On Thursday, September 10, Daniel Kraus gave a thumbs-up to a 30-second spot touting Laurie Ann Levin’s God, the Universe, and Where I Fit In. On Saturday, September 12, Bonita Rodriguez posted the following comment:
This is a good one; we viewed it in lit class.
The link leads to a trailer for Eva’s Confessions: The MOOD Lounge, by Zondra Hughes. Ms. Rodriguez’ name is linked to http://www.moodlounge.org. I don’t think I’m being either a conspiracy theorist or a brilliant detective if I deduce that Ms. Rodriguez (if indeed that is her real name) is waging a little guerilla promotion for this book. On the other hand, if the teaching professional who assigned this viewing to Ms. Rodriguez’s “lit class” can be produced, I’ll be happy to find out why they chose this particular book trailer. (Or how, indeed, they found something that had under 100 views to begin with.)
On Friday, September 11, I posted “Weeklings” and, yesterday, Brenda Estacio added her own comment, a full-text press release for Gateway to DreamWorld, by–you guessed it–Brenda Estacio. (The release includes an e-mail for publicist Ellen Green, who clearly isn’t earning her keep if her poor author is reduced to posting the press releases in the comment sections of other people’s blogs.)
These comments aren’t unusual. They come, in fact, every day. What’s unusual is the fact that I’ve approved them and am writing about them. Why, you ask? Because, where others might see careless or sloppy attempts at self-promotion, I see missed opportunities to make real connections–and win readers for Ms. Hughes’ and Ms. Estacio’s books.
So, in that spirit, I’d like to offer these four simple guidelines to self-promoting your work on our blog.
1. Don’t cut and paste the same comment everywhere. Personalize it. Bloggers like to be flattered. If you begin by saying, “Hey Keir,” you have my attention, for at least a moment. I won’t delete it quite as quickly as I would an ad for “V!@GR@” or “C1@L1$.”
2. Once you have my attention, make sure that what you’re saying is relevant to the post you’re commenting on. If your book is about, say, evil orphan vampire children, perhaps it’s not appropriate to add your comment to my post making fun of James Patterson. Search our blog for posts on evil orphan vampire children, or something similar.
3. Read the post and say something original about it. Then–and only then–should you bring up your own book. Try for a better transition than “speaking of books about evil orphan vampire children, I have written…” You can do better than that. Perhaps: “I find so-and-so’s remarks on evil orphan vampire children interesting; however, they focus too much on the technical aspects of bloodsucking. It’s more edifying when approached through the lens of the lonely orphan’s psychological development, as I have done in my new book….” Or words to that effect.
4. To give your comment an even better chance of being published, read the blog for a few days before you comment. Perhaps make a comment on something that doesn’t relate to your book, to better lay the groundwork for your eventual, self-promoting comment. In fact, in blogs (such as this one) where any user’s first comment must be approved, and where subsequent comments gain automatic approval, you might luck out and have your self-promoting comment sail right through the approval process!
It now occurs to me that, if you follow these steps, then you will have actually become a legitimate reader of the blog in question. You may well be on your way to forming a genuine relationship with the blog’s authors and with other readers of the blog. Once a relationship exists, you are no longer someone committing a meaningless, drive-by act of self-promotion–you are, in however small a way, part of the blog’s little community, and your recommendation that others read your book may have a teensy, tiny bit of authority to it.
Now, duplicate this a few dozen times, and you’ll actually be supporting the literary ecosystem that you want to support you. Doesn’t that feel good? Good day, and good luck!