Pledge Drive

by | Jul 15, 2011 | Nathan's Books | 161 comments

UPDATE: I briefly deleted this post due to a negative feedback from one of the people I follow on Twitter and enjoy reading, who called the idea of a blog pledge drive BS.

I took the post down to consult with the Twitterati, and while people couldn’t read the actual post, the consensus seemed to be (mostly) fair game. Though to be fair, the problem may be in the execution of the post.

So to be totally clear, I AM NOT ACTUALLY ASKING YOU TO PLEDGE MONEY TO ME. This post is just supposed to be a lighthearted reminder/request that if you enjoy the blog, which is free and something I devote a lot of time to, please consider buying the book (which I think/hope you’d really like!). If you want to. I’m not going to go crazy if you don’t.

Finding the right ways to self-promote is not easy and is truthfully is not something I enjoy a great deal, but since I want to continue writing books that find an audience it’s something to balance with the regular blog content. Your thoughts appreciated in the comments section.

Hello! You know how on PBS they interrupt their regularly scheduled programming for pledge drives and there are a lot of people in the background sitting in front of phones that are ringing at regular intervals and maybe there’s a bell when someone makes an especially big pledge?


We’re having a pledge drive today on the blog!

If you like your regular blog programming, please consider that this here blog and the discussion forums are free of ads, are free period, and are you might call a non-commercial enterprise.

If you do enjoy this blog, all I ask is that you please support the cause and consider buying a copy of my novel, JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW. Buy it for a friend, buy it for yourself, buy it and blast it off into space. Your choice! And if you have already bought it and read it, please consider leaving a review somewhere.

It should be available via your friendly neighborhood bookstore, or you can buy it from one of these online booksellers:

Amazon (hardcover)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (hardcover)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!

This Week in Books will be back in full effect next week, and thanks so much for your kind attention. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Have a great weekend!

Photo by aficio2008 via Creative Commons


  1. Jenny Bent

    This is clearly light-hearted fun. Promoting your book on your blog is perfectly appropriate as far as I'm concerned and considering how helpful you have been to the entire writing/publishing community, we should all be buying multiple copies!

  2. S. Kyle Davis

    Ok, so the post was obviously humorous, but glad it's 100% clear now (I hope). Nothing wrong with a little self promotion now and then. It's not like you flood us. lol.

    Oh, and your book sounds very interesting, and has been on my radar for a while!

  3. Haste yee back ;-)

    If you want to go in this direction, go. But, for me, this approach is a real put off!

    Haste yee back ;-') votes nose boogers to this method…

  4. Bev Katz Rosenbaum

    Er, every author does the occasional promo post! And you did it in such a fun way! I will definitely be buying your book for my nephew, yes, partly because I have enjoyed your blog so much over the past couple of years!

  5. Juliana

    Your blog is awesome. It has helped me a lot and kept me up with the things going on in the writing/publishing world.
    However, it's your blog.
    You do what you want with it.
    A little promo doesn't hurt either.

  6. Fawn Neun


    I did an interview with Amanda Palmer a couple of years ago and asked her about her proclivity to self-promote.

    She said that she thought it would be the only way artists would be able to survive in the upcoming changes in how labels do business. The same is true of publishing. Her years as a street performer made it possible for her to be very upfront about holding out her hand. If you like it, pay for it.

    And you should be no more ashamed of trying to put food on your table than a coal miner is of cashing his paycheck.

  7. Italy to Los Angeles and Back

    I'm a bit confused. A writer, blogger, former literary agent who spends hours of his time giving out–what I consider–valuable and sound advice to others interested in the trade is not supposed to encourage his readers to buy his book? Is an author supposed to pretend he/she doesn't want to sell their work?

  8. a7c19c84-6f3d-11e0-ba58-000bcdcb2996

    I am sorry to admit that I have yet to buy the book! And I have derived a great deal of info from your blog, so I figure, fair game. Plus I'm a book whore. Plus, I like buying books from people I know. Plus, I know this isn't a real pledge drive.


  9. Anonymous

    People get really worked up about bloggers/ blogs/ social media people when they talk about money. 90% of the internet is geared to direct people towards a marketable product. Don't be ashamed that you've written a book and would like to sell it. I'm not sure where this pretentious 'the holy people don't need money' attitude came along in the world of social media. I think it's really healthy, normal, and fair to promote your book, just as it's fair for a band to promote their album even when they're a band that offers some downloads for free. People need to chill.

  10. Seabrooke

    Blogs are a lot of work; even short posts can take half an hour to compose, and the long ones may require a few. I don't think that people who aren't bloggers themselves quite understand this. You post daily five days a week, plus you monitor the forums and comments. It takes a lot of time, time that you could quite reasonably be putting toward your next writing project. We've gotten so used to getting content on the internet for free, it's diminished the value of the content author's time.

    Not to mention – websites like this aren't free to run! If nothing else, there's the cost of the domain name, but also the server space if you've got it independently hosted. You're totally within your rights as a blogger to ask for financial support, and I think the readers who value what you provide will recognize that.

  11. Anonymous

    God forbid anyone promote his or her book online any way other than obliquely, ironically, apologetically, or not at all, right? Sorry, but guys like Don Linn are forever brimming with opinions, most of them cranky, and not endearingly so. Too bad his nasty tweet was the deciding factor in your determining how to discuss and promote your own work.

  12. Scribbling Scarlet

    You're post was fun and I don't understand how anyone could be offended by it, especially if they're followers of your blog.

    And honestly, what Author wouldn't do that, in fun, if they have the opportunity? I sure would.

    All the writing, editing, publishing information that you provide to aspiring authors is worth a lot more than purchasing just one of your books. I will happily buy one.

    Forget the person(s) who didn't agree w/ your original post. You're fine.

  13. Scott

    Hah, already got around to ordering your book earlier this week, should come today. Will definitely review it.

    I have no problem with a blogger giving me a nudge toward merchandise. I generally don't give straight donations through those Paypal buttons on blogs like Dean Wesley Smith's and Michael Stackpole's, but a nudge to buy your book that I wanted anyway? Sign me up. This is a business, not a hobby.

  14. Phoenix Sullivan

    I've been asked in the past why I don't place a "donate" button on my site for the crits I do. I'm uncomfortable with that. I did run a fun post asking the same thing you did: If you've gotten benefit from my blog and would like to show appreciation, buying a 99c or $2.99 book would be adequate thanks. And if not, that's OK too.

    Maybe it has to do with how high profile an author is. I didn't have anyone who counseled me that they thought it was a bad idea. I did get support from those who wanted to support the blog in a way that meant something special to me.

    It's your blog space. I see authors with tons of followers whose posts are mainly advertising. I guess it depends on the audience you've acquired and their expectations of content?

  15. Myndi

    *eye roll* Heaven forbid a WRITER promote selling their book on their blog! Nathan, you selfish, capitalist pig. (Tongue placed firmly in cheek) πŸ˜€

  16. Rick Daley

    I don't think there's anything wrong with self-promotion, especially given the service you provide to so many through this blog.

    If you set this up as a PayPal account where you were directly soliciting ca$h, that's one thing…but advertising your book, even when the theme is "to help support this free blog" is absolutely acceptable in my opinion.

    And regarding Mr. Wonderbar…bought it, read it, enjoyed it, reviewed it! And I'm looking forward to his presidential opportunities much more than our country's current political field.

    Is there an estimated release date for book #2 that I may have missed?

    WORD VERIFICATION: degsmono. 1) When degs goes singular 2)when degs gets a kissing disease.


  17. Vbchickadee

    I can't even begin to imagine why anyone would find criticism in you asking (humorously) your fans to buy your book!
    What else is a writer suppose to do when promoting their work? Of course I’m going to buy your book!
    No harm in asking your fans to support your creative efforts.
    I love your blog!
    Thanks for giving so much of your time and energy to aspiring writers.

  18. Anthony Cheng

    Some portion of the population will object to any attempt to make money on the internet. In fact, these people often feel entitled to consume your content for free and get in a huff when they realize you are trying to make a living.

    Don't listen to these people. You cannot reach them.

  19. Kevin

    I just bought a hard copy of your book off Amazon as a gift for my nephew Aiden. It's going to be fun to give it to him and hear his thoughts on the story.

