Cross-promoting– How Much Is Too Much?

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about The Trouble with Tribes. Goodness, that one stirred up a lot of conversation! Someone privately contacted me with this follow-up question:

“I have another notion I struggle with, and can’t quite figure how to think about….and that is authors cross-promoting.  I debuted last year and  have a four-book contract.  Many authors (without my asking) promoted my book on Facebook, which I appreciated, but their audience is different than mine and I didn’t see a lot of web hits coming from those authors’ Facebook posts.  Now, I’m being asked to return the favor.  As a good friend….I want to.  BUT….at least one of my reader friends on FB privately mentioned she hates when there is TOO much book promoting going on and she was glad I refrained from that.  Sigh….what’s an author to do? Frankly, my preference is just let each author connect with their own tribe/audience so there’s not so much noise.  But, I don’t want to risk alienating peer authors.”

Good question. I wish I had a perfect answer to this but I figured we could chew on this together. How much cross-promoting should an author do? Let me start by saying:

  1. Never, never, never share your reader list with anyone. Can I say that again? Never, never, never share your reader list with anyone. This is your most valuable asset as a writer. You will work hard to gather each name and to keep this list fresh. You will faithfully input every reader name, email address and physical address in your database. I talked a little about the reader list in my blog post Start Collecting People a few months back. I’m going to talk more about the dangers of sharing this list next week in my blog. The important thing to remember is this is your list. You’ve made an unspoken (or maybe even written) promise to these people that you won’t share their name with anyone. Never plan a cross promotion where you give another writer– or even your publisher– these names.
  2. Decide how many times you can cross-promote without it costing you. In other words, if each day you feature another friend’s books, pretty soon you are going to wear people out. When your book comes out, it will look like just one of 365 other books you talk about.
  3. When you decide what number of other authors you can cross-promote, make sure that a) you are crazy about them and their writing, b)they share a similar audience with you and c) that the promotion you do for their books sounds genuine and heartfelt– like a friend recommending a book to friends.dreamstime_xs_27597448
  4. Make sure the handful of authors who will be your cross-promotional partners also present your books in a genuine, winsome way.
  5. When other authors ask you to promote their books, just tell them that you can only handle a limited number of cross-promotional partners but since you love their books (if you do) you’ll put them on a list. If one of your current partners go off on a new genre or stops writing, you’ve got a list of possible new partners. And, in the process, you’ve not hurt anyone’s feelings.
  6. Of course, if your publisher comes up with a cross-promotional event, you gladly take part. Many marketing departments are coming up with fun contests and events that pull together a number of their authors– this would be a different thing than blogging about individual author’s books.

I’m just putting this out there for discussion. I could be convinced otherwise. So what do you think? Do you ever consider what it costs you to promote other books? Is it confusing to readers to see other books on your blog? How do you do what is best for you and not alienate author/friends?

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117 Comments

  • Anne Love says:

    Great questions. I can’t wait to read the discussion when I get home from work tonight. It seems there are a lot of fine lines and gray areas here that require stepping back to look at the big picture–and that big picture will look just a little different to each writer.

  • “Never, never, never share your reader list with anyone. . .You will work hard to gather each name and to keep this list fresh.” Gathering a reader list is hard, yet so important. In a sense, it is like a personal Christmas card list. The people on it care about what I am doing. We share common interests. We have some connection. I wouldn’t want to run next door and swap lists with my neighbor. The result would be communication of random, less than meaningful, information and broken trust. . . misguided work.

  • Occasional cross-promotion is OK – I do it from time to time – but at length is’t a bit like turning on the television for a favorite show and finding that it has been turned into an infomercial.

    Change the channel.

    Readers and fans follow a writer’s blog to learn the author’s heart. This is something that was inconceivable a few years ago, and is rather precious.

    They WANT to like you, and few things will turn away readers faster than perceived commercialism. We want are authors to be heroes, larger than life – and to some extent BEYOND life.

    Another issue on blogs is communication – unless readers have read the book being promoted, there’s not much they can say in comments. It cheats them, just a little.

    Nothing wrong with the occasional “I loved this, and I think you will too”, but when it’s a network of favors to friends, it feels…well, a little exclusionary.

    And the readers are left outside.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      I agree. It’s all in the way you do it. You’ll notice in a rolling widget to the right side of this blog we agents share some of the books we are currently reading with our comments. We feel it is an unobtrusive, passive way to talk books. And you’ll notice it is rarely our own clients books we mention. It truly is the books we’ve discovered.

      • The rolling widget is perfect. Once you’ve built a measure of familiarity and trust with readers, they will naturally be interested in what you’re reading.

