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Writers - How and how not to involve readers

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message 1: by Seb (last edited Jan 19, 2011 12:24PM) (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Hi everyone!

A place to comment on anything of interest. And to catch up on what's been happening .....

The discussion threads on amazon are fine but too constrained by amazon rules (that I don't think anyone quite understands). And though FB 'Writing Kindle Books' is excellent, there is something to be said for a straightforward discussion board. So, the idea is to see if Goodreads is a good home for that.

To kick things off, I'd like to try to summarise what I've learned as a new Kindle author in our excellent discussion over the past few weeks. You have all been so generous in your advice and assistance - and thrown a little self promo into the mix once in a while!

So, to begin a little at a time

Be patient. That was a really valuable piece of advice. We're out on Kindle. We've been given the chance to be successful and we want to get there as quickly as we can. But no-one is going to do promotion for us - we have to do it for ourselves. The world of self promo beckons. However, we need to be patient and not spend all our waking hours doing promo. An outsider might say that this is the most immersive, real life computer game ever devised and we are well and truly caught up in it. However, we know different!

Seb


message 2: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Clayton (goodreadscommelinda_clayton) | 21 comments Thanks for starting this, Seb. I agree, for whatever reason Amazon didn't seem the place to start discussions regarding marketing, etc. It's good to be here.
Melinda


message 3: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Melinda

Good to see you here!

Seb


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Gottfried (westofmars) | 9 comments I think this could be good. These sorts of discussions are ongoing over at Bestseller Bound, also, so stop in and make yourselves at home, guys!


message 5: by Melinda (new)

Melinda Clayton (goodreadscommelinda_clayton) | 21 comments Thanks, Susan!


message 6: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I think this could be good. These sorts of discussions are ongoing over at Bestseller Bound, also, so stop in and make yourselves at home, guys!"

Susan

Hi!

Bestseller Bound is great. I'm planning to spend more time there

Seb

Take No More


message 7: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
What I've picked up so far (2)

The playing field at amazon is not even.

What anyone would do is to launch their book for free, see it rise in the amazon charts, then gradually increase the price until the sweet spot is reached while sales still continue at a high level. But amazon allows a lowest price only of $0.99 (or the UK equivalent) and at that level only 30% royalty, so you can't do that.

However, it seems that amazon does make arrangements with large publishers to allow exactly the above to take place. The big publishers get their authors in the bestseller charts and they continue to dominate the market, especially in the US. OK, this is a commercial decision that amazon makes. It's their show after all.

Nonetheless, we indie authors are at a disadvantage. Perhaps it's a case of: tough - we just have to work harder?

Meanwhile, the deal is extended to certain indie authors, perhaps when their sales reach a certain high level? So, for example, at amazon UK, Stephen Leather currently has one of his Dan Shepherd mysteries 'Hard Landing' on sale at 0.46 GBP (that's about $0.60) and is #4 in Crime and Thrillers. But no-one seems to now how this happens.

Seb

Take No More

Hard Landing


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan Gottfried (westofmars) | 9 comments Yep. Amazon's NEVER been friendly to the author or small publisher. I held out from playing with them as long as I could, but the popularity of the Kindle Boards, for instance, make it a necessary evil.

That's why you're seeing many of us team up -- like at Bestseller Bound -- to help each other promote. Best of all, in that group, I've found some really good writers I'm proud to call friends.

The sales and notice would be nice, but friends trump all the rest. Or so I keep trying to convince myself...


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark Adair (markadairauthor) | 17 comments In all fairness to Amazon, they're in it to make money and the playing field is not even anywhere in a money driven society - the money goes with the safe bet. Whether starting a new business or starting out as an unknown author, the probability of financial success (making a living) is not that great. I do think we have to be in it for the long haul. Like in any other business we have to be patient, develop relationships, help others, promote often, etc.

I don't really like self-promotion and there's so many different places to promote that it can be easily overwhelming. However, short of an old-school, big, fat publishing contract, at least we have an alternative, right? For years, we didn't.

And as Susan mentioned, places where indie writers can team up seem to make the pathway smoother.


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan Gottfried (westofmars) | 9 comments If not smoother, then definitely more fun, Mark! And you're right. Self-promotion gets VERY overwhelming. (she says as she eyes the open tab in Firefox that are awaiting her attention.)


message 11: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Agreed!

