Self-Promotion vs Self-Destruction

I received this spam email today from Richard Brawer. The subject heading was:  "New Book from MWA Member."


I’d like to introduce you to David Nance in his latest case,
"MURDER ON THE LINKS", a mystery set at the Jersey shore, in Monmouth

Book Jacket:

The body of a prostitute is found tossed into
the woods bordering the fifth hole of a posh golf club.  The same day a penny
stock promoter and the daughter of a New York mobster are found murdered in a
mansion in the wealthy community of Elberon, New Jersey.
Peer into mob
infested stock brokers scamming worthless paper to naïve investors, and into the
deviant world of the rich with their kinky sexual appetites as David Nance roots
out the murderer from among the members of Spring Brook Golf and Country

Read excerpts of Murder On The Links and all the books in the
David Nance Mysteries Series at:

ON THE LINKS is only offered through the mail from HFFO, Inc.  Please print out
this form:

I think this email is a perfect example of how NOT to promote your book.  Beyond being impersonal, there is no hook, no angle, no grabber. Nothing that would persuade you to do anything except hit the delete key. 

If you are going to send out a spam email, the least you should do is make every possible effort to make your solicitation an attention-grabber, something that hypes your book and makes people want to read it (especially if your book, like this one, is self-published and only available through mail-order).

Let’s start with the subject heading: "New Book from MWA Member." That’s supposed to mean something? That’s supposed to intrigue me? New books come out from MWA members every day. Your subject heading is your headline, your banner, your movie marquee… it should entice the reader to open the mail, not delete it. (I only opened this one because I had a feeling it would make a good blog post).

But he compounds the error by making the first line of his email an utter snooze: "I’d like to introduce you to David Nance in his latest case, "MURDER ON THE LINKS", a mystery set at the Jersey shore, in Monmouth County."

Why would anyone bother to read further? I’ve read  time-share sales invitations that are more exciting.  Sadly, the rest of the email is just as perfunctory and dull.

Where’s the salesmanship? Where’s the enthusiasm? Where’s any reason whatsoever to read the email…much less the book?  Whether the author realizes it or not, the email reflects on him and his book. If the email is flat, dull, pointless and lazy, it implies the book probably is, too.

Rather than promoting his book, I think Richard Brawer has done the opposite…he’s driven people away.

21 thoughts on “Self-Promotion vs Self-Destruction”

  1. Not to mention the fact that Agatha Christie already used the title MURDER ON THE LINKS for a Hercule Poirot mystery.
    If I were in a snarky mood, I might speculate as to whether Mr. Brawer knew that fact.
    Should that be a fun new line of advice for self-published authors: For that professional touch, steal your title from the most famous writer in the genre you are attempting.

  2. PS Checking out his web site, I want to point out that I might like to read a noirish, serial killer horror fest where one “peers into mob-infested stock brokers,” preferably with a scalple and a flashlight. “Oh, my god, his gallblader is filled with Mafiosi, we’ll need to remove it immediately.” Tragically, that doesn’t seem to be the book he’s written.

  3. It could have been worse: he could have sent you excerpts. Here’s what he posted for “Murder on the Links”
    “She was tall, blond, beautiful, and dead. Stabbed and tossed into the woods off the fifth hole of posh Spring Brook Golf and Country Club as if she were nothing more than a heap of golf course refuse—dead grass, dead tree limbs, dead bushes pulled out by their dead roots. I found her and put the kibosh on what started out as one of the best days of my life.
    “I had been standing on the practice range, my 6-foot, 2-inch body hovered over the ball, knees slightly bent, back straight, head up, arms extended, reveling in the realization that I had been accepted to one of the oldest, most elite golf clubs in New Jersey. Me, a nobody raised by a single mother in a two bedroom cape cod was now hob-knobbing with guys whose money was so old and their blood so blue their names ended in Roman numerals III and IV.”
    As my 5-foot, 11 1/2-inch body sits at my desk, I’m not sure how blue blood ties in with Roman numerals, but I don’t hob-knob with these people.

  4. Wow, why are you all so insecure and hell-bent on belittling others in order to make yourselves feel important? You’re like a bunch of middle school bullies. And don’t kid yourselves; your snarky, belittling posts about Richard Brawer aren’t advancing -or even protecting – the cause of good writing. Actually, maybe they are — since you’re all so busy ripping into Mr. Brawer, maybe you’ll have less time to pollute the marketplace with your own sub-par efforts.

