New York Times Bestselling author Donna Andrews tells us about her major fear of Facebook. You may be able to help her. Read on. And read her latest adventure, "Stork Raving Mad."
I'm a Facebook newbie, and probably haven't done as much as I could on Facebook, mainly because I'm still trying to find the answer to a very important question: how can I avoid pissing people off on Facebook?
It's not an idle question. Every year I see more and more people engaged in PR activities that are at best useless and at worst counterproductive.
Take the writer friend who began sending a weekly e-mail newsletter. Graphically it was nicely done, and she did a decent job of finding interesting content, considering that her life wasn't much more exciting than mine. I read a few issues, just to see what on earth she could find to talk about every week. (Mostly how successful her last signings had been and where she was signing next, in case you're curious.) But I stopped reading it pretty soon. I may even have bozofiltered it. I just didn't want to get a newsletter from her every week. I'm not even sure I'd want to hear from myself that often.
It’s okay. We're still friends, and if she ever asks how I liked her last issue, I can always say, quite honestly, that I'm way behind on my email. But there are other people that I don't know as well who seem to harvest my email from listservs we're on together, or the directories of organizations to which we both belong. Suddenly I'm getting press releases or a newsletters from someone I barely know, someone I don't recall asking to put me on his or her mailing list. Is this likely to inspire to buy their books? Not bloody likely.
If I have the email of someone I think would like to be on my mailing list -for example, someone who has written to say they like my books – you know what I do with it? I email them, asking them if they want to be on my mailing list.
I offer to add them if they reply yes, and I also include a link to my signup page for do-it-yourselfers. If I'm really on my game, I include a link to a sample of what they'd get, like a web-posted copy of the Femmes Fatales newsletter. Some people sign up as a result of these emails. Some don't. Those who don't I consider off-limits. No exceptions.
It's more work, and it doesn't grow your lists as fast, but you know what? I'm pretty sure I piss off a lot fewer people that way.
I also know people who seem to think that the way to promote themselves is to post to every list they belong to about every twitch in their careers. If you work at it, you can find any number of things to tell a list about. Your new book release. Your review in PW. Your reviews in seventeen other publications, some of which your fellow list members might have heard of before. Your guest appearances on a dozen blogs. Your latest Amazon numbers. Your signings in cities only half a dozen list members live in. And then there's that old reliable, "Funny someone should mention cats, because in my new book, THE AADVARK MURDERS, one of my characters owns a cat. It doesn't actually appear in the book, but at one point she goes home to feed it."
Maybe it's working for these people. Obviously they think it is, or they wouldn't be doing it. But in some cases it's backfiring. During one of the out-of-town trips this year, I was talking with a couple of fellow writers, and the name of one of these eager promoters came up.
"Oh, God, she's SO annoying," one person said. "She posts nearly every day, and it's all 'Me! Me! Me!' I'm on four lists with her, so I get four copies, all identical."
"Only four?" another said. "You're lucky. She's local, so I get at least seven. On one list she's made about a third of the posts so far this year."
"I think I get five," a third said. " I long ago decided that I will never, ever buy or read one of her books, not even if she were the last writer in the universe."
Yikes! Not precisely the reaction one wants from PR efforts. But it's one of the reasons I probably don't post enough on the various lists I'm on. I'm paranoid that I'll go one post too many and turn into one of those Energizer Bunny BSPers.
I have some idea how not to offend in e-mail, and on lists. I think I have a pretty good idea of how to conduct myself on a panel: Be entertaining; don't hog the mike; try occasionally to start a sentence without using the words, "In my book. . ."
But Facebook? I'm still finding my way. Which means that although I now have a Facebook account, I can hardly be said to have a Facebook presence yet. I'm still trying to find out how to do it right. I'm not going to play any silly games under my author persona. (I have an alter ego for that.) And I'm not going to send out messages imploring people to like pages for oddball political causes. But beyond that? I'm clueless.
Anyone have any wisdom to share? Things you want to see from an author you've friended on Facebook? Things you'd rather not see? Things you hate so much you'd unfriend your mother if she did them?