Monday, May 6, 2013

An Open Letter to Authors

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 books are published each year in the U.S. alone. That's more than 83,000 a month.  2,700 a day.

114 books a minute. Every minute. In the time it takes you to read and comment on this post, more than 1,000 books are likely to have been released.

Is it any wonder that it's difficult for new authors to get noticed?

The internet, which has given us wonderful things like Google and Amazon has also given us social networking opportunities like Facebook and Goodreads. There's Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and new things popping up almost every day. As authors, we're are using these things like crazy to try and get the word out about our books.

There's nothing wrong with marketing ourselves. We all have to do a certain amount of promotion regardless of whether we're traditionally published or independently published. Doing nothing pretty much guarantees that your books will languish at the bottom of the pile. And the pile just keeps getting bigger.

Most of us are learning that a constant blast of "notice me" in any form is sure to backfire. But there's more than just the one-dimensional person who is only about Blatant Self Promotion, there are those who are so desperate to get attention they'll do almost anything, including buying followers on Twitter.

Are you kidding me?

There are so many Don't Go There possibilities we've all heard about. From writing fake reviews (positive for you and negative for an author you consider competition) to spreading rumors to calling yourself a "bestselling author" because your book hit the top 10 when it was free.

Here are some of my personal requests to all of my fellow authors:

1. DON'T ask me to vote for your book if I haven't read it. I'm constantly asked to vote for a book or a short story in one competition or another and I'm pretty darned sure the author knows I've never read anything they've ever written. They're desperate and I understand that, but don't ask me to sacrifice my honor for your fake moment of pride. Because it would be fake, wouldn't it?

2. DON'T offer to trade reviews with me. What if I don't like your book? Are you going to dis mine? And don't give me a great review, then send me your book expecting the same in return. That just feels sleazy. And once again, you could be asking me to basically lie.

3. DON'T ask me to "like" a review for a book I haven't read. I hereby announce that I will no longer trade my self-respect for one stupid "like" just because someone I truly do like asked me. And by the same token, don't ask me to say a bad review wasn't helpful for a book I haven't read. Between you and me, those bad reviews can be goldmines for sales. Something to think about.

4. DON'T ask me to "like" every Facebook page your mind can dream up. Some of you caught me unaware and it took me five or six pages before I finally realized you were in serious need of an intervention.

5. DON'T ask me to read your manuscript with the idea you can save money on an edit. I'm not an editor. You need to hire one. Sorry, but you do. And don't go cheap.

These are mostly Facebook and Amazon things, but I'm sure there are plenty of Twitter issues along the same lines.

As a new author, I appreciated the support of those who had gone before me, and I want to do the same. But desperate to the point of total crap doesn't cut it with me.

Authors—what have I missed? What requests or other things make you cringe?

Readers—have you come to be able to see through a lot of these ploys? Is there anything you trust any more?

It's all better with friends.