  5. I received this email today from Richard Brawer:
    Dear Lee,
    Thanks for your comments on my “self published book”. I’m surprised in your busy writing sechedule you wasted time reading my e-mail. Usually when I get e-mails I think are span I don’t even open them.
    To comment on your, “I think this email is a perfect example of how NOT to promote your book,” I guess I have to say the same about your comment. It is not exactly the way to promote yourself. To quote Barbara Madden, “Why are you so insecure and hell-bent on belittleing others in order to make yourself FEEL improtant.”
    Best wishes.
    Richard Brawer
    I didn’t reply, but later today I got another email from Richard:
    Here’s an another excerpt from my book you might want to take a look and and muse about for a moment. Just sub your name wherever you see fit.
    As a hotel owner, Bobbie dealt with plenty of guests who thought their shit didn’t stink. It made her acutely aware of how hurtful people could be. Real power came from respect others had for you not through your heritage or by how much money you had (or how many books you have had published). Because everyone respected Bobbie and her parents, they commanded quiet but exalted power. Barbara, in contrast, pranced around the club like the mistress of a manor house, pouncing on the help as if they were serfs, and rarely uttering a thank you. Based on the smirks the help flashed behind Barbara’s back, they had no respect for her.
    Thank you,
    Richard Brawer

  6. What’s the matter, Lee, you afraid to replay or did my comment and Barbara’s hit home. I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around. It happens too often to ignore it.
    Richard Brawer

  7. Lee was absolutely right in his response. He wasn’t rude nor was he even particularly mocking, which showed considerable restraint, I thought. If you’re going to spam people about your book, as this author has done, you’ve got to expect some negative reactions.
    This was a terrible approach for an author to take and his subsequent attitude hasn’t done much to change that perception.

  8. Lee is correct. Moreover this illustrates perfectly the cluelessness of vanity authors. They just don’t know, nor want to. It’s depressing just as that whole pod-dy-mouth bunch was. RIP.

  9. Not trying to be mean — well, okay, a little bit — but after reading that excerpt Richard posted, I’m not feeling a great need to pick up the book to find out if he comes up with any more new and interesting statements like “who thought their shit didn’t stink.” Though I suppose “what comes around goes around” is close.

  10. Lee,
    Okay, you think I’m a lousy writer. I’ll offer you this challenge. I’ll send you my book. You give it an honest, legitimate review meaning you comment on character, dialogue, prose, plot, story, layout of clues, and writing without the supercilious saracasm then you rate it with one to five stars. If I get two and a half stars or less, I’ll buy three of your paperbacks retail at B & N or Borders, and I’ll stop posting to your blog. And of course you can post your review on your blog. If your give me three stars or more, you introduce me to your agent and allow me to quote you in my web site, and you take the derogatory comments off your blog.
    I’m already at a disadvantage because you have a mindset against me, but I’ll take my chances. Also, since this is a self published book which you seem to have an aversion too, you can only take away a half a star to physical makeup.
    If you don’t want to give me your address, give me a PO box if you have one or someone I can mail the book to who will give it to you, like your publisher.
    I feel good about my work. Yesterday I was on the boardwalk handing out more pamplets that included, oh my goodness order forms, and someone who I must have given a pamplet to earlier who had ordered the book came up to me and said they were up ’til one AM reading the book and loved it, keep writing. By the way another e-mail came in that said, I’m a Robert B. Parker fan. I like your writing as well as his.
    There is a reason I self pub this book which is too long to write about here.
    Are you up to the challenge, or are you all fingers on a keyboard?
    What do you think, bloggers? Would you take the challenge?
    Richard Brawer

  11. That’s at least a slightly better idea, Richard, than sending out spam emails to people blindly. (Although it still makes you sound rather arogant.)
    There’s nothing in it for Lee and everything in it for you.

  12. David, why isn’t there anything in it for Lee? Three of his books will be purchased and not sent back to the publisher. In the latest sinsters in crime newsletter they said that one third of all books sold to bookstores are returned to the publisher. I can believe that seeing the bargain book shelves in B & N. Also Lee can continue denigrating me if my book is lousy.
    Richard Brawer

  13. Richard,
    Read the post again. I didn’t say your book was lousy. I didn’t say you are a lousy writer.
    What I did say was that your spam email to MWA members was a bad idea and counter-productive. I also said the email wasn’t very compelling and reflected badly on your book.
    I’m not interested in reading your book, but thanks for the offer.

  14. No, I would not take the challenge.
    The excerpt Bill posted is enough. I don’t need to read the rest of the book. I know that unpublished writers who’ve labored for years to finish a manuscript don’t like hearing that an editor can tell within a page or two whether someone can write; but the truth is, it takes even less than that.
    It’s possible you’ve got a great story buried in there–there’s no way to know without reading the book–but the writing mechanics are not competent. I read for (among other things) pleasure. I got none from that passage.

  15. Yep, 34% returns was the total for the industry last year. $1.50 worth of royalties, though, doesn’t seem like a fair trade.
    If I could offer a little advice on soliciting critics, though, I would recommend tailoring a personal email to the recipient, puching up your copy and being brief.
    Of course, most reviewers can’t (or won’t) touch self-published books, but you never know.


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