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There are a lot of self-publishing writers who are really, really, really bad at promotion.

I’m saying this because I just looked at my Goodreads inbox for the first time in months. I was just going to repost my Meg Wolitzer review over there (might as well find readers where they are), but I got distracted by the fact that I had 74 “emails” in my Goodreads inbox! Oh boy! Reader responses! Old friends who have found me! Something cool, surely!

But no.

The majority were very literally nothing but a link to a self-published book — and when I say literally, I mean literally. Open the email, and find link, period. No salutation, no explanation of why the author thinks that this would be of interest to me in particular, hardly even any indication (other than the fact that the url goes to a bookseller’s website) that this is a book, or that the book in question was authored by the person sending the email. No, that would be too difficult. Too time-consuming! All these people are sending is just a raw, naked http:// link. That’s the majority. I shit you not.

goodreads_spam

The rest are form letters, from people who at least took the time to copy/paste. “Hello JOEY MANLEY nice to meet you here on GOODREADS, please allow me to introduce myself,” with, yes, a link to a self-published book following that salutation. No indication that they have any idea who they’re talking to. No reference to anything about me. No attempt to make a real human connection, just a transparently pathetic attempt to fake same.

Here’s a tip: if you are a writer, do not use the same “online outreach” strategies to promote your book that penis enlargement companies use to promote their sugar pills! Your potential readers are out there, and approaching them one at a time is surely one way to find them, but you have to seem like an actual human being trying to make an actual human connection. No, strike that. You have to be an actual human being trying to make an actual human connection. This is work. But it works.

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