  20. Cathy Yardley

    I think that there area lot of people who think that bloggers are somehow obligated to give all their time and information for free, and then are offended when even gently asked for compensation. They aren't members of your tribe, as it were. They're takers. And if you lose them as a result of doing something that you're not only well within your rights of doing, but something you're doing in a spirit of light-hearted fun AND on a very rare occasion, then I'd say it's no real loss. If they aren't willing to support you in your efforts to support yourself, then they aren't really your friends.

    And God, I sound like my mother there. *shudder* I was shooting for a cleaner version of Naomi Dunford of Ittybiz.

  21. D.G. Hudson

    I've already ordered the book from an indie bookstore, as the book is unavailable in British Columbia, Canada bookstores (I checked in my area). I should be receiving it in a few days (takes 2 wks to get to me).

    I will review your book on my blog as I review other books I read, and will notify you when I do.

    As a social media concept – let's use blogs to sell (fill in blank)- I don't think too much of the idea. Yes, we can show our books on a webpage, but I avoid blogs that have too many adverts or ask for me to send money on a regular basis (as in the fund-my-book startups). This tends to encourage the monetary aspect more than the quality writing that makes me follow a blog.

    Your blog, Nathan, is something I read daily, and I hope you don't change it. I don't mind supporting authors when their books come out, but it does depend on the method of asking.

    This is a tricky issue, as the authors are told to become marketers.

  22. Kimmy

    Honestly, I didn't think it was a big deal to ask for buyers, but the post did confuse me as I remember those call centers looking for donations from the past. If/when I have the pleasure to promote I think giveaways work best. And contests. Idea: hold a contest to name a character or something. Give away a book and b&n gift card. People will read it or pass it along and say good things about you, too! Good luck!

  23. Kevin

    I also Tweeted and Facebooked about it, urging everyone I know to check it out, especially if they know any young adults who love reading.

    You've indirectly poured so much into my career through your blog that this is the least I can do.

    I will continue Tweeting and Facebooking about your novel until I drum up a nice little frenzy in my online community of peeps. I'll also do an article about it on my blog:

  24. maine character

    Unlike PBS, you didn't interrupt my favorite special on penguins just to stand there for ten minutes telling me the same things over and over again, so it's totally fine by me.

    In fact, it reminded me of someone who'd appreciate your book as a gift.

    And hey, whoever put you down, that just made me want to buy it just to spite them, so tell them thanks for me. πŸ™‚

  25. David Gaughran

    I don't see the problem here. I think an author is entitled to send out the odd bit of promo now and then. It's not like Nathan spams us with ads and promo tweets. He provides a lot here and asks for nothing in return.

    Even if you are the type to consider all and any promo distasteful, now matter how infrequently it's done, I think you should cut Nathan, of all people, a bit of slack here.

    P.S. My word verification was "money". LOL!

  26. Tina Burke

    Glad to see many people here disagree with that negative tweet, and that you rose above it. Keep doing what you do, and following your gut. This is your blog, your space, and you should never have to apologise for something so harmless and fun. ESPECIALLY when you consider how much you give to the writing community on an ongoing basis.

    You rock.

  27. J.S. Schley

    Ask us to consider (merely consider!) buying an entertaining, well-written book in reply to all the time you've spent building this blog?

    Nathan, geez, how selfish. πŸ˜€

    For heaven's sake. People, buy Jacob Wonderbar not only because it's Nathan's but also because it's darn good.

  28. Jennifer R. Hubbard

    Where are the mugs and tote bags?

    Occasional promo on a blog doesn't offend me. I think every professional on the internet is trying to figure out that balance.

  29. Anonymous

    I know you respect Don Linn, Nathan, but there's a reason you have 96,197 Twitter followers and Don has 2,921. I suspect there's a similar gap in your respective blog readerships as well, again for good reason.

    You've figured out social media and have a loyal readership. Any reasonable person would take your social media and blogging advice over Don's any day. In the end, it's not whether you promote yourself online, it's how you promote yourself. And you did it well here. Another writer might have handled it in an unseemly way. More than that, they'd likely not have built up the good will and social capital to pull it off, as you have.

    Frankly, I think Don owes you a more nuanced criticism than "I'm sorry but a pledge drive for a blog is complete BS." If that's already happening via DMs on Twitter, it's not good enough in my view. He called you out publicly, he should explain publicly.

  30. Val

    If the book is as funny as this blog post, then I'll definitely pass.

    You're welcome to pitch your book and you're welcome to seek donations. I don't take issue with that and I'm not convinced that this perceived offended audience actually exists to any measurable extent.

    This blog post, to me, is not so much offensive as it is ineffective and desperate sounding. It's as if you have exhausted your efforts to sell the book on its own merits and have moved on to selling it on the merits of an entirely different product altogether.

    If you read this as a humor piece, it isn't particularly funny and if you read it straight it doesn't make a very strong case for the book.

    I would've listened to the writer here, not your loyal fans. They've already bought your book.

  31. Bret Wellman

    Some people get really worked up over the little things and it can really suck some times. sarcasm doesn't always shine through in text the way you want it to. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have gotten a virtual slap in the face for something that would have been funny in real life.

  32. Anonymous

    Bravo for putting this back up! I have always found your blog to be so insightful, and your online presence so down-to-earth and genuine.

    Absolutely promote your book now and then–I think many of us are more than happy to contribute to your success in the way you do to ours.

  33. Nathan Bransford


    Well, for the record I wasn't trying to be funny, I was trying to be light-hearted. It wasn't meant to be read as a humor piece, just a reminder that the blog is free and time ain't!

  34. Ranae Rose

    You can't please everyone. But you can promote YOUR book on YOUR blog if you want to. The select few who are offended by it will manage to untwist their panties eventually.

    (Sorry to junk up your comments with a deleted post. I made a lame type-o in the last one.)

  35. Jen

    Dammit, I'm so sick of hearing about YOUR book on YOUR blog…kidding. Own it, read it, loved it! Keep promoting away!

  36. J. T. Shea

    Bought it and enjoying reading it despite external distractions and being several multiples of the target age! Nathanites (Jacobites?) on the right (hand) side of the Atlantic might note it is also available from The Book Depository, a British online bookstore.

    Is Nathan Bransford, Author, allowed to promote his BOOK on his website called NATHAN BRANSFORD, AUTHOR? Particularly when he forces us all to read his blog at gunpoint and comment under pain of death. Oh, wait, he doesn't…

    You're not asking anyone for a donation. You're offering children of all ages a very entertaining, amusingly illustrated and reasonably priced hardcover (or e-book).

    From J. T. Shea, author of a Young Adult Steampunk Trilogy which nobody can buy anywhere yet, and which doesn't even have a name yet, but which he regularly and shameless mentions in his comments on the blog of NATHAN BRANSFORD, AUTHOR.

  37. Maureen

    Promoting your book on your blog is totally appropriate. It would be odd if you didn't since book promotion has now become one of your many jobs. I liked the way you chose an offbeat way to go about it and got the whole "pledge drive thing", maybe because I used to work in public broadcasting.

    So Nathan keep asking and reminding slow people like me to stop in the kid's book section and buy your book. I read you blog daily and appreciate your insight and knowledge. Thanks.

  38. Dawn Maria

    How is promoting your own work on your own blog inappropriate in any way? I'm the e-mailing lists of all my favorite authors and they don't hesitate to send me "Buy my book" reminders. All their blogs promote their books as well.

    Your blog has provided advice and encouragement to emerging and established writers for years. I'm happy to support it.

  39. Anonymous

    I am happy to buy your book because as I admire you, I think I will like it.
    And I think it is fine for you to ask people on your blog to consider buying it to support you.
    I didn't like the pledge angle though – as someone else said, it sounds a bit desperate – less like "Will you buy my book because you might enjoy it" than "Buy my book as payment for my time, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not" – I think you do yourself a disservice sounding like that.

  40. Sommer Leigh

    Honestly, I thought the post was awesome when I first saw it. You do a lot less self-promotion than most blogs I read, and I personally think it is completely ok. You deserve our support considering how much support we've received from you.

    I'm just one tiny vote, but I thought the post was awesome.