        The fact that one is motivated to mention a book, however unobtrusively, is really sufficient recommendation, at least for further research on Amazon or Goodreads.

        One way to recommend books directly is to include them, with capsule descriptions, on a ‘for further reading’ section at the end of a regular blog post.

        For instance, a reading list following a post on PTSD might include Jonathan Shay’s “Achilles in Viet Nam” and “Odysseus in America”, along with memoirs and novels that address the subject consistent with the theme of the post.

  • Sarah Thomas says:

    I’m eager to hear thoughts on this! As a relative newbie, I’m not quite ready to chime in with an opinion. I am already torn, though, between wanting to help and support writer friends while recognizing that I need to be somewhat picky for the sake of MY readers. Currently I do most of my “promoting” on Facebook or Twitter and reserve blog posts for books I LOVE. I mean really, really love to the extent that I feel it would be a disservice to NOT tell people about them.

  • Jeanne T says:

    I am not published yet, but I have talked about two books on my blog over the past six months. Both are books that I enjoyed and shared with the hope that those who read my blog might enjoy as well. Some of them anyway. :)

    One friend whose book was coming out asked on Facebook for people who might want to help her promote her book. One thing I thought was good about that was it gave potential “promoters” the opportunity to think about it before jumping—or being pushed—into helping her promote her book.

    I will be interested in hearing the thoughts of those who are at this stage in the publishing journey. :)

  • Lori says:

    Your comment “Never, never, never share your reader list with anyone.” reminds me that in business one should never tell (or at least limit what is told) who your clients are. Many companies that I have worked for in the past will guard their client list fiercely.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Norma Horton says:

      I was thinking this as I scrolled, Lori. Publishing is a business, not a club.

      The other thought I had was of my highly segmented platform. Where is it even appropriate to cross-market? I’m not keen to cross-market for others on my Facebook page because only one post a week (a link to one of two weekly bogs) is about writing. So posts about someone else’s book/s would be incongruous. For my work, I’ve determined the only appropriate place to cross-market would be twitter. But I’m not writing manuscripts directed at hearth/home/romance either, so my analysis may be a one-off and inapplicable to many authors here.

      Again, it boils down to knowing your readers (demographic) intimately, and then adapting your brand to reach that target—thinking outside the box. Anything extraneous is a distraction, including cross-marketing that doesn’t seem natural in context.

      (Great blog post. It’s forcing me to finish analyzing this issue. Thank you.) NLBH

      • Norma, I appreciate your comment about intimately knowing our target audience, and the importance of thinking outside the box. Up to now, I’ve been inconsistent in blogging, but I have a seed of an idea that I’ve been mulling over. I want to connect with my potential reader with sensitivity and relevancy, and I would love to inject hope and humor while I’m at it.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      And if our readers begin to be inundated with book launch announcements, ours will just look like another in the pack instead of a connection with an author they loved or met in person.

  • Ooo, great topic, Wendy, and one I confess I have not thought much about since I am not published yet. I’ve influenced for a lot of books but don’t always post on my blog about each one. I like to spread them out if I do an interview/giveaway or something like that.

    I think maybe a good distinction would be to not post about other authors on your author page on facebook, especially if you keep your friends/family separate from your author persona. I’m not convinced on that, but it seems like that might be a good route to go…

    Yeah, like Sarah said, I don’t have much of an opinion. Guess I’m here to learn today more than anything. Can’t wait to read the responses later! :)

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Pre-pub is the perfect time to promote friends’ books. Paying it forward instead of worrying about eventual payback.

      Plus your followers and friends know you are a book person and it reinforces that.

      • Anne Love says:

        I think I fit in this category. Pre-pubbed. At our blog we seek to create a space of connection with like minded readers. We want a coffee shop feel where we can get to know readers who like to read what we like to read–and write.

        We’ve been writing book reviews. Of course, it’s influencing. But we love these books. And we want to learn to know others who would enjoy them as well.

        It’s good to think about how “sharing and connecting” might cross the line to false pretense. We seek to be genuine above all and hope our blog readers enjoy that.

        Great discussion.

  • I love reading this blog…first thing in the morning with my favorite cuppa tea! The only problem is, then I have to ponder a bit…but not too difficult with another cuppa tea.

    Setting boundaries…and having a criteria in mind…seems like wisdom. I like your suggestion of how to handle authors that are not part of our circle.

    Today, I’m setting up a people file…I re-read your blog and hadn’t realized I let this idea drop off the To Do List! Perhaps I hadn’t had that second cup of tea…

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking invaluable post!!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Thanks, Kathryn.

