You can’t step on the internet (or especially Twitter) without stumbling over promo. Sometimes I get the sense that Twitter is predominantly invented so authors procrastinate from writing and shout “buy my book!” at each other.
Okay, that sounded cynical. It’s not that bad. I actually really enjoy Twitter, and I’ve got to know some awesome people (who also happen to be writers – or, the really rare species, readers!) and we’ve had fun and kept each other from writing, but basically, I see Twitter as a huge garden party, with the advantage that nobody tramples the grass and you can block people who are annoying or drunk.
I have to admit, I’ve bought books from authors I met on Twitter. But I can honestly say that I have never bought a book from a stranger on Twitter who shouted at me “Buy My Book!” Nor will I.
The biggest draw of the internet is that there are fewer barriers. You don’t need an excuse (or even a big reason) to strike up a conversation. “Wow, that was funny”, or “hey, nice to meet you, am a big fan”, which in the real world demand a lot more effort and a follow-up conversation. I’d seriously struggle to approach a stranger on the street and tell them “wow, love your haircut”, because in Britain, that would be inviting a punch in the face (you don’t even look at people on the bus or train or tube – I’m convinced there’s a paragraph of the law that forbids it on pain of death). On Twitter, that’s just being friendly and maybe striking up a conversation, or spending the time or being sociable.
Once you follow your favourite authors or authors you’re curious about, you realize what cool and funny and awesome people they are. Kari Gregg is hysterically funny on Twitter. Josh Lanyon is friendly and insightful, and Rachel Haimowitz is delightfully pervy. Megan Derr is great fun to talk to, too, and I try not to miss tweets from Nerine Dorman, Anne Tenino, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane. Or Kirby Crow. It’s my way to stalk and casually stay in touch with people whose work I admire, and if any of them tweet “hey, my book’s live NOW!”, I’m the first to run and buy it. (And I’m probably missing a few dozen author friends…)
But the point is, none of them run around going “BUY MY BOOK!” We’re having fun, hanging out, chatting, no strings attached.
There are authors whose tweetstream is nothing more than “Got an AWESOME REVIEW AT GOODREADS” or “I’m A BESTSELLER AT COFFE CUP BOOKS!” and, worse, retweet these two over and over and over again. If I’m their follower and I see the same tweet twenty times a day and nothing else, I’m bored. A few weeks later, I’m annoyed. A month later, I begin to hate them a little, and then comes the big author cull and I block them and might, if I feel especially vindictive, report them for spam (because, sorry, but automating two or three tweets and running them a hundred times a day IS spam).
Most of all, even if I see their book somewhere, my thought is not “oh, awesome, interesting book”, it’s “THAT’s the author who bored me and kept shouting at me to buy his/her book NOW!” and even if somebody recommends the book, and even if it sounds interesting and the cover is great and I would have bought it normally, I won’t.
That’s the big one for me. Promo is one thing, and in a way we all have to do it. Just look at which advertisements go “viral”. It’s the fun stuff, the touching stuff, things we care about anyway. You draw a lot more interest with something cool and interesting and funny (like the kid in the Darth Vader costume in the car advert, or a flash mob singing and dancing) than with “BUY MY BOOK” repeating fifty times until you’ve been unfollowed and blocked and reported for spam even by your grandmother.
I would argue that soft promo works much much better than the hard sell… build relationships, one at a time. Even if you don’t sell a million books, you might make a friend and have a good time, which is worth something. It’s actually the only promo I personally care about. I’m doing it to have fun with friends, not to sell books. And strangely, that does sell books.
Fighting with your back to the wall is all well and good—as long as you’ve chosen the right wall.
When the local authorities ask Kyle Juenger to hunt a shape-shifting Glyrinny spy, he can’t refuse. After all, he can use the reward to replace his paralyzed legs with cyberware, and maybe even to return to his home planet. Besides, he hates the morphs—those invasive, brain-eating monstrosities whose weapons cost him his legs.
Kyle’s best lead is the Scorpion, a mercenary ship armed to the teeth. Grimm, the Scorpion’s pilot and captain, fascinates Kyle. He’s everything Kyle lost with his legs, and he’s from the same home world. He’s also of the warrior caste—half priest, half savior. But Grimm’s been twisted by life as a merc, and Kyle’s stuck undercover as a criminal on the run.
That doesn’t stop Grimm from coming on to Kyle, or from insisting he’s more than the sum of his past and his useless legs. But Kyle has other concerns—like tracking a dangerous morph who could be wearing anyone’s face. And as if things weren’t complicated enough, Kyle can’t tell if Grimm is part of the solution . . . or part of the problem.
About the Author: Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he makes his living editing dodgy business English so it makes sense (and doesn’t melt anybody’s brain). He published five novels and many short stories in his native language, then switched to English and hasn’t looked back. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.
In his spare time, he goes weightlifting, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He singlehandedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects and interests. His current interests include World War II, espionage, medieval tournaments, and prisoners of war. He loves traveling, action movies, and spy novels.
Visit Aleksandr’s website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com, his blog at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.