  41. Aaron Poehler

    The principle isn't bad, but yeah, the execution is terrible. Associating yourself with a 'pledge drive' in any way is an awful miscalculation–a pledge drive is something that 1) everyone hates, 2) interrupts something you're enjoying to beg for money, and 3) guilt-trips its audience ridiculously.

    Next time please just say "Hey, if you like my blog, you might like my book!"

  42. Christina Fiorelli

    Nathan, in my humble opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with reminding people about your book. And I think the blog post was fine as is, even without the explanation at the beginning.

    After all, don't all the publishing pundits say authors have to have a platform with followers so that novels find their audience?

    You provide so much useful content, for free, I really don't understand why reminding people of this and of your book would be perceived as anything other than normal.

  43. Anonymous

    You know what, I'm a real asshole with some things I see on blogs. But there's nothing wrong with this post at all. You didn't even have to explain yourself.

    You've having fun, as you should be. You're promoting your book, as you should be.

    I do think you might be preaching to the wrong group here. No futher comment.

    If I had a middle grade book out, I'd be hanging in every middle grade place I could hang where there's an opportunity to sell middle grade books. Summer camps, libraries, schools, etc…It's all about the kids, not the people who eat them.

  44. Lorrie Thomson

    You've done nothing wrong, and so much right. When I read an excerpt, via your blog, I let a friend who has a third-grade boy know about your book. The friend thought it would be perfect for him, and I was pleased. Now, due to today's post, I'll consider also picking it up for my nephews' upcoming birthdays. Thank you for the reminder!

  45. Nathan Bransford


    I agree, there's so much I'd like to be doing with school visits and things like that, though it's tough with a day job. I think the challenging thing with social media is that it's hard to hit the core middle-grade book buyer, and yet it's all I'm really equipped to do because of time constraints.

  46. Dorothy L. Abrams

    For a writer, social media of all kinds is in part a marketing too. I'd be disappointed if you didn't use it, given you are savvy about everything else!

  47. Anonymous

    No problem with the promotion, but a pledge drive is for non-profits. Dial books is not non-profit. Might call it something else.

  48. Joel Q Aaron

    Glad you reposted it.
    It is an honest post.

  49. Anonymous

    "I agree, there's so much I'd like to be doing with school visits and things like that, though it's tough with a day job. I think the challenging thing with social media is that it's hard to hit the core middle-grade book buyer, and yet it's all I'm really equipped to do because of time constraints."

    It's problem a lot of us face, and try to balance all the time. But I do know kids are reading more now. I have four nieces and nephews all between ages eight and thirteen. They all have dedicated e-readers and they all love them. I think your book will do well (knock wood). It's new and it's just gaining momentum. And you'll figure out what suits your readership best the more you do it. Even if an author has twenty pubbed books, it's new experience each time a new book comes out.


  50. Darley

    I think that anyone who knows you (by way of this blog) understands you're trying to make it as a writer just like all of us are.

    That means getting people to buy your book.

    This post shows your creativity in doing just that.

  51. Michelle

    Twist my arm–ya got me. Amazon just took a few clicks.

  52. Michelle

    Twist my arm- ya got me. Amazon just took a few clicks.

  53. Lauren W.

    Nathan I've already purchased your book and I'm reading it my 5 year old son (who's LOVING it!) Once we're done reading I'll be sure to write a glowing review and I appreciate all the terrific advice you've dispensed over the years!

  54. Haste yee back ;-)

    Two things generally sell printed material, 1) – word of mouth. 2) – controversy.

    Nice controversial blog post, Nathan!

    I can remember a time when you extolled the vitues of "word of mouth" and the "merits" of a book as judged by its' audience that provided for its' success!

    Yes, time is not free, but you made a personal choice to spend your agenting time, and beyond, as you did – and now are. (I think you know, no one owes you anything for that. If that weren't true, we'd all be tithing to Albert Einstein's estate for his E=mc2 thinking time, or Paris Hilton's for showing us "how to be a celebrity with little or no talent)!

    You and I both know your book will ultimately sell, or not, because it has that intrinsic "X" factor we're all hoping to capture.

    Happy hunting… to you, and me.

    Haste yee back πŸ˜‰

  55. abc

    Well I bought the book (pre ordered!) and read the book and both my daughter and I enjoyed it immensely so, Yeah, buy the book!

  56. Mr. D

    I learned from you, Mr. Bransford, that blogging is one way to establish a platform.

    And the purpose of a platform is to promote books, no?

    Your blog is unique not only for the great info it provides but for another reason. It gives the rest of us an opportunity to share that platform.

    Of course you should promote your book! Isn't that what we all do?

    Although anonymous @ 12:25 has a point. You shouldn't call it a pledge for the reason he/she gave.

  57. Nathan Bransford

    haste yee back-

    I've talked equally as much about authors doing whatever they can to give their books a boost. It's not just about word of mouth — that word of mouth has to start somewhere.

  58. Anonymous

    I've never posted here before, but I am an avid, thankful reader of your blog. You truly do a wonderful, (hopefully) much appreciated service for aspiring writers–I don't think I could have gotten my own book deal without you. I cannot possibly understand why any of your readers would complain about you trying to promote your book on your own blog.

  59. Jennifer Groepl

    Thanks for standing your ground on this one. I'm not sure why writers and other creative types are supposed to feel ashamed about wanting to make a living from their efforts. Self-promotion is a necessary evil of being a writer these days, whether we like it or not. Competition is fierce for writers, and you have worked so hard to create a successful writer platform. There is no reason at all why you shouldn't use it to promote your writing. Isn't that why you created the platform in the first place?

  60. Sally Hepworth

    Hi Nathan,

    How / where do we post a review? I LOVED your book (which I bought for myself, not my son).

  61. Nathan Bransford


    Thank you!! And anywhere! Amazon, B&N, blog, Goodreads… anywhere is helpful. I really appreciate it!

  62. Michael Winchell

    Well, I love all things Bransford, but I'm siding with Don Linn on this one. I think you'd be better served creating a second blog/website for the book–which I bought, by the way–and then linking the book's blog/site to this oft-frequented blog of yours. I just didn't like the tone, honestly. I mean, tons of writers have blogs and that takes time, which as you said, ain't free. But you know what? You've sold a least some copies (like the one I bought) because of your name, and I bought it not because I want you to keep the blog up and running, but because I liked the concept and knew you'd have a great MG voice. And you do. It's just a bit of a turn-off having a guy I respect complaining that people use/visit his blog but don't buy his book. You're a San Fran guy, Nathan, so let me put it to you this way: You kinda went Barry Bonds on us there for a bit. Just my thoughts, sorry.

  63. Nathan Bransford


    Barry Bonds? Eh? Dude, I'm not taking blog enhancing drugs, these veins are clean.

    And I'm sorry, but I'm standing up for myself on this one. Building a separate website costs a lot of money. Keeping this blog going takes a lot of time. I give a whole lot of myself for this blog, and while I'm extremely thankful that people like you have bought the book (seriously: THANK YOU!), fact is there are still quite a few people who haven't.

    I'm trying to reach those people. I'm not going to apologize for that. I'm not doing anything I wouldn't have told my former clients to do, what I would tell any aspiring author to do, what I preach on this very blog all the time, what I say in interviews.

    You have to try to give your book a boost. You have to try and remind people that if they want to give back to something that they consume for free there's a really easy way to do that that doesn't involve a PayPal donation or a handout.

    Being an author involves self-promotion. Self-promotion can rub some people the wrong way, but I can't help that. I think my post was pretty gentle and innocuous, and if it alienates people I feel like thems the breaks.

  64. PatG

    And I never even noticed the plug!

  65. Other Lisa

    I'm flabbergasted that some people had a problem with that post.

    Using your own blog to promote your own book? Why, that's just…um…normal and expected?!

    Oh, the interwebz. Where everyone has an opinion…

  66. Haste yee back ;-)

    Nathan, the subtext of this post came across to me as a "guilt me" attempt at advertising/buying your book…

    Yes, I agree, word of mouth starts somewhere, but I think not with the author saying… "I did thus and so for you guys, and spent this and that time for you guys, now do this for me!"

