Friday, February 1, 2008

Breaking the Code

In the last few days I've engaged in what is known as "promo". It's a vague, poorly understood concept that seems to vary by the day, hour, or even minute. My particular brand of promo consists of hob-nobbing on various chat loops, posting excerpts from my books, and answering questions from the readers.

Naturally, you try to choose the most enticing excerpts you can so that the reader is hooked--in effect you hope for an impulse buy from the new readers while those readers that are familiar with your work pounce on the promise of another new book. Everyone is happy. But all of your efforts depend on a vast group of non-participants we call the lurkers.

They show up, read the excerpts and repartee of the non-lurkers, and never comment so that we have nooooo idea whether they loved, hated, or ho-hummed through our excerpts. It takes a lot of courage to toss your excerpt out there and hope that someone likes it. And when there's absolutely no reaction at all... well that's just ugly.

After studying the phenomena of posting excerpts I've concluded that there is actually a code embedded in the comments. If you know the code, then you can tell how the non-lurkers really feel about your books. The code goes something like this:

That's interesting. = I wouldn't read this book if it was the last book on earth.

How unusual. = Close cousin to That's interesting. More emphatic. I can't imagine what your editor was thinking when they offered you a contract!

That was hot. = It had a lot of body parts mentioned.

That was HOT. = It had a lot of body parts and actions mentioned.

That was HAWT. = Okay, that's more information than I want to know.

I loved it. = Well, I might get around to buying it sometime in the next six months.

I LOVED it. = Don't you think it time for a contest so I might win this book and NOT have to buy it?

Alex was yummy. = Who? There was a woman in that scene? You're sure? Really?

Alex was yummylicious. = There WAS no woman in that scene. Besides Alex would never be untrue to me.

Do you have another excerpt? = I'm really undecided about this book. Toss another one out so I can tell if I want to be bothered.

Another excerpt? = Well, I wanted a coffee break anyway.

Wow! How many books have you written? = Yep, I knew it... unemployed hermit.

Oh. I read this book last year. = And you've not written anything since then, huh?

Ohhhh. I read this book last year! = Please say you've finally finished the sequel.

Didn't I read this book last year? = Hey! You're not trying to pull a fast one on us are you?

I really had a lot of fun today. = I would have been happier if I won something, though.

See? Nothing to it. Keep the code handy the next time you take part in a chat. If you're a reader, you'll know what to post. And if you're a writer, you'll know how to translate the comments. I'm sure I missed some so if y'all have others, just post them in the comments section with the translation please. After all, I need all the help I can get.


Stop by Amarinda's place and see what new adventures in OZ she's encountered. and then hop over to Kelly's Blog and check to see if it snowed and the kids are at home. Blessings on your day.


  1. Your code is interesting but I don't agree with it entirely. I believe a lot of people have no idea what to say so they say the same as everyone else

  2. When I say 'interesting', it usually means I'm undecided, and sometimes another excerpt can really make the difference. I won't mention the book, but I didn't care for the blurb or the excerpt, but then read another one and decided to buy it. Otherwise...some of your code is accurate, at least from this reader's view! Hadn't noticed it myself! I'll have to be more careful, now that you've cracked it, ha ha:)

  3. Given tonight's activities, that was definitely food for thought.