Authors: Just stop the unsolicited advertising emails

You open your email and see 12 new messages. Scanning the subject lines, you note quite a few are unsolicited emails.

Highlight. Delete.

That is my solution.

It is incredibly easy to get on everyone’s email list as so many companies ask for your email address today. And by giving it to them, they seem to think you are giving them permission to email you tons of advertisements.

But there is another group that also seems to find no problem in sending unsolicited emails – or in the case of Twitter sending direct messages (DM) that are nothing but a pitch to buy their book. Yes, that group is authors.

I really can’t speak for others but sending me an email or DM about your book is NOT going to make me buy it. In fact, I often delete these messages without a second thought. (I received one from someone on Goodreads even as I wrote this blog. Delete – well, delete after saving a copy to be included with this post.)

emailIf I signed up for your emails or newsletters, this is fine. But just because I hosted you on MY site, doesn’t mean I want to hear about every new achievement. I host many authors whose books do not interest me at all.

Now I am all for promoting with e-mail – as long as the messages are wanted. Before you put someone on your email list, you need to ask their permission. You shouldn’t just take everyone in your contact list and start emailing them. This is a good way to turn off potential readers.

If on your website, you ask for emails to add people to a newsletter list that is perfectly okay. They chose to receive that newsletter. Just ensure that there is a way for them to be removed from your list if they should decide to stop receiving your notices. (The Can-Spam Act actually sets rules for commercial emails and requires recipients have a way to opt out of emails.)

There also is nothing wrong with including your books or blog links in your e-mail signature line – you can even have testimonials, a line from the book or the title of your latest blog in the signature line. Of course just remember that some SPAM filters will weed out emails with too many links in them.

I also get plenty of DMs when I follow someone on Twitter. Most are just a “Thanks for the Follow” message but often there is a sales pitch added to it. “If you like fantasy, check out my book.” Let me tell you it doesn’t work. I simply delete the DM without a second thought. I know others who will unfollow you if you send out this type of message.

DMs shouldn’t be used as a sales pitch. They are for private conversations and relationship building – not for marketing. Sending a DM as a marketing pitch is the same thing as those SPAM emails and will certainly get you ignored or unfollowed by many people.

I don’t have any statistics to back up my opinion that unsolicited emails and DMs don’t generate sales. But I know that no SPAM message is every appreciated or even read by me so if you are sending them out, please make sure I am not on your list.



Goodreads: An introductory guide of authors

If you want to sell books, go where readers congregate. And that place is Goodreads. Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Eighteen million readers and authors have registered with the site since it began in 2007. An estimated 570 million books with 24 million reviews are on the site. With numbers like those, no author should be neglecting to connect and be on Goodreads.


The people on Goodreads tend to be serious readers. These are not the people interested in collecting free ebook downloads. These are readers, book buyers, reviewers and bloggers. These are readers who want to buy, talk about and review your book.

Signing Up

If you aren’t already a member, your first order of business is to sign up for a free account. It is as simple as entering your name and email address and creating a password. Once you are a member of Goodreads, you will want to upgrade your account to an author account.  Click here for more information on creating an author account and adding your books to your page.

On your author page, you can list your author bio and photo, link to your blog and website, and add all your contact details.  In addition to your books, you can also have your book trailers on your page. Additionally, you can list the books that you are reading, have read or are on your to-be-read list. Goodreads also allows you to upload an excerpt of your book as a free preview for readers.


Goodreads groups are communities of readers who share similar interests, and they are purely meant for interacting, networking and connecting with readers. The best way to interact with these readers is to be one. Join several of the Goodreads groups and participate. Get your name out there as someone who reads the books and as someone who writes good reviews. As readers view your posts, some will be curious enough to check out your profile and discover you are an author.

Note that on Goodreads groups, direct marketing is not only looked down upon, it is often forbidden. In other words, don’t join a group to just post about how great your book is and why people should want to buy it.


Goodreads does provide authors the opportunity to advertising. With more than 140 million page views and 19 million visitors a month, Goodreads ads can get your book information in front of a lot of readers.

goodreads-badge-medI have never paid for advertising on Goodreads. From other authors, I have heard that many of them do not see a real increase in sales from advertising on Goodreads. You can tailor your ad to reach a specific group so if you do advertise, be sure you know your target market.

One of the most effective ads is to have the “call to action” at the end of the ad something along the lines of “Add [your book] to your To-Read List” or “Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a Free copy.” These ads tend to work better than just those that dump the reader on an Amazon sales page. Plus adding your book to a digital TBR pile or entering a contest is a lot less commitment that even a 99 cent purchase. Plus when people add books to their To Read list, it shows up in their friends’ news feeds and email digests meaning more publicity for you.


Goodreads makes it easy to give away a copy of your book to readers. It is as simple as setting your start and stop dates and how many copies you want to give away. Goodreads will randomly choose winners and will send you names and mailing addresses. It is your responsibility to send the books. The main drawback is this program is only for print books. If you are looking for tips on doing a Goodreads Giveaway, click here.  


One way to promote book launches, tours and even giveaways of your e-book is to do a Goodreads Event. You simply create a page on your blog and organize a Goodreads Event with all the details and a link to your promotion page. In this fashion, you can actually do a giveaway of your ebook.

As an author, if you haven’t spent time building your presence on Goodreads, I strongly encourage you to do so. With millions of potential readers visiting daily, you would have to be crazy not to be a Goodreads member.