Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

The Tuesday Alternative: The Art of Plugging


The Art of Plugging

The Tuesday Alternative is here again – admittedly a rather bleary-eyed and sore-headed Tuesday Alternative (well it is Christmas Party season). As usual we are taking our quirky look at all things book, word and blog. Today’s blog deals with an issue that concerns many bloggers and blogosphericals: the subtle art and etiquette of Plugging.

Blogs work, to a certain extent, by linking to each other. There is a early gauche period in the life of any blog where you have to get out there and let people know you are there – link to them, ask if they’ll link back. A bit like dating. For virgin pluggers their first time can be just as confusing and just as painfully excruciating.

“Hello, you won’t know me but I’ve been reading your blog for a while…and…well…I just wondered if….perhaps….sometime when you’re not too busy….you might like to…if it’s not too much bother…check out my blog at…”

Oh! The mortification! I used to do a lot of this for Vulpes in our early days and it is a necessary right of passage for any blog. There’s no easy way around it. Plugging is just plain embarrassing, whatever way you look at it.

However, plugging blogs  is one thing – what about when it comes to plugging other things? Unsurprisingly, the plugs we get in the comments on Vulpes are usually for books – along with online bingo and pornographic spam but thankfully none of you have to look at that so it’s only our administrators who risk being corrupted.

When it comes to the etiquette of book plugging, views differ. There are those, like myself, who prefer the direct approach.

“Great post on the role of the family in Soviet Russia! Those who enjoyed this book might also be interested in my book: The Sexual Life of Snails, based on ten years of observational study, available from Kitchen Table Publishing…etc”

Honest. Straightforward. Although it probably helps to have some link – however spurious – with the post in question.

“Hey, I see you have a review on the art of origami. Those interested in this book might be interested in my new book: How to Fold Bed Linen and other Handy Household Hints.


But some people don’t like this approach and prefer a plug  to make a more obviously concerted effort to engage with the post in question before “subtly” dropping in a reference to the plugger’s own book.

“Absolutely fascinating review. I particularly enjoyed your dissection of bleakness and violence in modern society. I believe that this is one of the most important discussions we could be having right now. I have lots and lots and lots to say about this particular subject, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…”

[Ten paragraphs later]

“blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”

[And a few more]

“blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”

[Before finally]

“Of course, this issue is something that the character of Earnest struggles with in my new work of literary fiction The Bleak Silence of the Mourning Owl published by….”

Job done.

As a rough rule of thumb, the amount you can get away with is usually dictated by how regularly you comment on the blog in question. For a good example of this, see my appallingly crude and unsubtle plug on our Christmas Round-up post. No one chucked me off or deleted my comment. Because I’ve earned my stripes. However, it is generally agreed that it is bad taste for even the most regular of readers or members to add an ISBN number. Bad move! And whilst you might get away with a gratuitous plug once, if you pepper every post with them…

“Great post on bird books, readers of this post might be interested in my self-published memoirs Travels across Wales with a three-legged ferret called Bert“.

“Great post on war poets. Readers might be interested in my memoir chronicling my journey with Bert, the 3 legged ferret”

“Hey! Loved the chicklit piece. Readers of chicklit might be interested in my 3-legged ferret memoir, Travels Across Wales with -“

…someone, in the end, is bound to get annoyed.

So, to round off this incredibly unsatisfactory and rather-worse-for-wear and quite hungover post, here is The Tuesday Alternative’s 4 point essential guide to help you plug your literary wares. Good luck and good plugging!

  1. Take a little time to read the post in question. All bloggers are egotists and like to think they are being read. A good tip is to quote a line from the post -just to prove you looked at it long enough at least for the requisite cut n paste – and proceed straight to plug from there.
  2. ISBN numbers are a complete no-no. Bloggers tend to be liberal types who like to pretend they are doing this for passion alone (and not the egotism thing we mentioned earlier). As bloggers blog for no money they tend not to like the idea of anyone else making any – particularly not off the back of their (unpaid) efforts. So, for the sensitive anti-capitalist blogger, make sure you wrap your plug in the most obscure and esoteric rhetoric so you don’t inadvertently draw attention to distasteful realities like the whole selling thing.
  3. Some bloggers, like myself, favour the straightforward approach. Others would prefer you prove yourself first with at least six months worth of commenting on unrelated matters first…Can’t be bothered?  Find the blogs with people like me on them instead.
  4. Flattery will get you anywhere. Neither the straightforward approach nor the obscure waffling-and-engaging approach is as effective as the selling-your-soul-to-a-blogger’s-vanity approach:

“That was an incredible post! Revelatory. Insightful. You have an incredibly perceptive intelligence and I could read blogposts by you til the cows come home! You are the only blogger I read religiously. No one compares to you. I think we might be soul-mates. You have transformed my entire reading experience and I won’t read anything unless it comes recommended by you – life is too short for mediocrity when there is real insight and wisdom to be had. As such I have dedicated my own – oh so humble – work,  Invasion of the Man-Eating Centipedes From Mars to you – available from, price £19.99, ISBN number:…”

(Didn’t I say flattery would get you anywhere?)


