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Monday Musings: Pay It Forward! a.k.a. Helping Your Favorite/Fellow Author

Today’s musings aren’t anything new.  You see, this weekend past I was approached by a fellow author trying to get his book put together.  He needs funding and has taken to the popular crowd-funding approach to do so.  He wanted me to take a look at his book and then, if I liked it, to help him signal boost and help him out.

Now, if any of you ever look at my Twitter feed, you know that I’m not a fan of the mass retweeters out there, who fling constant advertisements about their books and retweeting other ads.  There’s advertisement and promotion … then there’s that continual yelling in your ear.  If I don’t like that, how is this sort of thing involving Kickstarter any different?

It’s the simple difference between a simple request done privately and massive unwanting annoyance.  It’s also the difference between being given the choice, fully informed, to do what I want instead of constantly being tagged to ‘RT PLZ’ or the like.  Helping to signal boost indie authors is one of the primary reasons I started my book reviews to begin with, after all, so backing this kind of approach is my bag of tea.

What this comes down to is that there are right and wrong ways to support your favorite authors.  Should you tell your friends about them?  Sure!  Should you review and rate their books?  Of course!  But you don’t do them any favors by constantly signal-blasting about them.  It’s like any other kind of nagging; it gets old fast.  Instead of making your friends read this favorite author of yours, you will likely make them avoid it like the plague out of sheer annoyance!

Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

General News: Felipe de Barros’ new site!

I almost filed this under Book News for reasons that will become clear in the near future (MYSTERY!  SUSPENSE!  DRAMA!) but my good friend and the man responsible for all my wonderful book cover art, Felipe de Barros has started up a Facebook page that you can access from THIS LINK for showcasing both his latest art and news of his ongoing independent work.  If you’re a Facebook sort of person, you should definitely check it out.

Even if you aren’t, however, you might want to glance at it every once in a while over the coming days.  Felipe is going to be making a big announcement as to an ongoing comic book project in the coming week or so and it’s a project that I am deeply involved in.  If you’re a fan of his art or my writing, you might want to watch for it!

Good luck and good writing!

The Ethics of Reviewing: Questions for veteran authors

One thing that remains clear to me as I continue my odyssey as a self-published author is that, for all the research and preparation, I could never be totally prepared for what all is involved.  The biggest stumbling block, the one that I imagine stymies most indie authors, is self-promotion.  The truth is I am horrible at it.  Not in the sense that I tell prospective readers to stuff it or any conventional PR disaster, it is simply that I don’t want to be bothered by it.  I’m a writer … I would much rather be left alone to, you know, write.  The vast amount of time and energy to be invested in constantly shilling oneself is amazing and, frankly, to someone such as myself who usually has a humble self-image, it is hard to put myself forth as ‘THE BEST THING EVAR’ because I don’t truly believe that, no matter how good I feel about my books.

What does this have to do with the topic of this piece?    As many of you may know, reviews and ratings are a critical part of marketing success.  You can have a good cover, a nice blurb, but get shot in the foot by a string of 1-star reviews.  Even if you have no reviews, you are basically asking people to give you a chance with no assurance of success.  This can be especially vital if your book has a ‘slow burn’ and the real meat of the novel may not be apparent in whatever preview the retailer allows.   It’s a classic ‘chicken and the egg’ conundrum:  You need good ratings to get people to read your book but you need people to read your book to give you good ratings.

Obviously, there is a financial market that has sprung up around this.  I notice one key service almost every book marketing package includes is guaranteed reviews.  On top of that, I noticed, to my absolute confusion, that I could review my own books?! Talk about ultimate bias!

I suppose here are my questions to veteran indie writers:

– How do you approach trying to gather reviews?

– Do the ethical implications of some of the more questionable promotional services bother you, such as guaranteed reviews and changes that alter your vision of your work (radically rewritten novel blurbs and descriptions, tagging to fit the market and not the book, etc.)?

– Do you think it is ethical in any sense to review or rate your own book, beyond a simple ‘Like or Don’t Like’ system?

– Is there a way to balance self-promotion and actual writing without paying hundreds of dollars to someone to manage it for you?

– Should I just damn the ethics and charge full speed ahead into self-promotion land?