Why Nathan Bransford’s self promotion fell flat – and why you should take note! (Part 1)

Okay, Nathan. You know we love you and all that but… (Of course, not real love, just that bloggery appreciation for other people in the industry.) #i’mnotastalker

I know Nathan as the ex-agent extraordinaire/tech guy. I look to his blog for breakdowns on ebooks and publishing industry info. That seems to be his thing.

Then he wrote and got a book published. Jacob Wonderbar and the Great Space Kapow.  Yeah, it surprised me too but I thought, cool. I bought the book because I was curious. My son read it two times the first week. He really liked it. The book is well written and perfect for advanced first grade readers through fifth graders. Middle schoolers might read it, depending on their maturity level. #greatgiftbook

Honestly, I don’t think Nathan’s blog is really set up to promote a middle grade book. Of course, he’s more than welcome to do it. No one minded the announcements and the initial push when the book released. At least I didn’t.

But then he wrote this. Some comments were very supportive but he received a few negative remarks. #theyweren’treallythatbad And then, he got a tad bit defensive. #whichweknowisanono  #evenex-agentsextraordinairemakemistakes

Then he wrote this blog post the next day in response.

His rational was, ‘hey, I spend a lot of time writing this blog for all of you, so here’s my book you should buy it’.  #notexactwords

Yeah, not the best approach. Even if he meant it to be light hearted. We all put a lot of time into our blogs so that rationalization doesn’t add up for me. I think his readers got it right in the comments. His post and approach to self promotion just didn’t seem to fit with his blog.

His post didn’t seem to fit with his blog.   #notatypoimeanttorepeat

And yes, we’re going to cover this topic (self promotion and the whole you should not be blogging about writing) on my blog because I’ve been giving it a lot, I mean A LOT of thought. So start thinking fellow bloggers because even Nathan Bransford felt the backlash of creating a brand on his blog that doesn’t support his book. And even Nathan blogs about writing.

And Nathan, don’t worry. I thought your misinterpreted self promotion was kinda cute. It’s nice to see you struggle with the rest of us. Almost endearing. Was that your evil plan?

So, fellow bloggers, what does self promotion mean to you? And what advice do you have for Nathan, for all of us?

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75 Responses to Why Nathan Bransford’s self promotion fell flat – and why you should take note! (Part 1)

  1. mooderino July 20, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I think the take home message is: Spam is spam. Not that people will mind it all that much, but it’s still a self-serving marketing ploy that 90% of people will just ignore. I think it was the ‘I gave you this blog for free, so the least you could do…’ approach that pushed people’s buttons. It’s either free or it isn’t, you can’t suddenly act entitled without also coming across as a douche.


  2. Sarah July 20, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Poor Nathan. Geez. All the dude said was “please buy my book.” For so many of us, that does or would feel uncomfortable because of how we’re socialized, but he’s right that he needed to at least try to capitalize on the incredible service he’s provided to aspiring authors and industry peeps for years now. I think it’s kind of ridiculous to criticize that.

    I do think your point about it falling flat because it doesn’t match his blog is REALLY interesting, but I imagine that would be so frustrating for him, considering all the work he’s done to build his audience, which is WELL-earned, in my opinion. And yet, I think it’s an important point, in terms of target audience and tone. I don’t really have any advice at all, but now I’m thinking about this issue as I think about my own blog. Thanks, Laura!

  3. Creepy Query Girl July 20, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I missed this controversy. I don’t read NB’s blog on a regular basis. I think he’s given us a lot to think about and a lot to learn in the last few years and I’m honestly impressed how well he keeps up with it and keeps finding new material to discuss.

    I do agree that one needs to be careful about the ‘brand’ their blog sells. If you have a blog full of vulgarity and sex-talk – don’t think you’re gonna have much luck promoting a child’s early reader.

    Or if your books are erotic fiction but you’re running a strict moral christian blog. It doens’t make sense, kwim?

    • Laura July 20, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      Katie – That’s why i found this fascinating because it’s a great example of a blog not targeting the right readers. But then again, Nathan didn’t start out his blog with the intent to sell middle grade book – I don’t think.

