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Recommending your own books. You know, someone randomly asks for recommendations for a certain genre, comments roll in, a thread starts, and an author pops in to say, “May I recommend MY novel.” Um, no you may not! I'm far more likely to consider buying your novel if someone other than you or your mother is hawking it.
Gimmick giveaways. Giving away your books can be a good thing. But there’s a point at which it smacks of desperation. “Once I reach 5K FB Friends I’ll be giving away a Kindle Fire, some refrigerator magnets, and a lifetime subscription to my newsletter!” Or gaining giveaway “points” by having someone do any combination of things to promote you: “Just leave a comment here, re-post to your Facebook page, re-Tweet, and mention me on your own blog for your best chance to win!” ding! ding! ding! Not interested.
Listing your book in your list of favorites and/or must-reads. Even if your book is number 10 out of 10 on your list, don’t do it. Let someone else praise you. Besides, this tactic makes me feel as if the list was posted just to get your book in it!
A crappy cover. Covers are first impressions and if yours looks amateurish, poorly constructed, or bland, there's a good chance you won't get to make a "second" impression.
Complaining about another author’s success to push your own product. “It’s sad that he / she could sell _______ thousand copies of that junk, while MY book — which is just as good — gets buried.” What’s sad is that you think disparaging another author earns you points with readers.
Turning every conversation back to your novels. “Yeah, the economy sucks, global poverty is on the rise, mountain gorillas are near extinction, and an approaching asteroid threatens millions of lives. Coincidentally, I addressed these issues in my last novel. Here’s the link!”
Make me Like you before we’re Friends. I’m fine with you asking me to Like your page. But asking me to Like you BEFORE we’re Friends just seems backwards. If we become Friends, I may discover I like you enough to actually Like your page. Unless you’re already famous, multi-published, I know you, and I already like your stuff, I probably won’t Like you. Whew!
Ulterior-Friending: When an author Follows / Friends you with the intention that you Friend them back so that they can send an automated reply to thank you for following them back on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or whatever, followed by an endless stream of updates about their novels. Listen, if your request for my Follow / Friendship is a veiled attempt to jam your books down my throat, please don’t ask.
Breathless Blurbs. I’m fine with a line or two on the back cover. But please don’t shout phrases at me like: adrenaline rush; high-octane; pulse-pounding, edge of your seat; heart-soaring; etc. It just seems like, well, you're trying too hard.
Cheesy, Unprofessional website: If you actually get me to your web home, at least make it look like you got your sh*t together. An author who can’t invest enough time and money to at least make their home page look decent, can’t be trusted to make their novels any better.
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Mike Duran is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's novels include The Telling, The Resurrection, an ebook novella, Winterland, and his newly released short story anthology Subterranea. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.