Sunday, March 07, 2010

Of Snot and Snark

This week, a cold virus ate my brain and left me a bunch of snot and grumpiness in payment. As a result, this post is a bit of an unfocused ramble and slightly crabby in tone. My apologies! (See, I must be getting better. Two days ago, I wouldn't have apologized--I would have snorted grotesquely and given you the stink-eye before falling asleep in my chair.)

I thought I'd talk a bit about certain kinds of short-sightedness today.

Short-sighted: Hating libraries because they "steal" your book sales.

Why is it short-sighted?
1) Libraries are customers too. They buys huge quantities of books, and they buy in hardcover.

2) Kids can't afford to buy books, but they can 'afford' a library card. And if a kid grows up reading, they will continue reading as an adult--when, y'know, they can afford to shell out some cash for their entertainment. You should support libraries, because they're grooming your next generation of customers.

3) For that matter, they're grooming your current generation of customers. People try out new authors much more easily when it's free. If they don't know your name, and have to pay to find out if you're any good, they might never bother. But if they read your book at the library and LOVE it, they may be the first person in line at the store when your next novel comes out.

Short-sighted: Trying to convince EVERYBODY they will love your book.

Why is it short-sighted?
Say you convince someone to buy your romance novel even though they prefer horror. Sure, you just made a royalty, but you also probably scored some negative word-of-mouth.

No matter how good your novel is, some people won't like it for perfectly valid reasons. And if they didn't like your book, that's all they're likely to say to others about it.

In marketing, it's known that a great advertising campaign will make a weak product fail faster because it speeds up the generation of negative word-of-mouth. You don't want to accidentally recreate that effect. Target your campaigns wisely.

Short-sighted: Putting out novels in quick succession to build name recognition when you can't maintain the quality at that pace.

Why is it short-sighted?
I've said it before: you can't build a career on mediocre books. And the kind of name recognition you build if you're trying to do so won't be the kind you want.

Short-sighted: Trying to write a blog post the evening before it should go up.

Why is it short-sighted?
See above.

PS - I want more lemon and honey tea.


Have you got some suggestions for things that should be added to this list? What sorts of strategies have you seen that you thought were short-sighted?

Do you agree with this list, or do you dispute whether one of these strategies is harmful? Did I really just have to take three stabs at spelling 'strategies' correctly? Is it time for bed yet? Actually, I know the answer to that last one; see y'all on Monday.

Author website: J. J. DeBenedictis

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