      Sarah – I felt bad too. I think just having the cover on his blog and a link at the bottom of each post is enough. I’d love to see him help promote other middle grade authors but that wouldn’t really fit with his blog either.

      Mooderino – I agree, spam is spam and I think it has been proven that it’s not very effective – especially on Twitter. That’s why I loved the Roecker sisters’ approach. During their release they promoted other books and let their network of friends promote theirs. Genius!

      And this gives us a lot to think about especially concerning Kristen Lamb’s brave statement that writers shouldn’t be blogging about writing.

  4. Amanda July 20, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I think the trick to self-promotion is in the disguise and in this instance Nathan failed. Self-promotion shouldn’t look like self-promotion, it should be subtle. Some authors can combine a blog on writing/publishing with their own self-promotion, but it’s tricky. Is the right audience already reading their blog? If they aren’t, then you run the risk of pushing away your current readers, or they revolt. It might have been best if Nathan had created a blog for his Middle Grade Books, gained a new following of children and parents who were interested in his story and characters. Just my thoughts.

  5. Misha July 20, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Hmm… yeah. I agree that his approach wasn’t exactly the best. Which is really sad, because he has a massive platform going for him. But he got a bit carried away with the self-promotion thing, I think.

  6. christine danek July 20, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    I missed this whole thing. This is interesting and I think if you are promoting you then you need to promote others too. Just a thought. I agree the blog must fit the topic.

    • Laura July 20, 2011 at 11:34 am #

      Christine – And Nathan is not alone. We are all having to relook at our blogs and figure out this self promotion thing b/c if any of us ever want to sell a book we’re going to have to do it!

      Misha – I think he can harness his massive platform but only to a certain degree. Word of mouth is still the best!

      Amanda – Great observation. Self promotion shouldn’t look like self promotion!

      And everyone, I’ll be at the ocean most of the day, but I’ll get to everyone’s comments and blogs when I get back!

  7. Kris July 20, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Yeah, I agree Laura. I think a link (or two) on the blog. And maybe some more posts about his process. Or his struggle to be an agent and writer at the same time. Or how he finds the time. In other words, posts about the book but not about buying the book. ‘Cause really, people are going to buy it. Or they’re not. Guilting them in any way, isn’t going to tip them over the edge.

    I sort of cringe about self promotion too. Especially in light of Elana Johnson epiphany that it goes beyond just book launch. That you actually have to continue to do it. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

  8. Susan Sipal July 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    I used to read Nathan’s blog rather faithfully but stopped when I got so busy with my own blog and work, so I missed all this. Thanks for the recap, Laura.

    But you’re asking all the right questions, and I have to say that I agree with Kristen Lamb. Unless you’re promoting a book to writers, then your blog really shouldn’t be geared *exclusively* to writers.

    I’ve put a lot of thought into this for myself as to how I will conduct a blog and other methods of reaching readers once my YA starts coming out.

    Laura, I love that you’re continuing to do these looks at promotion and self-publishing. Maybe you should write a book on it! 🙂

  9. India Drummond July 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    What I thought fell flat was not that he promoted his book, but that he asked people to buy it, something I never do.

    I tell people I have a book, I celebrate when it’s doing well, I share positive reviews, and I let people know how to win a copy or other things, even though my blog is not solely about my books either. But I never ever ask my blog readers (or social networking followers) to buy.

    Plus implying “you guys owe me” wrankles.

    I <3 Nathan too. So, I don't mean this as an attack on him, and I do wish him all the success in the world with his book. I just don't want to be guilted into buying it if it doesn't appeal to me, just because I like other things he has to say.

  10. Stina Lindenblatt July 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I stopped reading Nathan’s blog awhile ago after a comment he made on another blog. He lost all respect from me (not that he knows that or cares). I did hear about this controversy from another blog and don’t know what to make of it. But it’s his blog. If he wants to self promote his book on his blog, he should be allowed to. And face it, he started the blog to self-promote himself as an agent. He’s not an agent anymore. Why else would he maintain his blog when his book is the only link he has to the publishing industry?

  11. MG Higgins July 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention–I follow Nathan’s blog but haven’t read it lately. Self-promotion is so difficult and I empathize with him. But there are classier ways to go about it, and Nathan has always struck me as a classy guy. So it does make me rethink him as a person; I doubt that’s what he wants!