    If that's what all this Social Media comes done to, one big shill playing upon questionable emotion/s, I dunno, just dunno! (leaves room scratching head)…

    Haste yee back πŸ˜‰

  67. Nathan Bransford

    haste yee back-

    If that's the reaction you had it's obviously something I should take into account. I'm not trying to tell you how you should feel.

    But I also feel like just about every blog has a thing that goes, hey, like our stuff? Please check our sponsors, or like this blog? Please buy the book.

    I feel like I went out of my way to be like, hey, read this blog? Consider buying the book, not hey: buy my book or else I'm going to hate you forever.

    But maybe there's a better way of doing it in the future. I be the first to say that when it comes to these self-promos I'm not very good at it.

  68. CC

    You have a book blog and you aren't supposed to mention YOUR OWN book on it? Or promote it?


    I remember when I was a finalist in one of your first paragraph contests — I think I told everyone I knew, even people who had no clue what I was talking about.

    It's totally okay to celebrate your hard work and remind your many blog readers that you've got a book out!! It's a big deal.

  69. Anonymous

    hey nathan, totally love your blog. want you to remain fed. hate skeletal writers. i'll buy your book πŸ™‚

  70. kdrausin

    I'm one of those people you were trying to reach and it worked. Visa in hand.
    Your blog has helped me these past two years and I am a firm believer in supporting authors.
    You have courage,Nathan,and that's what you need to have to be successful.


  71. kdrausin

    I meant… You have courage and that's what you need to be successful. Apparently what I need is caffeine.

  72. Michael Winchell

    Yeah, Nathan, I have noticed an enlarged neck lately. So, Bonds? Hmmm…maybe.

    Really, though, I understand the self-promotion, I really do, but I guess what turned me off was the way you tied the two together, as if someone visiting the blog MUST by a book. Almost as if you're begging. Or bribing. Or guilting them into buying it. That isn't you, as far as I know. Don't you want someone to buy your book for the sake of wanting it, reading it, and appreciating it. Here's an example. Go to my blog right now. Click on my profile and you'll see it (Beanstalks & Bookends). Once you're there, take a look on the right side where I have my reading list. Guess whose book is there? Yes. Yours. It's been there for a couple weeks. Now, here's my point. Did you put a post on this blog begging/bribing/guilting me or anyone else to do such a thing? No way. And if you had, I wouldn't have done it. I don't react well to begging, bribery, or guilt. Admittedly, my blog doesn't have a huge following, but my group blog, Project Mayhem, does have a very good following and it's devoted entirely to middle grade. Check it out if you haven't.

    Here's what I offer to you. Let me read your book (it's next on my list) and then I'll do an honest-to-goodness review on the Project Mayhem blog (next scheduled post is August 1st). It'll give you some publicity without asking for it. And if you wish, completely up to you, I'd love for you to have a guest post on Project Mayhem about writing for middle graders, which is what you're doing now. Not agenting, but WRITING. Plain and simple: writing. Let me know.

  73. 059aca80-44d5-11e0-aa6a-000bcdca4d7a

    Thank you for the post. Book ordered. Can't wait to read it. Just saw BB King at the Albert Hall in London. He was playing on stage from a chair, rousting the audience to their feet. He'll be 86 this fall. BB told us, mid-concert, not to forget we could buy the DVD. It's what the greats do. Remind us that we can enjoy their work in the comfort of our own chairs.

  74. Nathan Bransford


    I guess I don't understand the MUST part. I said "consider" not DO IT OR THE KITTEN DIES.

    Also: If there were a such thing as a one-size fits all self-promotional post that worked for everyone I'd only have to do one and I'd be done.

    Please e-mail about the possible guest post, we can chat about it. I appreciate the offer.

  75. David Gaughran

    Let's put aside the fact that Nathan is a writer for a moment.

    This is much more than a blog, as any forum regulars will know. I've been on plenty of forums where the owners have asked people to pitch in every so often and help with running costs. Fundraising drives are normal on non-commercial websites – especially those that don't have any advertising.

    The guy who pays the bills for the site that we all use and enjoy has come along and said – hey if you buy my book that would be a great help.

    And people are giving him grief.


  76. Lori Howell

    Maybe what has some peoples snickers in a twist is the word cause. There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting your book. I will buy your book, if you buy mine. "An Adventure with Joshua and Hoppy Frog". Promoting is promoting…Keep up the good work.

  77. Natalie

    If you can't promote your own book on your own blog, then what the fudge?! Nathan, your blog is great, informative and worth paying for. Have you considered putting a donation "hat" on your blog? Or getting subscribers through Kindle? I can't speak for others, but your blog is one of the few that I follow that I would pay to receive (like I pay for newspaper & mag subscriptions).
    Not saying you can't ask us to buy your book, but my guess is that the majority of your blog followers don't read MG books but those same folks may be very willing to put some scratch in the tip jar or subscribe to keep getting your content.
    Thank you for keeping up the great content.

  78. Maya

    Thanks, Nathan! I live in San Francisco and I actually bought it this week — I picked it up from The Booksmith over on Haight Street. They didn't have it on hand so I had to order it, and as I was doing so the bookseller mentioned that you are on her reading list because she's on a committee to decide the best debut authors for the year. Well, I felt very hip and in the know, explaining to her you were a local author and she should definitely consider you (though I know nothing about which award it is exactly). Glad to help out since I've been a longtime reader of the site and the forums.

    By the way, I would love it if you would announce a book signing in the area since I happened to be out of town when you had your book launch!

  79. Anonymous

    I want to buy your book – any book – because I want to read it for its merits. Not because I feel guilty for visiting your blog so much.

    I felt a bit put off – I don't want to be sledgehammered into buying anything. I want to buy a book because I want to read it.

    If you said something more along the lines of – Today I'm begging everyone – if you think you would enjoy my book, please support me by buying it – that would leave a nicer taste in my mouth. I almost feel like I don't like it here as much as I did – and that is because of the guilt trip it feels you are pulling. My instinct then isn't buy the book – it makes me a bit want to turn away, and think – this person isn't for me.

    That isn't how I feel about you and your blog incidently, which over-rides it all (and why I have chosen to be anonymous) – but I want to tell you how it makes me feel, as there must be others who would feel the same, but perhaps not like to tell you. And why alienate people needlessly. You are a brilliant writer. You have no need to force people to read your books as if they had no intrinsic merit.

  80. L.Sapir

    Nathan, your blog is outstanding and provides so much amazing information, I think promoting your book and having a "pledge drive" is a-ok! Thank you for all the energy and effort you put into producing this blog – it is an invaluable resource for aspiring writers.

  81. Jo Eberhardt

    I follow a lot of author blogs. Every single other author blog I read seems to be *only* about self-promotion. It's all: buy my book, buy my book, buy my book, check out my guest post here, enter a competition to win some merch material there, here's some info on publishing that is really just a thinly disguised attempt to talk about my book, oh and buy my book.

    Your blog is awesome. I look forward to reading it every day. The trouble with having an awesome blog, though, is that people start holding you to higher "standards". Don't let them get you down. And thanks for the reminder to buy your book. πŸ™‚

  82. David Gaughran

    Sledgehammered? Don't you think that's a little strong?

    The words he used were "If you do enjoy this blog, all I ask is that you please support the cause and consider buying a copy of my novel"

    All he asked was that you "consider" buying the novel.

    I would imagine he chose his words carefully, and he means exactly what is written: consider it.

    Nothing more. Big deal.

  83. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude)

    I suspect what has a few people's undies in a twist is that this does feel like a subtle shift. That's why I suggest you do it more often. There's no way with your values you'll shift into spamming, but if this were part of your regular practices, no one would have the right to feel astonished or dismayed. You're just getting pushback about a change, so make the change your new normal.

    Paypal donation buttons are another consideration, especially with places like the forums.

  84. Anonymous

    "I said "consider" not DO IT OR THE KITTEN DIES."

    This is why I love your blog!! And sytle πŸ™‚

    BTW…you didn't do anything wrong.

  85. Lisa Ahn

    I thought it was clever and lightly done. I get a lot out of your blog and am looking forward to your book. You've said it yourself before — don't let a single negative opinion, or even a small cluster of them get you down.

  86. Kevin Lynn Helmick

    I don't see anything wrong with what you're asking. Like you said,'your time, your blog, your book.' you can do what you want, if your fine with it; that's all that matters.
    Maybe even do a drive, once a week or once a month for some other writer you think needs and deserves the attention.

