Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Promises, promises

Yesterday, someone in a Facebook group posted a rant about how she had gone to great lengths to have her dance class at a time that was more convenient for people she knew. She had also agreed to offer the class at a lower price for them. These people had told her that they wanted to take her class, but they never had the time. Or, it was too expensive. They would love to take her class, but they couldn’t afford it. So she made an effort to get the class set at a day and time which they told her would be good for them, as well as offer it at a cheaper rate.

But none of them showed up for the class.

She put all of that effort into getting the class just where these people needed it to be, and it had all been for nothing. I was angry right along with her as I read her rant, but unfortunately, it was something I could relate to, as an author.

In the past, I made it a point to start including people in my nonfiction books. I would either interview them or include them or their business in some way. A majority of these people were people who I did not know personally and have never met before, but they agreed to be interviewed or included in my book. Or, they sought me out to share their story. I did this with the hopes that they would buy a copy of the book when it came out. And I thought, the more people I included, the more sales of the book! And on many occasions, when I was communicating with them for the book, several of those people got excited about the book or they expressed interest in buying it. Then the book would come out, I would contact them to let them know it was out (and send them a comp copy of the ebook, if they wanted one), but then they would not buy the book. These people did not put the book on their site like they said they would and they did not mention it on social media, like they said they would. (And major THANKS to the people who actually made good on that promise!) I know this, because I checked. And that was a huge disappointment! (For this reason, I have limited who I include in my current nonfiction books, and I no longer expect any sales of the book because of my including them. I don't expect anything from anyone! And I won't waste my time for people who won't follow through, either. Because they usually DON'T follow through.)

This has not happened with every nonfiction book. Of the many paranormal investigators I interviewed/included in A Ghost on Every Corner, only two of them made good on their promise to buy a copy of the book. (One of them bought over 50 copies to haul off to a local gift shop!) And I am grateful to two of them who reviewed it, as well.

But for the most part, this sort of thing has happened with many of my books. With the breast cancer ebook, for example, I sent a comp copy to the people included, but there were no further sales of that ebook at all. A friend did buy a copy from me, but that’s it.

As an author, I am used to getting false promises from a lot of people, including family and friends who say they’ll buy a book but they never do. People say “I can’t wait to buy it!” or “I will definitely buy a copy!” but that doesn’t happen after the book comes out. This is not the result for a lack of promoting the book, either! If someone expresses interest in one of my books, I let them know when the book is out. Or I spend time promoting it on various websites. Or, if they were REALLY interested in buying the book, they might email me, or stay in touch with me, or visit my website to see if it’s there. I know I can’t rely on people to do ANYTHING to see if a book they want to buy is out yet, but I can only do so much on my end. If I contacted them to let them know the book is out and they don’t buy it after the first week, second week, third month, etc., that pretty much tells me that they weren’t all that interested in buying it after all.

Of course, this has not turned me off from writing books forever. Yes, things HAVE slowed down for me with the book-writing thing. They have slowed down and my enthusiasm has waned because of personal changes in my life as well as a refusal to spend ALL of my time chained to a computer to work on books people don't even end up buying because they don't care. Things have also slowed down with the writing/submitting/publishing of books sometimes because of sickness or injury. But I haven't given up on writing nonfiction books or including people in them because of experience with these people never buying a single copy of the book when it comes out. I HAVE learned to be a little more skeptical when people say they’ll buy one of my books (as in, I will believe that when I see it!), but I will continue to write nonfiction books. I just won’t always believe someone included in the book when they say they will buy the book when it comes out. I’ll send a comp copy of the ebook, but it sure would be nice if they could also buy or order more copies or even a copy of the print, if it’s available. But I guess not everyone believes in keeping their word. And that's just the way that life is!

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dear book promotion sites: Please stop spamming authors

Recently, I started receiving emails that were obvious spam. “Obvious” because, in the subject lines, there was a title for either one of my or my daughter’s books and it came from someone I had either not contacted or did not know. It was one of those out of the blue emails.

As someone who has worked in marketing to promote authors, I understand the reasoning behind the subject line. Even so, it just wasn’t enough to grab my attention. It was enough to get the email deleted. Why?

I don’t do business with people who think it’s okay to spam others.

For some time now, I have networked with other authors, book publicists, marketing reps and book bloggers. I have spent some time communicating with them, getting to know them, and creating some kind of relationship with them to the point where they have earned my trust. These are people whose names I KNOW and if I get an email from any of them, I just might respond to it! Well, that can’t be said of everyone I have worked with. Some work relationships went south because I learned the person was shady or we have unresolved issues that are not going to magically disappear just because they popped into my life again with an offer to work together again on something new. Also, if I just accepted your friend request or followed you on Twitter, throwing your promotion services at me right then and there is not going to win me over. I also follow book promotion sites as well as book bloggers on Twitter because I hope to establish a connection with them and get to know more about them should I ever take interest in their book-reviewing or book-promotion services. I want to get comfortable with a person first and get to know them better as well as what services they offer before making the next move.

That said, anybody who is in the business of promoting authors or marketing books who I DO NOT KNOW and who sends me an email offering to promote my book is simply wasting their time. Those emails either get no response or they are deleted.

Not only this, but why would I all of a sudden get all excited about promoting a book that was published over 3 years ago? If the book has been out for a while, I seriously doubt anybody’s going to care if I all of a sudden start promoting it again. An exception is made with books which have evergreen topics – like my book, 365 Tips For Writers. Every December, I spend some time promoting this book because I am hopeful someone who hopes to get more writing done in the new year will see this book and consider buying it. The same goes with my breast cancer ebook; it usually gets touted in October (along with anything related to Halloween). But if one of my books wouldn’t serve that purpose, then it usually doesn’t get another promo push after I finish my initial promo campaign after the book is released. (Sometimes, though, I just don’t have the energy for those promo opps. I have to deal with the occasional funk!)

It’s nice to think that someone took notice of my book and wants to promote it, but in the real world, I know they are only trying to sell their promotion or marketing services. They really don't care if their promotion or review of my book means it will spark sales; they are only interested in getting money from me and hoping I'll be naive enough to give it to them! 

Maybe there are authors out there who are okay with being spammed by these services and have no problem shelling out money to get their book listed on some website or reviewed on some blog, but I am not one of them. If you want to promote one of my books, maybe we should try communication first. Connect with me through Facebook or Twitter and let me know who you are. Let me see your pages or newsfeeds for myself and let me decide if I would like to take you up on your promotion services. I’m not one of those authors who will pay for a review, but I am interested in other things like blog tours, and if I know who you are and what you do, I just might want to click on your links myself to learn more.

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