Category Archives: Pondering

Approaching a Crossroads

It has been a long time. A very long time. And now we’re approaching a crossroads. Lament for the Living Book 2 should have been released by now, but it hasn’t. But do not be concerned, the crossroads isn’t about whether or not Book 2 is happening or not. It definitely is happening, but I’m currently in a quandary as to where it’ll be published.

Lament for the Living Book 1, The Deluge of Elias, and Hannibal House have all been published on Amazon as the main platform, with Lament for the Living and Hannibal House also being available through the outlets fulfilled by Smashwords (Hannibal House is free through Smashwords).  Amazon has been where the majority of sales of my titles have come from, but I’m becoming increasingly unhappy with their business practices.

Issue 1: They seem to have no morals regarding where they advertise, which means that their advertising helps fund sites and/or content that are completely opposite to my own personal ethics. I have reached out to them on more than one occasion regarding their advertising, and they are subject to the spotlight of Sleeping Giants whose aim is to “stop racist and sexist media by stopping its ad dollars”. I wholly back their mission, but like them, both Amazon and Jeff Bezos have failed not only to respond to our concerns, but have remained completely silent on the issue of where they advertise.

Issue 2: Amazon is inept at dealing with scammers who exploit the Kindle Direct Publishing platform and instead target and punish legitimate authors. David Gaughran has posted extensively on these scams and his own experiences of trying to get Amazon to take these concerns seriously, and do something about the scammers. He has presented masses of evidence to Amazon about the issues and their responses have been as overwhelming as they have in regard to their advertising ethics: none.  That is until now, where they appear to be taking some action against legitimate authors instead of scammers as detailed in this report by David Gaughran.

Personally I’ve been a strong advocate for Amazon in the past. I’ve got Kindles (standard and Fire), Amazon Prime, a Firestick, and they’re usually my go to place to buy everything from rubber gloves to motorbike parts. But that looks all set to change. As a platform Amazon seems to becoming more toxic and unhinged as time goes on. Their business ethics and level of competence in dealing with issues are nowhere as high as I expect them to be.

So here’s the crossroads: Lament for the Living Book 2 is now penciled in to be released in the Spring/Summer of 2018. Unless Amazon addresses the issues of their advertising ethics, and start using more precise tools to identify and punish spammers rather than a sledgehammer-tipped blunderbus I’ll be leaving the platform completely.

I’m not prepared to support an unethical platform financially by buying and using their products, and I’m certainly not prepared to place my work on a platform that is akin to a petty and vengeful god.  The decision will be made closer to release of book 2, but right now it’s not looking good for my relationship with Amazon.

Top 5 Author Marketing Mistakes

So you’ve written your book, polished it to perfection, and now it’s time to pimp it out… but you’ve got no idea how to do it. Marketing, it’s one of those things that sends an icy sliver of fear right into the heart of the most accomplished author. It’s like black magic, alchemy, the occult. A dark art practised by people with fake tans, wearing shiny suits.

Like writing, there is no actual secret to marketing. There are no rules, only what works, and what doesn’t. And here’s the rub: what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. But to help you along in your marketing journey, here are five things that a pretty much useless to the majority of indie authors:

#5 Spamming your friends

This should be a no-brainer. But then marketing and common-sense seem to be incompatible. Chances are that on your contact list you have a mix of real-life friends, “friends”, and people who are contacts because they are vaguely associated with you. They already know that you have a book out. They may already have bought it. So what they need is for you to post a dozen times a day about your book. Hell, why stop there? They put a picture of their little bundle of joy, so why not put in the comments that your book would make a brilliant Christening present… Can you see where I’m going with this. Save your spam for your official author channels, keep your friends as friends.

#4 Preaching to the choir

Some of you will say: “But authors are readers too!”. And although that is true it doesn’t make for a good marketing strategy. Like #5 above, spamming other authors/author groups will elicit the same response – a roll of the eyes every time your name pops up. Yes, authors are readers too, but of what genre? I’m and author, and I’m a reader. But I’m fussy. And so are most people. Authors also have limited time to dedicate to reading, so if their genre is, for example, historical fiction, what are the chances that they’ll give your transgender paranormal romance a whirl? While the scatter-shot technique may provide some results, it makes more sense to channel your efforts into a targeted campaign.