      Truth be told, we try to blog the information we want our clients to know. So if you are not yet our client or if you have wrong-headedly signed with another agent (why would anyone do that?), you still get the benefit of our collective wisdom. :-)

  • Great post, Wendy. Your point #2 is spot on and most important.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Thanks, Jim. If members of our blog community want to see an example of some brilliant, brand-enhancing book promotion, they need to click on your name above and see the author-around-LA videos you do. Love them. (Plus how can you miss Jim in a fedora?)

  • I am more than happy to host writer friends, do an interview with riveting questions such as “Who is hawter? Red Shirt or Joseph Tames-His-Horse? But what about McLinn and MacGregor?” (WAIT! The FICTIONAL MacGregor! Not the one known in agenting circles…maybe I should delete this? Hmmm? Nah. HA! It’s not like I’ll ever share a cab with him to the airport…again.)

    I promote certain books, because I want to promote my friends’ work! I want to brag them up! Soon, I’ll be showing off beautiful and witty Heather Gilbert’s debut, God’s Daughter, about the Viking heroine Gudrid, who, I might add, lived in my neck of the woods a year, or 1000, ago.
    And the lovely and amazing Becky Doughty has a STUNNING serial on her blog (go to http://beckydoughty.com) and read about Willow Goodhope. Bring a Kleenex.

    See? I just promoted 4 writer friends! Why? Because I want readers to love their work and I want them to succeed. I have no qualms about gushing over their work. Not one itty bitty little qualm.

    Another aspect of cross-promotion is genre hopping. Let’s say…if somebody…hmmm…here’s a random one…say a person I knew growing up emailed and asked me to promote their WAY out there YA novel (and who *may* have spit all over my work) that turned my teeth on edge with its bad writing and over-use of flower-y-ful-y-ish speech, I’d suddenly have a problem remembering my blog password.

    Why? NOT out of immature and negative behaviour( although, some might say otherwise…) but because I don’t want to push something on my readers that I myself would not be able to read.

    If we can’t stand behind what we urge others to read, OR we promote every book out there, then we aren’t using our platform to the best of our ability. And therefore, we stand the chance of losing a reputation of discernment because we can’t stay consistent in WHY we speak well of a book.
    For me, a book has to grab me by the imagination and rattle me, soothe me, take me somewhere or make me dwell on the story LONG after I’m done. THAT is a book I’ll promote.

  • I loved doing lots of author interviews on my blog, back in the day (when I had more time!), and I’m more than happy to give shout-outs to authors who write in other genres. After all, every author has an audience, and on my BLOG, I have a cross-section of readers. But when I decide to influence for someone, I have to LOVE their writing and know I’ll buy more of their books. I often influence for authors I hardly know…like Sarah said, it would be a disservice NOT to give them a shout-out (whether they know me from Adam or not!).

    I actually wanted a wider cross-section of early readers for my Viking novel–didn’t want to limit it to historical fiction authors. Basically, I asked authors who either showed interest in Vikings or who write things I admire, no matter the genre. I figure they are hitting the same demographic I am. I’ve been blessed to get endorsements not only by histfic authors, but by some contemp authors and a fantasy author. Even a non-fic! I see this happening even with traditionally published books–I think publishers get in-house authors to endorse, sometimes regardless of genre.

    I guess I’m saying all this to say that I believe in influencing for/endorsing outside my genre, as long as it hits my reading demographic with writing I love.

    As a self-pubber, I am willing to pay for a review by a more national source. Hoping to scrape my pennies together and submit to Publisher’s Weekly. I think this is something traditional publishers pay for FOR their authors?

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      I’ve never heard of paying for a review. Are you sure there are paid review vehicles? I don’t know that, as a reader, I’d trust a review site that accepts money for reviews.

      Publisher’s Weekly doesn’t charge for reviews. they are very selective in what they choose to review because of space however. If I remember correctly, reviewers on PW cannot even accept gifts of thanks.

      • Judy Gann says:

        Reputable reviewers are never paid for their reviews unless they are magazine staff and paid by the magazine. Otherwise, how can you guarantee unbiased reviews?

        Librarians write the reviews for Library Journal and School Library Journal. They aren’t paid.

        Heather, you may be thinking of the ads librarians and booksellers receive from AuthorBuzz and other sources. These include a blurb about the book and are paid for by the publisher or self-published author. Yes, librarians may give a book further consideration after reading these blurbs. But they realize the blurbs are ads.

      • I reviewed books for years–thousands. Never was paid for them. We expected a free copy of the book. But even when I did my column, I told authors that just because they gave us a copy, do not expect a review. I received so many books, and I had a specific audience so my choices were solely for my own audience–not for the author.