  87. jesse

    I get that you're making a bit of joke here, but maybe you should consider selling some merchandise. Of course the book is first and foremost but maybe a Jacob T-Shirt or even a Nathan mug might help keep the blog rolling. You put out an amazing, and free, product almost daily, and you gotta eat somehow.
    I don't know if you signed away your merch rights, but I'm sure you could work something out with the publisher.
    Plus, if you have Wonderbar shirts, you could use them as promotional items in contest giveaways…
    Just a thought.

  88. Moonbird

    I've come here of my own free will to read your blog. I've gotten tons of free writing advice… here on YOUR blog. Let's see… I'm here reading… YOUR… BLOG. And you shouldn't be allowed to promote your own book?
    I don't get it.

  89. Marcia Richards

    Reading your blog has made it east to come to like you and want to support you. My opinion is that that should be enough, along with mentioning the availability, to sell your book. I can see asking people who liked the book to please review it on Amazon, since that helps your sales, and it's a way folks can support you further. I don't feel comfortable with you outright saying 'buy my book and review it because I give you a lot of free content'. It smacks of a tit-for-tat attitude. It doesn't suit you. I intend to buy the book for my grandson, but I wouldn't if that post was the first I'd ever read about you. A softer appraoch is usually more successful, not to mention acceptable.

  90. Nathan Bransford

    Thanks everyone for all the great feedback. This is enormously helpful and I really appreciate it!

  91. Lisa Goodwin

    Your blogs are wonderful, and you offer so much great advice for aspiring writers. Actually, your blog was one of the first ones I started read an follow. Such good advice, and help for writers. I wonder how many writers you have helped on their path to becoming published authors?

    Everything I have read of your posts are funny, entertaining and enjoyable, as well as providing valuable information.

    I know you can't please everyone. And I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if they are misinformed. *smile*

    This is your blog,please Just keep doing what you do and sharing what you share!

    You are a great motivator and everything you have shared is so helpful, and funny! And I don't remember ever being charged anything for subscribing to your blog.

    Plus, your pledge drive reminded me of my youth when we only had 4 television channels
    awwwww ……memories!

    Thanks for the smiles!

  92. Anonymous

    I think those people who've gotten their knickers in a twist over this need to look up the word "consider" in the dictionary. It means to think carefully about.

    You didn't ask people to buy your book, you asked them to think about buying it. That's a no pressure sales pitch.

    And so you have uncovered one of those little ironies in the writing community: there are quite a few writers who need a class in reading comprehension.

  93. CAtkinson

    More power to you…

  94. wendy

    Well said, Jenny Bent πŸ™‚

  95. wendy

    Oh – and I'd like to add the best of luck, Nathan. I've read the chapter sample, and Jacob seems like a fabulous read. Right up my reading alley. I would love to buy a copy and will. Thanks for the reminder.

  96. Dawn Anon

    Negative…about that? oh for petesake!

    I expect writers to promote their books on their blogs. It's part of the reason I read blogs by writers. And I hope (if someday I write a book that makes it to some form of print) that I will be able to think of entertaining ways to remind folks that it is for sale.

  97. Bryce Daniels

    Nathan: You may not remember me, but I won a copy of your book through last year's NCAA challenge.

    Now, I'm not a book reviewer. I don't profess to be one, and don't want to even take a stab at it.

    Other than AWESOME. You made two children hungry for more. Not only did they DEVOUR your book, but they both insisted on getting library cards immediately after reading yours.

    I HOPE that's good enough for you. It is, without a doubt, good enough for me.

  98. Thomas J. Webster

    You took a shot. It took balls. Ladies, I am speaking in the most extreme sense of the word "Metaphorically" that I can. Please feel free to grab your metaphorical "Balls" and do something unheard of with your (insert social media pipeline here.) I've never heard of a blog pledge drive. Now that I have, I can imagine someone read this, and started planning their own bloggy-blog pledge drive. I thought about it…but, I don't have a book, yet. My blog is also only a few weeks old at this point in time. So, I shall refrain from said dreamy objective. But, I shall give credit where credit is due. I have little credit, but what I have is yours, Mr. Nathan Bransford, Author: I say this… I am an aspiring novelist, trying to get published. I grab my balls (metaphorically, or not) every morning at 3:45 am, to make up shit by putting letters and grammatical symbols together, meaningfully, in hopes of leaving my mark on the world…before I clock in for my day job at 6:45 am. As do like-minded writers around the globe, make their own personal sacrifices. So, great job on being innovative. And in the wake of your bravado, is an infant blog, by an infant author. Also, it's Friday night, I've been drinking, and watching (reading, if you speak english) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is awesome, on Netflix. Thank you, Nathan. You are an inspiration. I have to stop typing…Later.

  99. Debra Lynn Lazar

    I have to say, I'm impressed at how everyone who commented kept their cool while clearly stating their opinions. This is a topic that could have grown ugly fast. I think it's a testimony to the respect that we, as a writing community, have for you, Nathan.

    And, thank you for not killing the kitten, especially since I just adopted one tonight!

  100. Anonymous

    just bought my copy on amazon! in appreciation of the blog, which is one of the best things out there for aspiring writers, and in expectation of a really good read.

  101. Mira

    So, I thought about this all day. You've already gotten so much good feedback, Nathan, but I'd like to add my two cents for what it's worth.

    First, I agree with Debra Lynn Lazar – this was an amazingly civil discussion given the topic, and I think that's completely due to the tone you set.

    Imho, I think Jan O'Hara hit it on the head. You tend to take a back seat on the blog in a way – you've said in some recent interviews that you set the blog up emphasizing the participation of the commenters. That is so rare and generous that it has made the blog widely popular, and set a tone of selflessness on your part. In exchange, you get admiration, gratitude and loyalty, but it's still a culture of a one-way exchange.

    So when you ask for something in return, it's abit jarring, albeit COMPLETELY APPROPRIATE.

    It's up to you how you want to navigate this, of course, but I hope you continue to ask for support – yay, Nathan!! πŸ™‚ But I agree with Jan that if you come into the forefront abit more, you might get some push-back, because people don't like change. But I think that's not a big deal. People will adjust to the idea that you are real person, a writer like the rest of us, who wants to have his (terrific) book be read.

    I'll end on a note of genuine praise – you are promoting a book that is so good! It's so funny and fun, fast-paced and multi-layered. I really loved it, and have already written a review on Amazon, but maybe I'll go write one on B&N now. I'm going to start on my second reading of it soon.

    And then I'll start bugging you for contests giving away an ARC of the second book! I CAN'T WAIT!!! It just occured to me – that is also a good way to promote your first book!

    So this was great, I bet it added to the conversation about social media that's been going on around the blogosphere, and I look forward to any future experiments in social media you might set up here, Nathan!

  102. J. T. Shea

    I can't believe this silly debate is still going on! There are even more humorless people with too much time on their hands than I thought.

    Nathan, I notice a few of your most outspoken critics are also Middle Grade authors, but unpublished. I attach absolutely no significance to that fact…

    Hold a whole litter of kittens hostage next time, and shoot them anyway, to give people something to REALLY complain about!

  103. Mariel


    To me, blogs, for the most part are an informal act of sharing but with one huge difference between grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend. The expectation of purchase.

    But in blogs, Person A connects to Persons A,B,D,E, F and G with the expectation that in sharing their thoughts, A,B, D, E, F and G will eventually renumerate them. Never mind that the power of the blog isn't just what's posted by the blogger, but the exchange that occurs after.

    If we remove this to a meet and greet scenario, which is to say a bunch of people sharing ideas and getting to know one another,to the blog experience, imagine meeting up with someone either for the first time or the hundredth time and being presented with this:

    "I've shared my thoughts with you, thus you are in debt to me and I want to call in that debt by having you buy my nifty Watchamacallit."

    When someone shares their thoughts with me, I owe them two things. The act of listening (and the act of response assuming I can contribute in a meaningful way.) This is the extent of my debt.

    Asking people to buy your book isn't wrong. I'm not saying that. I like you. I like your blog. I want to read your book. However, I think people's response is mixed because, even though your approach was meant to be funny, the mark was missed because it's too on target.

