Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Promo Game

If you're looking for Liana Laverentz's contest, she's down one post. Even if you're not, check it out. She's got some sage words about being published. And Detective Hussey responded to his Friday chapter in the Comments section with a couple of new "terms of endearment".

For today, I'm thinking about something that everyone must understand. Publicity. Promotions. Advertising. Unwanted mail, e-mail, and phone calls.

Spam? Junk mail? Phone call solicitations? Everyone is out to make a buck, and with the economy doing what it's doing (or not doing), there seem to be more and more folks trying to get whatever action they can.

Do Not Call List? It's effective, but not perfect. I try to follow the attitude my son-in-law had when he did telemarketing in college. (He ended up with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, so he did find another career option.) He figured that if the people didn't want to listen and cut him off, it meant he wasted that much less time and could get on to the next call. So when a call does get through, and they ask for Mr. or Mrs., I know it's nobody we know or need to talk to. If that's all they say, I reply, "I'm sorry, they're having dinner," and hang up. No guilt—she's now got time to make another call.

Keep Reading...

Or what about yesterday's, "We're not asking for money, only that you agree to look at some material we'll mail." My response. "Fine, I'll be watching for it." Click.

No need to discuss the emails telling me I've won the Irish Sweepstakes, or someone in Nigeria wants to send me money.

Junk mail goes into our recycling box, unopened. Sometimes it goes through the shredder first.

But there are other sorts of "We want your business" messages. And some might seem worthwhile. If you're a small press author, you don't have a lot of money to spend on promotion, so it's a do-it-yourself game.

And you need to target your promotional dollars.
However, there are all sorts of companies that would be more than happy to take your money to do pretty much what you already do. They claim a have a larger audience, or simply keep track of schedules, as to what groups allow promotion on what days. Like everything else, it's buyer beware out there.

I've seen a few of these companies and their promotion, but found that when I saw the name of the promotion company in the "from" field, I was deleting them. And if I was, I figured there would be a lot more people like me who did the same thing, so I've seen no need to join up. The actual messages were basically the exact same thing authors do themselves. A blurb, and excerpt, a buy link. An image of the cover (but more about graphics in a minute)

I'd offer a caveat to those looking for the book promoters. The 'big' authors have publicists, and they earn their money. But in the smaller market of e-books, especially when you don't have a lot of money to spend, you need to Having someone else send an email to one of the groups, like the infinite number available through Yahoo might spare you some time. But remember what it's going to look like on the other end. There's a very nifty feature of these groups called, "Digest." For those unfamiliar with this, it means you get one big message containing about 25 individual messages at a time. You can scan through the headers to see if anything looks interesting enough to open.

One promotion company frequents the groups I subscribe to, and on digest, their promotions, which I'm sure are lovely if received individually, lose all graphics. So where the subject header will have the book title and author, opening the message shows almost two screens of other places the company advertises and the names of its staff before you ever get to the actual promotion piece. If I am promoting, the idea is to get my name out there – not have someone forget who the heck the promotion is for before they read far enough to find me. Seems to me, the "credits" belong at the END of the piece, AFTER they show you what they're advertising. No thanks on that one.

But the kicker – and the trigger for this post in the first place. Last week, I got an e-mail from a company wanting to take my money to advertise my book. This is what they sent (and I've changed the names and other references to the company)

Hi Terry Odell,

A pleasant day to you.

I’m "Jane Doe", a Marketing Specialist of "Promotion".

I came across with your book entitled, “Coping Mechanisms”. We are interested to promote it and we’d like to help you reach out up to 5,000,000 individuals and let them know about you and your work.

If you are interested, please give me a call at 1- 888-555-1234 or you may reply to this email. I’d be grateful to give you more information about this.

Hope to hear from you soon and have a nice day.

Sincerely yours,

Do I start with the grammar? Why would anyone let someone who can't construct an English sentence handle any marketing? Why would anyone want them to? And those 5 million individuals. My guess: they've bought some email lists and are sending … yeah, SPAM. But the real winner? Yes, they actually connected my name to a title of one of my 'books'. Only it's a short story, and it's a Free Read, which anyone can download from the Cerridwen Press website.

No thanks. (For the record, I did Google the company, and found complaints galore.)


Katie Reus said...

That's a pet peeve of mine. If you're going to try to sell something (even if it's a scam), learn proper grammar, lol.

Terry Odell said...

So true, Katie. You've got to come across professional if you want to lure the marks.