writers gone feralOver the last twelve months, I’ve noticed something that started slowly but has now unfortunately become an epidemic. The infectious disease? The rise and rise of self opinionated, demanding and quite honestly, pain in the butt self published writers, who are filling social media sites with their mindless attempts at marketing their books. Or more often, their one and only book.

Repetitive posts ordering followers to tag, like, preview, review and of course buy their beloved book, pollute Facebook and Twitter in particular. Another grating habit many of these nouveau writers-cum-book marketing gurus posses, is to deride, criticise and downright insult other writers and authors in the belief that this will enhance their credibility. Well, dream on fools.

Let’s get one thing straight here. Self publishing is not a guarrenteed yellow brick road to success and wealth. Quite honestly it’s a total pipe dream. For 99% of writers it’s a hobby and hopefully, may provide a nice little side income at some time along the way. Those who bombard social media with demands and pressure trying to flog their one and only new book and become an overnight success will of course try for a while. There are even some who are very slow learners and will persist for much longer, but in the end they learn, fall by the wayside, and fail.

Writing had never been a competitive pursuit, so these fools who are happily deriding other writers day in and day out only prove that they know nothing about what it means to be a writer, let alone an author. The expression, ‘give them enough rope and they will hang themselves’, comes to mind.

Writing is an art form , and as such is a great way to become poor. Writing is an art form, and as such you do it because you love it. Writing is an art form, and as such not everyone is going to love what you write. Writing is an art form, and as such a lot of people will hate what you write. Writing is an art form, and as such is not a business. Go into banking if you think it is.

Writers Gone Totally Feral
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22 thoughts on “Writers Gone Totally Feral

  • 19/06/2012 at 10:05 pm
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    I daresay those authors who spend most of their time hawking their one and only book on Twitter and Facebook wouldn’t fare exceptionally well in the banking world, either.

    One of the problems here is that they follow — mostly — other writers / literary agents / publishing houses / brands. Other writers will, with a few exceptions, be sort of broke more often than not. They can’t afford that many books to begin with and must choose judiciously (that’s my case). As a buyer, I am not going to pay a lot of attention to someone whose entire twitter stream consists of Buy my Book, Get my Book for Free Today, Buy my Book, OMIGOD my BOOk is the BEST THING EVAR HAVE YOU READ IT, Buy my Book, Buy my Book. That doesn’t behoove them as writers or marketers. Also, it paints an unflattering picture of self-published authors.

    Literary agents are not, for the most part, interested in self-published books. Amanda Hocking is a black swan.

    Publishing houses are not that interested in self-published books either.

    Brands are not interested in self-published books or indie writers at all. They want to sell their product. Nobody behind, say, the Nike twitter account is scanning Twitter for interesting self-published authors.

    Writers also tend to forget we live in an ecosystem. We’re all in the same boat here. If you start boring holes in it, the boat will sink.

    • 19/06/2012 at 10:13 pm
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      Exceptionally well put Bell. It was an interesting finding it the Taleist’s Self Publishing Survey that the most successful self publishing authors spent much much more time writing than they do marketing their books. Writing a lot and selective effective marketing to build your author brand both take time but are by far the most effective means.

      • 19/06/2012 at 10:55 pm
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        Just curious, Derek. What do you consider a means of effective marketing for a self-published book?

        • 19/06/2012 at 11:05 pm
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          Good question Bart. In my mind there is nothing wrong in promoting your books. By that I mean letting readers know about your books and what they are about and announcing new book releases, or perhaps when there is a free book promotion on a title. Even using paid advertising or promotion.

          But promoting and marketing does not involve criticising and demeaning other authors and demanding that potential readers need to take some particular action such as ‘liking’ or ‘tagging’.

          Promotion and marketing are about informing and waiting. Not demanding and opinionating.

  • 19/06/2012 at 10:37 pm
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    Well said Derek and Bell, I couldn’t agree more. Your post follows on nicely from my own Derek. :D

  • 19/06/2012 at 11:26 pm
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    I have a group dedicated to self-promotion that Jack uses regularly to not only plug his writings but also Derek’s. I think the answer to compulsive self-promotion is such groups. I see nothing wrong with plugging your wares and people who find it just too much of a chore to scroll by what they are not interested in should remember that they are neither obligated or required to read any posts in any group. I find it both snobbish and trollish to complain about eager young writers trying to get noticed. The next Steinbeck or Hemingway may be hyping a first book as I type.

    • 20/06/2012 at 12:32 pm
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      There’s nothing wrong with self promotion Rick. Nor with doing your utmost to market a book the best you can. My point was aimed at those who think criticising and deriding fellow writers is self promotion. It is not. Those posting damning reviews on fellow authors books on Amazon out of some weird sense of spite is not book promotion either.

