Monday, 22 December 2008

Email Promotions

In the last five minutes I've received three emails from Bostick Communications offering me review copies of various books. According to its book press releases page, Bostick charges writers $175 to send out their press release to "our database of over 20,000 book reviewers, print, radio, television and internet media contacts". I wasn't aware that I was a contact of theirs: until I received these emails I'd never even heard of them before.

None of the books are in genres I read routinely: nevertheless I've requested review copies for my other blog but I suspect that the authors won't be too pleased with the reviews that they get. Not that I'll automatically give anyone a bad review: but if writers are naive enough to use services like this, then they're also unlikely to know their ARCs from their elbows. And that usually shows in the quality of the finished book.

Look: spamming is not a good way to sell or market your books. Most of the emails sent out get snagged by spam filters or deleted automatically; the few that get read do nothing to promote your book or your reputation. The books that get requested aren't usually asked for by people with any power to make a difference to your sales and at best they're considered a hit-and-miss way to get free books, as this thread over at Library Thing makes clear.

If you want to promote your books you need to target your promotions appropriately. By all means consider using a good publicist but please, don't pay for services like this: you won't see a corresponding return in your sales. The only money to be made in this instance is, I fear, all heading towards Bostick Communications, and not to the authors whose books are supposedly being promoted by them.

Edited to add: I have just received another email from Bostick in response to my request for review copies, which reads:

Where do you post your reviews? Thank you.

Shouldn't they have checked this out before they added my email address to their mailing lists? Or would checking out people on their list of "over 20,000 book reviewers, print, radio, television and internet media contacts" cut it down to a far less impressive number? I've emailed them a link to my review blog and suspect that the writers they represent won't want to be judged by my demanding criteria, and I don't suppose I'll hear from them again--unless they decide to send me more spam.


Gutsy Living said...

I'm curious to hear what you think about paying to learn how to get your book to sell on as #1 on a certain day. I met an author recently, through our writers' group, who took an online marketing class and was able to do just that and was approached by 6 agents.

Jane Smith said...

Gutsy, you know me: I'm a cynical old grump. So hold tight.

There's an awful lot of information available on the internet about how to improve your book's Amazon ratings, and I doubt that anyone who could Google would need to pay someone to find that out. All you need to do, roughly, is to get a bunch of friends to order your book at the same time and whoosh! up the ratings it goes.

I'm worried about the sort of agents who would approach a writer just because they showed a temporary Amazon sales-surge, so it's perhaps not the best way to find an agent (you could email me their names, and the name of the author and her book if you'd like--I'd be very interested to know: "hprw at tesco dot net"). I wonder if their interest was sparked by something else: I doubt that agents look for clients by sitting around watching Amazon rankings rise and fall. And as the book must have already been published to appear on Amazon, what were the agents interested in representing? It all sounds more than a little fishy to me.

I hope that's a help.

Jane Smith said...

By the way, I've just received another press release from Bostick; and I've worked through my deleted emails and found that they also sent me one on 18 December, five days ago. Let's see if I get any books from them at all as a result of this; and what those books are like.

Sally Zigmond said...

Six agents, GutsyWriter? I might (only might)believe it if it had been one. But six? That takes it into the realms of fantasy--unless, perchance, they're not non-fee charging, well-respected and successful agents. There are agents and agents, y'know.

Jane Smith said...

Sally, you've definitely got a point there and I'll admit, I was thinking the same. Gutsy, you might want to probe a little deeper into this writer's claims and see what you find. I bet there's something wrong with the story.

Anonymous said...

Warm holiday wishes from across the water!

Jean said...

I'm sad that some authors can be so gullible as to be taken in by organisations such as Bostick. I'm so sad, too, that people keep trying to make money out of gullible writers. My dad (in his nineties) was thrilled to bits when a 'publisher' offered to put his poems in an anthology. I hated having to burst his bubble by trying to explain to him why it was a scam.