#3 Using Social Media as a one way pipe

This is my pet hate. Social. Media. The clue is in the name. It’s not called Amass a Billion Followers Who You Never Interact With Media. That’s what happens though. Accounts with tens of thousands of followers and followees all blast their messages into the interwebs – and neither side sees the other because they’re too busy saying “FOLLOW ME” and “BUY MY BOOK” to interact. Or worse still… they’re not even there. Their accounts all linked to one automated crud cruncher that churns out message after message at set times during the day. What a great way to foster a relationship with readers and potential readers. [that was irony by the way]

#2 Being Free with Freebies

People love something for nothing. But nothing devalues your work as quickly as nothing. See what I did there? And now the explanation: You are not a “best-seller” if you top the free listing chart. The majority of copies you gave away will never be read (sorry, but pretty much every Kindle, Nook and Kobo are jammed to the digital gills with free books that were downloaded for one reason, and one reason only: they were free). I’m not against giving your work away for free. But only if it is done as a way to entice sales. Make your readers (and potential readers) value your work, even when it’s free. Make it quid pro quo. They get a free book by following/tweeting/sharing/liking. OR, if you want to be even more fiendish with the freebies (and increase the perceived value) make it into a draw. Their interaction enters them into the draw for a copy. FREE free copies have had their day as a marketing tool, and will simply gather digital dust. Respect your work, and retain the value of it to your readers.

#1 Copying the Big Boys/Girls

Okay, this is quite a big topic so I’ll condense it as best I can. When I talk about the Big Boys/Girls, I mean the traditional publishing marketing methods. Unless you can match their budgets and manpower, forget it. They may be dinosaurs, but they still have a lot of clout, like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Definitely don’t get bogged down by meaningless numbers. The only numbers you should be concentrating on is your ACTUAL readership. Not how many followers you have on twitter, not how many likes you have on facebook, not how many klowns you have on klout, or even how many hits your website gets. If they’re not translating into sales then you’re wasting your efforts. Your marketing needs to be cost effective so think very carefully before you put any cash down on advertising. Every clam you shell out on marketing needs to do one of two things: increase your reputation, or increase your sales (hopefully both). Unfortunately, the majority of “marketing solutions” will do neither, and the majority of “marketing solutions” won’t guarantee to do either. So buyer beware. It makes better sense, as an indie author, to invest your money in you and your readership.

What do you consider to be the worst marketing mistakes?
Have you got any marketing nuggets you’d like to share?

Lament for the Living is out now: paperback and ebook

Why the Resale of ebooks Isn’t Evil

Recently there have been a number of alarmist posts made on the interwebs about companies (Amazon being one of the them, but Amazon is ALWAYS one of them…) planning to allow users to sell their second-hand ebooks.

People have been really throwing their toys out of their prams over the issue. Or non-issue as I like to think of it. I know that some of you are you wondering what I’m on about here so I’ll do a quick recap on the issue:

  • All creators have the right of first sale, it’s part of copyright in that when their product is sold (for the first time) they get their cut.
  • Until recently there wasn’t the technology to allow the resale, or second hand market, for electronic goods.
  • It’s apparently a back-door for pirated copies (and we all know that piracy funds terrorism (!)).
  • The main argument, especially where DRM is used, is that the first purchaser is an “end-user” and so they are only licensing the product for their personal use, so resale is VERBOTTEN!!!!!! (yes I went over the top with the exclamation marks there, but it was for comedic effect).

Now I’m not going to go into any of those points because frankly, each of them is a choice for the individual copyright holder/publisher to decide on. Personally, I’m not going to put DRM on my future works (unless required by certain outlets…. Amazon) because I think it’s limiting and frustrating for the reader. “Surely you’re worried about piracy?” I hear you gasp. Well…. no. Not as much as I am about alienating readers in the first place.

So why am I not bothered about the re-sale of ebooks? Or more specifically, why am I not worried about the re-sale of MY ebooks? There are two reasons:

  1. I’ll have earned what I consider to be my entitlement via the ‘right of first sale’. I think it’s fairly obnoxious to expect to be paid when someone sells that book on. 
  2. I actually see the option to re-sell e-books as another revenue opportunity.

Wait! What? You heard me! Now put your brain in gear. As an reader, how many copies of an ebook do you legally own? That’s right, as many as you legally paid for. Now, as an author, how many copies of your ebook do you legally own?……. Okay, let me help you with that one. It’s somewhere between infinity and whatever comes after that.

See where I’m going with this yet?  These re-selling services operate by allowing you to sell any copies you legally own. With ebooks (as long as you haven’t stupidly sold your publishing rights), as an author you own an infinite amount of them. You can create them at will, which means that you can also sell them at will. So why should a canny author be bothered about these services when he/she can use them as another revenue stream.  Log on, see how much your book is going for in the second-hand market, put a load of copies up for sale at a competitive price. A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing. Simples.

