Sunday, October 27, 2013

10 Promotion Pitfalls to Avoid

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at the promotion efforts of sites I visit regularly (not OTP).  First, I have been trying to come up with a formula that works (haven’t solved this one yet), and second, I have been trying to figure out pitfalls to avoid. 

Here are a few things I have seen that, in my opinion, can hurt the promotion efforts of a writer.

1.  Not including “live” links in emails or posts.  Readers who already enjoy your work will probably copy and paste.  Chances are, those people have also already purchased your book.  Readers who don’t know you, have never heard of you, and/or have tons to read already, will probably not make the extra effort. 

2.  Not including links at all, especially if you are guest posting or posting to a list serve.  Don’t assume that the person reading your post or article knows your website or blog address, even if your target audience is one you think should know you well enough to find it.  If you mention a great group on Facebook to join, direct the reader to an article on another writer's site, or suggest they read a blog post on your own site, include a link to it so people can find it without having to search.  Otherwise, they might not bother.

3.  Putting a link to a site that doesn’t directly lead to the article or post.  If a reader is interested enough to click the link and the page they reach doesn’t have the article or post you were referring to, the reader who isn’t already in love with you is going to move on to something else.  They're not going to search for other links.  Providing a link that doesn’t lead directly to the promised article or post cheats your readers and wastes their time.

For example, I've written a post called, "Bad Reviews or Why Prisoners Like Grits" on my blog at If I've done this right, and you check it before the next article comes up, the link should take you directly to the most recent post.  (The blog even includes a link to the worst Amazon review I've ever received.)

4.  Make sure if you are offering a sale or a free book through a link, that the link takes the reader directly to the sale or free book.  If the offer is time-limited, include that immediately before the link.  Some people don’t check their email every day.  If you don’t include that information, they may click your link and be disappointed or even annoyed or angry when the book is regular price again.

3 of my pets
 5.  Not having images on a blog.  People like to associate a face with a name, or if you’re really lucky,
your book cover.

6.  Only posting or blogging about buying your book.  Some years back, a writer who self-published her book after her publisher went out of business (not an OTP writer) started a campaign to get her book on some Amazon best seller list.

My girls 1st day of school

Everything she posted on every site, including her Facebook, read like, “Buy my book, buy my book, and by the way, don’t forget to buy my book.”  She was like one of my kids, who will keep asking for the same thing over and over, as if repeating the request enough times will make me give it to them.  My kids don’t get what they want this way and neither did she.  Her first book was okay, and I would have likely bought her next one had she not done this. As it stands, she lost a reader.

7.  Don’t put white words on bright backgrounds.  To those of us on the wrong side of 40 and older, it is really difficult to read, like trying to read the side of an Anacin medicine bottle.  We can adjust the size of text on our computers for the most part–if there’s a way to adjust the color on another writer's blog, I’m not aware of it. Make things easy to read.  Remember– the biggest mystery reader demographic is not the 20-year-old category.  Here are some additional tips I found, although the writer doesn't mention white on bright specifically.  (I also followed rules 1-3 by posting the link.)

8.  Don’t think you’re too busy to comment back when people have commented on a blog post you’ve done, whether for your own blog or the blog of someone else.  Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with, and failing to do so probably won’t make or break your career, but it’s polite to respond when you can.  Readers will remember how a writer treated them.

9.  Don’t be too snarky about fans or other writers.  If you’re on a private list, a group where everyone knows and loves you, have a field day.  If you’re not, while it’s fine to have the opinion that Janet Evanovich’s plots seem to be recycled, it smells of jealousy if you dog-out another writer in your opinion or review.  You risk alienating fewer readers--and people will take you more seriously--if you are respectful and courteous in your reviews, even if your opinion is that the work is horrendous.  The First Amendment can be your best friend or your worst enemy in promotion, depending upon how you use it.

10.  Don’t say you’re going to do something and not do it.  You won’t keep fans by not showing up for a book signing.  While readers may not know you’ve failed to send in a promised guest blog, this type of stuff gets around, and eventually other writers will stop offering you those opportunities. 

It’s easy to forget, or get busy, and life sometimes just gets in the way.  If that happens, let the person waiting for you know that something came up.  While forgetting you are supposed to do a blog won’t go over big with the blog owner, it is much better to man up or woman up, as the case may be, apologize, and correct the mistake.  No one is perfect, and humility goes a long way in this profession.


Holli Castillo
Follow me on Facebook


Theresa Varela said...

These are great tips, Holli. Most especially the ones about proper linking. This is something I often forget to do. Thanks!

Billie Johnson said...

As usual, Holli, your points are well-thought out and right on point!

Thanks for the post!


Holli Castillo said...

Theresa, clicking on links that aren't really links drives me crazy. I know sometimes it's difficult to figure out how to make the link live, especially if you're posting on an unfamiliar site, but it's really worth it to figure out because you definitely get more hits that way. Billie, thanks for giving the platform to blog.


Lorna Collins - Author said...

Good suggestions! I especially like the one about accurate and live links. Very important.

Diane Kratz said...

Nice post Holli!

I especially like the part where you included NOT to put white words on a dark background.

I had eye surgery a while back, and I can't see those very good. I wish sites would do away with the lettering that say's, "Prove your not a robot", I have a hard time seeing those too!

I'm not published, but I have very successful blog following. I tend to always write two paragraphs and insert a picture. It more soothing on the eye when you do this. You were right on the money for giving it as a tip.

I enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing!

Holli Castillo said...

Lorna and Diane, thanks for the comments.

Mysti Berry said...

Love your reminder not to snark on other writers in public. Once you become a writer, I think you have to leave judging other writers up to the reviewers and other readers. It's just not our job anymore.

I posted something that was obliquely critical (i.e. not really critical, but I can see how he took it that way) on *facebook* and had a distressed email from the writer in question, very quickly after I posted. Some people really guard their reputations.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Excellent post, Holli. I'm guilty of not putting the exact link sometimes, too often in fact.

marja said...

Excellent post, Holli. I wish more people understood the art of NOT hard-selling. Sometimes we need to just join in discussions.
Marja McGraw

Facebook Helpline Contact Number said...

SEO Ireland UK
Web Design Belfast Northern Ireland
Amazon Helpline Contact Number
Gmail Helpline Contact Number

aine greaney said...

Great piece. So well written, too. I am sometimes guilty of not including links.

Life Experience Degrees said...

I must admit that you share one of the best information I have read.