        Usually an author had her book sent from the publisher and had specified the number given.

        Now, on very popular books/authors the authors could make more demands–they only wanted the highest markets to get the free copies. I figured most of those had advertising dollars and could get their ads in other venues.

        Sometimes it was overwhelming to me how many authors wanted me to review their books! But I prayerfully selected them and would read maybe 5-10 books for every review space. I was always conscious of my audience and listened to that “still, small Voice” when I wrote the review.

        In magazines the review would be a little different. On my blogs I took a slightly different tack for announcing books and on FB and Goodreads it ends up being purely for my own pleasure.

      • Publisher’s Weekly Select is a new service for self-pubbed authors. You join (for $150) and then send your novel in. It may or may NOT be selected to be reviewed. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/diy/index.html. I do believe Booklist is free (more the library type thing). I don’t think there’s a free review option available w/PW for self-pubbers, but would love to know if anyone’s heard of it.

      • Sadly, PW says they do not consider self-pubbed books except through their PW Select program: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/corp/submissionguidelines.html

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Wow, Heather! I learn something new every day. I had no idea Publishers Weekly was charging those self-published authors for the chance to be considered for a review.

      I guess they had to figure a way to monetize the magazine since self-published authors are not like to take ads in the magazine like the publishers do. I guess, in a way, both send a stream of revenue into the magazine. Either through publisher’s Weekly Selects or through paid advertising.

      Of course, ask anyone who has been reviewed by PW– there is no influencing the actual reviewers. Ouch! They seem tough but fair.

      Heather I appreciate you letting us know about this. Just goes to show the times they are a-changing.

      • No problem, Wendy–I was really HOPING there was a way to get reviewed for free as a self-pubber! No-go, I’m afraid. But Booklist is free for self-pubbers post-publication (or when you have an ISBN, I believe). I’m trying to hit all the reviewers I can think of…for as little cost as possible!

      • Judy Gann says:

        Thank you, Heather! I didn’t know about this excellent opportunity for self-published authors.

        Librarians view PW as selected reviews and the fact your book is reviewed, no matter how it was submitted and selected, gets your title in front of an important audience of buyers.

  • So much to think about here, Wendy. I have wondered if, through this pre-pubbed journey, I might develop friendships with other pre-pubs who would want to promote each others’ work post-pub. But I never realized there were so many details. Looking forward to all the input here. Thanks for the continuing education!

  • Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t really see this as a serious issue. I spent a lot of my pre-pub years influencing for other authors. I reserve Friday posts on my blog for book recommendations (though I don’t do it every week) and I only blog about books I like. I clip from that review and repost to Amazon, B&N, CBD, and Goodreads. Occasionally, if the author is a good friend, or I’m super-excited about the book, I’ll do something else like snap a photo of myself reading (or my pup cuddling with the book–like she did with Lori Benton’s Burning Sky) and post that to FB. Mostly because I find that fun.

    When it came time to release my debut novel this past July, I had developed a good relationship with many of these writers. I was astounded by how many multi-published authors jumped on FB and celebrated with me–sharing news of my contract, tidbits about the release, guest-posts, etc. I don’t *think it was just a case of them reciprocating. I’d like to believe they were honestly excited for a friend and fellow-author. But that friendship developed over time, and began with influencing.

    • sarah sundin says:

      Count me as one of your cheerleaders – and you were my influencer first!

      You and I seem to have struck the same influencing balance…I try to feature no more than one book a week (although I’m so far behind right now, I’ll be bumping it to two a week to catch up!) I like to think of it along the lines of…”If you like my books, you might like his/hers too!” Since I only write one book a year, I don’t think of this as competition.

      However, I do resist the constant pressure to tweet/post on FB every bit of news from my author friends for all the reasons Wendy listed. First of all, it just gets spammy! And secondly, I only recommend books I’ve read and loved and honestly think my readers might like too. Even if it’s cross-genre. For example, today (ironically), I’m featuring Suzanne Woods Fisher’s latest Amish novel. NOT my genre. But I think her complex characters and humor might appeal to my readers.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      You paid it forward, Karen. When it came time to promote your own book you had a group of friends who wanted to read it and talk about it.

      I like that on your blog you set aside Fridays to talk about other books. You’ve solved the confusion issue by making it a feature.

  • Tari Faris says:

    This is a great discussion. Although I haven’t dealt with cross promotion directly, it is one of my irritations with some social media. I don’t mind a heart felt promotion of one of the authors I follow, it intrigues me and may just get me to pick up that book. But the random links get old very fast.