* This fabulous photograph is the work and copyright of Clear Inner Vision on Flickr and is reproduced under these restrictions under the Creative Common License.

For an amusing article on Six Stupid Ways to Promote Your Book Online, check out Caroline Rance’s blog

More from The Tuesday Alternative here

42 comments on “The Tuesday Alternative: The Art of Plugging

  1. kirstyjane
    December 16, 2008

    Utterly hilarious, Rosy, and horribly familiar…

  2. Lisa
    December 16, 2008

    Oh how I laughed at this post.

    Flatter, flatter, and etc.

    ISBN-13: 978-1906120153

    P.S I can’t believed you copied and pasted my brilliant blah speech. I was making a valid point about the culture of bleakness and violence in modern literature.

    ISBN-10: 1906120153

  3. kirstyjane
    December 16, 2008

    What about people who plug other people’s books (having none of their own)?

    Incidentally, this is a very interesting piece about plugging books. I recommend Stalin’s Russia as a companion volume to this piece.

  4. rosyb
    December 16, 2008

    Tee hee. ISBN 978-0714531816

    Was Stalin big into plugging his books on bookblogs then, Kirsty? Because that fits strangely well with my forthcoming title…did I ever mention that? It’s called Sadomasoc…Sadomas…

    See, still can’t bring myself to do it.

  5. kirstyjane
    December 16, 2008

    Clearly, comrade Rosy, the only way to find out is to read Stalin’s Russia!

    And OK, I’ll say it:


    Buy it together with Stalin’s Russia and save… uh, time!

  6. Caro
    December 16, 2008

    Great piece, Rosy, and thanks for linking to my blog! As it happens, I’ve written a book too…

  7. rosyb
    December 16, 2008

    Caro, if you don’t leave an ISBN this minute I may have to delete your comment…

    *Finger waving*

  8. Jackie
    December 16, 2008

    Oh Rosy, you’ve outdone yourself this time. That was hilarious! I quite literally doubled over laughing till my eyes watered. Then I’d read the next bit & do it again. That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read on VL. That was great!

  9. Caro
    December 16, 2008

    Oh, yeah, I forgot:

    ISBN: 978-0955861345

    Buy it now!!!

  10. kirstyjane
    December 16, 2008

    If you thought this review was funny, don’t miss next Tuesday’s quasi Russian series slot with my review of Fidel Castro: Biografia a dos voces. 760 pages of pure fun!

    I bet you wish I was joking…

  11. rosyb
    December 16, 2008

    Jackie – that’s a lovely thing to say and you aren’t even plugging anything.

    LOLOLOLOL Kirsty!!! You are outdoing me! (Where’s your ISBN???Hmmmm?)

    Any writers want to comment – you’re not allowed without your ISBN. Now, where again are you going to get an opportunity like that?

    I urge everyone to read Caro’s post. It’s brilliant. Particularly how to respond to criticism on Amazon bit…

  12. kirstyjane
    December 16, 2008


    I borrowed Fidel’s. He won’t mind.

  13. Emma
    December 16, 2008

    cool post url liek my book and my cool blog only $CAN for 20000000000 blu pills thn url be the man the lidies adoor

    Very, very funny, Rosy; is the guy peering down the plug hole waiting for a fox to pop out of it?

  14. BeckyC
    December 16, 2008

    # ISBN-10: 0007300360
    # ISBN-13: 978-0007300365

    (Eh? I don’t know the difference between 10 and 13 – I thought you only got one.)

    My book is so brilliant and amazing that even the title of Rosy’s post has punned on its own title 😉

  15. rosyb
    December 16, 2008

    Emma – you had me there for a minute. I thought we’d opened the floodgates. Is it only me that gets bombarded by penis extensions all the time? (Umm. You know what I mean.)

