?...

F.M., I've been there...and being from a small press, I don't think I'd buy any books from Ms. Large Press snob either.

Diane, I, more than 10 and less than 12 cats. Of all colors. So if you WANT to bring your own cat fur, it'll blend right in! :-)

ANyway, I'm a friendly person and always assume others are the same...until they prove otherwise. THen they go on The List of Those I will not Read.

Morgan Mandel said...

I despise panel hogs, and I've met plenty. Once they get started, no one can get another word in. What is particularly aggravating is when they get the book sales because the other speakers didn't get a chance to speak their pieces.

Morgan Mandel

Dana Fredsti said...

What boggles my mind is that these panel hogs (and snobby authors)don't get what sort of ill-will they generate in a fairly tight-knit community where support, at least to me, is so important.

Suko said...

Terrific post and comments so far!

A really good writer HAS to be interested in others--it's a job requirement. Excessive self-promotion is definitely a "turn-off".

Dana Fredsti said...

Suko, I so agree!