A forum post out of the cyber-ether really irritated me,
and not just because the person who posted was biased against self-publishing.
She was horribly misinformed and self-centered.
Her complaint is about “all these self-published authors begging for likes on their Facebook pages” and that apparently angered her by…okay, I’m not sure how that could bother her so much. Cluttering up her world, I guess. The strength of venom I detected is usually found in a rattler’s fangs. Anyway, let’s flesh out the ugly misconception in her deluded subtext:
1. It’s not just indie authors. All authors with a Facebook page ask for “likes”. The more important likes are the like and buy buttons of our Amazon pages, but we all want to be liked. Most traditionally published authors understand that their publisher’s publicists are already stretched too thin, are often less effective than publicity that comes directly from authors and what resources that are channelled toward their books tend to be minuscule and fleeting.
2. It’s not begging. It’s asking politely and you often get something in exchange, like free entertainment, free education (like this post) and books that are much cheaper than what you’d pay a traditional publisher. All my books are currently priced at $2.99. That’s couch change — an impulse buy — for professionally published books. For less than the cost of one Starbucks coffee you get hours of entertainment I am happy to provide. I am an artist, not a beggar.
I’m not asking for loose change in exchange for nothing. I’m offering you a chance at relaxed Sunday afternoon with a book when it’s too hot to go outside; a cozy read on a winter’s night when you can’t sleep; suspense that won’t let you go to sleep; a euphoric discovery that will delight you and might even change you. Yeah, you betcha that’s a bargain. If you refuse, no hard feelings.
3. Providing you with information or the opportunity to help out is not spam. It’s a question you don’t even have to answer. Get over yourself or turn off your Internet connection and take a break. I’m sorry the world isn’t catering to you. It’s not catering to me, either, but I suspect I hate fewer people than you do. I’d define spam as bombarding people with ads that provide no value, are out to scam you and a steady stream of blaring that gives you no opportunity to opt out. (i.e. You don’t get to complain if you decide for yourself you’re going to read it.)
4. Ignoring the request takes nothing from you. Simply ignoring a request takes the bare minimum of tolerance. This person must be a nightmare in real life. How would she handle a real problem?
5. Why all the animus toward authors? Helping out costs nothing and I don’t think authors have any bad feelings toward those who don’t bother to “like” their books on Amazon, click “Agree with these tags” button on Amazon (it’s toward the bottom of each sales page) and “like” their Facebook page. (Thanks for helping to spread the word. And if you didn’t, no hard feelings.)
6. Ads are only irritating if you aren’t interested. On the computer, I click away. If assailed by the TV, I ignore it, fast forward, check my email or get up from the couch and get a glass of water. Indie authors (well, everyone) deserve more compassion than the complainer was willing to bestow. Sadly because the complainer might even love our work if she gave it a chance.
7. Despite my frustrated tone here, I know authors are not entitled to sales any more than Wal-mart or Toyota “deserves” your sales. We don’t even “deserve” your attention. That’s the myth of the entitled author I hear so much about. I honestly haven’t met many authors who suffer that delusion.
We get it. It’s a book. To most, “just” a book. We write them and lots of people don’t care. A lot of people don’t even read! Still, we stand behind our work and hope to find our audience. We hope our audience finds us. If I’m speaking to a crowd, I’m not speaking to everyone and I know it. Please be patient and polite while I direct my audience toward my books. I promise I won’t take long doing it and I’ll be as entertaining and quick as I can as I ask these things. You can always opt out.
Whether you’re indie or traditionally published, the promotion for your book really is up to you, your tribe, your followers and your readers. Publishers do very little for most authors. Stephen King gets a big promotional budget. That’s right. The authors who need the promotion least get the biggest boost because it’s a simple business decision: the publisher banks on the biggest title. Big publisher or small, these are the evaluations we all have to make.
I make that same evaluation every week. I have two very new titles just released in June. One is a short story
collection bundled with a novella, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. The other is my crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesus, the first in a series. Which do I spend my limited resources promoting? Obviously, the crime thriller.
No short story collection will sell as well as a thriller. In all likelihood, my short story collections’ sales (there are three collections in all) will come after readers decide they like my flavor by discovering the novel. Some of the stories include characters and references that cross books, so there’s cross-pollination going on, too. The short story collections are great, but they’re harder to sell (though they will be a valuable long term sales avenue.)
Yes, we have to interact and connect and make connections and help others to be heard.
Endure a little promotion amid all that for art’s sake.
Everybody’s trying to make a living
and civility is the grease to the gears of civilization.
- AB Challenge 24: More on Free Books. Moron Free Books. (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 What I’ll soon do differently with my book promotion (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Writing Books on Writing (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Can you blog a book? Sure you can. (chazzwrites.com)