In another age you had communities of artists and writers; at its best this could be the cyber equivalent of that with Bestseller Bound and Writing Kindle Books acting as the glue.

Susan, interesting what you say about Kindle Boards. I haven't done much there - looks daunting.

Oh, one last thing, does anyone know how to invite people who are already on Goodreads to join a group like this? Seems like you have to have their email to make an invite.

Seb


message 12: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
What I've picked up so far (3)

I guess we all know Stephen King's 'On Writing'

Arguably one of the most successful thriller writers of the past 30 years, Stephen is adamant on the importance for writers of *reading*. For example:

"You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it's true. If I had a nickel for every person who told me he/she wanted to become a writer but 'didn't have time to read,' I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on the subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

"Reading is the creative center of a writer's life. I take a book with me everywhere I go and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.... the real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing....... It (also) offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn't, what is true and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page." (pp 167 - 171)

Hard words, perhaps, but probably true.

So where is the time to do this as well as write and do self promo? Stephen King later publishes his list of books that he read in a 'three to four year period' during which he wrote three novels of this own - there are over 100 novels in that list! (OK, he did not have to do his own promo, but I hope you get the point).

But then we have Kindle. I can take all the stuff I want to read with me and 'dip in' whenever there is a moment. (Right now I'm reading Robert Harris 'Enigma', Charles Dickens 'Hunted Down', Marel Proust 'Swann's Way' on my Kindle, but there should be some indie authors on there for sure).

My view is that the advantage that we have as indie authors on Kindle is that we can (and should) read each other's books. If you are reading two or three books right now, one of them c(sh)ould be from an indie author. There is nothing more in keeping with Stephen King's advice than that. And nothing more straightforward than a group of people all interested in writing, communicating with each other about what they are interested in and getting a good experience from doing that.

If I can work out how Goodreads connects authors with writers, this should be the place to be.

Yet on that point; the author groups are full of authors doing their self promo. The reader groups look as if they would *die* if a self promo author dropped in. Where is the meeting point?

Seb

Take No More


message 13: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Comley (melcom) | 1 comments Hi Seb and the rest of the gang!

I used to advertise on the kindle boards a lot, but now I find interacting with the readers far more enjoyable and seem to be reaping the rewards as sales are steadily increasing.

I've been registered here for about three months now and it seems a massive site to negotiate. I'm hoping to get more involved with both this site and Bestseller Bound once my sequel is ready to upload to kindle and the other e-readers around.

Great idea setting up this group and I wish you much success with it.

Melx

Impeding Justice


message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan Gottfried (westofmars) | 9 comments Seb, one way to find the middle ground is to join the reader groups and *be a reader*. As writers, we all read voraciously anyway, right? So go hang out, talk about books, find people who like what you like to read (and what you like to write -- see how that's an afterthought?). When the opportunity for self-promo comes up, you'll be a lot more comfortable taking it and the rest of the group will be a lot more comfortable receiving it 'cause they know you. You'll be an established part of the group.


message 15: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Mel

Good to hear from you!

And congrats again on your recent success and on the sequel!

Finding a way around GRs and interacting with readers.....

Is there a way of structuring this Group and the discussions in it so that it attracts readers? We share the same interest - writing, promoting - so it's always going to be easier talking with other writers. Does the idea of being able to talk to an author seem attractive to readers?

Seb

Take No More


message 16: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Susan

Hi.

join the reader groups and *be a reader*......

That's really good advice. It's a real test of whether we are serious about being readers as well as writers.

Seb

Take No More


message 17: by Grace (new)

Grace Elliot (httpwwwgoodreadscomgraceelliot) | 1 comments Dang! Started a comment, pressed the wrong key and it disappeared! Second time lucky.
Loving this thread and will be looking into Best Seller Bound when I leave Goodreads!
Just a quickie (for moral support) When you say 'Be patient' - how patient is patient. My debut book came out in October and from a standing start I've been networking, developing my blog http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com if you are interested - guest bloggers welcome - and splitting my time between networking and writing. But all for barely double figure sales a month (and believe me I grateful for that!)
How long and how much effort have you folk put in?
Grace x


message 18: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Hi, Grace,

On being patient, one view is that you are building something for a long term future of your work. Quick success usually doesn't lead to longevity. On the other hand, if you develop a firm base, then you should be more successful in the long term. So, even though sales are small right now, I would suggest looking at the percentage growth month on month. If that's increasing, even from a very low base, you must be doing something right. And here's no reason why that shouldn't continue al the way up to high sales in the future.

