Authors as Brands

I received a friend request on Facebook from a man I didn’t know. I snooped through his profile, saw we had mutual author friends. Okay, I thought. Let’s help boost each other’s online platforms. What harm could it do? Minutes after accepting, he posted a thank-you on my wall, along with a message to check out his page, become a fan, and buy his book.

On Goodreads, I received an intriguing recommendation from a randomer who’d added me. I had a quick look, saw the book was the second in a series I had never heard about. Did he realize I hadn’t read the first? I looked a little more, then realized–the recommendation for the book had come from the author himself. When I politely pointed out the oddities of his recommendation, his reply was, “My apologies if my recommendation was awkward. Such is my lot….”

Some people don’t get it. They don’t get that the internet is a conversation. They think the message only goes one way—out. Things must be shouted. Things must be thrust in your face. Things must be sold. –Maureen Johnson

There is no surer way to dissuade me from buying your book than behaving like the two authors I’ve described. I cannot help but wonder—have they not realized? Has no one told them? Why such complacency in what is vomit-inducing self-promotion?

Maureen Johnson‘s blog post covers this issue far more eloquently than I ever could, but I wanted to chip in with my two cents.

Yes: being an author is about selling yourself. Publishing is at the end of the day a business. But by pushing your books in people’s faces, all you do is leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The trick is to not sell yourself. To engage, to discuss, to let people learn about the person behind the manuscript. Nice people who make friends quickly have it easy. If you’re not nice, you better start pretending.

And hey — if I like you as a person, I’ll probably buy your book, even if it’s not my thing. Just don’t recommend it to me via Goodreads.

Many thanks to Merrilee for linking me to Maureen’s blog!

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6 thoughts on “Authors as Brands

  1. I like to tell these sorts of people that if they will help me earn enough reader donations and/or mp3 sales to afford their book, I will gladly purchase a copy of it.

    Oddly enough, no one’s taken me up on the offer yet. :)

  2. Yeah, it was a great post, I can’t remember where I found it. But worth reading. Unfortunately the people who need to read it will never understand what she’s trying to say.

    • I didn’t know you were on Goodreads! I’m a librarian there.

      Agree with the conversational aspects of the internet. It’s often a usefully stilted conversation, though – often we’ll subscribe to a RSS feed or Twitter jockey just to get what they give, because we choose them as our mavens. To presume you are such a maven, though, is often self-destructive. I’d hate to give people the feeling that I thought myself above them. Hate it almost as much as getting book recommendations from the authors of said books.

      • **goes to hunt for you on Goodreads**

        Agreed on your other point. I follow Neil Gaiman’s blog posts and such because I chose to — to have some unknowner make that decision for me….!

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