    I can't say how or why some people are successful at getting people to buy their stuff on the internet. Maybe they just cut through the crap and just say, buy my shit because it makes me feel good. I don't know.

    Now, the fee for my comment is the purchase of this:

  104. Anonymous

    I have just bought a copy of Jakob Wonderbar which I trust , will be a wonderful read . Thank you Nathan .

  105. Ishta Mercurio

    I've got your book, and I'll read it soon. I'll put up a review when I do – Shannon Whitney Messenger does Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts and invites other bloggers to do the same, so I'll do one of those and feature your book. Sometime in the next month; I'm half-way through 4 other books at the moment.

    And I have no problem with occasional self-promotion on one's own blog. We can't count on anyone else to do it, we may as well do it ourselves. Plus, your blog is so content-rich normally, I figure we owe you some time to indulge in promoting your book.

  106. Isabella Amaris

    lol! Nathan, what are you doing listening to the one negative Twitter-person when this is YOUR blog! If you can't promote your books on your own blog, where else can you??

    Hmmmm, I know some might say that the blog and the book are two separate things, and one shouldn't tie into the other when it comes to promotion, but the way I see it is:

    – it's Nathan's blog, so he can write whatever he wants on it, including self-promoting an entire series of books, esp when there's lots of good posts in between all the promotion (which is so definitely the case)

    – it makes sense to me that readers who are getting lots of free information and forum time on this blog consider buying a book written by the person who's providing them with this space, even if it's only as a 'thank you' moment (buying the book as a gift for someone who'd like it even if you don't fits perfectly into this scenario, doesn't it?)

    Hmmmm, funny moments. Nathan, was feeling bad at how guilty you were obviously feeling about it by the time I finished reading! Do not feel guilty – rebel, and self-promote five times a week!:) Hehe just kidding, don't do that. you're got a nice ratio going here already:)… Cheers.

  107. Tambra

    Hi Nathan,

    Promoting and doing it so we stand out from the thousands of other writers is difficult.
    There always seems to be one or two grouchy butts out there who make things that much harder.

    Most of us aren't trained in marketing. How much is too much promoting? Finding the balance is tricky.

    Since I've gone Indie, promoting now includes the image of my business along with selling my books.

    What works for some authors doesn't work for others, so I keep trying various ideas and hoping my unique POV is gathering readers.

    Example: My terrier, Sparky Urban is the Offishul Mewz of my publishing company. He has his own Facebook page and fans. I'm serious about my writing but I'm having fun while I'm doing it.

    Dis iz Sparky Urban. i hijackeded the keebord. doggie say pweeze buy Nathan's book. ifn yew knot read it den give yewr kopy to a hosspital for kids. k? wooof!

    Promoting goes with being a writer. Some ideas work better than other but we don't now until we try. Great idea, Nathan.

    Daughters of Avalon Publishing

  108. David Gaughran

    Self-promotion really is a tightrope.

    Some authors are very, very good at it, and you don't even realize that they are promoting their book or asking you to buy it. But they are few and far between.

    Most of us aren't super-slick salesmen, and aren't completely comfortable with this aspect of publishing.

    We all try and find a balance. We don't blog strictly to sell, it is its own reward, and has all sorts of intangible benefits anyway.

    Although, if someone told me that none of my blog readers would ever buy my book, I would reconsider how much time I spent doing it. I need to eat after all.

    Commerce and art are often uncomfortable bedfellows. And writers have to be salespeople now, they have no choice. It's expected whether you are self-published or have a major deal.

    I didn't see Nathan's post as a quid pro quo at all, and I'm not sure how people saw it that way.

    As a self-publisher, I see promo which crosses the line all the time. This is nothing like that at all.

    And as I said above, if anyone should get a break here, it's Nathan. How many hours of his time has he given up to the writing community? How much enjoyment have you gotten from his forum and blog posts?

    Come on.

  109. Tim Warnes

    I'm a children's book illustrator, who's first book was published just after the abolition of the net book agreement in the UK. Over the last decade or more the market place has changed completely – the way books are sold, their outlets, their shelf life. Big superstore outlets want to sell hard and fast (and cheap) which nudges out the slow burner titles. I've just started a comic strip blog featuring two of my book characters (, in an attempt to promote the book, but also because I love creating it. So I will continue to do the blog for fun and hope to pick up readership in its own right; but at the same time I have absolutley no qualms in directly promoting the original product.

  110. Hollister Ann Grant

    I've intended to buy a copy all along and it slipped my mind, so thanks for the reminder. I loved the excerpt you posted not too long ago.

    You are so encouraging, and have given back to the writing community for so long, I can't imagine criticizing you for this. All authors have the right to promote their work and raise money to pay the bills. That's just reality.

  111. Serenity

    I feel so bummed for you that anyone reacted negatively to this. I've gleaned so much from your blog. I've yet to buy your book, I have every intention of doing so, I hope to buy MORE than one, and this post was the perfect reminder. You reached me. And you did it beautifully – straightforward, using all the appropriate tools at your disposal (the ones you've worked hard to build), and without ultimatum. Gold star, I say.

  112. M.P. McDonald

    I don't see a problem with it. It's your blog and you have shared a lot of inside knowledge with us. Even if you hadn't, it's not a big deal.

  113. E. VERNA

    Nathan you should promote your book in schools where children can read them. Or ask a TV network executive if you can format that book into TV cartoon show. If kids love watching SpongeBob squarepants they would probably appreciate and watch Jacob's.

  114. C.Smith

    Just WOW.
    What's wrong with you promoting your book on your own blog? Lord forbid any author ever THINK it!!
    Personally, I think whoever gave you negative feedback is the one that's full of BS. Everyone who has ever been published has in one way or another self-promoted their book. It's custom!

    Anyway, back on topic! Yes I'll buy your book, Nathan. As soon as it hits bookstores here. I don't possess paypal or a creditcard (hallelujah) but I'm keen to get it for my kids.

  115. pezibc

    No problem here. If I don't sell the stuff that I've done, then I don't get to keep working on new stuff for very long. There is no nobility in being a starving artist.

    Pretty much everybody here that will buy or promote the book has already done so, but a reminder never hurts.

    It would have been fine by me if you set out a tip jar and collected some cash.

  116. Amy

    It seems strange to me that anyone would fault a writer for promoting his own book on his blog. I think that since you started out as an agent, some people forget that you are a writer in today's difficult market, trying to sell your book.

    I hadn't bought the book yet, and this served as a reminder. Which was probably the point! I'm adding it to my Comic-Con reading list. Hopefully I will done by the time I go to your panel!

  117. tyhutchinson

    This is a great idea. Ignore the ignorant Nathan.

  118. Leila

    I have to agree wtih all those who said this is COMPLETELY APPROPRIATE!!!

    I think your tone and approach were well pitched and tasteful.

    It's very difficult to do the self promotion stuff. It's not something that comes easily to most of us and when done in a wide public arena even harder. So yours was very well balanced and communicated.

    And, like many others have said, you have given generously of your time, your advice, your support, your expertise, your encouragement and you created the forums! We should give something back at least to say thank you!

  119. Marlana Antifit

    Nathan — I love your blog! It's always one of the first places I go for guidance. There is a reason, almost every person in the industry knows your name. You provide great information! I believe promoting your book on your blog is completely appropriate and am very surprised anyone has issues with it. BTW — my seven and nine year old LOVE Jacob Wonderbar!

  120. Kyla

    I think the tone of this post was perfectly modulated…of course, I might have taken more offense if you hadn't added the thing at the top about how you don't think people HAVE to buy your book.

    Anyway, this was very tastefully handled, and I'd love to buy your book.

    If I wasn't flat broke, I mean.

    Sorry. I'll try to buy it when I get some money again. Hope the sales go great, though! Have a great day!

  121. magpiewrites

    I have bought a book already. Not because you asked me to, but because you're awesome and it sounds like the kind of book my daughter and I would love to read together. She comes back from camp in August and we're cracking that puppy open.