      I also see many new writers making the mistake of trying to promote their books to other writers via writing groups. While it can have some limited success, it misses the real target market. Readers.

      • 20/06/2012 at 5:33 pm
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        I agree with that Derek, I may have said this here before, but if I don’t feel a book deserves a good review I won’t post one.

  • 19/06/2012 at 11:29 pm
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    oddly enough, I think this may just be the demise of Facebook and Twitter. Now, thanks to JustRetweet and Triberr we have a whole host of ways for people to promote themselves. Lately I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer actual tweets. Just promotional stuff.

    Here is where GooglePlus will get some success and attention. I see very little of that type of thing.

  • 20/06/2012 at 1:07 am
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    You are right about what procedures should be taken by new self-pubshing authors. I like what you have pointed out. I read something on the recent Taleist survey too and it backs this same point.

  • 20/06/2012 at 11:06 am
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    I think the best ‘procedure’ for these non-persons and their non-writing (they don’t deserve any other title) is to give them the obscurity they desire.

    I’ve not noticed this as ‘epidemic’ (can you point out a few? I think I’ve read of one writer who had what amounted to a meltdown and the other involved a blogger), and I’m grateful that all the self-published authors of my acquaintance are rather wonderful sorts with enormous talent – none are diseased, far as I know.

    One thing I have noticed however, are the number of articles, interviews or blog posts deriding self-published authors (or self-publishing in general) in some fashion or other (Garrison Keillor made some particularly snobbish commentary in an article that I believe was published in the New Yorker – sorry I don’t have a link). I’ve even seen ‘mainstream’ authors on Twitter (no one famous, but some with agents and a book deal) all but mock the idea of self-publishing and I do find that far more worrying, really. I’ve actually read some pretty awful tweets from industry pros (literary agents in particular) that made me embarrassed to say I’m in the business at all.

    While the industry at large grows smaller and smaller, some authors only alternative is to self-publish, especially if what they are producing isn’t likely to be a Stephen King-style million seller. The struggle is uphill enough (as you point out) trying to distinguish yourself as respectable and worthy of a reader’s time without having to deal with the exaggerations of both sides, all but declaring war, or the ‘bad news’ that there is an ‘epidemic’ of crazy writers out there who are dragging the side down and making the self-published look bad. I follow hundreds on Twitter and elsewhere and subscribe to hundreds of various writerly outlets. I’ve yet to see anything like you’ve described, though I’ve no doubt you’ve read some terrible things.

    I think Twitter and Facebook can be fine tools, but what can be gleaned from them doesn’t necessarily mean ‘it is so.’ Gossip is one of their mainstays and if that’s what you follow, you won’t learn much, if anything.

    So, please, give us some citations if you would on all these ‘crazy’ writers – Twitter handles, Facebook pages, links to their rants, etc, if you can. Honestly, the amateurs don’t bother me half as much as the lack of professionalism I’ve seen amongst those who should know better.

    • 20/06/2012 at 11:53 am
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      Thank you for your insightful comments on this topic Simon. As you point out, demeaning fellow writers and authors is not just restricted to those who are self publishing. I have read similar derisive articles and social media postings from agented authors, publishers and agents. I can only assume that they see self publishing as a threat and react defensively.

      But to you request for citations, I certainly won’t name individuals as that would be grossly unfair. However, I can generalise and say that most of the aggression I see is from newer authors trying to establish their patch in the business of self publishing. I have a good Twitter following of around 35,000, and a high proportion of them are related or interested in books, reading, writing and publishing. Every day though, I receive requests or demands even, from new writers wanting me to promote their books. Some ask politely, while most do not. Just this morning I deleted five of these from my direct message box.

      The worst venomous attacks I have read though have been on the Kindle forums. So bad in fact that I stay away completely now. The now infamous Kindle ‘trolls’ who take perverted delight in posting their venom as book reviews on Amazon can usually be traced, and are all too often self published writers.

      The other notable platform is of course Facebook, and in particular groups. I have only just discovered that I can be added to these without my knowing, which I class as aggressive behaviour.

      Of course blogging is the most common platform for criticising, complaining and opinionating, but as these are so easily posted on any number of social media platforms, they can have a vast reach.

      I have been self publishing for many years and a user of social media for long time as well. But as I said in my post, this new aggressive attitude is new and something I hope will moderate as self publishing matures.