  12. Susan Kaye Quinn July 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I think your point about the focus of a blog and whether it’s targeting your readers is very important. And difficult to wrap your head around, especially before you have readers.

    Without going into what Nathan did wrong (because I don’t think it’s wrong to self-promote, but I do think there are less-good ways to go about it), I have given some thought (more recently) to how my blog fits with promoting myself – note I said MYSELF, not MY BOOKS. Because here’s the thing: I write lots of books. I have a YA romance out. I’ve got a YA paranormal in the works. I’ve got a couple MG books in process. Each of those books (potentially) have different audiences … so what do they all have in common? ME. Also that they are generally children’s books, and gatekeepers will be instrumental in guiding selection of those books.

    So, let’s neglect for the moment that a book has to sell itself, if it’s going to be a hit. That’s a given. But to get it started in the world, it has to have some kind of exposure. People have to see it. And the right people, ones who might purchase the book have to see it.

    For MG and YA books, that purchaser is still often the parents/teachers/librarians. Another route would be to try to attract teen readers to my blog. But then my MG books would be homeless, and from the beginning, my heart was equally split between MG and YA. And since I am also a parent/ex-school-board-member/lover-of-kid-stuff, it makes sense (to me at least) to build community with those people – parents/teachers/librarians that share my love of kidlit. So, I talk about things that interest me, and hopefully them as well. And together we find great ways to connect kids to books, which is my theme, if I have one. It’s also what I believe in, so it hangs together.

    But it’s also taken a year-and-a-half of blogging/writing to get to this point (i.e. it’s an evolution), so I don’t think that it all has to come overnight.

    Ok, this comment is reaching post level! #Illstopnow 🙂

  13. Nathan Bransford July 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks for the thoughtful response!

    Personally I don’t really believe in brands. I’m not a brand, I’m a person. I have a blog that reflects where I am and have been in the publishing process and always has. Now I have a book out, so I’m promoting it.

    I’m the first to say I’m probably not the best promoter and I’m learning as I go along. I’m not a publicist and it’s not something that comes naturally to me. So I’ll definitely be taking people’s feedback into account.

    I’m still extremely confused that people would feel like asking people to consider buying my book is so beyond the pale. I mean, it’s the Internet!

  14. Nathan Bransford July 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Oh, also lost in this is that the promotion worked.

  15. Marsha A. Moore July 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    I agree that the book type does not fit his blog brand. He crossed the line from subtle marketing, which ruffled those who show up there for writing advice. It bothered me, although I didn’t comment. Because his blog didn’t support the brand of his book, it felt like he was trying to put a guilt trip on the writers who read his blog–buy my book because I’ve helped you all with advice. Not cool. He needs a second blog and/or website to promote his fiction. If he wants to promote a writing help book on his current blog–fantastic, it fits.

  16. Matthew MacNish July 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I didn’t have any problem with what Nathan said. I’ve learned enough from him and his blog that I would buy a book about rare neolithic petrified Mammoth turds if he was going to benefit from it. I owe him at least that much.

    On the other hand I do have to say that those comment threads were some of the most interesting I’ve seen in a long time. People are entitled to their opinions, and it was clear that he turned some people off.

  17. Patti July 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I don’t self promotion is necessarily a bad thing. Eventually we’ll have to do when if we get a book published. It’s been interesting to watch authors blogs change once they get an agent, once they get a book deal, once their book comes out.

    There’s been a few I’ve stopped following because I feel like it’s too self promotional. It’s a thin line.

  18. Nathan Bransford July 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Wait a sec, why aren’t my comments appearing?

  19. Karen Strong July 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    This is a really tricky one. While I do love reading about a writer’s journey to publication and seeing covers, process, etc. My eyes tend to glaze over when asked directly to buy a book.

    I think that the “awareness” you put out there that there IS a book should be enough. If your followers know about the book, they can decide to buy it or not.

    When I see stuff happen like this, I’m glad I’m still sooo under the radar. 🙂

  20. Laurel July 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    This whole platform issue is a bit perplexing at times. Before one has books out, blogs are helpful for community-building and support, but that’s a very different purpose from reaching readers and making them eager to connect with you and your work.