    I honestly can't understand or see anything offensive in this post. The person who objected surely is a little sensitive? As some have already mentioned, you freely and selflessly give out mega tonnage of advice and positive vibes. What is wrong with promoting your book on your blog? (scratches head)

  122. MJR

    I think it's okay to promote your book on your blog in a light-hearted way. But I do agree with the commenter who said you should put up a website devoted to the book and series. That was the first thing I did when my kids books were published. It can connect you to your readers, be funny, a place to put up reviews, tell young readers a bit about you etc. You mentioned that it costs too much money, but I'd argue that's it worth it. You can then submit your site to all kinds of places, including ALA.

  123. Karen

    Of course you should promote your book! I just saw you'll be at ComicCon doing autograph signings. Will you have your book available for sale there? It would be great to buy my copy right from you!

  124. Linda Pressman

    I'm really happy to see this entry here today, Nathan. First of all, it reminds me that, even if you have been published with a traditional publisher, you still have to wrack your brain trying to figure out how to use social media to get to readers. I've been frustrated myself with this issue a bit as someone who's recently self-published and had great feedback, yet I find myself dreading the self-promotional aspects.

    It also makes me happy because I realize that I have an eleven-year-old daughter who would love to read your book and I'm ordering it right now. Thanks for the reminder that this is actually not only a labor of love but a labor. πŸ™‚

  125. Lesann Berry

    Don't let the crabby folks get you down. Your blog is for whatever content you deem suitable. Those who don't want to be offered the opportunity to check out a great book – or any of a thousand nuggets of publishing wisdom….phhhhttt I say.

    People need to be reminded that you're an author too – not just a publishing insider.

  126. seema


  127. Phoenix Sullivan

    A question, Nathan:

    You've made a lot of the mystery of publishing transparent. Will you also use your book's journey to help educate? What works, what doesn't? What sales expectations are? If certain promotions (like this one) are working and how well they are(n't)?

    I know you can't get exact figures from your publisher yet, but I'm sure you've tracked your clients' books and now your own at least through Amazon's free access to Nielsen's BookScan for hardback sales and NovelRank for a fair estimate of ebook sales on Amazon. Are there any insights you can share with us about that part of the publishing journey?

    NovelRank data is, of course, public information and direct experience tells me its extrapolation of book sales is pretty accurate for the first 30-35 sales per month. After that, the algorithm starts to decay and the discrepancy gap between number of estimated and actual sales starts to grow exponentially. The sales rank is a direct feed, though, so fairly accurate and a good way to judge trends. NovelRank tells us Amazon had been selling 1-2 hardcover copies of Jacob Wonderbar per day this month, then on Friday, it sold 5 copies and on Saturday it sold 3, for a total of 21 to date this month. For the ebook, it sold 2 copies on Friday and 3 on Saturday, for a total of 6 so far in July.

    The great thing about online sales is that you can watch rank and book sales change in real time so you can tell if a promotion works or not. What most of us don't have is comparative insight into what's a success. I know libraries and brick-and-mortar stores are going to be more important outlets for selling an MG book than for, say, science fiction. So do online stores represent 5% of sales? 15%? 40% of sales for Jacob? Does doubling sales on Amazon equate to doubling sales through non-online venues?

    In comparison to other promotion tactics (such as your giving away a Kindle), will you share how this one did? How others did?

    A benefit to educating using your own book to do it is that you can talk about your book by name a couple of times per post, tag it by name, and increase SEO. Plus people feel more comfortable with you talking about your book on your blog and gives you a chance to keep awareness high. This has always been an educational forum. Some of us are ready for graduate school now, and taking us step-by-step along on the last leg of the publishing journey would help de-mystify the promotional aspects and perhaps gain you a new audience sector.

    Just something to consider :o)

  128. Lindsey

    Nathan, whenever I promote my book on my blog or facebook, I always tag it: From the Dept. of Shameless Self Promotion because what I usually feel when I'm in promotion mode is a squirmy kind of shame so I just go ahead and name it. (I know, I know, there is therapy for such ailments.) But the thing is, we have to do this thing called promotion. We have to step up and out and crow about our work. (Think about it: chicken v. rooster) It's part of the writing contract. And the thing is, all of us who write, who follow your blog, we absolutely understand. And for my part, I'm cheering you on and stealing your idea. Shamelessly.

  129. David Gaughran

    I think a lot of people would be interested in what Phoenix suggested. I know when I talk about that kind of stuff on my blog, it's very popular.

    In fact, I think it's a great way of promoting your book without promoting your book. There are lots of ways of doing that. For example:

    *Highlighting nice reviews you have received
    *Announcing a sales milestone
    *Talking about the "process" (i.e. how the cover was designed, how it went throught various stage of editing etc.)
    *Posts trying to figure out why you are selling big on, say, Barnes & Noble but not Amazon

    Actually, talking about promotion you have done elsewhere (such as a giveaway on LibraryThing), is a great way to promote your book without promoting your book.

    For writers who aren't comfortable with "overt" promotion, I suggest this as a way forward.

  130. chriskellywriter

    This was the nudge I needed to get around to purchasing.

    It's Nathan B, after all, the up-for-sainthood guy who generously shares his miraculous insights about writing and publishing — even now as a former agent.

    Looking forward to JW and more to come!

  131. Anonymous

    As of now there are 135 comments from different bloggers and avid fans of your blogs, let us find out their true affiliation with you as a friend. Don't you think they should buy your book as a sign of appreciation of loyalty and friendship?

  132. Anonymous

    This "Pledge Drive" is so tame and so harmless compared to what other authors do I'm amazed that anyone would even question it.

    I am slammed day in and day out with facebook announcements that say, "Read My Book," and other things/notifications from social media that honestly turn me in the opposite direction. Some of these authors (most are self-published) are so aggressive they are shooting themselves in the foot and turning more readers off than on.

    But this post was fun. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    You should consider offering this blog as a .99 kindle download. I've seen other bloggers doing it and no one seems to be going after them. I personally wouldn't do it. But some don't seem to think there's anything wrong with it.

  133. Nathan Bransford


    Very good suggestions and information. The tricky thing for a traditionally published author is that all that information is not very readily available. I know from what Bookscan numbers I have access to that my book is selling better than what the Amazon rankings and rate of sale would indicate, but where those sales are happening, whether they're blog readers or whether I'm reaching people who don't know me… I'm not sure.

    Definitely worth a post on just how hard it is to self-promote without much idea of whether it's working or not.

  134. David Gaughran


    That's true, having access to numbers helps. But there is an old adage that half the money you spend on advertising is wasted but the problem is you never know which half.

    With social media (the main means for book promotion these days), that percentage drops dramatically, maybe 10% or less.

    I see it as being like a farmer scattering a mystery bag of seeds in an open field. You don’t know which ones will take and which will be eaten by birds, and you never know when they might blossom.

  135. Anonymous

    And don't forget, ask your local library to order a copy or two!!! Many will oblige when they receive a patron request πŸ™‚

  136. LaneyMcMann

    First, I will be buying your book as soon as my Nook recharges and Second, You're great! Don't for a second think otherwise.

  137. Anonymous

    "I know from what Bookscan numbers I have access to that my book is selling better than what the Amazon rankings and rate of sale would indicate, but where those sales are happening, whether they're blog readers or whether I'm reaching people who don't know me… I'm not sure."

    I have no idea where my sales come from, and Amazon ranks are always off. There have been quarters when I've been on bestseller lists and sold less books than when I wasn't on the bestseller lists. I think this is a completely mystery to every author.

    I've learned that a lot of these bestseller lists we see around the internet could mean lower sales. In other words, you could be on a bestseller list because a book is really selling well, or because no one's buying anything else on the web site. Never trust bestseller lists…reader or author.

    I also know this. Every author and book is different. Everyone of my books is different as far as sales go. It's nearly impossible to calculate. The best you can do is gather basic info. And, most sales do, in fact, come from amazon.

  138. Barbara Kloss

    ON IT!!!

    Gosh, you have done SOOOOO much for the writing community, I'm excited (& proud) to have the opportunity to purchase your book. And I'll leave a review.

    ps I love the "PBS break" πŸ™‚ I mean, COME ON!…you promote everyone else!

  139. Anonymous

    "Admittedly, my blog doesn't have a huge following, but my group blog, Project Mayhem, does have a very good following and it's devoted entirely to middle grade. Check it out if you haven't.

