Last year, when my wife and I were both scrolling through Facebook status updates on our phones, she wondered why my feed had more. I did a quick study and determined that the answer does not have to do with likability (or else she’d bury me) but rather occupation.
Most of my updates came from people who work in the creative arts: writers, artists, filmmakers, web people (who are usually some combination of the previous), and so on. Few of my lawyer or doctor friends were regular posters. (Then I stated this observation as one of my status updates and several of my lawyer and doctor friends protested, saying “I do so post!” As I told them, I wasn’t being critical!)
Narrowing focus to writers now, many of us are self-employed and don’t have the marketing engine of big companies to help promote our work. Yes, we do have publishers, but they can devote only so many resources and for only so long. More and more of the word-of-mouthing falls to us. Yet thanks to technology, that is not as daunting as it once was.
It’s no news flash that creative types are prominently vocal in social networking. There’s the fun part and there’s the funds part—we need them, like everyone else. It sounds crass, but in the end, we’re all salespeople on some level. I write to tell stories but also to make a living.
When I have a new book out, I usually email an announcement to my network. I approach it in the same way I approach everything else I write—I try to be entertaining. I also keep it as succinct as possible.
Yet no matter how funny or short such a message is, it is still an unsolicited sales pitch. Luckily, my circle has been consistently supportive and understanding—or at least that’s how it appears.
Do you think it’s okay for writers to send email blasts about new books to personal networks? Is it (as writers like to believe) less unctuous than most other sales pitches because it’s (a) art and (b) sent by a starving artist?
And does frequency factor in—i.e., most authors won’t be announcing more than one book a year? Put another way, does the double standard exist that is it okay to promote creative works but less okay to announce more "everyday" services (insurance, clothing, cars, etc.)?