    I once read that the “best” approach to twitter was to talk about yourself once for ever five time you talk about/promote someone else. But this is what I found so irritating about twitter. I am okay with quotes but the constant links make me feel as if I am scrolling through a bunch of billboards.

    I like your suggestions though and I will mark this page as a reference as I learn to navigate this part of publishing.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Yep. The irritation factor is a huge worry of mine. It’s so easy when we’re excited about our new book to inadvertently cross that line. We all need good friends to hold us accountable.

      • Anne Love says:

        Tari, your comments make me think of the new constant barrage of “book club” groups you can join on FB. At first, I thought, cool, this will be a great place to branch out and meet others. But soon the right side widget of my FB page was plastered with club after club to join with basically the same people in all of them. Some are so large, there’s no way to be genuine or really build a real relationship. It just feels like a huge “dump” to throw up a link to your blogpost. I stopped sharing my posts to them recently. Although I can’t really quantify if they ever brought blog traffic in the first place.

  • Jaime Wright says:

    I’m not published, but I do consider whose names I’m promoting. If I promote a book on my FB or Blog I want it to be something my readers won’t jerk back and go “really???” to. I also try to spread out my “shares” of books even cross promoting genres. My FB followers know they’re going to see a lot of historical romances…it’s not often I’m ‘sharing’ books in the Fantasy genre though I like some of them very much. I’m not sure if any of this applies since for now, I’m a wanna-be-author, but still, as I’m building reputation I don’t want to become a rotating billboard with no personality.

  • I think Sarah Sundin has one of the most balanced approaches to staying true to her audience and her brand while also promoting other people’s work. One of the things I noticed is that she doesn’t just say.. “My friend wrote this..buy it.”

    She supports the giveaways and contests..Then it is on the reader to engage and decide if it is something they choose to look into.

    Great post because sometimes it is a tough situation.

    • sarah sundin says:

      Aw, thank you! I don’t know how well my approach “works,” but it works for me. I want to strike a balance between supporting my author friends and engaging my reader friends (without overwhelming them).

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Nice! And Marci, you are the most inventive cross-promoter I’ve ever met. I’ll never forget you in your apron at Mount Hermon. . .

  • RJ Thesman says:

    I don’t mind promoting a book in a FB post or on Twitter, but when it comes to posting on my blog – I’m very careful. My blog posts deal with Finding Hope when Life Unravels, so it isn’t really appropriate for book promotions. For that purpose, we can look for blogs that deal with reviews.

  • You raise some great points Wendy! I didn’t comment last week because everything I wrote in response just sounded whiny. But since you brought up it again … ;-)
    I dislike how many writers use social media to self-promote, especially since it seems most of the posts and tweets just go to other writers. I want to reach readers! It seems calculating to befriend someone for the purpose of self-promotion. I want to connect with people and build relationships, not inundate my friends with tweets and posts about someone’s books just because that’s what authors do.
    I gladly recommend books and authors I love. But I do it without expecting they’ll reciprocate when I have a release.

  • I share my reader list only with my dog – DiNozzo . . . because I trust him 100% not sell, trade or barter it to another writer for, dog food, doggie snacks or chew toys.

    • Jill Kemerer says:

      Are you sure about DiNozzo? Look at the Bush’s Baked Beans dog… :)

      • Hmmmmm. Jill your so right.

        I forgot about my pups love of baked beans. Normally we don’t talk about the subject with my other dogs and cats when we’re around, DiNozzo.
        You know, flattulence, for a young dog with sensitive feelings, is a touchy subject for him.

        Some day, when he can handle it, I will broach the subject and we will have a good chuckle about the whole thing.

  • Good topic! I have struck a compromise by promoting friends on Twitter, which I use as my water-cooler for writing colleagues, but not doing it on my FB or blog. If I read a book I love, I might mention it but no “My friend such-and-such has a book coming out” on those sites.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      I think you’ve struck an important difference between talking about a book we love– which is natural and unaffected– and promoting someone.

  • Hi Wendy, this is an interesting issue. I agree we should never give out our reader list and not exhaust our social medial readers with posts about other authors. At times, there is a planned promotion for other authors, from the same publisher, found at the back of a paperback book that lists similar authors or genres. i.e. – “food mystery writers.” I’ve also taken a different approach at times. We start to develop friendships with other authors and would like to support them on their journey. I have had combined book signings with authors from other genres and we tend to travel together to area book signings and recommend one another to bookstores. There are also large signings such as Book Bash. My point is that there are other ways to support author friends without exhausting your personal website, FB page, blog etc.