  • 20/06/2012 at 11:35 am
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    Interesting discussion. As a Belgian(Flemish) professional writer you could say I have a view “from outside”. In the “Low Countries” (the northern part of Belgium and the Netherlands) where I publish, indie publishing virtually doesn’t exist and the e-book is just in a starting phase (about 1% of the sales). We don’t have the phenomenen as yet of “self-promoting” of writers.
    So, yes indeed, writing is an art form and writers should write and not be overly busy with marketing and promotion. On the other hand, in comparison with the heyday of the novel in the 19th century, modern readers sometimes (not always) tend to grab novels that are “distracting” and “suspenseful”, while the novel used to be considered as the art of arts: you had to have musicality (style), wisdom (human insight), you had to “sculpt” your characters and your description of the world solidly and attractively and you had to have a feeling for psychology…A novel was a mirror for the hidden recesses of life, a glimpse of the vast inner universe that is every human being, a tribute to the wonder and the conflicting urges and fleeting thoughts we all harbour. So, they were not always “easy”, these novels, and certainly not always bestseller material, but they were novels that stuck with you, that influenced you, that subtly changed a view of life…In the “bombardment” of “incentives” we all receive nowadays, those novels are sometimes hard to find….

  • 20/06/2012 at 3:44 pm
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    Love that this post was accompanied on the right by ads for several self-published books. How ironic.

    • 20/06/2012 at 4:41 pm
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      Hardly ironic at all Cynthia. This is my blog and I’m an author, so where else would I advertise my books? The key point though is that they don’t ask or demand that you to do anything at all.

  • 20/06/2012 at 5:52 pm
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    Having been a gamer for a long time I look at the self-publishing business from a gamer’s point of view. You start out with a bare-bones character who has nothing. You battle the lowest difficulty mobs and try to gain a few levels. Along the way you pick up a few things that help you with advancement and do some quests for more items and experience. Once you get build up a little you join a guild and learn a few skills. As time goes by you learn to craft a few quality items that you can sell or trade. Eventually you get to a level where your skills are in demand as well as your crafted items. you become a major player in a select circle of allies and finally a high level player who is known and respected throughout the whole game.

    For a long time my books didn’t sell, now they are starting to move a little and I am in the process of writing more. I actively participate is groups and discussions and see that soon it will be time to form an Indy-publisher’s guild. I don’t self-promote as much as most but try to get know by participation and helping other authors.
    I subscribe to the snowball theory of writing success. I think that if an author keeps writing that sooner or later, unless they are appallingly bad, one of their books will click. When that happens it will fire the sales of all the other books and the author will be an overnight sensation even if it takes ten years to get there. I think this is happening to our friend Jack Eason. If he had a dozen more books he would be selling them all right now.

  • 20/06/2012 at 7:13 pm
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    What amazes me is how some of these authors behave on forums. I was reading a thread on the KDP site last night that debates the value of the select program. One author disagreed with a comment and added in a personal insult. When the other commenter dryly awarded him the point, he was then labeled as childish for responding to the insult rather than the point…

    From there it degenerated into a full-on bash fest laced with profanity and insults. All this from an author of children’s books.

    I’m not sure this author realises that the forum isn’t a closed community for authors only. Anyone inhabiting this big blue ball we live on can find that thread with a web search…

    I think the lesson is – when you get angry; type your response in Word, format it, spell-check it and then save it in the “Look what I amost did to my reputation” file.

    Never let that stuff see the light of day.

    • 20/06/2012 at 7:40 pm
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      Thank you for your classic example of authors behaving badly Andrew. As you say, this from a children’s author only highlights the lack of self control some people have and their complete ignorance of the fact that the whole world has access to their venomous attacks. A sure fire way to diminish one’s reputation and book sales very fast indeed I would say.

      • 21/06/2012 at 6:13 am
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        I never sign anything Rick. I’m always worried that it might be some kind of pre-mortem ogan donor agreement. I still drop by the KDP threads now and then, but just to find amusement and provide the odd tip for a new member.

        I never go to the customer threads. Those guys are completely overrun by the feral writers that Derek was talking about. Is it any wonder they’ve pulled themselves into their foxholes and called down artillery on thier own position? Any writer who ventures onto the customer site might as well hang a sandwich board around their neck with a big target on it.

        Best of luck with the petition.

  • 01/07/2012 at 3:09 pm
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    Derek –

    A well put out there point, as usual. I have to say, though, I don’t think it’s necessarily confined to self-publishing. I have seen it on both sides – self published and traditional. Our take on it is to each his own. Some times self-publishing is the best way for a writer – sometimes the traditional way is the best. This industry is eclectic in that there is no one sure fire one size fits all method to the madness of publishing. As long as everyone evolves as technology and society evolves – there will be a place for everyone to function as a collaborative/cohesive functional industry.

    That being said – there is a need for a common understanding that everyone, not just writers, in this industry is in it together. To bring excellent literature to society to enjoy for generations to come. Bashing each other or bringing others down, no matter what part they play in the grand scheme of things – is totally uncalled for.

    Kortney Gessler
    Unforgettable Books, Inc.

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