That's the theory, anyhow. Mind you, if someone came along and showed me how to get a sudden surge in sales, I wouldn't say no!


message 19: by Gail (new)

Gail Baugniet | 8 comments Finally read all of the interesting and useful information offered above. The publishing industry is complicated and I'm still learning so I'll continue to accept all the advice offered.


message 20: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Hi, Gail

Nice to meet you!

Seb.

Take No More


message 21: by Gail (new)

Gail Baugniet | 8 comments Seb wrote: "Hi, Gail

Nice to meet you!

Seb.

Thanks, Seb.
Is there a section on Goodreads where I can tell about my newly self-published trade book and Kindle version.
Thanks,
Gail



message 22: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 52 comments Seb asked me a couple of questions about my novel IDITAROD on Amazon's Kindle Discussion Forum in his thread "Thrillers on Kindle", which he tends constantly, like a good gardener.

I took some care of over my replies, and have since used Seb's questions and these replies on my blog, on the Kindleboards, on The Indie Spot (a board I recommend for intellectual discussion and freedom from fear - the moderators are not seen except if called for assistance) and here on Goodreads at
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5... -- the second and third messages down.

We'll see if they get any response here, but on my blog
http://coolmainpress.com/ajwriting/ar...
there are already two comments, within minutes (this is rare for my blog, because the same material is seen and commented on so widely elsewhere).

The truth is that you don't really know what you know until someone asks you. Seb asked just the right questions to get responses that connected with my readers.

Thanks, Seb!


message 23: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Gail

You can post author details and book details here:

http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/7...

Good luck in promoting your book!

Seb


message 24: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Andre

I loved the site and the links into videos on the IDITAROD site.

I'm mightily impressed that you made the run yourself. That's real dedication to the writer's craft!

Best wishes


Seb


message 25: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 52 comments Seb: Whoa! No I didn't enter the race. I made some shorter sled dog runs to get the feeling of handling the dogs and caring for them. I'm a transocean sailor and a polo player, and used to be a rugby player, but a runner I'm not. -- Andre


message 26: by Gail (new)

Gail Baugniet | 8 comments Thanks, Seb. Found it!


message 27: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Andre

I still think that's real dedication!

Seb

p.s. Transocean sailor?


message 28: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 52 comments Seb wrote: "Andre

I still think that's real dedication!

Seb

p.s. Transocean sailor?"


The line between dedication and obsession is invisible...

Ships, not dinghies. Around the world, around Cape Horn, from Cape Town to Rio several times.


message 29: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Andre, There should be much material for writing in that!


message 30: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 52 comments Seb wrote: "Andre, There should be much material for writing in that!"

Here in Ireland they say, "I know," the "know" drawn out in a sympathetic voice. So many books to write, so little time...


message 31: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
I thought it might be a good idea to give this thread a new shot in the arm. It had slipped down the listing into oblivion and does not deserve that.

There's always room for a place like this where you can sound off about anything that you need to sound off about.

So, what are your hot topics right now?


message 32: by Randy (new)

Randy Attwood (randyatwood) | 28 comments Boy, I came away with my encounter on Amazon forum boards with a bloody nose, though I do think I held my own for Indie writers pretty well. What a nasty bunch:

http://forums.kindledirectpublishing....


message 33: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Randy

I'm just amazed that you've found a forum (kindle direct publishing ) that I didn't know about!

What are the 'rules' like there?

Best wishes



Seb


message 34: by Randy (new)

Randy Attwood (randyatwood) | 28 comments I guess I didn't stick around to find out. Doubt I'll go back!


message 35: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Randy

Found this:

http://forums.kindledirectpublishing....𜗡

Seems you can promote your book(s) there.


message 36: by Libby (new)

Libby My latest blog post... except I don't think you'll like it much. But would love some comments.

"Too Much of a Good Thing?" at SAY THE WORD. bit.ly/qrqdt7


message 37: by Sandy (new)

Sandy (sandynathan) | 2 comments "The line between dedication and obsession is invisible..." I love it! Obsession is a requirement for the successful author/writer.