    • sarah sundin says:

      Book signings are THE best cross-promotion – a time when it really does work. One author might attract 10 readers to the signing, but when you have 2-4 authors, EACH attracting their own readership – then the signing really hums. And if no one comes, at least you have someone else to talk to :)

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      As I said, when the cross-promotion comes from your publisher– all bets are off. They test these ideas and they really do know what they are doing.

      • Anne Love says:

        Wendy, are you saying that the publisher decides who you do a signing with? An author won’t get to say she wants to do a signing with several of her writing friends? I’m not sure I interpreted your comment correctly.

  • One of the ways I’ve shared other authors with my audience on my blog is by having them write a tutorial guest post related to their novel. For example, last year when Joanne Bischof’s novel released, she did a guest post tutorial on how to make apple butter. My audience is into living the pioneer lifestyle in their modern lives (modern homesteading) so this allowed me to share a book I love (note: I have to love it) and also give my readers a very real take away. When I promoted, it was learn how to make apple butter with author Joanne Bischof. I did something similar with Rita Gerlach and she shared a recipe from her novel. But I agree on being selective and not doing it too often. Loving reading everyone’s comments.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      You sound like a pro, Melissa. Inventive and appealing. Remember my favorite word when it comes to marketing? Winsome.

      it reminds me of Deb Raney. Instead of promoting her friend’s books, she has (or used to have) a feature on her website showing author gardens with links to the books. Donita Paul has (or used to have) photos of writers’ offices.

      • I love Deb Raney’s books, but I adore seeing the photos of gardens, offices of Deb’s friends! It’s one of my favorite things to see on FB, too, her own gardens, house, office. It intrigues me to check out what books she’s releasing and I often get off on trails of her writing friends, too.

        Perfect example!

  • Judy Miller says:

    One of the best ways to cross promote and connect with readers is one of the things Wendy mentioned–when authors or publishers band together to promote a group of authors’ books, and there’s some sort of giveaway for the fans. The just completed Fall Scavenger Hunt put together by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a good example. Lisa started this several years ago and does a spring and fall event. I’ve participated a couple times and readers are thrilled to learn about new authors (we’re required to furnish fun NEW content about our writing, books, etc.) and there are three grand prizes (this time a Mini IPAD, plus two winners of all 25 books) plus authors can offer bonus prizes. With this event, I received 40 new newsletter sign-ups, 67 new likes on Facebook, several pins of my cover on Pinterest and gobs of hits on my website. There were 25 authors involved this time. It’s great fun connecting with readers and responding to their comments. I think this sort of cross promotion is much better for all concerned, but I’m always quick to post free e-books, etc. because it’s something else that brings readers back to your site. Sorry I’m so windy.

    • I like this idea. I’ve taken part in a multi-author event and gained some followers as a result. It’s also great that you offered something quick for free, too, because after the giveaway, there is no reason for your new reader to keep subscribing if you don’t entice them to stay.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Judy, thanks for spotlighting this plus giving us the metrics on the success of this. It’s definitely worth the time and investment.

  • Excellent post, Wendy.
    Since I am a pre-pubbed novelist this is very thought provoking.

    I’ve worked on my reader list for years and have developed relationships with my children’s books readers that spills over into my future novel readers list. And it has been work. They are as faithful to me as I am to them. A natural intimacy has grown over time and mutual respect comes with that.

    I do share on Twitter and Facebook reviews of books that I read and like. Many times my readers ask me what I like to read. They are interested in what makes me tick. But your #2 is a definite balance. Sometimes books I like come out at the same time and it can be overwhelming.

    I never have and never will share my reader list. I do have a small town TV show that allows me the grace to help three other authors a month get exposure. That little gift from God helps me to balance things.

    I truly believe in the authors I have been an influencer for and am committed to help in any way I can that is actually a help, not a hindrance. I think sometimes as well-meaning as we can be, not everything we may do is what they need. So ask each individual author what best suits them in their personal approach to their readers.

    I just blogged a review for a debut novelist, have loaned out her book twice now and have suggested it for my personal book club. I am hopeful they will like it as much as me and be interested in her next book and pass the word on at all their different churches, for their church libraries, local libraries, and other circles of friends. I think this additional personal share has far more effect than blasting the internet.

  • Earlier this year Rachel Kent wrote some very helpful advice about book promotion on Facebook author pages.
    “Don’t post links for other authors’ books. Keep your author page for you. Your fans follow you because they are your fans. If you want to advertise a book release for a friend, do that on your personal Facebook page not on your author page. Definitely support your fellow writer-friends, but do it tastefully through writing reviews on popular websites and telling your real-life friends about a book or author you love.”

