C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: Are you in the echo chamber?

I love my writing community here. I’ve learned a lot from others and, as indies, we share a lot of information. We’re a generous bunch with each other. I appreciate your comments and participation on my little writing and publishing blog. Because I’m a sweet bunny pooping love everywhere, I have to tell you something with love:

Writers talk to other writers too much. We must talk to readers more.

Let’s make this go down easy by using an example from another industry.

When massage therapists try to figure out their businesses, they ask their peers and senior massage therapists for their opinions. They want to drink from the well of experience. It’s a good notion that frequently goes awry. Their peers are often as clueless as they are and senior therapists either don’t have the same problems or their advice is out of date. Take pricing, for example. They’ll set fees based on what they’d pay. But many massage therapists would never pay for massage. They don’t have enough money or they swap treatments with other therapists. Massage treatment is for people with real jobs and insurance coverage, not us.

Stick with me and hold my hand, because this is about to get uncomfortable.

Writers need to listen to readers more.

Sadly, writers often don’t have much money to spare so we use libraries or search for free a lot. Most of us buy books when we can, but with budgets as tight as they are, we’re often not your audience. As a result, many of our industry’s book prices are artificially depressed. We’re asking the wrong audience what we should do. (I’ve taken this advice. I just raised prices on some of my books and generally, the trend will be up.)

A veteran writer who’s “made it” (whatever that means) often doesn’t know all the variables that contributed to his or her success. If someone coasted to indie success from a high in traditional publishing, they can’t tell you much about the current scene. Precious few people attribute any of their success to luck. It had to be their sheer brilliance. However, many of us are brilliant and we’re still eating boot soup.

So, what not to do?

If you don’t tweet others at all, you may as well be on Mars.

If you rarely check your direct messages, you’re in the bubble.

If you only check your mentions on Twitter, you’re screaming into the echo chamber.

If you follow three people and two of those are your other Twitter accounts, you’re only hearing yourself plus you’re a raging narcissist (and not in a good way).

If you only have conversations with people who don’t buy books, you’re surveying the wrong people.

If you only speak to people who “buy” free books, you’re engaging the wrong audience. (Readers who buy with money instead of a click are often suspicious if your book is priced too low, for instance.)

If you don’t take new information in and seriously consider change, you’re for slavery. (Your own.)

If you do have conversations with readers from time to time and you talk about them, you’re on a smoother path.

If you don’t cultivate supportive friends, you’ll be alone, surrounded by fiends and without a fire ax or holy water.

If you only attend conventions with other writers instead of fans, you’ll have a great time talking to people who agree with you: “Wow, it sure is hard to connect to new readers!”

If you never get out and talk to real people in the real world and only connect with people on a safe and cyber basis, who will you learn to hate so you can kill them in your next novel?

If somebody says, “I prefer paper books,” and you reflexively say, “How Amish of you! Ebooks are the only future!”, that was kind of funny, but you should be listening instead of cracking that same joke open again. It’s rotten on the inside.

If you say all this social engagement is too hard and it takes away from your writing time, I’m sorry. I thought you were writing to be read. Get a calendar or time management software. At least tweet or email during commercials.

If you immediately dismiss everyone with whom you disagree, you’ll never learn the secret to…well, anything really. Plus, you’ll come across as a jerk.

I’m not suggesting you allow me or readers or reviewers or anyone else to run your life. I am saying that if you recognize yourself in this list and it gives you that squirmy squirts feeling, adapt accordingly. Listen.

You should listen to me. I’m a writer.

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Filed under: author platform, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 Responses

  1. I just had a convo the other day on Twitter with a fellow writer who asked how I was doing and I told him/her (gender non specific based on name and profile pic) that Blood in the Past was going to print soon based on the demand and several reader surveys I’ve seen. She insisted that print was dead. I told her, no, bookstores are dead. People are lazy and don’t leave their houses. But they are still ordering print books it seems. 40% of people are still reading print books according to 3 separate reader surveys I saw over the summer. Not to mention book fairs, festivals, and signings are still in full swing. People are getting books from somewhere. You have to provide for that market. S/he didn’t want to hear it.

    • i agree. While everyone is crying about print being dead, I’m still doing many book signings with print books and selling them quite well. I’m also seeing nice and steady sales via Createspace for all of my print books. It is a nice extra check each month when it comes to sales, and about 25% of my business month in and month out.

      Armand

      • Yes! I have three print engagements booked for the month of October alone.

      • They are still very important. I do two book signings each month on a steady basis and add new ones in all the time, like this Saturday I will be doing one locally. It usually helps with sales not only in person but people who can’t go getting them online.

        Armand

      • That’s awesome. Good for you. I hope October isn’t a fluke. Lol

      • Chazz says:

        Good points. Armand, do a post some time about the cool venues you find for your signings and how you find them. It doesn’t always have to be a bookstore.

        (If you can sign in a place that allows signings and serves banana beer, Armand has already been there and done that.)

      • I’ll most likely do a post about my book signing experience after this Saturday night. They don’t serve banana bread beer but their fish and chips is amazing, and they serve this girlie drink called Pusser’s Painkiller that knocks me for a loop…

        Armand

    • Chazz says:

      Excellent example of what I’m talking about. It would be a little easier on me if they didn’t want the print to be honest. However, I like holding books in my hands, too, especially if they’re mine.

      • I can understand that. I personally love my Kindle and haven’t read a print book since owning it. Most of my internet peeps read ebooks also, so I just assumed print was dead, which was a mistake. But I’m now willing to correct that mistake going forward. What I don’t understand is this other author’s unwillingness to even hear the evidence. 40% of readers is huge. And book fairs and stuff is also huge. It’s a shame.

  2. “Readers who buy with money instead of a click are often suspicious if your book is priced too low.”

    That’s an excellent point. A recent blog post by Smashwords indicates that the sweet spot is $3.99.

    • Chazz says:

      Thanks for your comment Kathy. I’ve begun experimenting with higher prices, as well. For instance, my short story collection is huge and contains award winners, so I really think I can move it more, especially if I promote it more aggressively. (But that’s another post.)

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