March 9, 2012

How not to promote your book

The other day I was sitting on a park bench, enjoying some very rare alone time while SB was in speech therapy. I was reading a book. I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. When I looked up, there was a man standing there, thrusting a business card in my face.

"I see you like to read," he said. "You should buy my book. It's available on"

I was floored, and all I could manage to get out was, "Ummm, Ohhhhkaaay."

Then he was gone.

And all I could think was, "That is so not how you promote a book, dude!"

As a writer, I understand the desire to share your work with others. And the pressure to promote it. But there is a right way and a wrong way and in my opinion, his approach falls very much in the latter category.

There is nothing wrong with talking about your work if people ask what you do, or it happens to relate to the subject of the conversation, or you know you are with people who would be interested. None of that applied in this situation.

He never even attempted to make small talk. Did not approach me with a "Hello," or "Good morning," or even an "Excuse me but..." And he made a huge leap in assuming simply because I was reading a book I would be interested in his.

He never even asked me what I was reading. Nor did he tell me anything about his book other than it was for sale. If he'd approached me differently, it's likely I would have told him I am a writer, too. Asked about his work. But he didn't give me the chance, and I did not have the desire to do so.

I'm not saying I always do it right. I'd like to believe, however, that I understand it is about relationships, about the needs and interests of other people and not about me. I came across this post recently from someone who who does understand and offers some great advice - How to Promote Yourself Without Being A Jerk.

This stuff is tricky. I get that. But I have to give the guy at the park a big promotion FAIL. And no, I did not buy his book. Also? My preschooler threw his card in the trash.

I know this is something many of us find challenging. How would you have reacted to this man's approach? What "rules" do you try to follow in promoting your work? Do you have any great advice or tips?
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