    On goodreads I’ve written some reviews that I’ve linked to my personal Facebook page. I’m excited to learn more about my potential reader on goodreads.

    What if, as a fiction writer, I promote books relevant to the demographic group I write for? This could include non-fiction titles that tie into an emotional or physical need brought up in my story. Or books that expand on the history or location of my story. In this regard, I become a teacher, and my story becomes a launching pad for further exploration on the part of the reader. Even better, because I’ve built a relationship with my reader, we can continue to learn in unison.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      That Rachel gives good advice!

      I think it is wise of you to begin working in the demographic of your future book. there is no confusion yet– you are just pointing them to the kinds of books that will whet their appetite for yours when it releases.

  • Grace Olson says:

    As a reader, I like it when my favorite author mentions/promotes a book that they love or an author they adore. But too much promoting can sound (at least to me) not very sincere. A little promotion with a lot of enthusiasm can go a long way.
    This was a very interesting blog topic, and provided a lot of food for thought. I’m not published yet, but this is still good advice that I’m going to make a note of for the future.

  • One of the wonderful things about this industry is it’s quite humbling, even for those blessed by being traditionally published.

    This is a good thing for Christian authors because it keeps our heads on our shoulders and our focus on Him.

    I feel one of the great honors of serving God through our writing career is getting the opportunity to “tithe our reputation”. That is, being able to encourage, assist and bless others in their writing ministry–regardless of how early they are on their paths.

    Who is to say a book read by one person which transforms a life (and perhaps just the author’s alone) has less Kingdom value than one that sells a million and impacts no one (or in the wrong way)?

    I actually agree with the brilliant Wendy on the premise of this article. We are limited in time and if we want our words to have power and impact they need to be undiluted and true.

    But, we’re creative folks. We can always find good things to say and writers are desperate for our encouragement.

    In my opinion, it’s better to lean toward over-promotion than to hoard our reputation, which is our unique gift to share.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      I love your concept of tithing our promotional efforts– interesting, Michael.

      And you said the words that negate all my “don’t dos.” You said, we’re creative folks. . .” Creativity in this cross-promotion will be the key to doing it successfully.

      Leave it to a professional marketer. . .

  • Elissa says:

    I have several writer friends whose work I love and wouldn’t hesitate to promote. I can’t imagine expecting them to promote mine in return though. I’d be delighted if they did, but I would never expect it.

    Though I’m still “polishing my craft” and don’t yet have a blog or website, both are in the planning stages. I’ve always thought I’d have a sort of “Books I Love (maybe you will, too)” page.

    It would be a link readers would have to click through to see, so no one would feel I was forcing anything on them. This would be where I could promote my friends’ books. I imagine a list with titles and maybe thumbnails, with a few lines describing what I liked most about each book. Of course, I wouldn’t put up any books I haven’t actually read and liked.

    I think such a page might work for many writers, giving them a place to promote others without disrupting what they have on their main pages.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      You raised another point I should have mentioned: expectations. I love that you promote books you love with no expectation of tit-for-tat.

  • For me, this post goes back to my plans for 2014. I started blogging with the intention of building a following, but my blogging ended up promoting mostly others. What has that cost me? Writing time, gaining a following built more of readers than fellow authors, and lots of books in my TBR pile.

    Getting into cross promotion has cost me a lot, but I have gained supporters as a result, too. When I coordinated a virtual book tour for my first book, I had over 70 stops. Since many of my friends write in the genres I do, that worked to my advantage when the book came out. In addition, I had contacts through my years as a VBT coordinator.

    I like the idea of featuring a book a week that someone else mentioned. On my more personal blog, I only feature books occasionally, and I like that better than the book blogs I run where I feel like I have less control.

    Thanks for the helpful article, Wendy.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      It looks like all your paying it forward work paid off, beautifully.

      Of course, when an author hits his 50th book, we see how hard it is to cross-promote deep into a long career. Too many books- too few avid readers.

  • Gayla Grace says:

    I love this discussion. I hadn’t thought about it much but it does make sense that you could dilute your own publicity if you too heavily market other authors’ books. I have promoted a couple of other books on my blog who have written books for the same audience I do in support of them. I will continue to do that some of the time but this was good food for thought in terms of not doing it for every book or author who comes along and asks me to help promote. Thank you Wendy for the great discussion!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      And don’t forget, if you do it creatively, as Michael Reynolds suggests, the sky is the limit.

      One of my friends, Crystal Laine Miller, has a wonderful blog that features authors as children– When I was Just a Kid– with photos. http://wheniwasjustakid.blogspot.com

      It is such fun and so inventive. A wonderful way to feature her writer friends. Go check out the list of authors there. Amazing!