I’d love to read your thoughts on the issue.

Don’t forget, ‘Lament for the Living’ is out on May 10th – get a sneak peek at the first chapter for FREE!

Currently it’s .prc (DRM free for Kindle) or .pdf only.
Kindle/.prc – Download Here
PDF – Download Here

Download, read, enjoy. Let me know what you think.

While you’re waiting for ‘Lament for the Living’ to be released the following titles are also available:
Hannibal House by David Nicol   The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol
For more information and purchasing links please visit:
www.tbfmedia.com/bibliography

Publishing in 2013

If you’re an author, or writer (horses for courses, titles are vitals) and you put your work out there for the public to buy then you need to accept the reality that you’re not writing for YOU any more.  It may be a hobby for you, and a hobby it may stay, but even the most vehement hobbyist secretly wishes to be discovered.  Look at EL James.  She wrote arguably the worst book ever written and has become immensely successful off the back of it.  Well done love, you give us all hope.

And that brings us to the reality of publishing – traditional publishing:

“Publishers are in the business of selling books, not publishing books.

The dirty business of publishing is simply the means to the bookselling ends. The publishing industry has always been built around a model of scarcity and exclusivity. Publishers want to acquire and publish only those titles they think have the greatest commercial potential. They reject all the rest as riff raff, and then they carefully meter out their chosen books in seasonal catalogs.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker/2013-book-publishing-indu_b_2352895.html

The publishers saw the buzz around Fiddy Shaves and that was enough.  They saw the Golden Goose and worked out it was ready to lay.  And boy did it lay!

So for those of you who are considering prostrating yourselves at the feet of the traditional publishing gods, I suggest you read the whole of Mark Coker’s 21 Publishing Predictions for 2013.  It’s informative and validates many of my preconceptions about publishing which I’ve previously written about (but obviously – what the hell do I know?).

2013 looks to be the real coming of age of ebooks, but it will also be a difficult time with many more established and new authors producing works, as well as out of print books getting a new lease of life via digital publication.  How the traditional publishers attempt to maintain their stranglehold on the business, or evolve to embrace it remains to be seen.

Whatever happens, 2013 will definitely be interesting times.  A year that I look forward to with the launch of my first book ‘Lament for the Living‘.

What about you?  How do you see the writing/publishing scene in 2013?

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

My Goal for 2013

I’ve already posted my New Year Resolutions for 2013 and they’re going spiffingly well so far (yes, it’s still 2012).

What of my goals?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  I’ve been thinking about it, and while writing this on a small Acer netbook computer I’ve decided that my goal is to make enough from writing to buy a new laptop.  A proper laptop, that can do more than one operation at once.

My writing time is divided between this netbook and my main PC (a self build).  For comfort I prefer the laptop type as I can sit on the sofa, under a blanket and be nice and cosy.  Being cold really puts me off writing.  I usually use the PC when I have to do more than one thing and especially if I’m doing any photo or video editing.

Much like I did my sums for my New Year Resolutions, I did them for my goal.  To achieve my goal I’ll need to sell 143 copies of my book in 2013.  That’s about 12 per month.  It’s doable, but since ‘Lament for the Living’ won’t be released until May I might not pull it off.

But that’s my goal, that’s what I’m aiming for.  Sales = laptop = better productivity.

Bring it on.

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Indie Authors – Beware the Rip-Offs

Most indie authors are aware of the pitfalls of self publishing, especially those that offer “packages” to authors in return for exorbitant fees with little return.  There are many companies that are to be avoided, and shall remain nameless for two reasons: 1 – I live in the UK and mentioning names could be considered libellous, and 2 – it reduces their overall exposure if you just don’t mention them.

There are also more insidious and I’d say deceitful practices out there that indie authors and self publishers should be aware of.

Firstly you should realise that if you are an indie author, or self publisher then you are a business, and as such your decision making should be business led.  If you need help with a certain aspect of your work; cover design, proofreading/editing, marketing then you should be contracting that work out to a professional.  What you shouldn’t be doing is operating on vanity.  Many of the shysters out there operate on your vanity, your ego.  Business and ego are bad bed fellows.

I wrote this post after clicking on a link in my twitter feed about “being discovered in 2013”.  I clicked the link because I’d like to be discovered in 2013.  Maybe this was my way in…. I found myself on a professional looking website that extolled the virtues of their work in being a bastion for the indie reader.  Enter now, the blurb said to get your work in to the pool to be a “discovery of 2013”.  Each entry would be read by one of their panel of judges and by the look of it be given a 4 or 5 star review…. (hmmmm).  Okay, thought I.  Let’s see what they’re after.

