Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

In his comment to yesterday’s post Alex said

you really have to wade through the muck to find someone with something interesting, or purposeful to say.

I suspect the flood of trivia, junk, dirt, spam, ads, and promotion has only just begun. Businesses have discovered the goldmine of marketing through bloggers. And people like me who want to create buzz about a particular something (in my case, Christian fantasy) will undoubtedly proliferate.

So do we all just jump on the spam wagon and ride it for all it’s worth? I don’t think so. Having something to promote does not mean I have to become a spammer.

If I have a product or know of a product that I think someone else might be interested in, then it’s worth talking about. That’s a far cry from a) lying about a product and saying it’s good when it isn’t; or b) pretending that everyone I know will be interested in it, when I know they won’t.

In my mind, what separates legitimate promotion from spam is this: honest evaluation and care for the consumer.

Believe me, I’ve read posts and emails and status updates that turn me off because no matter what the subject, in the end the person ends up telling us about his latest work or her latest book. Sometimes those are appropriate and fit in well. But sometimes those kinds of comments simply sound self-serving.

It reminds me of the complaints that were bandied about regarding Christian fiction being preachy. If the writing comes across as propaganda, then it ruins the story. I don’t see any difference in writing non-fiction—blog articles, emails, or tweets.

So what is propaganda? From Wikipedia: “propaganda in its most basic sense, often presents information primarily in order to influence its audience.” There’s the thing—the purpose of propaganda is actually to manipulate others. It goes beyond information. Here are examples of each.

Information: I like this, and I think other Christian women my age might like it too.

Propaganda: This is the best one yet, and your life won’t be complete unless you too, all of you, buy now, before the price goes up or they run out of the autographed edition (or hardback copy or accompanying tee shirt … )

Propaganda: Yellow Labs and Golden Retrievers are popular dogs, which reminds me of how popular my book has become.

😀 Yeah, promotion can morph into propaganda, and as I see it, that’s not a good thing.

5 Comments

  1. Hey Becky, did I tell you about the innovative new elephant training device I have on the market? You can check it out at… 😉
    Yeah, I hope propaganda doesn’t clog up the internet, but it does appear to be headed that way.

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  2. What a fascinating thought, comparing preachy fiction with spam! I think you have hit something important there. No wonder people react negatively.

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  3. Of course a publisher can always dispense with the author, title and subject of a book and just focus on the promotion as a work of art in its own right.

    http://www.furioushorses.com/2009/05/mysteriffic.html

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  4. Hahaha – Yodeling Dwarf, great line. I’m hoping the internet people will figure this out sans government intervention. I tend to think it’s possible. In some ways, we need ads. That’s how we find out what’s available. But what’s compelling to me is hearing a satisfied customer say, Yeah, this works and I like it. The product sites that have a place for customers to leave comments really score big with me. I feel like I’m not ordering blind.

    Ken, your line is great, too. Just promotion, no product! 🙂 That would certainly cut down on expenses. (Hmmm, sounds like a certain investment scheme I heard about recently …)

    Janet, that was a new thought to me, too, but I do think it’s a fair analogy. And as I said, I think propaganda doesn’t belong in non-fiction either. If I tell people up front I have a product I want to advertise, that’s advertisement, not propaganda. But the smarmy manipulation of propaganda is unseemly. While pretending to be a news item (TV news does this more and more) or a prayer request or an innocent tweet, it is actually aiming to stir up people so they will follow or watch or buy.

    Becky

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  5. […] May I wrote a post about this topic called (cleverly ) “Promotion, Promotion, Promotion.” As Christmas draws closer, I see even more frequent mentions of books by authors. […]

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