Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

Are Indie-Authors the Whores 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 novel “Bobby’s Boy”, I’ve had my metaphorical arse 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 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 bastard down the road for a couple of quid royalty, only when we catch them, they’re one of us, and so we gather number. The twitter-sphere is saturated with link-posting authors, in the desperate and futile act of pimping their books, ultimately to each other.

I'll retweet your brains out if you retweet me first

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Indie publishing should have empowered us, instead we chase 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 not against a bit of mutual promotion, but it’s so constant, so ubiquitous, so time-consuming and soul destroying and so unimaginative.

Link after link, after link. “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 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 rediscover the creative spark that so easily comes when you write and apply it to your promo on twitter or any other social media. No more links (save for the one in your profile. That’s plenty). Instead, 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.

Engage with your “followers”. Retweet away ‘til your hearts’ content, but pass on fun things people say or do. 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.

I’m in the process of launching my third book. This last year 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 difference.

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.

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 an 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.

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.

Or maybe I’m missing something and the “feeling like a social media hoor” phase I’m going through will pass.

Either way please do buy my book……*cough* here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334424320&sr=1-1

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24 thoughts on “Are Indie-Authors the Whores of Social Media?

  1. Unfortunately I think you’re right. As you know I am just starting out in the self-publishing world for my first novel and am seeking helpful advice, which might I add you have been great at providing 🙂 For the most part I have sought out relationships with other freelance writers and most of what they post or link to is their own content or the circle of promotion in which you mention above. It is a sad reality that so many of us have become “Social Media Whores” as you call it LOL! But there are a few tweeters, I have made great connections with. As always I look forward to your next post 🙂

  2. Entertaining, but insightful post. You’ve got a point and I wonder if writers have any way of equating sales to their use of Twitter? I do a lot of retweeting of indie authors that I follow, mostly because I’ve bought, read and liked their work and want to help support them in some way. However I do prefer to read “chat” and tips when scrolling through my twitter feed! Thanks for sharing your views on Twitter as a tool for self promotion 🙂

    • Thanks for you comment Clare. I was being a bit facetious with this blog, but genuinely am becoming a bit exasperated at the jerk-circle twitter seems to be for authors. I’m hoping there’s a more positive way forward and grateful for readers like you who follow the nonsense. thanks again.

  3. I think it really depends. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I hate getting new friends on goodreads who just want to tell me about their newest book without ever reading my blog or seeing if I may be interested. Sometimes I get emails asking to review books that are completely off to what I normally read and it’s a bit infuriating. Then again, I think it’s great that their technologically knocking on doors and passing out fliers for their books. I would love to encourage that, but sometimes I want to punch something.

    • Ha, I’m with you Cassie. It seems to me thT it’s a waste of a good opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals that an actual conversation could happen with. I don’t want to talk to folks who just sit typing “bymybook” endlessly. I won’t buy it by the way. Haven’t signed up for goodreads yet, bit will be doing so when 30 minutes free time presents itself. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Some great points here – very thought provoking. I’m quite new to Twitter and whenever I get a new follower I look at their blog or website and try and send back a personal comment. I was wondering if, as time goes on, I’ll still bother to do it, but after reading your blog I definately will.

    • I’ve only been on twitter actively myself for a month or so Cheryl, and these are just first impressions but I think a more dignified way to promo books is definitely out there. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

  5. Mark,

    As always, you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. Twitter, and other social media networks, have become overly populated with ads for everything from books to cars, colas to diapers. It’s very refreshing to see someone who realizes that social media is just that – social. While I agree it is a (semi) effective marketing avenue, I’m much more likely to purchase something from someone (company or otherwise) who engages with me and learns more about me than my handle.

    Having said that, we indie authors lack the marketing avenues that established, traditional authors have, and, as such, are limited to the scope of our own advertising budget (which is usually woefully inadequate), so platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc.. are appealing, if not financially viable avenues.

    I am in full agreement with your main argument though. Slap your blog address in your profile, maybe tweet or post when something significant is happening with your book (release, etc…) and then move on. Engage your followers. Word of mouth is more important than ever these days, and if you engage them, they will reciprocate. If you build it, they will come.