    Go Becky! Two ISBNs. Very impressive. No one has dared to add an Amazon link yet I notice…even though this post is pretty well giving people permission to go the whole hog, delicate plugging ettiquette reigns. 🙂

  16. Brian Clegg
    December 16, 2008

    I think plugging your blog openly and blatantly is thoughtless and unpleasant. If you keep a close eye on my blog, where I write about the joys of being a full time-ish writer, I think that I will probably soon get round to blogging about this myself.

    Just for safety, if I were you, I would add to you reader list, just to make sure you don’t miss this when I finally get round to it.

    I am doing this because Rosy told me to. I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s all her fault.

    Thank you.

  17. Luisa
    December 16, 2008

    Permission,eeeh?! Buy my book from Amazon:

    Or currently on special offer at Waterstone’s:

    Roll up! Roll up! There will be another one in April!

    Ugh, I need a wash now. 😉

    P.S. Er, yeah, this was truly a great post! And to prove I read it and didn’t just launch into the plug, blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah? Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah? Blah! Blah, blah blah blah; blah blah, blah blah blah. Blah!

  18. Moira
    December 16, 2008

    Where did all these mad people come from? 😯

  19. Susan Conley
    December 16, 2008

    Clearly, I am an amateur at this book promotion lark, as I do not even know my ISBN number.
    But my book is called Drama Queen, published by Little Black Dress Books and available for purchase online and in all good bookshops…
    Oh! And great post Rosy, really, so funny and lucid and trenchant!
    Er, think I got this backwards, eh?

  20. Luisa
    December 16, 2008

    I did mine backwards too. I also feel quite embarrassed now and am wondering whether to ask Rosy to delete it and put in a quiet little ISBN instead.

    Where *did* I come from?! 🙂

    I like the sound of Drama Queen and am off to look it up!

  21. rosyb
    December 16, 2008

    At last – someone really went for it. Luisa definitely wins the plugging prize. Straight in there with the Amazon link.

    Brian. I know. Totally cheap and shallow and disgusting. Did I mention my book already? Out in Feb…Oh and this great blog I write for called Vulpes – oh.

    You DON’T have your ISBN tattooed on your heart, Susan? What an amateur! I’ll have to help you out and plonk it here for you…hang on *huff**puff*

    Ah. Here we are.

    ISBN 978-0755345724

    Anyone else? Don’t be shy. 😉

  22. disgruntled
    December 16, 2008

    who are these people who have memorised their ISBN numbers? Can it really be that I’m too lazy to go and find a copy of my book and type it in?

    it would appear so. But if you follow the link to my blog you’ll see a nice amazon link which is even better because then I get commission as well…

    so, uh, yeah, great post. Insightful. Revelatory, even.

    Will that do?

  23. rosyb
    December 16, 2008

    Poor WordPress can’t cope with this feeding frenzy. We’re having to fish half the comments out of spam.

    An honorable attempt, Disgruntled. But if you can’t trot out your ISBN on demand…hmm – points off. At least you should have got in there with a couple of euphoric quotes about your book. Casually mentioned that it was Radio FiveLive’s Book of the Month…?

    But the REAL trick would have been to quote the post like this:

    “Great post on bird books, readers of this post might be interested in my self-published memoirs Travels across Wales with a three-legged ferret called Bert”

    And said. “Ah, I was interested to see your reference to book birds. My psychological thriller involves birdwatchers and is available from my website which you can click on here…” Touché!

  24. Salvadore Vincent
    December 17, 2008

    I have also gone for the Amazon link plus Amazon commission tag double whammy:

    ISBN: 978-0340955673

    Or come and see the pictures in Foyles’ cafe!

  25. Michelle
    December 17, 2008

    When Kirsty (who writes marvelous things on Russia – read her series told me to check out the article on plugging, I had no idea that it would be so full of whimsy. Of course, it does not quite reach the same level of whimsy as the master of all things whimsical, Dr. Seuss, but it does come close. Speaking of Dr. Seuss, I found an interesting blog piece about one of his books. I highly suggest reading it:

    Psst, Kirsty…how’d I do? 🙂

  26. Emily
    December 17, 2008

    This is so funny, I think everyone should read it – even children…speaking of children, did I mention that I write children’s books?

    ISBN-10: 1407518410
    ISBN-13: 978-1407518411
    ISBN-10: 184646580X
    ISBN-13: 978-1846465802
    ISBN-10: 1846465818
    ISBN-13: 978-1846465819
    ISBN-10: 1846465796
    ISBN-13: 978-1846465796
    ISBN-10: 1846466059
    ISBN-13: 978-1846466052

    Love, Emily “The Plug” Gale

  27. rosyb
    December 17, 2008

    Ok, I think we can safely say that Emily’s just blown Luisa out of the water.

