You could read my book, maybe?
December 16, 2011 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Is there a non-obnoxious way to promote a book to specific people?

It's quite possible I'm going to have a story collection published (yay!). I'm wondering about the etiquette of sending copies out to cool internet people I don't actually personally know. I'm sure they get this sort of thing often and I have no expectation that these people would feel obligated to review or even read the book, I just think it would fit into the aesthetics of certain people I follow online & I'd like to share it with them.

What is the least obnoxious way to do this?

Would directly emailing the book in ebook format be a bad idea?
posted by Kitty Stardust to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Don't e-mail the book itself unless someone specifically asks for it. Provide a link instead. Most importantly, though, write a nice, thoughtful, personalized letter to each person. Express your appreciation for their work and explain why your book might appeal to them.

Whatever you do, don't send a generic copy-and-paste "I thought you'd like this!" message; it will be deleted without a second thought. I know this because I've already received, and deleted, two of those today.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:07 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was once a reviewer for a library type publication and got a lot of this sort of thing I can tell you what worked and didn't work.

1. What worked - a concise email about the thing and about who you are with something specific and NOT FORM LETTER about why I would like it. Something more than "love your blog" because even if that's the reason it seems spammy and insincere. So take the time to write a sentence or two like "Your commitment to civil liberties and your recent posts about the PATRIOT ACT make me think this may be of interest to you" and then let them email you back if they'd like to read a copy. If they have a review policy [check their website] make reference to having read it. Sending a link to your book is fine. sending your book as an attachment is not fine.

2. What has not worked - giant attachments, PDF press releases, any press releases attached to emails, generic "Love your blog!" stuff, non personalized email, hassling people about writing a review, hassling people about whether they've read it, publicizing your interactions with that person on your own blog [esp if they didn't go the way you wanted] or acting like you're doing anything other than, at some level, asking for a favor.

In a perfect world, you'd be right on target and you'd send them a copy of your thing and they'd like it and just genuinely appreciate it and maybe write something about it and that would be cool. Often though people get sent a lot of stuff that is not so good by people who lack basic etiquette and understanding about this sort of thing. This is not your fault, certainly, but it's worth understanding what a bad interaction can look like so that you can make your interaction a better one.
posted by jessamyn at 11:16 AM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I concur.

A link to a download of the book would be most appropriate. Some people delete e-mails with attachments from people they don't know without thinking twice about it. No one knows that your e-book isn't a nasty virus.

As far as the body of the e-mail with the link, I would probably introduce myself and then let the person know what you like some work of theirs in particular, and why their work makes you think they would like your work. I would write the copy of every e-mail personally as if you are writing a short e-mail to a friend.

Make sure your to field only has one e-mail address listed in it.

I would also start out by mailing to a small percentage of the people that you actually want to contact, e.g. 10%. So if you had a list of 50 people you may want to start small and send it to 5 of them and see what kind of response that you get.
posted by dgeiser13 at 11:21 AM on December 16, 2011

Good advice here, and I'll add this: As well as linking to the collection itself, make sure that you also link to a personal biography, and that you've done a decent job of managing your online identity.

I get suggested links from people all the time that they want me to add to one of the websites I maintain. The first hing I do in this situation isn't check out their links; I check out them. If I google them and they look legit, it might be worth my time to investigate further.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:37 AM on December 16, 2011

Also please remember to make sure all the details of the person you're sending it to are correct before you send it. Lots of times I've passed on a book that spells our host's name incorrectly or "thinks it will be interesting for our viewers" (we're a radio show). Mistakes like that make me think instantly that it will be difficult to get details right with this press person.
posted by FatRabbit at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2011

Yeah, all of this.

The best way this works (for me, in my opinion, as a frequent recipient) is:
Hi Jason Kottke*,

I'm sending you this download link for my new ebook--solely for your pleasure reading. (It's a new collection of short fiction, all linked by a robot that travels the universe eating babies.)

My name's Kitty Stardust. You don't know me (though we once ate at the same burrito shop on the same day!). I write this blog and I do x and y, and the book's website is z in case you wanted to know more.

Hope you're well!



* LOL sorry.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:20 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I get a lot of this sort of thing. I will repeat some above advice.

1. Don't attach it in the email.

2. Don't flatter me or butter me up. Bad: "You're so awesome! The sound of your voice is like rain on petals." Good: "I remember when you ran {old blog name}. Whatever happened to that?"

3. Tell me if you sent it to other people. I might leave it up to someone better to do something with it. "I also sent it to Choire Sicha to see if The Awl would be good enough to drown it in an 18,000-word review."

4. Short, short, short.

5. Press releases should never be used. Don't even attempt to imitate the form, even as a joke, because that's been done to death, too.

6. Don't badger me for a response or even re-email to ask for one. You will be even less likely to get one if you do. I get upwards of 20,000 non-spam emails a year to me or one of my projects. All if it gets read. About 10% gets an answer. Much less than that gets forwarded to someone else because it's more appropriate for them than it is for me.

7. Don't brag to me about it, describe it. Bad: "Jason Kottke said it was better than Paul Ford's blog." Good: "It's about Anil Dash finally getting to meet the Purple One and to look him meaningfully in the eye."

8. Just because it's easy to reach me doesn't mean I don't owe you anything. My contact info is easy to find because I'm an old-fashioned Internet type who believes in freely available info and likes to be kept on his toes by the occasional Romanian identity thief, not because it's some kind of social contract that says I will answer all communication.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:44 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Actual hard-copy review copies are a >great< way to do this. Your publishing deal should provide for a few cases, even if you still have to pay postage. Don't waste them all on third-tier city Sunday supplement and small-circulation journal editors prohibitively unlikely to assign them for review, if there are influential "Internet people" who might be a lot more helpful.
posted by MattD at 5:07 PM on December 16, 2011

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