January 31st, 2011


When does promotion cross the line?

I'm very conscious about overdoing things when it comes to promoting my own book or events I'm attending.

I don't mean posting about promotions, dates etc, here on An Englishman in New Jersey (though I try not to do too much, since I firmly believe there's a point where it becomes counter-productive). I'm thinking more about direct contact with folks.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for Tweeting about upcoming events and I post on facebook and Twitter when I have news, or if I've written a blog post which I think folks might find interesting, but I wouldn't dream of sending out blanket facebook messages to everyone on my friend list about them. I also use the Yahoo boards to promote things, and I've sent many a personalized email, inviting someone to an event I'm taking part in, but I feel there's a line which promoters should not cross. The one between good self-promotion and plain bad manners. 

If you ask me, in their efforts to promote themselves and their work, far too many, otherwise sensible, people are crossing that line.

For example, about three or four times a day, I get an invitation to 'Like' somebody on facebook who I've never met, or attend an 'event' which, more often than not, is just a way of telling me that someone's book is coming out, or (my own personal peeve), someone posts a message on my facebook wall, telling me to 'Check out my book at...'

Then there are the junk e-mails, impersonal, one-size-fits-all announcements, which the sender clearly despatched to any and all email addresses he/she could lay a hand on. I got several over the weekend. Usually, I just write back requesting he/she removes me from their mailing list and hear no more, but yesterday, I got a reply from someone who'd junk-mailed me via the New Jersey Authors' Network, about a 'How to Write/get published etc' type of event, where they'd be promoting their non-fiction book. He informed me he was just 'reaching out to New Jersey writers' and wondered why I didn't want to help. I sent back a polite response this morning. Here's a snippet of his reply:

'Our mission is to help writers get well published. We have helped countless writers do this [I should point out he'd only helped dozens in his first response]. I thought this was also part of your mission. If I was wrong please forgive me.'

I feel so guilty. I thought this guy was junk mailing me in an effort to promote his book, but it turns out I was wrong. He's actually on a mission to help writers. To be fair, I should add that he also offered to have his publisher send me a copy of his book. I declined

Of course, some folks don't have a problem with this sort of thing. They just delete the messages and move on without a second thought, but not me. Nothing has me pulling on my cranky pants faster than getting a junk e-mail. It's like having someone stick a flyer beneath your windscreen wiper at the grocery store car park. It annoys me no end.

If I had my way, there's be a special hell for people who consistently spam folks. The same one used for child molesters and people who talk in theaters. Mind you, that's just my opinion.

How about you? 

Where would you draw the line between good self-promotion and bad manners?