    And lovely to see Salvadore unashamedly putting those links in too. Brave man. In other circumstances the spam filter would have got you. 😉

    So Emily’s Plug Queen. Although Michelle has done the best subtle plug I’ve seen on this thread. (But she is docked points for letting me lose in the comparison with Dr Seuss. IS THIS DR SEUSS’S BLOG? Is DR SEUSS going to do you any FAVOURS round here? I think not! Remember who you’re trying to flatter! Hmmmf.)

  28. clare
    December 17, 2008

    Hahaha, this is hilarious. The funniest thing I’ve ever read on the web. You are a very funny woman, Rosy B. I think you should have a go at writing funny books. I think everything you write must automatically be funny. I would like to have your babies. I think they would be funny.

    Some people say my book, The Dying of Delight, is funny too. It has a very pretty ISBN number. Which I used to know off by heart. I’m ashamed to say I don’t any more… but does anyone really use ISBN numbers to buy books, rather than just typing titles and authors (such as, for instance, ‘The Dying of Delight’ and ‘Clare Sudbery’) into search engines?

  29. Kal Bonner
    December 17, 2008

    After years of living under house arrest, the novel, Climbing A Ladder Backwards is being released in January – ISBN 978-09559863-0-7.

    If the great and cuddly Stephen Fry was to describe this novel – he would no doubt take the opportunity to use a really long and intelligent word like – ‘superkalifragilistickespealidocious’. Though, if he would opt to use this particular spelling is another matter.

    May I also invite you to tune in to my blog I can guarantee, if you can find an aisle long enough, you will be able to roll down it with much merriment and laughter. This guarantee carries a 30 day Monopoly Money back refund, or a plastic hotel on Mayfair.

  30. Michelle
    December 17, 2008

    Oh great and benevolent rosyb, any omission on my part was clearly an extreme oversight that shall be rectified immediately. Clearly your most fantastic blog is beyond comparison. And this piece on the Art of Plugging is by far the most fascinating off all things I’ve recently read. I bow down before your excellence, oh vixen of verbosity.

  31. Violet
    December 17, 2008

    Great post, even great comments. Fortunately I am not a writer so i don’t have to remember or fish out an extremely long ISBN number 🙂

  32. Rosy Thornton
    December 17, 2008

    Hello – great game! Can I play?


  33. Steve Feasey
    December 17, 2008

    Wasn’t Plug the ugly one in The Bash Street Kids?

    Oh, what the hell…

    Buy Changeling for YOUR bash street kids from January 2nd at all leading bookstores and supermarkets.

    ISBN-10: 0330470477
    ISBN-13: 978-0330470476

    I feel quite sullied now (but I’ll get over it – quickly)

  34. Poppy
    December 17, 2008

    Wow – Emily, did you write all them books by yourself ?? Cor!!

  35. Sally
    December 17, 2008

    So … um … I really like your blog … um … I read it religiously … er … it was kind of part of the inspiration for our group children’s author’s blog:

    which has Carnegie Medal winners talking about their typewriters and lots of other children’s authors arguing about fauns with umbrellas. So … um … maybe you could add us to your blogroll? Cos we’re newish and all. And we talk about books. Like you. Who are fab, did I mention that?


  36. RosyB
    December 17, 2008

    Thanks for your plugs everyone. And make sure you check out everyone else’s. Some good-sounding blogs we need to check out too. Will duly do this…

    Thanks for making this thread such a lot of fun. I think the comments have far surpassed the actual piece. 🙂

  37. Emily
    December 17, 2008

    LOL @ Poppy! The books contain about 500 words each 🙂

    Love all the creative replies here.

  38. Jacqui
    December 20, 2008

    Oooooh! I’m so late but ever the opportunist! I just made my blog public. It’s mainly about writig and the writing process but as I’m a narrative psychologist I wander down the path of analysis occasionally!

    Please link to my newish blog:

    LOL! Great thread!

  39. rosyb
    January 6, 2009

    Hey Jacqui – only just seen your comment. (Christmas break.) I read a post from your blog recently which I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for commenting.

  40. Pingback: The Tuesday Alternative: Reviewing and Being Reviewed « Vulpes Libris

  41. Pingback: Making a book magazine | Vulpes Libris

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This entry was posted on December 16, 2008 by in Entries by Rosy, The Tuesday Alternative and tagged , , , .



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