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Rants: OT & OTT > Goodreads author Q&A groups

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message 1: by Alain (new)

Alain Gomez | 45 comments Ok let's be real here: every author wants one of these things made for them (I want to talk about me!) but you would have to be either raking in trucks of money every hour or a pretentious a** to make one for yourself.

At what point do you cross that line? Say I made $10 a day on books and made a group about myself. Ugh! What a snob! She's so full of herself.

Now I make $1000 a day on books and make a group about myself. It's so awesome that she made that group! She really goes out of her way to get in touch with her readers.


message 2: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
I don't think it's about being pretentious Alain. If it was, I wouldn't read the stuff Andre posts on his blog, I wouldn't read Christopher's or the host of other author blogs that I keep up with. I like it when authors talk about themselves and their works. If you didn't, I would probably not take an interest in your work.

You know what makes an online presence really work for me? When you take the time to contact an author and talk to him or her about what you have read, asking questions. I've even had an author go so far as to get his agent involved because I couldn't get his books on Amazon as they weren't available in my region. I've since made the effort to purchase all three in print purely due to his effort.


message 3: by Alain (new)

Alain Gomez | 45 comments True. I'm just ranting about that fine line, you know? How much is too much? Yet, too little and you'll never get noticed.


message 4: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Well, Indie authors are their own best tool for promoting their works. I don't think there is a line? To what extent would publishing houses go to promote their stable?


message 5: by Patricia (last edited Jul 06, 2011 08:10AM) (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments For the most part, publishing houses don't do anything to promote their authors. It's the top ones who get the promotional dollars -- the very people who probably don't need the publisher's support.

This is only a guess, but I would suspect that the author who promotes endlessly is the author who'll sell books (see John Locke's book about selling ebooks for a counter to that statement). But many authors don't feel comfortable doing that, or they don't have the knack. I spent many years promoting corporate images and goods for others, yet find it just about impossible to do the same for myself.

Claudine, that's a nice story about the author and agent making sure you could get the books.


message 6: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Yes they both really bent over backwards. I had the guy at my local bookstore order them direct. They arrived pretty promptly. I was most surprised he even took the time to answer my email.


message 7: by Alain (new)

Alain Gomez | 45 comments Claudine wrote: "Well, Indie authors are their own best tool for promoting their works. I don't think there is a line? To what extent would publishing houses go to promote their stable?"

See, I don't know about this. It's that whole bad publicity is good publicity approach. P*ssing off people will definitely get you noticed. Does that ever come back to bite you, though? Or, more importantly, does it close more doors than it opens?

Hard to say.

Really it just comes down to being very, VERY confident in your product lol.


message 8: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I'm on a couple of those Q & A things with other writers, and those work to a certain extent because they've branched out into other subjects and the writers don't try to keep bringing them back to their books. Even the owners of successful Q&A sites would get more exposure by joining ROBUST and just being themselves.

***
There's an indie misapprehension that "the author lifestyle" involves meeting lots of your readers, having signings, etc. It's bullshit, a total waste of time, as is library readings, talks, kaffeeklatsches, everything that tries to retail books. All that crap is egotripping for inferior people (whatever their quality as writers), or makework for inferior publicists. I laugh aloud when I read about an indie duplicating that waste of time because he thinks "the author lifestyle" makes him "an author".

A writer of books is a wholesaler of tales and ideas. Radio, television and the press might do him some good, but only in the long term for name recognition. Only naifs expect any of that to sell individual books in any traceable manner.

However, a blog is, as Claudine hints, a super way of building longterm name recognition and, in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter, a good way of building up a new novel to the point where it is self-sustaining.

All the same, nothing sells better than a second book, except a third, fourth, fifth, nth book.

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There is a very large difference in the quality of the interaction between writer and reader on the net, compared to the book signing, etc. If the writer is like me, and doesn't care who he pisses off, you can have a meaningful discussion, as we have here on ROBUST all the time, even about small things. It seems to me that the net, for the first time, makes a small amount of handselling both efficient and possibly desirable as pump priming.

But even so, Amazon is clearly a minefield for intellectuals, deliberately dumbed down by Amazon turning the most pompous and humourless of their customers into dull little tyrants, whose entire raison d'etre -- on a bookseller's site! -- now seems to be that they hate authors. And it is clear to me that any overly commercial site will have a large politically-correct element in its moderation.

***

I think Alain has it right. Those Q&A work for writers who don't need them, and are at least awkward for writers who still need them. Better to start or join a site where writers and readers of like mind can meet and discuss anything, like this one or Seb Kirby's site, and eventually everyone will know who the writers are.