    When a writer makes the shift to published author, I wonder if it makes sense to continue the old writing-community-focused blog or if one should start afresh with an all-new blog to which old followers are invited–if it interests them.

  21. shelley moore thomas July 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    This is tough.

    As a picturebook and middle-grade author, I am well aware that the target audience for my books is not even READING my blog. (Not many kids in elementary school follow blogs, you know.)

    What to do?

    How does branding even apply?

    I don’t have the answer, but I do recognize that it is a tough place to be in.

    For me, I’ve given up on the idea of “promoting” stuff. Instead, I look at ways to “connect” with my readers (or the people who might buy books for my readers) and other writers who are struggling along the same path. To do this, I blog sometimes about stuff other people who are writers (young or old) can relate to. Sure, I talk about my books or any public appearances I might do, they are a part of my life after all. But I also use my blog as an on-line journal for my writing, so I can be honest with myself about progress, goals and all that. I use it as a place to interact with readers and writers. Usually, after a little interaction with folks on my blog, I feel empowered to face the writing work that is to come that day.

    I have never bought a book by someone that made me feel guilty if I didn’t buy it.

    However, the more blogs I read, the more aware of other books I become, and the more likely I am to check them out.

    In my book (pardon the pun), Knowledge is power. Guilt….meh…not so much.


  22. Marisa July 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    You know, in all honesty, it was seeing his self-promo post that made me WANT to buy his book. I’ve worked as an independent illustrator since ’04 – promoting myself (which is my LEAST favorite thing to do) is the only way I was able to build my customer base. And it sucks. So, so much. But because of self-promotion, my art is hanging in children’s rooms all over the world – that is amazing to me.

    Just because he’s published doesn’t mean the self-promo is over, and seeing him rally for sales, in the same boat as me, opens my eyes to the fact that art is art and selling is selling, and when I sell my books someday, that self-promotion will be necessary, despite the suckage!

    Yes, his blog isn’t set up to be the best platform for that, but it is his space and he built it and heck, he can do what he wants with it. It’s sad that people would be so rude. 🙁

  23. Elle Strauss July 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    I’ve blogged before on the topic “Is your author blog for writers or fans” and it’s something I’m still pondering deeply for myself. I’m hoping to do both which takes some planning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    As for self-promotion, I like what Amanda says, that’s it’s about the disguise. Self-promotion is a necessary evil, but it works the best if your target market doesn’t notice (that much) that you’re doing it.

    Great blog topic–obviously of interest to a lot of people.

  24. Lisa Green July 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Very interesting… You know, now that I have a couple of anthologies out, I have to say it feels REALLY awkward to try and promote them. I did it, but I refuse to push it to the point of harassing anyone. I’m very sensitive about that, probably not good for me career wise, but I can’t help it. It just feels weird. I kind of HOPE that those that know me will be curious enough to check it out. And if not? *shrugs* I still just have too much fun on my blog and Twitter. I don’t follow back to people that self-promote every third tweet or godforbid more often. I tend to think I’d be in bad shape if I ever self-pubbed just because of my inability to self-promote well enough.

  25. Carolina Valdez Miller July 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to since I first went public with my blog. I knew that I wanted to reach my audience, first and foremost. Teens. But that’s hard to do because a lot of teens don’t do the blog thing. But all you can do is give it a shot. But you also want to reach out to people that would want to read and promote your book–so book bloggers, librarians, and potentially other writer bloggers. It’s hard to reach them all, though. Nathan was relying on his followers to want to buy a middle grade, and that was a tricky proposition. His followers don’t follow him because they love middle grade–they follow because they’re trying to break into the industry. So, I guess what I try to do is merely reach people who love YA and who will hopefully come to know my voice.

  26. Sherrie Petersen July 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I’d heard a little about this, but I’ve never been one of his fangirls so I wasn’t sure what had happened. I’m sure that promoting yourself as an author is tough. But flat out saying, buy my book, no matter how tongue in cheek you intend to be, is going to be a turn off. Nobody owes him anything except maybe the authors he repped when he was an agent.

