There are plenty of ways to get me to read your book. I’m a big reader. I love books!
But I’m going to start off by ranting about how NOT to do it.
Don’t follow me on Twitter and then, the second I follow you back, hit me with a direct message: “HEY PERSON I DON’T KNOW, I AM SO GENEROUSLY GIVING MY FREE BOOK TO YOU EVEN THOUGH I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOU OR WHAT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE.” You guys don’t even bother telling me what the book’s about, for frack’s sake.
This approach has all the charm of the person soaked in cheap body spray and desperation who puts the moves on every customer at the bar in the hopes that someone, anyone might go to bed with them. Or the person who bangs on your door on Saturday morning when you’re barely awake, wanting you to buy overpriced wrapping paper for their kid’s school.
I haven’t been engaging with the writing community on Twitter all that long, and this has already happened enough that I’m getting wary of following people back. Stop invading my online space with this stuff when I’m a stranger. It’s annoying. I know it’s a tough field out there for self-published authors and you really need to grab any possible opportunity. I don’t want to have to do that. That’s why I’m in the process of querying agents. (Yes, I know I will have to market myself even if I’m traditionally published. But I like to think I won’t abuse Twitter to do it.)
Here’s a good way to get me to read your novel: Be witty and smart and insightful on Twitter (and elsewhere), and interact frequently with other people. And by “interact” I mean “have actual conversations,” not “I like cats too and also I WROTE A BOOK THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT AND I DON’T KNOW YOU OR WHAT YOU LIKE TO READ BUT I’M SURE YOU WILL LOVE IT.” Be a real person, not a salesbot.
If I get to know you on social media and decide I like you and enjoy what you contribute to a given online space, then I will almost certainly go check out your writing. Yes, even if it’s not in one of my favorite genres. Even though I’m not a big sci-fi fan, I bought John Scalzi’s first novel the minute it came out. Why? Because after years of reading his blog and getting to “know” him as a person, I wanted to support his work. And hey—look at him now. Writing a funny, smart, personable blog might not have helped him get all the sales that led to that killer book deal, but I bet it didn’t hurt.
I want to support people I like.
But that involves getting to know you first.
3 thoughts on “How to Get Me to Read Your Novel”
Thanks for writing this. Twitter can be so painful for this – my first attempts to meet other writers just ended in an endless feed of hashtags, crappy novel covers and automated messages about how this new vampire/werewolf erotic thriller would rock my world. I now just unfollow the blind retweeters and hope beyond hope that now and again I will stumble across something funny and well written (like this).
So, on the principle that everyone needs jam, great post! Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your writing!
Oooh, can I add some feedback? Would you stick a button on your blog posts that will allow me to easily share your post on social media. I think this is a message that deserves to be shared!
If the tweet button is already there and I have missed it, please forgive my lack of attention.
Hi Keith. Thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.
I’m still finding my way around this blog template, but I also posted this piece on Medium last week in a slightly tweaked version:
That post does have buttons you can use to share it on social media if you like.
Thanks, and take care!