    Thanks

    Adam
    (@DeathsTwilight)
    (@DJExcess)

    • Thanks for that. It’s a weird old business right enough this indie-publishing. Bit despite my current gripe, it’s also great fun and hugely rewarding in terms of pride in work produced. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  6. Nice post – I’m new to the whole blogging + writing + publishing online game but I have begun thinking along similar lines. Maybe its just my English middle-class-repressedness but this self-promotion business all seems a bit dirty to me at the moment (and always has done). However it seems that’s what at least 50% of blogging is. Even now I’m half hoping someone reading my comment might come and check my blog out, write a comment and that will lead to a Booker prize. If anyone is – DON’T! Let’s stop the rot right here. I still haven’t got a twitter account and from what you say maybe I wont bother. Anyway I’m rambling; good post and I wish you luck with your publishing 🙂

    • Thanks dude. It’s a strange old world, that of the indie-author. Twitter is a pest, but having said that, I’ve “met” some cool people on it and it’s a good shop window for the blog, which I do enjoy writing, which is a good shop window for the book. I can live with that. Gotta disagree on the blogging. I think some people tailor their blogs to be adverts but most do what I do and write something that’s on their mind in the most engaging manner they can. Blogs and tweeter who do nothing bit self-promote, really don’t engage in what is an excellent and supportive bogger community. When you find your niche and are happy with how you put yourself, your views and your book out into the world, it’ll feel less like whoring yourself around. Good luck with your project man.

  7. I’m glad I’m not the only one that’s starting to feel like a whore. In my defense, though, I try to do my whoring in the metaphorical MGM Grand instead of the street corner, checking out things before I retwit them and offering (often smartass) writing tips, etc. I guess in the end working on your back and knees is still what it is, not matter where you to try to do it.

  8. I struggle with Twitter. I find it hard to express a fart in 140 characters much less how I am feeling. I really should practice if I want to become a member of the indie whoring brigade.

    But I agree with your sentiment. According to a review of John Locke’s book, he is the epitomy of a media whore, asking first, what can this person do for me? rather than what can I do for them?

    A bit of shameless plugging is OK, but when you are saying on Facebook “Happy Birthday Kev! Hope someone bought my book as your present!” its going too far.

    Have you read David Gaughran’s blog ? ( http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ ) who is blogging about self publishing. His book on self publishing is free this weekend too if I remember rightly (US only, although he will email you a copy if you ask) He is a good genuine guy who talks honestly about his sales, how he is coping and how to proceed. Very worthwhile.

    Have I used 140 characters yet?

  9. I totally agree with you with regards to twitter. The amount of ‘indies’ wanting a ‘I buy yours you buy mine’ deal is frankly ridiculous, especially when you get the feeling the won’t even read it. I also think low pricing is pointless. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think anyone bought my novel because of the price. Won’t make that mistake again. Good blog mate, look forward to reading more.

    • Thanks for the comment. The retweet cycle is a pig of a way to promote right enough. I do believe that ebook editions should never cost more than a few quid due to the low production cost. Personally my first book will remain low priced and I may add a pound to the cost of book two. Thanks man, come tweet me up on twitter 😉

  10. Good post. I’ve not read all the responses because there are so many of them Now I find myself wondering how you manage to attract so much feedback. I’ve only just discovered that some Twitter accounts buy their followers which was strangely reassuring.

    I think the point is that the market is flooded with wannabe authors and, let’s face it, there’s an awful lot of dross out there. Yes everybody has got a book in them, but not every one of those books deserves to come out. Then we all get tarred with the same brush. In the midst of this I wonder which side of the divide I’m on.

    • I’m hoping that the flood of poor books will peak and tail off. I suspect that now that amazon has the market cornered they’ll start to make it more difficult for new writers to promote themselves. I reckon we’ll see big changes on how amazon “allows” us to publish in the next year or two.

      Incidentally, I hardly ever get comments on my blogs, dude. I just think this one pisses off a few people.

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