    I started blogging to learn more about the industry, the people in it and to talk about writing with other writers who understood this part of me even better than my real-life friends and family. Even after I’m published, that’s what I plan to blog about. My blog was never about self-promotion and a hard sell has never appealed to me.

  27. becca puglisi July 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    This is all very interesting. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. I’ve been thinking about the idea of self-promotion and how it should work with an established blog for awhile, because eventually I’m going to have to start promoting myself. So thanks, Laura, for bringing this up and starting the conversation.

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

  28. Angela Ackerman July 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    I think Shelley really brought out the heart of the concern for MG or lower folks. We cannot target our core audience through our blog because our audience is not reading blogs nor ‘spending the money’ on books. It leaves us in an interesting situation. Are blogs even where we should be putting our platforming energy?

    No, and Yes.

    First the no. Really, to reach our target audience, we have to create something kid-friendly and relevant to both fans and gatekeepers. This means a website, not a blog…a website with bonus content (activities that tie into the book, printables, teaching tools, and fun world building book-specific information that fans will want to know). We need a site that draws teachers and librarians for the ‘fun yet educational’ component, so it encourages them to tie our book to school lessons and library programs, and to also appeal to kids who want to know more about the personal side of the author and more about the book they’ve fallen in love with. A website can accomplish these things more so than a blog can.

    And now the yes. A blog that targets gatekeeper specifically or writers (or a combo of both) is a valuable tool to a MG or lower author. The support system of fellow writers willing to advocate a fellow blogger’s new book is a wonderful gift of promotion, and targeting teachers and librarians through either genuine social camaraderie & a love of Reading or by meeting a need of theirs in creative writing or literacy support will also go a long way to helping you make vital connections later. This is what I believe, so this is what I try and do. My blog, a blog about writing technique and description aids, is something both writers and teachers use. The Thesaurus collections are used in classrooms all over the world. Down the road when I have a book that targets this same age group, will it help me that I provided these teachers with something they needed beforehand, something that helps them in the classroom? Boy, I hope so, but really, trying is better than not trying, right?

    Will my blog be a good place to promote sales, or awareness? I would say awareness. This is where I think perhaps Nathan made a bit of an error.

    I love Nathan and I appreciate all the help he’s offered over the years. But reminding people of all he’s given and suggesting there’s a way to repay him was an error in judgement. An error, by the way, that anyone could have made.

    I believe that because Nathan used to be an agent, he’s been judged harshly by some for this mistake. We need to remember, Nathan’s not an agent now–he’s not singing the praises for his client’s book, he’s not gushing about how amazing it is and how wonderful an author she/he’s been to work with. No, this time it’s his book, and he’s the one in the trenches promoting for himself. It isn’t easy. There will be growing pains for him, just like there are for all authors. To think otherwise just because he used to be an agent is to misunderstand just how different the two sides of the fence are.

    So, should Nathan, should any of us writing blogs that do not target the audience of our books, use it as a heavy promo tool? No. But using it as a way to increase awareness, create fellowship among others and ask for help? Certainly yes.

    If Nathan instead had written a post about how hard it is to promote and how he was struggling to get the word out about it & asked his readers for their ideas on how he could try and do better…how different do you think the response would be?

    Not only would many rush to help because of the fellowship they feel, his admitting vulnerability in this area would humanize him, making people realize that he’s no longer an agent with reams of fans supporting him & buying his book. No, he’s just an author like anyone else, trying to get his book out to those he wrote it for.

    We need to remember though, the answer to what is the right choice & what is not is not always clear. We will mess up. And what works for some does not work for others. Again, this is where having a blog to reach out to others in our time of questioning and doubt can be a balm. We are not alone, and others out there have the same questions and doubts. Some also have answers, and almost everyone can offer support. Look at the response here. Blogs, for this reason alone, are gold beyond measure, regardless of whether they can increase our sales or exposure once we’re authors.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  29. MaryWitzl July 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    I think Angela’s point about having a website and not a blog to promote books is well made. I write a blog primarily to network with other writers, but also as a form of discipline. When I eventually publish my books, I will probably announce it, but I won’t ask my readers to buy them or suggest that they owe me, because that’s not what they come for.