It was all very straightforward, enter the title of your book, genre (but if you wanted to add extra genres it was an extra $50 (double hmmmm)).  Then just scroll down a bit and it asks about payment details.  Just so we’re clear, I hadn’t filled any of the form in, I was still in the looking phase.  When I saw ‘payment details’ I was intrigued.  Payment?  To enter a competition to be discovered?  Then I saw it.  Each entry was $150.  Sooo the site wanted to be paid $150 for each discovery it made… triple hmmmm.

Strip away the “awards” on this one and you’re paying at least $150 for someone to review your book.  No siree Bob!  To me, the moment you pay for an award you devalue your product and your integrity.  How can anyone take your work seriously if you’ve paid for a 5 star review of it?

What appeared to be a legitimate discovery opportunity became potentially sullying experience.  If only I could charge that site for the time I spent working out the catch.

Another sharp practise to look out for are online directories.  There are sites out there that position themselves as independent author, or writer, networks.  Their blurb is that their goal to help indie authors and self publishers to gain visibility.  Then they want you pay a fee to be added to THEIR database.  Not a central entity, their website database.  Who are the majority visitors to those sites?  Other indie authors.  Readers, or your target audience, visit the store of their e-reader (where you’ll be listed as an author, along with your bibliography), not those sites.  So save your money and put it in to your writing, or use it to fund some marketing – it’ll be money much wiser spent.

Use online communities such as GoodReads to grow your exposure and interact with real readers.  And I can’t stress this one more:  Use Social Media properly.  facebook, twitter, whatever are for communicating, not a one way pipe for your marketing.  Build up a proper network of readers and other authors who complement your brand.  Stay away from the slush pile.  It smells.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Tell me your experiences, good or bad of online author services.

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

New Year Resolutions 2013

David NicolI know, let’s get Christmas out of the way first, but then the next thing for most people is making their new year resolutions that they may, or may not, keep.

First, I’m going to stick to my indie author manifesto:

I will :-

  1. Produce professional quality work
  2. Fully develop characters and plot
  3. Not compromise my vision to please a specific market

Seondly, I’ve been doing my sums to work out how much I could potentially write over the course of 2013. I decided that out of the 365 days available I can realistically write on 350. So how much can I write in 350 days? Can I write another book in that time?

Well, I worked out that an acceptable length for the type of novel I write is in the region of 80,000 words. If I divide that by the days available then we’re looking at 229 words per day. TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINE WORDS?! That’s nothing. I can do that in one breath (maybe… actually my wpm show fatal hypoxia in my near future if I try that). Anyway I can comfortably manage 1500 – 2000 words in one sitting of a couple of hours of pure writing.

So my new year resolutions are: Follow my indie author manifesto and write an average of 685 words per day.

With that new year’s resolution I’ll be looking at three complete drafts in a year. In total for 2013 I’ll be looking at releasing two finished books and one collection of short stories.

Will I stick to these new year resolutions? There’s only one way to find out. See you in 2013!

What are your New Year Resolutions, and did you stick to last years?

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

The Great ISBN Swindle

David NicolNevermind the shysters, here’s the monopolies.  Ooh check out all those pseudo-punk references there.  But that’s what it’s like being an independent author.  To self publish is to be counter to the establishment, just like punk did in the 1970’s.  Indie authors get similarly bad press to the punks of yesteryear not only from the big publishing houses, but also from some established authors.  They miss the point that, just like punk, there’s a market for it.  People are getting fed up with being told to what to buy, and independent authors produce works that readers want to read.  If they didn’t then there wouldn’t be any indie authors.

Not only do we have to watch out for dubious companies (and individuals) offering services that don’t necessarily live up to the marketing hype, but on top of that self publishers have to navigate the murky waters of business.  For those wanting project the most professional identity to readers, agents, publishers and distributors an ISBN is pretty essential.

What’s an ISBN?

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique number in a database.  Without it a book essentially doesn’t exist.  It’s not indexed and therefore not searchable on the standard database for libraries and book stores.  That’s not to say that getting an ISBN is difficult.  It’s not.  Anyone can get one.

So what’s the big deal?  I hear you cry.  Well my lovelies, the big deal is the big cost, or the little cost if you follow this train of thought to its conclusion.  ISBN’s can be expensive.  They are operated in some countries by a single company for profit.  For example, in Australia an ISBN costs $AUS 95 for a new publisher ($AUS 40 after that), or $AUS 2,750 per 1000.