      • I’m ready to start up with new interviews, too! That blog delights me.

        I do that blog for me. I love the childhood memories, I love the authors I’ve hosted and I love that it gives me an opportunity to introduce authors to readers. Wendy’s interview still gets so many hits, and this is true of most on that list. (Wendy gave away one of her beautiful dolls/books–so wonderful!)

        If you’re interested in doing an interview and digging up your childhood photos and memories, please contact me. :)

      • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

        What an offer, Cris.

        Note to my clients: Get thee over to Crystal’s blog!

  • Lisa says:

    I try to help everyone who asks, but not always in a blog post. You can commit to writing a review if you read it. Sometimes a well-placed and spaced out tweet. I might pin the cover with a link if it fits with my boards. Also, I receive many books to give away. I do this on Facebook in Thursday book giveaways. Authors like it because I’m sharing the image of the book. My readers love free books of all kinds. I’ve gained followers by doing this. Even if I can’t post, I can often support in some small way.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Reviewing books is a whole different way of showcasing authors, but you have to be honest and that can get sticky.

      Even bestselling Lauraine Snelling does book reviews. She writes one a month for her hometown newspaper– it has now been syndicated to a couple other small town news outlets. She choses books she loves because she knows her reputation is at risk if she choses a mediocre book and tells readers to buy it.

  • And then there’s just wanting to do something nice for someone, regardless of the consequences it has on you. I know a fellow engineer/writer through the Internet. He wrote a book on Christians and divorce. It has nothing at all to do with my writing and any audience crossover would be coincidental. But every now and then I promote his book via Facebook or my blog. And there’s a woman writer friend I met at a conference. She writes children’s books. Even though this would have zero common audience, when she comes out with a new self-published book I do a promotional post or two.

    At some point I may have another person I do that for. If my potential readers like it, I guess I’ll lose a couple of sales. I can live with that.

  • Very good thoughts. I liked your #5. And being a new, unknown author … I wish someone were helping promote my book or asking me to promote theirs! Grin!

    Thanks so much!

  • Three things bubbled to the top as I read this blog. The first two might help someone else. The third shows how badly I need help in this area!

    1. In the “beginning,” I read the blogs of a particular writer/speaker “motivator” religiously. Now, I seldom open them because his blogs began to feel more like commercials for his friends than helpful hints for his readers, which is too bad because I’m sure some of his friends had helpful hints, too. I think it was all in his presentation, but it was too distracting to bother reading it.

    2. The Publishers Weekly Select thing that you pay for ($149) is to have your book blurb and info listed that week or month. They will also consider those books for a review. My understanding was that this was the same process for the regular Publishers Weekly which lists only traditionally published authors. Maybe not. ??

    3. I find this whole tribe, cross-promotion, influencer thing disconcerting for so many reasons.
    ~I’m nobody who has not yet developed a steady, dependable blog presence, so why would anybody find it worthwhile to swap promotions with me?
    ~I’m nobody who has not yet developed my own readership, so ditto the above sentiment.
    ~I’m an introvert, so asking others to help me promote my work is daunting!
    ~I’m reluctant to promote someone because he or she has asked me to promote them because I might not like the book or because I might be unable to follow through for whatever reasons and then what have I done to that relationship?

    I have promoted others (though not so much recently due to overwhelming medical problems—hopefully temporary), but I usually do so because I read an author I loved or because an author I had already promoted once on my own asked me to do it again.

    How do you pass over this rickety bridge without falling through? I think I would rather speak naked in front of a crowd. Okay, maybe not. Maybe the bridge would be easier on me and everybody else! Maybe I’m pulling planks out of the bridge myself because of fear of this whole process! Any suggestions?

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Sylvia, you realize you are just building now, just getting known. The funny thing is, most writers are introverts. Many of our readers are as well.

      Just keep building the way you are building, carefully and quietly– you may be surprised at the outcome when you are ready to launch.

  • Cindy Loven says:

    As an author, hoping some day to be published, a book reviewer and an avid reader, I decided the best thing I could do to help authors was to create a facebook, just from promoting their books. (and my reviews ;-)) it has worked out very well, there are several hundred people there, who do submit their books some times, but if I am asked to promote a book that is where I direct them to.
    I do very little cross promoting on my on author facebook page. It has worked well..and hopefully when I am published, it will also be a platform I can promote on too.

  • Preslaysa says:

    Very informative post. Never thought about the negative side of too much cross promotion, especially point #2. A lot of cross promotion can be likened to a Facebook feed page or a clogged email inbox.

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