    Having said that, I’m curious about Nathan’s book and I wish him well with it. Getting published and learning how to promote what we write is tough work for anybody — even well-known and liked ex-agents.

  30. Sophia Chang July 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Wow, I can’t tell if this post is gutsily confrontational, or the best promotion Nathan could ask for! 😀

    The “controversy” didn’t bother me because I was already off the bandwagon. I actually wanted to read Nathan’s book LESS because of all the promotion on his blog. Like everyone here, I respected and appreciated all he’s helped us with, but the more I heard about his book from him, the less I wanted to read it. I like what Amanda said about hiding it cleverly. Fool me the way Google commercials that make me cry do!

  31. Anna Staniszewski July 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Very interesting discussion! I missed all this too, so I’m glad you mentioned it, Laura. I guess there two issues here:
    -Should you gear your blog toward readers or other writers? I guess it depends on what you’re most interested in doing. The thing I love talking about most is writing, so I can’t help doing that.
    -Should you tell people to buy your books? As Kris and Karen said, I think blogging about the publishing process is great, but when it ends in “buy my book” that can turn people off. I’ve been trying to find that balance and I’m sure will continue to do so once my book comes out. Not sure what the answer is–again, maybe it’s whatever you’re comfortable with?

  32. Nathan Bransford July 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    This is my third attempt at responding!

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone for their feedback, I’m definitely learning as I go along. I’m not a brand, I’m a human being, and my blog has always reflected where I am in the publishing process and business. And now that I have a book out I’m promoting a book.

    To be honest, I’m still a bit confused how asking people to consider buying your book if they like your blog is beyond the pale, but what can you do.

  33. Kelly Polark July 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    I think writers need to self promote. If someone had a book coming out and didn’t tell me, how would I know? I do like supporting my blog friends. I can’t support them all, I can’t. But I try to here and there.
    Though I think you need to execute the self promotion well and like you said, make it fit your personality.
    Interesting post. I hadn’t read his posts in a while.

  34. Ansha Kotyk July 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    I think Angela hit the nail on the head with “if Nathan had written a post about how hard it is to promote and how he was struggling to get the word out about it & asked his readers for their ideas on how he could try and do better…”

    It’s all about approach and execution. Doing the ‘hard sell’ is the perfect way to turn off potential buyers.

    We’re writers though, so we have some skill with the written word, right? We can find ways to be subtle and gracious with our sales strategy.

  35. Milo James Fowler July 20, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    I was surprised by it but not overly vexed. What he writes is up to him, and what I read is up to me. Would I have gone about it differently? Probably less to-the-point, as has already been stated. But he has a right to post whatever he wants on his blog. And we have the right to go and not do likewise.

  36. Margo Berendsen July 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Yes I think it was his evil convoluted plan!!! 🙂 Because it worked on me: so I’ve always been planning to buy his book eventually, but wasn’t in any rush. His first post didn’t really register with me. Then his second one made me go, ‘awwww, Nathan, I feel for you.’ And I went and bought the book right then and there 🙂 #imasoftie #wellIwasplanningtobuyitanyway

    Did you read Kristen Lamb’s article on why writers should not be blogging about writing? I’m curious about all these issues so I’m SOOOO glad to hear you’ll be discussing them more!

  37. Laura Josephsen July 20, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    *cries* Internet Explorer just ate my reply to you. Let me try again:

    I think it’s important that we self-promote so we can share what’s coming out and when, but I think there’s a balance. I don’t ever want to slam people with “THIS IS MY BOOK! BUY IT!” I’m more likely to keep on the lesser end of self-promotion because I still feel like I’m learning how to do it.

    I love getting to know other bloggers and learning about their projects. It makes me excited to be able to help promote their work when the time comes. And I’m so grateful that we, as writers, can support each other when we have projects coming out. For me, personally, I’m still trying to find that balance of self-promotion. I want to be able to let people know when I have something coming up, but I don’t want to be annoying. I want to still be able to read other writers’ blogs, discuss things with them, share things on my blog other than “MY BOOK AHH!”

    I hope this makes some sense. I’ve been staring at and writing html coding for two days, so my brain is a little loopy right now. 😉

  38. Catherine Johnson July 20, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    I didn’t know about this either, poor Nathan! Great comment from Angela. This is something that could happen to any of us on a bad day. I am put off by too much overkill of a book, but I have every intention of buying Nathan’s book for my son when he’s a bit older. You live and learn.