***

Frankly, I'm only here because I like good conversation. I don't believe in force-selling books (I'd rather give them away to opinion-formers), and I don't think ROBUST by itself can be used to sell a lot books in the short term. But in the long term, ask yourself a simple question: who will not recognize the names of the contributors to an engaging place like ROBUST when they see them again in a few months or even a few years?

***

Of course, this assumes your books are good, and your blog is worth reading.

***

Alain wants to know whether it matters if you piss people off. Sure, you might lose sales. So what? You'll lose more sales if you try to pretend to be nicer or more agreeable or cleverer or whatever than you really are. Readers are not stupid: they will find you out, and they will punish you for insincerity. In any event, consider the people you normally piss off: would you like them as your bookbuyers? The sort of people I normally piss off -- in droves! -- are the humourless and the pompous and the frightened, who all think, before I open my mouth, that I'm sending them up or patronizing them or sneering at them. I don't want them as my readers because they are exactly the people who don't get my books, and complain that they can't see what "the elite" sees in my books. This is a major consideration now that everyone can go on Amazon and write a bad review. (Compare the old days, when we knew for a fact that the important reviewers on the papers of record were guys just like us, very likely alumni of my own colleges, absolutely certain to get the point and admire it hugely.) I'd rather piss off the readers I don't want up front so they don't buy my book in the first instance than take the risk of upsetting someone who will never be onside with me. In that sense a writer's blog, and the forum where he makes his base, acts as a filter to warn off potential one-stars. Considering where ebooks are heading, that is a major gain in market-shaping.

And meanwhile you lot are entertaining and educating me free of charge. Looks like a good deal to me.


message 9: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments Andre, you have that funny little rectangle with the IO symbols showing up in your post again. Wonder what that is...

Anybody here read John Locke's book about selling ebooks? He and Andre think alike.


message 10: by Alain (new)

Alain Gomez | 45 comments Andre, you bring up several good points. I think you begin to touch on what was probably my original point: are you selling yourself or the books?

Personally I think one should sell books. "Your name" is really just that. It's a name on a book. People recognize a name and then associate it with a certain quality/style of writing. I don't think that potential customers are looking for books written by the nicest person.

HOWEVER... I think that while "nice" might not get you very far, at least you don't lose customers. If a customer knows nothing about an author, they would be willing to invest. P*ss off enough people and there will soon be droves walking by saying "Oh I heard about that author! What a jerk! There's no way I'm giving him my money."

Just playing devil's advocate.


message 11: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I'm not suggesting that you deliberately piss off customers by being obnoxious. What I'm saying is that if you're false, readers will find you out anyway, and punish you for it. You won't get away with it in the long term. I see these indies being wishy-washy, trying not to offend anyone, and I give their books the same wide berth I give them. I suspect the readers of my books are equally sparing with their time.

About selling yourself or books, I'm firmly of the opinion that you sell books. I don't care how nice you are, nice won't get you a third and a tenth book sale if the first two books are rubbish.


message 12: by Will (new)

Will Granger | 91 comments Alain,
Creating a Q&A group or a blog are legitimate ways to promote yourself and your books. No one else will promote your stuff in this new ebook business - we are all trying to find the best way to get our books read.
As for pissing people off, I think you have to write what you want to. I never hold back because I think I might piss someone off. In fact, I sort of like it when my family looks at me a bit strange when they read my stories or when I tell them about some of my ideas. I can't imagine trying to make it as a writer without being honest. I don't expect everyone to like my stories.


message 13: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments There does seem to be a very fine line between putting your book 'out there' and annoying people. Facebook, it seems, has started putting limitations on how many times you can link to your book there, though I only have that on hearsay rather than experience. (Does that mean I'm not advertising my book enough?)

Personally, I am put off buying a book from someone who constantly cites their huge sales figures, but then turns out to have used 'questionable' means to attain them. I'm also put off by authors who have a holier-than-thou attitude, who belittle my attempts. I know I'm a novice at marketing. Yes, tell me if I'm making a huge error of judgement, but don't look down your nose at me and make me feel a fool in public. (That's not directed at anyone here).

On the other hand, I will more likely buy the book of the one who lends me a hand with no expectation of reciprocation. Or the one who talks to me as a person rather than as a possible reader. Those people can talk about their book as much as they like because I can see them as human beings as well as writers.


message 14: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Katie, I fully agree with this :

On the other hand, I will more likely buy the book of the one who lends me a hand with no expectation of reciprocation. Or the one who talks to me as a person rather than as a possible reader. Those people can talk about their book as much as they like because I can see them as human beings as well as writers.

Which is most likely why I will continue buying the author's books who took the time out to get his agent involved in my really small request.


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