This Just In: Generic is Not Going to Cut It

By Lori Culwell

Lori here again, back with another edition of “Tough Love That is Going to Make Authors Mad.”

Over and over again, we try to emphasize the need to actually CONNECT and NETWORK with people during your marketing and promotional efforts.   We say this so much that when examples come up of people just blatantly ignoring these best practices, I feel the need to use those examples as teachable moments.

Here we go. I am going to just take out the name of the person who sent me this email as well as the name of his book, because I am not trying to slander the guy or make him feel bad.   This is just really the wrong way to go about things, and I want you to learn from what he is doing wrong.

Hi Book Promotion,

Lets stop right here. “Book Promotion” is not my name, and even a cursory glance over the information for this site would tell you what my name is and what the site is about. So already, I am not inclined to read further. If you think I am alone here, please refer to this interview and this interview, both with book bloggers, both of whom say their # 1 pet peeve is people who address them generically and don’t even take five minutes to figure out what their site is about.

I am songwriter {name}. Would be glad if you’d buy my lyric book on Would also be pleased if you’d also list it or preview it in your website, blog or newsletter. The previews are without any obligations of course. Its title is: ‘{title}. Grab yourself the eBook and enjoy this great title. Am sure you’ll like it and learn so much from it.


What…..what?   I’m confused now. This site is about books, book marketing, and book promotion.   This person’s book has nothing to do with any of those things, so even if I got it and reviewed it, you ( reader) would not care about it, find the review useful, or buy it.

Speaking of buying, this guy wants me to BUY his book, then review it and provide links to it. That is not how the reviewing world works.   I’m not saying I want to get everything for free, but it is an industry best practice to at least offer an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) to potential reviewers or people who you are going to ask for publicity. So, this is just two different kinds of wrong.

Here are the links to the book: (title)

This is where he gives me four different Amazon links to iterations of the book on Amazon US, UK, Canada, and Australia.  This is further irritating because it means that he didn’t even bother to find out that is a US based site, and I would therefore only need the US version of the book.   Additionally, I’m just going to tell you right now that some people do not like Amazon and will not buy from them, so if you want your book to have the best chance, you’re going to need to list it with all the major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble.   Publishers will also insist on this, just FYI.

Further, this “giving me four Amazon links” business is all the more indication of the complete genericness of this request.   He is not even addressing me as a person or respecting the efforts I put into this site, so WHY ON EARTH WOULD I HELP HIM?

The answer is, I would not.   Which is why I am not telling you the name of this guy’s book or linking to it.
About The Book:


This is where the guy cut and pasted a 414 word description of his book that sounded like it came straight from the book jacket, so again, he didn’t even want to take the time to edit it down or tell me how it might be applicable to my audience. Also, the description had a typo in it, which just about pushed me over the edge.   How many of these generic requests has this guy sent out, I wonder?

He then quoted himself, which, if you’re wondering, is something you should never do. Let other people review your work and see if they think it is quote-worthy. Quoting yourself makes me think that you think you’re Shakespeare, but Shakespeare wouldn’t be asking for my help getting the word out about his books.


All the best in your endeavors! Thanks for your time, {name}


This is an absurd statement, because HE DOES NOT EVEN KNOW MY NAME OR WHAT MY ENDEAVOR IS, frankly.   That’s so nice that he thanked me for my time, but notice how his signature also lacks a website where I could find out more about him as a writer or find out more about the book than he told me in the description. This means that in fact he doesn’t respect my time, because if I want to get in touch with him, I have to actually track him down.   Yikes!

All in all, this is more of a really spammy email and less of a press / review inquiry.

I am writing all of this down because I am positive this person is saying to someone “I just don’t know why my book isn’t selling! I put in all this effort and it didn’t pay off! Book promotion doesn’t work!”

To that I would say this: you are absolutely correct, sir. Book promotion that is all one-sided like this DOES NOT WORK, and in fact, most of the time it has the opposite effect.   Promotion of any kind (including for books) does not work if all you’re doing is yelling “BUY MY THING” over and over again to anyone who will listen.  Promotion is about building relationships over time, then presenting a quality product so that your relationships might either buy your thing or help you promote it.

So, right now, look around at your promotional efforts and ask yourself—did I make any of this guy’s mistakes? Have I subjected anyone to this type of spammy, generic, ultimately selfish form of broadcast-only promotion?   Further, when YOU are subject to this kind of promotion, what do YOU do?

You hit “delete,” which is exactly what I did.