Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fellow Authors: Let's Do Better

I’m right at the tail end of writing my new book, Requiem.
Once it’s done, I will still have work to do. Editing, formatting, producing a cover, etc. It will be available within the next few months (message me or leave a comment should you want to read an excerpt).
Anyway, I’m using the launch of Requiem to effectively reboot my career as an authorpreneur. I’m going to republish my first book and create a new cover. Next, I will fix a formatting issue with my second book (the next few months will be very busy for me).
Going forward, I will start publishing print versions of my ebooks and perhaps dip my toes into the world of audiobooks.
A big part of my reboot initiative is to increase my knowledge of publishing and book marketing. I’m already learning a lot and I’m starting to turn much of that knowledge into action and strategies. I’m also doing a bit more networking with fellow authors. A lot of them have had considerable success and I have much to learn from them.
And then there’s the other, vastly less enjoyable, side of that particular coin.
One of my favorite sources of information is the Facebook page for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). My books are available via Kindle, thus their page is a treasure trove of useful hints, tips, and information.
I perused a few comment threads the other night, in hopes of finding some fellow scribes to network with… unfortunately that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Said comment threads are little more than heaping piles of spam, generally from authors trying to promote their works. I further noticed, upon looking through a few more threads, that it’s often the same authors each time (and by “each time”, I mean REPEATEDLY OVER AND OVER AND OVER). Really, people… comment spam is not a great marketing strategy. I know it’s free, but the reach is limited and anyone that actually does see your link will likely be annoyed by it, thus unlikely to make a purchase.
The aforementioned comments are generally nothing more than a link to the author’s book on Amazon and not commentary on the article that KDP published. I clicked on a couple of the links out of sheer curiosity.
Oh boy.
One book of the few I looked at was over 100 chapters of two or three not very well-written paragraphs each. The POV and tense changed without rhyme or reason. I caught two spelling errors in the first paragraph. I could go on, but you catch my drift.
Another book I previewed appeared to be at least fairly well done, but the author would personally attack anyone who gave him a less than stellar review.
Need I go on?

There are millions of ebooks available. Apparently a large number of them are not very good. I am not basing that statement on my rather small sample. Many folks complain that they have to wade through big stacks of crap to get to the Kindle gems. There are many who have given up on Kindle books (and other ebook formats) for that very reason.
So I have some goals for my authorpreneur career. Selling a goodly number of books is, of course, a big part of my strategy. Making myself known and heard and seen is a daunting task, one made vastly more difficult by the amount of low-quality books out there. Granted, this may be something of a double-edged sword, as I can more easily distinguish my (presumably) higher quality work and (hopefully) rise above the crowd. However you look at it, it won’t be easy.
I suppose I resent those authors that produce low-quality books. I wonder if writing and publishing is merely a cash grab for them, some sort of vanity play, or (most likely) a little of both? Frankly, I would be embarrassed to put my name on some of those books, just as I would be to market via comment spam.
I don’t think of myself as having especially high standards. I mean, I’m not exactly writing Proust here. My next book is an action-adventure that could just as easily be a Saturday matinee stand up and cheer 3D extravaganza (granted, I do have a couple important themes at hand). In the end, I have tried to write an engaging, entertaining story and write it well. I know it’s not perfect. I know some folks won’t like it. I did do right by my story, my characters, and my potential readers, however. Requiem may not be a nuanced work of literary genius, but I am still proud to put my name on it.

So fellow writers/ scribes/ authorpreneurs I ask you:
  • Can we always push to do a little bit better (myself included)?
  • Can we be more professional?
  • Can we all edit, use spell check, and make sure our grammar is up to par?
  • Can we stop promoting via spam or attack any review that’s less than glowing?
  • Can we write and publish at least up to the standard of books that we already read?

So let’s all do better. Let’s raise the bar and rise above the morass of lousy books and unprofessional behavior. I’m looking to develop an “Authorpreneur Code of Professionalism”… I would love to get some suggestions on that (just send me an email or leave a comment below).

By the way, I did report a few of those commenters for spam, some of them several times (this is what happens when I’m grumpy). I checked the KDP page this morning, and the most recent posts are completely and utterly free of comment spam (*pats self on back*).