  39. Heather Sunseri July 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Wow, Laura, you’ve got quite a conversation going here. I don’t keep up with Nathan’s blog very regularly, but I’m thinking readers of his blog need to extend a little forgiveness for the guy. He obviously made a mistake, and gobs of readers held him accountable, and now I’m guessing he’s truly sorry. He should be forgiven.

    Having said that… I go back to my #2 Writing Truth: Story rules. Anyone who reads his blog, knows he wrote that book. If the story is good and appeals to someone who reads his blog, they’re going to buy it. But maybe they won’t. #notforhimtosay

    I know writers who have a blog 100% geared toward the publishing industry, but that is not going to make a man necessarily purchase a Christian romance just because he’s learned a ton from that particular writer. The writer can hope he might check it out for his wife or something.

    Great job stirring up opinions and talk.

  40. Maureen Crisp July 21, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    Wow great comments from everyone to mull over. Children’s writers are in a bind because their readers are not interested in blogs. I also think that Angela’s reply nailed the problem and the possible solution to the self promotion dilemma.
    I write a weekly roundup of interesting trends and topics in the publishing world for children’s writers in my country…(tho I have USian readers too because a lot of what is happening now will filter through to us in about 6 months.)Although I have a book out,(I have a clickable pic to a static blog I set up up for kids with out takes etcetc on it) My blog is primarily for my colleagues.
    At the beginning I really struggled with why and who I should be aiming my online presence at. My mid grade readers are out there doing stuff not reading blogs.
    Since starting the blog I have made some wonderful writing friends and last year a bunch of us got together and started an online story for kids where kids could write along side us…it was a modest success and so we are back doing it again this year.
    In this way very quietly we have got our names out there and in front of teachers…a bit of national publicity about the blog etcetc didn’t hurt. I have just put a text box on the story blog with a little news item about upcoming books from the blog team on it…and that is over a year after we started…so there is no hard sell at all….
    Hopefully by having my name out there in the community I am self promoting but not beating anyone over the head to buy my books because I don’t know a writer who likes to promote at all…it is probably the most frightening thing authors can do…LOL
    I am in awe of the YA writers who have such a sense of where their audience is at that their self promotion is beautifully subtle and their use of twitter and blog posts have their readers following their every move like following the crumbs in the forest..(Cassandra Clare is a prime example.)
    Thank you Laura for the great blog post and I will be linking to it (as usual)xx

    • Laura July 21, 2011 at 12:33 am #

      Thanks everyone! I’ve been gone all day. Apologies to Nathan for not being here to let his comments go through. Everybody has great points. Personally, Nathan’s post didn’t bother me. And we’ll never please anyone, right? That being said, my advice to self promote is to put others first and promote them. Build a network of other MG authors who can work together to promote each other. And execute it well. We’re all on a learning curve. I am very forgiving and understand why authors find it easier to say, ‘here’s my book, please buy it’. But in this day and age, we have to be smarter than that.

  41. Traci Kenworth July 21, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    I think those of us who write for YA also have a bit of a problem trying to draw in our readers to our blogs as well. I feel that a lot of teens aren’t interested in blogs like we writers are. I’ve listened to Kristen Lamb’s advice about not making my blog “just about writing,” but I also include info for writers on it. I hope to balance the two. I think Angela Ackerman said it well above, “it’s about trying.” As for self-promo, I think we’ll all have to make our own mistakes on that road. The only advice I have is to try to include trailers, teasers, etc. the basic things I’m sure have already been tried but work. Word of mouth is still better than anything.

  42. Lydia K July 21, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    What an interesting topic. I’m not excited about self-promotion and I feel the discomfort that Nathan has with what all of us probably have to do.

    I get the weird feeling that there was a bit of a reversal of power going on. Nathan’s been an agent and in a power position for a long time. He’s always talked and we’ve eagerly listened (and he’s had such great content too–the listening and big following is extremely well deserved.)

    So now, the first time he asks something of his readers? He gets some negative reactions.

    Interesting, isn’t it?

