Are Indie-Authors Becoming the Whores of Social Media?

27 06 2013

In the next few weeks, PDP will launch a series of pages, articles and resources aimed at assisting Indie-Authors.

Here is the blurb from our Indie-Author Hangout:

Paddy’s Daddy Publishing was established to seek out those authors whose stories excited us rather than only those deemed commercial as can be the case with larger publishers.

Whilst we whole-heartedly support our publishing model and are committed to our authors, we also recognise that there is a place and a need for the Indie-Author.

As a former Indie-Author and a great believer in empowering authors, our founder Mark Wilson is dedicated to lending the support of our company to developing Indie-Authors. Too many Indie-Authors and other industry professionals are far too slow to share the benefit of their experience and resources with emerging Indie-Authors.

We believe in supporting new talent.

With this in mind, we’ve filled these pages with advice, links and resources on all aspects of the Indie-Author experience including features on editing, book cover design, formatting, marketing and promotion.

We want to assist you in producing a high quality Indie Publication. The writing’s up to you, but you can and should seek advice on production.

The following article is from Mark Wilson, Founder of Paddy’s Daddy Publishing:

Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

Are Indie-Authors the whores, or perhaps the beggars of social media?

I’m beginning to think we are you know.

Since the very day I stepped into the world of self-publishing/e-publishing/Indie-publishing, whatever and published my short-story collection Paddy’s Daddy, followed by my full length novels, Bobby’s Boy and Naebody’s Hero, I’ve had my metaphorical backside in the air on twitter, along with every other indie-author, in an effort to attract readers. Mostly I attract other authors, trying to attract readers.

Tweet/retweet/reply; lather, rinse repeat has become the currency and prime strategy of the indie author. We (the authors) have become the modern day equivalent of the ancient tradition where the poor soul would sit outside the temple reciting “Alms for the blind?” Either that or we’re the tweet equivalent of fluorescent-wearing chuggers on the high street, chasing some poor bas down the road for a couple of quid royalty. The problem is, when we catch them we discover that they’re one of us, and so we gather number like zombies, but rather than a mouthful of flesh, we want readers.

The twitter-sphere is saturated with link-posting authors, each in the desperate and futile act of pimping their books, ultimately to each other.

—I’ll retweet your brains out, but only if you retweet me first

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Indie publishing should have empowered us, instead we chase potential readers and each other in circles. We sit with a wee sign up saying;

“buy a book from X, his writing’s great, just ask him, he’s over there. Oh, and he’ll tell you the same about my book, so come back here when you’ve seen him. What’s that? You’re a writer? Well, c’mere and I’ll retweet you then, but back of the queue first.”

I’m all for supporting authors; I set up my fledgling publishing company, precisely for this purpose and I’m certainly not against some constructive cross-promotion, in fact I believe this type of network is essential, but it must be done smartly and targeted at the very people who we want to enjoy our books.

The current state of tweet/promo is so constant, so ubiquitous, so time-consuming and soul destroying; and ultimately so unimaginative and futile.

Link after link, after link of;

“My book’s free, mine’s only 99 cents, mines is a series, etc”.

It’s become such a clichéd strategy, but it seems that we are all stuck in the cycle because the pioneers of self-publishing, or dickhead profiteers like John Locke, say that it’s how it’s done. Guys like Steven Lewis (@Rule17) are a rare and welcome exception, offering much in the way of valid, constructive and useful advice on self-publishing.

I say no.

I say that it’s a lazy and arrogant way to promote your books. I say rediscover the creative spark that so easily comes when you write and apply it to your marketing and promotion. Limit your tweets to actual social interaction with one in twenty a link to your product. Instead of spamming, let’s have honest to goodness thoughts about life, books, movies, music, the news, whatever floats your boat. People know you’re an author, its’ right there in your profile, if they like you they’ll go check out your website anyway without you filling their newsfeed with begging tweets.

Engage with your “followers”. Retweet away ‘til your hearts’ content, but pass on fun things people say or do; or useful links that’ll help other authors. Post ridiculous pics of yourself, have a conversation, by Christ have some fun!

Stop self-promoting under the umbrella of promoting others. We’re not buying each others’ books, but we’re tweeting and retweeting the same tired links around each other. Put those creative thoughts out there in conversation. Engage your followers and they just might become readers.

In the last few years I’ve written two novels, a short story collection and a novella. In marketing these, I’ve researched thoroughly each category I wsih them to be placed in, listed targeted keywords and placed the book where I think readers who’ll actually enjoy my book might find it.

I’ve done Speeches at a variety of venues on a range of topics including writing. I’ve been on blog tours, promo interviews, been in several newspapers several times. I’ve handed out flyers and dozens of other strategies. None of this makes much of a difference to sales out-with a minor, short-lived boost. What it has done is build me a network of contacts, people who are happy to support my next project and get each book a little exposure. It has helped me build a readership and brought me a load of new friends who again are so very supportive.

Many authors I’ve met on twitter also are constructively aiding each other, offering tips on promo, formatting, reviews, beta-reading etc. This is an absolutely invaluable support and one I’m looking at incorporating into the company’s structure.

Here’s what I’ve found makes a significant and recurring difference in sales:

Keep writing quality stories, get them edited well and get a professional cover. Give your reader value.

Target the right categories and readers. Do your research on keywords and phrases and place your book in the right shop window.

Don’t rely on social media. Less than 0.01% of this you pester will actually click on your link to your book. Only a small fraction of those will actually buy. Tweeting “here’s my book, buy it,” fifty times a day is like throwing adverts written on confetti and hoping one person in ten thousand reads it after picking it off their jacket; and that one person in a hundred thousand, follows the link to your book.

Look at the long game. Your book, if it’s well written, will be there forever, build momentum based on real readers feedback and reviews and your developing skill as a writer. Don’t expect continued and sustained sales from the tweet/retweet jerk-circle. It’s a self-limiting and ultimately self-sabotaging type of promotion. When real readers discover your book and find that your review ratings are over-inflated by glowing reviews from other writers, they’ll soon make their displeasure known.

Give reviews to each other, but make them honest and therefore of value. Don’t worry about giving a book three or four stars, or receiving this rating for yours, ultimately this shows the reader balanced reviews. If you read a book and it’s so awful that you can’t rate it htree or above, contact your fellow author asnd expain why you won’t post your reiew. Offer some constructive advice.

Include targeted links to each other’s books at the rear of your own book. Make it relatable, if your book is a crime thriller, add a blurb and a link to another writer’s crime thriller book at the end of yours, but select carefully, make sure you’ve read the book and that you’d buy it yourself first.

Please fellow writers; let’s stop being the biggest spam source in the whole twitter-sphere. Rely on your blogs, websites and most of all, novels to do the selling and just enjoy the social media for what it was intended. Being sociable.

You can find Mark’s Books at Amazon, UK or Amazon, US and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing here





One response

3 07 2013
Wannabe Writer Wednesday: An interview with Mark L. Anderson | Write on the World

[…] Are Indie-Authors Becoming the Whores of Social Media? ( […]

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