I interrupt this blog to comment on promotion.

People ask me, “What should I do for promotion?!” more often than you’d believe. Not that it’s surprising–it’s a great question. I ask myself that basically every day.  What should I do for promotion?!

My basic rules of promotion:

  • Give people a reason to want to talk about my books…
  • …without annoying them…
  • …and without requiring (or encouraging) them to annoy the people around them.

It can be hard to come up with a great example, but the HBO show The Leftovers just implemented one that has 100% worked on me. After watching the pilot of the show, I tweeted that I had no idea what was going on, and that delighted me. Last week, the show DMd me saying they wanted to send me something. I was intrigued, so I provided an address.  I got this:

Creepy file is creepy…but so is the show. I expected something like this…
(Note: some of the info in the file is from READING my tweets. I pity whoever had to do that job. Also, the note there is my original tweet.)

A photo of a file included in the package. It has my twitter avatar, info from my bio and some from my twitter feed (including my job, that I co-write under two pennames & that I've been married 10 years.)

A lighter, a sign, and a pre-paid cellphone identified as my new burner phone. OH. MY.

A picture of a lighter, a sticker with a motto from the cult in the show, and a cheap pre-paid cell phone.

And the phone already had one text message waiting…

A photo of the phone & its first text message, reading: "Watchers: you walk with the dead! They're all in white!"

Since the first thing I did was whip out my phone to tweet pictures of the creepy care package, this basically accomplished exactly what was intended. And since I’ll be getting text messages on this phone, presumably related to new episodes, it’s the promo that keeps on giving.  Because you know I will be tweeting creepy text messages with delight.

Now obviously, we can’t all be sending people cell phones. But this is an example of a way to make people want to be engaged. At the end of the day, you can’t buy someone’s earnest interest. But you can cultivate it once it appears. You can give them ways to engage that increase it. Unfortunately, you have to be creative, usually. Nothing works better than something no one else has ever seen or done. (And once you do something, other people will copy it. Which means you’ll have to come up with the next thing no one has ever seen or done.)

Well played, HBO. Well played.