The only way to sell your product—be it a book, a software program or crocheted condoms—is to tell people about it. (Incidentally, I made up “crocheted condoms” as a joke, then Googled it on a whim. Yup. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/condom Heaven help us!)
The best way to get people to know about your product is to get other people to talk about it, spontaneously, for free and, hopefully (but not altogether necessary), in a good way. That is something I consider achievable, if unlikely, but it harkens back to the Prime Directive of introducing people to your product in the first place.
You can do this by spending money or for free: no real choice to make there, then.
Fortunately, these days, there are numerous way to advertise for free: blogging, twitter, Facebook, YouTube…etc. Due to my lack of specialized talents, however, I am limiting myself to blogging and Twitter. (I really want to give YouTube a go, but I am not keen on embarrassing myself in front of 7 billion people, even though it would probably shift a lot of books.)
Blogging is my strong suit, but that gets you nowhere unless people are made aware of the blog, which leads back to Twitter. (Guest blogging is another great publicity source but I have decided not to do that this time. For my other books, people have kindly allowed me to do this but I feel I am incurring karma debt by not yet being in a position to reciprocate. I am willing to help anyone who asks, but no one wants to guest post on my blog or solicit advice from me so, until that happens, I’m trying to keep my Karma Credit Card in my wallet.)
So, Twitter and commenting on other people’s blogs: both great ways to let people know you are out there. However, I see a lot of people Twitting and commenting in ways that make me cringe; I want people to be aware of me, not think I’m a dick, so I came up with a list of rules for me to follow and I’m calling it my Twitocratic Oath because calling it my “Don’t Be a Dick” list sounded too snarky.
The original oath; oddly, it was not published
in eBook format.
The Twitocratic Oath
I swear by Twitter, Wordpress, Blogspot and all other social networks, and I take to witness all the Cyber-gods and Cyber-goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement, the following Oath and agreement:
- I will not blast hundreds of tweets at a time so that my followers will see only page after page of my tweets when they log on.
- I will make every effort to be sociable and accessible on Twitter and to interact with others.
- I will limit publicity Tweets to announcements about book releases, notifications of price changes, special offers or to draw attention to a review or other media appearance.
- I will post Tweets about my blog updates (or special announcements as noted in Item 3) no more than six times to Twitter (to cover all time zones) and only once to Facebook.
- I will post Tweets about past blog posts no more than twice a week. (I have never done this, but it sounds a great idea and I want to leave the option open.)
- In reference to Item 4, my blog posts will be not be overt advertisements for my books (except in the case of announcements, as listed in Item 3) and will continue to provide the same, quality entertainment they always have. In short, I want people to visit my blog because I can do something for them (i.e. entertain them) and if they like what they see and want to buy my books, all the better.
- I will comment appropriately on other people’s blogs and if I ever post a comment along the lines of, “Hey, great post! Reminds me of my book, Best Book Ever Written, available at (link), (link) and (link), where I mention something very similar…” I will go immediately to the nearest pig farm and dunk my head in the biggest pile of manure I can find because that is what I will deserve.
Hippocrates: "Do no harm."
Do I expect to sell a lot of books following this oath? Not really, but I do expect to be able to sleep soundly at night.
(Update: I have just been reminded--by a visit to Nicola Morgan's site Help I Need a Publisher--about DMs, or Direct Messages in Twitter. I didn't mention them because I have never used them and don't intend to. I think that's a good plan.)