Asking for the Sale Without P****** People Off

Nathan Bransford, self-pub’d writer, former literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd., San Francisco resident, blogger–umm, pretty good writer BTW–posted a ‘Pledge Drive’ on his blog to drum up business for his YA book. A humorous approach to the self-promotion we-all must do as authors, it received mixed reviews. He pulled the post down to reconsider, reconsidered and re-posted it.

Drop over to his blog. What do you think? Think about it before you read any further and get my take.

Play this YouTube of Jeopardy’s signature music while you think. Make sure you’re sound’s on

OK. My take is: Why not? How are readers supposed to know about his book if he doesn’t tell us? In fact, I didn’t know until he brought it to my attention. Why can PBS do it and individuals can’t? And America–where’s your sense of humor? He posted a follow-up with his thinking. Erudite.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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6 thoughts on “Asking for the Sale Without P****** People Off

  1. This is quite intriguing – and clearly by the sounds of things on his blog, it created a lot of debate and controversy for him. I think one additional inherent issue is that of the lack of ability to “insert tone” into writing. So even if he did intend much humor from his idea, I’m sure it was perceived very differently by many people. And that’s not wrong or right, I guess. It just is! Marketing sure is a tough world….


    • I think you hit an important point, Nikki–it’s all verbal, no emotion. I hadn’t thought much about that, but that is something I warn my students about. Their words are flat, one-dimensional, without the facial expressions, etc., that temper so much of what we say. Thanks for bringing that up.


  2. Hello from a fellow campaigner in the thriller/suspense group.

    The only thing I see wrong with it is that a puts pressure on people to buy who might not be able to… times are tough for a lot of us… I’m cutting off practically all electricity in my house at present. So I’d feel really squeezed if I were a regular visitor to his blog. On the other hand, he does need to promote his work, and it is difficult to find the best ways to do that… especially with fiction.


    • You can see by Cheri Laser’s comment above that she agrees with you to an extent. Times are very tough for more people than ever. I had an opportunity to publish my tech textbooks through a traditional publisher, but the price would have doubled. I wanted the material affordable–God knows how often teachers spend their own money on classroom materials–and that wasn’t going to work for them. Anyway, my point is, I understand what you mean. How do you market your book?


  3. Hi, Jacqui! Actually, the Jeopardy musical interlude was my favorite part of this post! 🙂

    But I have mixed feelings about the rest. I certainly don’t think Bransford deserved so much grief over trying to blend humor with his promotion. We’re all out here looking for a combination of something that will work, and his creative efforts are appreciated.

    Selling books seems to be different somehow, though, than selling cars or other retail products. The general populace appears to find something distasteful about artists hawking their own work (probably because they don’t understand the challenges we face). Consequently, more subtle approaches are needed that feature referrals and/or stories about a book’s success(es), all geared toward helping potential readers come to believe that reading this book will be fun and they won’t be the only one reading it. All of this needs to be accomplished, of course, without actually coming out and saying, “Please buy my book.”

    As a blogger who’s tried very hard to include lots of help for other writers in a good percentage of my posts, I must admit that I bristled a little at Bransford’s experiment. Implying that, because readers get to experience all of his wonderful words and ideas for free, they should then, in turn, give his book a try, would undertandably, I think, turn some people off–even if he was kidding. We do need to promote ourselves and our work. But using the tips and advice we offer readers as some sort of barter for book sales–whether in jest or not–is a line I don’t think we should cross.

    Stepping down from my soapbox now … Have a great long weekend!


    • I think a lot of people agree with you. Marketing on blogs has to be done quite differently than commercial websites. But you see sites like Copyblogger that provide an enormous amount of free valuable info sprinkled with marketing. Seems to work for lots of people. Coypblogger even posts articles about how to NOT feel guilty about marketing your expertise.

      What do you think the most valuable marketing tool for Separation of Faith has been?


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