Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More thoughts on Amazon promotion

The Amazon boards really blew up yesterday. A couple of authors had created several threads, unrelated or tangentially related to their books (an example of a tangential topic being asking about chick lit, and how much you were willing to pay for it, when chick lit is the author's genre). They got jumped on and accused of spamming by several people. They also got defended by a lot of people, so their sales may have actually improved as a result of the kerfluffle, I don't know. Even so, I would rather promote on the threads without ticking off people (any more than necessary; some people just don't like authors promoting, or indie authors, and it's always possible to get a nasty response on the internet anyway, as well all know by now). I don't like conflict, and strive to avoid it:-).

I really think has the right idea-- it's best for authors not to create multiple threads. One per book is enough. Also, a thread about a book should be clearly marked as such; another author got jumped on for a thread title that didn't make it perfectly clear that it was promoting her book. So here are some more thoughts, sparked by all this, on how to promote without angering people:

1. One book, one thread. Don't spam a thread you create, either (and I'm not saying anyone has been doing this on Amazon, just offering a general rule of thumb); it's okay to respond to other people, but you don't want to be bumping it up all the time just for the hell of it. As I said yesterday, I try not to post too often on the threads devoted to promotion, either.

2. Promotional book threads should be clearly marked as such-- ie, IN THE MOOD, a contemporary romance, now available! Something like "Are you in the mood for love?", while more clever, may annoy people because they click on it to see what it's about, and some people just do not want to read promos.

3. If you create other threads, they should be entirely unrelated to your book, and you might want to avoid using a sig line so that you don't give the impression you're trying to promote. For example, it could be perceived as self-serving and promotional if I create a thread with the title, What do you consider the classics of contemporary romance? But probably no one's going to jump on me for posting, Help, I have an issue with my Kindle's screensaver, especially if I don't use a sig line.

4. It's fine to post in other threads if you have relevant stuff to say, and especially if you don't use a sig line. I've been posting up a storm in the romance section, because I have lots to say on the topic and I enjoy the conversation. I contributed to a thread about bodice rippers (Shirlee Busbee FTW!) and I've talked about my love for Elaine Fox and Rachel Gibson. But I'm not using a sig line, so hopefully no one is going to take that as blatant promotion. I also posted on about science fiction a few times. The sig line is automatic there, but I contributed to the discussion, and it had nothing to do with my own genre, so again, I don't think that's spammy by anyone's measure.

I'm not saying anyone HAS been spamming the boards, or criticizing anyone for their posts. I'm just saying that it appears to my newbie eyes that the Amazon boards are a bit touchy on this topic (presumably because they've had some hardcore spammers in the past), so to me, erring on the side of caution and subtlety seems wise. A poster named Fred on Amazon puts it best:

"I wasn't here when the afore mentioned "rules of etiquette" were established but I think I can see how and why they evolved. If every Indie author in the world came here and started multiple threads each day in thinly veiled attempts to promote their work this forum would quickly become nothing but and you guys would end up trying to sell your books to each other because all the actual readers would flee. So it's not in anyone's best interest to see that happen... So please use some discretion when promoting your books on this message board. In the long run that's best for everyone IMO."

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