Sales and Marketing: An Ethical Nightmare

I don’t envy those of you who earn a living by selling something. I never have—always knew it was an ethical minefield—but my appreciation for your dilemma has grown immensely as your problems have become mine.

Within the next few months, my first novel will be published and I’m getting ready, reading tons of information on how I’m supposed to promote it, create buzz, persuade people to review it, win fans, and ultimately convince a fair number of people that it’s worth their time and money.

If you’re a big-name author with one of the six traditional publishers, you get some help from the company’s marketing department. But not as much as you used to get. And with most books now coming out of small, independent publishers (as mine is) or being self-published, authors are expected to do virtually all of their own marketing.

The more I get into it, the more the ethics of self-promotion trouble me. It’s really testing my mettle.

I think the most essential ingredient in marketing is to believe in your product. I can handle that one, although there’s nothing harder than being objective about your own work. Despite rejections by many agents and publishers, I do believe my novel is a worthy book, which is to say I think many people will enjoy reading it, will meet characters they’ll like spending time with, and will find the themes of integrity, ethics, guilt, and love thought-provoking.

But how far do I go to make that point and reach a wider audience without deceiving potential buyers? I could use some help on this from other authors and from people who think seriously about ethical concerns. Here are some of the issues I face over the next several months. Please click on this link and tell me what you’d do.

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One thought on “Sales and Marketing: An Ethical Nightmare

  1. I took the survey and found my responses very liberal about these promotional issues. I don’t think an author can by-pass the methods that have become the new norm. On the other hand, I never take internet reviews on their face value. And by the way, academics often review colleagues in their journals. A disclaimer helps, but the reviewer has to be careful of his own reputation and that’s the best safeguard of all.

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