    Here's what I offer to you. Let me read your book (it's next on my list) and then I'll do an honest-to-goodness review on the Project Mayhem blog (next scheduled post is August 1st). It'll give you some publicity without asking for it. And if you wish, completely up to you, I'd love for you to have a guest post on Project Mayhem about writing for middle graders, which is what you're doing now. Not agenting, but WRITING. Plain and simple: writing. Let me know."

    I LOLed hard when I read this. Isn't kind of asking the same thing Nathan was but in a different context. "Let me read your book I'll do a review." if you wish, COMPLETELY UP TO YOU…" blah blah blah. You are self-promoting your blog and saying it would give Nathan some publicity. I write as a hobby (two published books) and even with my lack of writerly education I know very well who Nathan is.

    Nathan was just asking us to consider buying his book, while -sorry to say – you sound like the type if Nathan doesn't agree on the review or as a guest on your blog you will bash him for it or give him negative reviews.

  140. clindsay

    How exactly is this inappropriate? You rarely actually pimp your book, which is one of the reasons so many people still love your blog, sir. You understand the need for a careful balance between marketing and non-marketing content on your blog.


    Ignore the haters, dude. =)

    (PS: I bought your book!)

  141. clindsay

    And just to be clear: Don Linn and I are very good friends, and I respect his opinion on most things enormously. I just think he jumped the gun on this one.

  142. Amy Baskin

    Nathan, not only is this post completely inoffensive, but your point is well-taken. I've read, learned and appreciated your blog for many moons now. Thank you for all of your generous insight. I be sure to support you with a purchase this week. Cheers!

  143. John

    I actually bought your book last Monday for my nephews. The Barnes & Nobles lets my writers' group critique there, so I try to support them. My nephews are ravenous readers. I figure if they like this book, they'll buy FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE.

    So this one's on me, for the great help you do. The rest is on you and your book.

  144. J. T. Shea

    Thanks to Phoenix Sullivan for those interesting figures and suggestions! The Jacob Wonderbar sales do sound much lower than I expected. Particularly in the context of Nathan's online presence and 100,000 followers or whatever. Probably most Nathanites are, like myself, a bit older than the target readership (!) but most of us have children or nephews and nieces and there's no law prohibiting us from reading kids' books.

    The figures are for Amazon alone, of course, and it's still early days.

    Without reigniting the old print versus e-book debate, may I say the hardcover Jacob Wonderbar is a beautifully designed and illustrated book for what was a trade paperback price not too long ago. Being black and white, I assume the e-book has the illustrations too.

    Now, which of my younger relatives will I give my second copy to?

  145. PatriciaW

    Have no problem with blog pledge drive. Authors have to try whatever makes sense to them and see what works.

    I almost bought your book for my 9yo who is crazy about all things space, just not your book. But don't despair. I think he just wanted the Star Wars book a little more at that time. Jacob will likely find a place near his bedside sometime soon. Worst case, Christmas.

  146. Simon Haynes

    I don't see a problem with a pledge drive. I do something similar with my free software (yWriter, for example), where I encourage people to order a Hal Spacejock ebook (just $1.99!) if they use the software regularly. Surely that's better than sticking a $49.99 price on the software and limiting it to people with spare cash lying around?

  147. Heather Marie

    It is insane for anyone to say you can't promo your OWN book on your OWN blog. I receive this site straight to my email every time you post and I love it. You put a lot of thought and effort into the things you write. Anyone who says you shouldn't promo on your own gosh-darned website has NO clue what the internet is even for. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚

  148. Claude Nougat

    Very interesting debate, Nathan, and I hope you'll share with us the results in terms of number of books sold whenever you manage to get that info together (very hard, I know, because I've also got a blog like you and my book on Kindle).

    Self-promotion stinks and is damn hard to pull off, and the tone of comments here show it. But you should be encouraged by the general support shown! Just about everyone has come out saying that you have every right to pitch your book on your blog – and I agree!

    The trick is how to do it without annoying. And that's a real difficult trick: here, let me use my economist's approach to it: it's a question of direct marketing vs indirect marketing.

    The indirect marketing ALWAYS works better – no question about it, as the big soap advertisers have learned since the 1950s when they used to claim their soap washed better than any other.

    Your blog is your best INDIRECT MARKETING TOOL because, while you have banners on the sidebars plugging your book, you're giving out (free!) content that people are looking for.

    What people? Here's the catch for you: your audience is mostly writers, would-be writers, literary agents too (no doubt about that since that used to be your working world not too long ago) and maybe a few editors and people in publishing houses. In other words: people who are into writing and publishing (whether self or not).

    Other people out there? No. I think that's what you need to think about: how to reach the much broader MG audience.

    Of course, that's where TWITTER comes in: it's a tool that BREAKS across audiences (mainly thanks to the hashtag trick) but you have to tweet about OTHER things than publishing matters! MG readers surely don't care about publishing!

    Just my 2 cents thought…

  149. David Gaughran


    I think Claude hit the nail on the head.

    Along those lines, might I suggest setting up a separate Twitter account as Jacob Wonderbar – which you can use to exclusively target MG readers. You can do the same with a dedicated FB page – and have a simple free WordPress/Blogger page to "anchor" all the content. Would only take a few hours to set up, and then you have a little promo machine chugging away in the background.


  150. Nathan Bransford

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys. First off, based just on Amazon rankings I do feel like these promotions worked. I am thinking about how to reach the audience directly, but am also trying to build a base with my most natural audience, which is the people already following my blog and Twitter account.

    David – I could start tweeting as Jacob, but I'm not sure I see that as a totally effective means of promotion. Are people going to follow Jacob who aren't already aware of the book? And having built a Twitter following from scratch, I know how much time that takes.

  151. Matthew MacNish

    I cannot believe I missed this. Oh well, I'm here now.

    There isn't much left to add, but I have to say that the simple fact that you are asking how we feel about this, and engaging in an intelligent conversation about the whole thing? Brilliant.

    It's this exact kind of open-minded, mutually respectful attitude that endeared me to you in the first place.

    Oh, and I'm part of Mike's blog. Project Mayhem. We would love to have you. But Mike has to organize it now, meaning: do all the work.

  152. David Gaughran


    I know plenty of authors who solve the problem of different audiences with multiple Twitter accounts.

    Yes, it's extra work, but it helps you separate and target your messaging.

    If you have the handle of JacobWonderbar and the book cover as your avatar, I could see it work very easily.

    People will decide to follow or not based on all the usual criteria – most importantly the last few tweets they see. Plus a lot of people simply auto-follow back anyway.

    So if you are tweeting stuff which your target audience will like, they will follow (and I'm sure you will have no problem there).

    You don't have to pressure yourself to grow a big following, you can be much more selective about who you follow, make it much more targeted (and there are great tools out there for that).

    If you do, sending a tweet about the book to 100 MG readers could be far more effective than one to 5000 people who may or may not be interested in MG.

    There are many ways to skin this cat, but this could be neat solution.

  153. Riley Roam

    I think it's absolutely appropriate to use your blog for a little self promotion!!

    Plus,you've been such an amazing (FREE) resource over the years. I'm sure we all want you to make boatloads of cash so you can continue this blog.

  154. - -Alex McGrath

    I hear ya man. Self-promotion is totally legit and necessary. If you don't believe in your project, who will? If you don't promote it, who will?

  155. Val & Don "Corleone", stop smelling yourselves!

    @VAL (July 15 '11)

    You only have 56 views in almost 2 years and you talk like you know something about self-promotion? You're a troll. And you trolled here and that's probably where you picked up those 56 views.

    Nathan I know you have strict rules about put-downs but it needed to be said because I'm angry, too, just reading this garbage.

    You did NOTHING wrong here, Nathan, it was funny, plain & simple. People take things WAY too far online. Idk who Donn Linn is (was) and I don't care. I will block him on Twitter when I leave here. End of story. I don't like that he upset you to the point where you removed your blog post. He sounds arrogant and needs to stop sniffing his own behind.

    Sigh! I feel better now. Okay, you can delete this if you want. I'm off to block this fool. Okay, bye-bye.


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Hi, I’m Nathan.Β I’m the author ofΒ How to Write a NovelΒ and theΒ Jacob WonderbarΒ series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams.Β Let me help you with your book!

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