Self-promotion is a difficult thing. Especially when you’re just getting started.
You don’t know anyone. It’s horrible when you look at your pageviews and see that only your parents and maybe a few friends looked at the thing you spent so much time working on. And let me tell you this right now:
It takes time. There are no shortcuts.
Let me show you two graphs – these are both for this blog. One is pageviews (by week), and the other is RSS statistics.
There is a pretty clear trend. The more I post, the more pageviews. The more interesting, compelling, or otherwise interesting things I post, the more people read the blog.
You can also see that big spike in mid 2010 – that was when I got a lot of hits for the First Novel Survey analysis that I did for Jim Hines. His post got a lot of traffic, and I benefited from that. But it didn’t make that much of a difference in the long run.
Yes, I get new readers from various places – the Carnival of the Indies, for example, or the SFWAAuthors twitter feed or the Digital Publishing G+ group. But all of those are not promotion. For me to get more traffic from any of those, I have to provide value to you.
And then you have people doing it badly. I’ve commented on the indie author mistake of targeting fellow writers, but there’s also a degree of class you must have in order to be relevant and have people keep coming back. It’s the used car salesman versus the family dealership model.
People might click a link once (or buy a book once) due to a sleazy, scammy, spammy trick. But only once, and they will never come back.
It can be useful to dissect where someone has done it poorly, and to see why that’s so. So I give you Craig S. Hughes.
This guy is talking about Hungry for Your Love, an anthology that my story “Kicking the Habit” appeared in. Now, the review actually reflected something others said – the mix of horror and romance sometimes threw both romance readers and horror readers. For other people, it worked really well. The critical tone his article took toward the book is not the problem.
Problems with the above:
1. As the editor (top tweet) got him to note, his “review” did not actually cover the content of the work.
2. He tweeted at as many people as possible in the anthology about the “interesting review”.
3. He didn’t reveal that it was his review that he had written in the tweet.
4, He didn’t even credit all the authors – including at least one (me) that he’d tweeted at.
So I called him on it.
And really, that was the point that I was done. Done with him and done with the site he wrote the article for.
Had at any point he’d said “Oh, crap, sorry about that” or even “I see your point” or even just “I hear what you’re saying, but disagree”, I might be linking to his review. I might NOT be letting Nerdalicious know they’ve got an unrepentant spammer writing for them. Heck, if he’d done it privately and just sent me an e-mail instead of defending his spamminess publicly, I might not be writing this post.
Instead, I’m using Craig S. Hughes as an example of how to never, ever market your work, whether it’s a blog or a book.
Luckily for Mr. Hughes, the internet is a big place. If he stops being defensive and listens to the critique, he will be able to fix his behavior and start writing good content. And while the hits and pageviews start out low, they’ll get higher and higher.
I wish him luck. I really do.
But in the meantime, I won’t be reading.