One of the biggest complaints I hear, seems to be coming from readers who are angry writers review books. First, before I jump feet first into this, I need to state that any writer worth their salt, is also an avid reader. It takes a great deal of skill to pen a engaging story, and you have to know what's good and what's not, to do that. That being said, there are some authors out there committing no-no's that are turning readers against authors in general. Let's review a couple of reader's biggest complaints.
Sock puppetry: An author posing as someone else and posting reviews for their own books or having someone else post their reviews. Unfortunately many good authors, who are giving honest reviews of books, are getting lumped in with these sock puppets. I have stopped posting reviews of books I've loved on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for this reason. I post on my website and on my blogs and I post them as "Author Blurbs". Now this is as much for the author whose book I loved as to protect myself. I know reviews are important, but if you are posting honest reviews, readers may think you are trying to be sneaky, even when you are not. It might come back on you, and you could find yourself labeled a sock puppet or author behaving badly. This is a choice you have to make, and I'm not saying authors are wrong to post reviews (I appreciate anyone who takes the time to do an honest review), but please be aware of the climate on Amazon and Barnes and Noble right now, in regards to authors doing reviews.
Spamming: In America, we have been dealing with the political spam now for over a year. If you live in the United States, you can't avoid it. The guilty parties are everywhere, outside work with clipboards (bothering us on our short, supposed to be stress free, lunch hour), in the mall (again while we are out trying to enjoy our day), calling us on our phones, posting on the Internet, emailing, or standing around with signs chanting on every block and intersection. We can't get away from it, and we don't like being told who we should vote for. It's a personal choice.
Now, swap politics for book promo and this is what we have been doing to our readers. Before you get mad, realize that I believe an author must promote their work, but there are ways to do it, and ways not to do it. Blogs, websites, interviews, conferences and book signings, are great ways to get out and meet readers and tell them about what you write. But please stop spamming on social networks with blurb after blurb and excerpt that will chase them away. Much like the political spamming, readers are sick of it. It's a big reason why I've backed off on my social networks. I might post a link to a blog post and tell them what I'm talking about, or if I have a book giveaway, but I also leave the option to visit up to them. Please give them an option. Never force your promo on your readers or they will run.
Under the same topic, I'm going to talk about self promotion and the expectations publishers have of their authors. No one is going to know you write books unless you talk about them. So what can you do to put your work out there? Websites are a big tool in your promotional bag. Here's mine: Unusual Worlds You Want to Get Lost In.
You should keep it simple, easy to navigate. Post not only your books and excerpts, but every cover you place on that site should have a buy link(s). Click and buy. Make it easy for the readers to find and buy your books. When the readers visit your blog or site, it's because they want to know more about your books. This is the time to shake those tail feathers and promo, promo, promo. One last thing, be sure to tag all your posts. This helps you when readers do searches. The search engines will grab the things with the most tags first and you get placed higher to the top, when you do this. Tag, tag, tag. It's not just for Amazon.
How are you ranking on a search engine? Type your author name in and find out. First page and you're doing good. You're goal is to dominate that first page, be it title or name. Go forth and conquer!
Next, keep your blogs and websites up to date. Up and coming? Have a tab at the top that lists future releases, blurbs and covers if you have them. Projects, sure if you can talk about them, do. Readers love to know what you are working on next. And yes, post your reviews of books you loved. In the literary business, they're called blurbs. Even better, ask authors you admire if they will read your book and give you a blurb for promotional purposes. This is a great way to help fellow authors without pushing readers away or looking like the dreaded sock puppet. A lot of publishers will put these on your covers or inside your e-books. If a reader likes a particular author, they may be inclined to try your book if their favorite author loved it.
I invite fellow authors to ask me to read and blurb. I won't promise I always can, but I will give your request serious consideration and do my best to help you.
Word of mouth is your friend. Make sure what your readers are saying are good things. People are more likely to remember the bad things and talk about them, than the good things. Don't give them bad things to talk about. Be professional whenever you are online and in public. Some readers and reviewers may not like your books, taste is varied, but they will respect you if you remain professional.
So in a nutshell, write a damn good book, then set up shop on a website, post blurbs of books you've loved and help others, talk about your projects, your upcoming releases and keep the site up to date. Visit it at least once a week and change something.
Then start writing your next book. The best seller of a first book, is a second.
Have a Great Weekend!