Seb, I've found two threads of yours. They're the only times/places I've felt interested in or welcomed by anything on Goodreads. Bravo! Now I'm going to read about Randy's bloody nose on KindleDirect and then tackle the proofreading of one of my new manuscripts.

Sandy


message 38: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) | 109 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Seb: Whoa! No I didn't enter the race. I made some shorter sled dog runs to get the feeling of handling the dogs and caring for them. I'm a transocean sailor and a polo player, and used to be a rug..."

Andre, ever sailed the Whitbread?

Best,

Larry


message 39: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebkirby) | 339 comments Mod
Sandy

That's very kind!

Good luck with the proofreading. Sounds like you may have something new to announce.......

Best wishes


Seb


message 40: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 52 comments Larry wrote: "Andre Jute wrote: "Seb: Whoa! No I didn't enter the race. I made some shorter sled dog runs to get the feeling of handling the dogs and caring for them. I'm a transocean sailor and a polo player, a..."

Hey, Larry, you're back! No, I didn't sail the Whitbread. In the long ago and far away, I worked for Whitbread though (more precisely, I was on loan to them from my ad agency). And, come to think of it, I was on a 47ft Swan that the owner, who insisted he was the best helmsman aboard, gave closer acquaintanceship with the Mull of Kintyre than any decent ship needs. An expensive bit of driving, that.


message 41: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 52 comments Seb wrote: "Randy

I'm just amazed that you've found a forum (kindle direct publishing ) that I didn't know about!

What are the 'rules' like there?

Best wishes

Seb"


I'm not surprised Randy received a bloody nose on the KDP forum for trying to promote his book. There are no readers there, only writers, and the purpose of the forum is to share technical insights into formatting AZW books. It's a waste of everyone's time for Randy to try flogging his book there.

I found the KDP forum very friendly and productive.


message 42: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) | 109 comments Seb wrote: "What I've picked up so far (3)

I guess we all know Stephen King's 'On Writing'

Arguably one of the most successful thriller writers of the past 30 years, Stephen is adamant on the importance for ..."


Seb, not sure if there is a meeting point after several months on here. To me, Goodreads has evolved into a more focused version of FaceBook. Lots of chatter about nothing but still swirling around the open drain of books. Quite a few of the readers I've encountered resent authors, especially experienced authors who disagree with their preconceived notions of the publishing industry (of which I've been a member in various capacities for more than 45 years). Many also feel books should either be free or sell for no more than 99 cents and they don't care that an author spent months or years of his/her life carefully crafting a QUALITY offering.
It wouldn't be so bad if readers stayed in the reader forums, but when there's no prohibition, they drift into the writers forums and make useless comments that don't advance the thread. I just pulled a thread of mine in an author forum because it was glutted with readers who tried to keep twisting the topic to fit their own desires. I'd love to find a satisfactory alternative to Goodreads.

If you seek an "authors only" forum, I've started one called Published Authors Biz.

Best,


message 43: by Larry (last edited Oct 31, 2011 09:25AM) (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) | 109 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Larry wrote: "Andre Jute wrote: "Seb: Whoa! No I didn't enter the race. I made some shorter sled dog runs to get the feeling of handling the dogs and caring for them. I'm a transocean sailor and a ..."

Andre, yeah, I rather got sucked back in with all that's going on in the publishing industry, but still get driven nuts by some of the know-it-all attitudes of some readers.

Actually, I asked because a few years ago Vladislav Murnikov sent me his book "Race to Freedom" in which he describes his Whitbread race aboard Fazisi. More cold white water than I'd ever care to sail. :-)


message 44: by Nick (new)

Nick Wastnage (nickwastnage) | 16 comments Having just come back to Goodreads, I was pleased to read all this talk about sailing. I haven't done the Whitbread, but did the Fastnet race once, which was a bit scarry: another story.

I've been 'round the kindle, nook boards and and amazon forums and would agree with many of the comments, Goodreads is a much friendlier and interesting place. But I still post on the kindleboards. I think it's a necessary evil in the constant promotional merry-go-round. Jump off, at your peril, I think.


message 45: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) | 109 comments Nick wrote: "Having just come back to Goodreads, I was pleased to read all this talk about sailing. I haven't done the Whitbread, but did the Fastnet race once, which was a bit scarry: another story.

I've been..."


Nick, good point.


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