    I wish him the best of luck and hope his book does well. In the end, though, I do believe the sales will speak to the product itself more than Nathan’s ability to publicize it.

  43. Nelsa July 21, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    Wow, I missed this whole (semi?)controversy. Thanks for doing a blog post on it, Laura.

    I, too, think that Nathan can write what he wants to on his blog and a reader can take or leave what he says. I’m so leery of self-promotion myself that I probably back off too much the other way. I was dragged kicking and screaming into blogging and twitter and am glad because I have found amazing people there. I didn’t do it to promote my books – I did it to connect with other writers and to learn as much as I could about the YA publishing world.

    I don’t believe teens buy books because of anything I write on my blog or twitter (not that many of them follow those anyway!)They will buy my book because a friend told them about it, they see the cover and like it or they read the blurb and the story appeals to them. C’est tout. Now other writers/librarians/teachers are big book buyers and maybe they will buy a book because they’ve gotten to know the writer on social networking and like them and want to support a writer friend. Two different audiences. Two different reasons to buy. Nothing wrong with either.

  44. Barbara Watson July 21, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    I haven’t visited Nathan’s blog in awhile and was unaware of this controversy. Interesting. Very interesting. *rubs chin*

    The idea of promoting my MG book (should it ever be published) freaks me out. Author visits to bookstores and schools and book clubs – THOSE would be COOL! But the other stuff? Eek.

    And I will NEVER self-pub my book because I would flail and fail and fall flat.

    MG is a tough market when your readers aren’t your buyers. This is all fascinating food for thought.

  45. Laura Josephsen July 21, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    In my html-brain induced state, I didn’t mention: what I said was just how I try/want to do self-promotion. How anyone else does it is entirely up to them. I think there are a lot of self-promotional tactics that can work. If something works for one person, fantastic! If a different thing works for someone else, again fantastic! 😀 There are lots of ways to go about it. ^_^ I know I’m learning all the time and I still have so far to go.

  46. Stephanie Faris July 21, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    He doesn’t really need to self-promote on his blog. He has a huge readership. Just put the book in the sidebar and keep writing what he’s been writing. The readers that are interested will take note. He could do a giveaway or two, but I think the best marketing is subtle. Almost subliminal.

  47. LynNerd July 21, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    Wow, I missed all the commotion, too. Sheesh! I would expect Nathan to promote his books on his own blog. I think that maybe what rubbed some people the wrong way was asking people to “pledge” to buy his book. If it was worded differently, I don’t think it would have been a big deal. I still don’t think it’s a big deal. As far as his blog not fitting with his MG book, I disagree. He should be able to talk about any of his books or WIPs on his own blog. And if he wants to talk about something different for a change and tell us the highlights of his vacation or address a nonwriting issue, it’s his blog and he should be free to change things up if he wants. People/bloggers aren’t one dimensional. We should feel free to share various aspects of ourselves. I guess we all have different ideas about the purpose of blogging, and I’m new at it, so that’s just my newbie opinion.

    Laura, I think your idea is perfect, for MG authors (or YA, or pic books) to work together to promote each other. It’s so much easier to praise someone else and promote them than it is to toot our own horn. I don’t know many writers who are comfortable doing that.

  48. Kristin Gray July 21, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    I keep hearing Kristen Lamb’s blogging books mentioned. I guess I should look into those – but for now I’m choosing to focus on craft. Baby steps.
    Great discussion as always, Laura. Thanks.

  49. Erica Olson July 21, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    I played up Jacob Wonderbar to my kid so much, that when he saw it, he said, “God, Mom, this is for babies.” Dang, I forgot he was 10…and an advanced reader…I so wanted him to like it. 🙁

  50. Stacy July 21, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    Late to the party on this, but self-promotion and branding is so much harder than writing. I’ve learned that blogging about writing is a mistake, but trying to find my niche and get people to listen is a work in progress.

    As for self-promotion, contests are great. I don’t mind when people offer free stuff for comments, etc. But if I get a direct message on Twitter telling me to buy they’re book, I’m totally turned off.

    There’s got to be a better way to use Twitter and FB. Right now all I’m doing is being myself and trying to treat others the way I’d like to be treated.

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