In the US, Bowker are responsible for ISBN distribution, and they charge $US 125 per ISBN.  However, hop over the border to Canada and ISBNs are free in order to promote Canadian culture.

So where’s the swindle?

In the countries where you have to pay for an ISBN, in single numbers and even for less than ten, they are quite expensive.  Don’t forget that it’s just a number, an entry on a database, not a gold ingot.  ISBNs are like domain names back in the 1990’s.  They were expensive because they were only available from a small number of outlets.  ICANN charged a registration fee, but the registrars charged customers well over the odds in addition to those fees.  That’s the ISBN business model in many countries right now.

For example, in the US, one ISBN is $125.  1000 ISBNs are $1250.  That’s $1 each if you buy in bulk.  Surely it’s more labour intensive to administer 1000 of anything, than it is to administer a single iteration?  So why would an individual cost be so high?  To put people off maybe?

For those in countries where ISBNs are expensive, or only available in blocks (such as the UK where you have to purchase 10 ISBNs at a time) the alternative is to pay for an ISBN via a third party company.  If you do that then your book shows up as being published by the company you purchased the ISBN from.  That’s not much of an issue, and there’s nothing preventing you from purchasing an ISBN directly in the future to replace the phantom publisher.

If you do decide to buy an ISBN via a third party then make sure that part of the agreement is that they DO NOT have any commercial rights over your book, or that you have to record them as publisher for a certain amount of time.

Do I need an ISBN?

If you only intend to publish online then an ISBN may be superfluous to your requirements and an unnecessary expenditure.  Even if you do print your book you don’t need an ISBN on there.  However, if you want it to be available through any traditional avenue, including your local library, you’ll need that all important number.

That little barcode sitting on the back of your book makes all the difference between being a wannabe and bona fide author in the eyes of many people, so it’s something to consider, if not right now, but definitely in the future.

What do you think of the subject of ISBNs?  Do you have an ISBN that you sourced yourself?
Leave a comment below.

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Protect Your Copyright

David NicolIn this post I advise the indie, or self published author to protect their copyright not from nasty pirates, but from exploitation.

When faced with a contract the old adage of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’ is never truer.  You’ve created a book you’re proud of and you get interest from a publisher.  Life is sweet.

But before you sign that bit of paper which means so much to you, check to make sure that it delivers on your expectations.  What exactly are you getting out of the contract?  The biggest thing you need to watch for is that you do not sign away your rights for an indeterminate amount of time.

A friend showed me a contract that he had been sent by a small publisher and one clause in it stated that the publisher would retain sole publishing and distribution rights for the duration of the copyright.

I asked my friend if he knew how long the duration of copyright lasts.  He didn’t know.  So I told him, and if you don’t know either then it’s something that you should be aware of.  Copyright remains for seventy (70) years after the death of the copyright holder.  So although the contract wasn’t specifically requesting the copyright, it was effectively demanding control of the work for the entirety of its existence.

We’re constantly warned about the evils of copyright infringement, how illegal copies of work harms authors, artists and other creatives.  But as copyright holders we’re never warned about the risks of copyright abuse where control is removed from us with little or no recompense.  Regaining control of your work can be a lengthy and costly process.

What to look for:

  • If you are asked to sign over sole rights, make sure there is a expiration date of the agreement.  Not just when all copies are sold, or the book goes out of print.  Make sure there is a set date, or explicit amount of time from the date of agreement.
  • Never give up your copyright unless you are properly compensated.  If you give up your copyright you’re relinquishing the rights to produce future works including any of the characters you’ve signed away.
  • Do you get an advance?  If not, are the terms of the contract worth receiving a couple of copies of the book that you could Print on Demand for a couple of quid?
  • Negotiate different terms for digital and print rights.  Digital copies are effectively risk free for a publisher.

When protecting YOUR rights don’t be surprised if a publisher comes back with a “take it or leave it” attitude.  They are a business, and their business is to make money.  It takes a lot of strength to say no and to hold out for a better offer, but I’d urge each every one of you to carefully consider any deal you get yourself in to.

Remember – although a publisher may be taking a risk on you, their business model depends on their ability to exploit your work.  That shouldn’t end up as single sided deal.  If anyone should be exploiting your work then that person should be you.  You put the hours in.  You came up with the idea and you created the work.  Don’t be quick to give all that away to become a ‘published author’.

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Available now:

The Deluge of Elias by David NicolLong after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.

The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.

Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon US

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon UK

Hannibal House by David Nicol‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Hannibal House from Amazon US

Hannibal House from Amazon UK

 

 

Why Do Indie Authors Abuse Twitter?

David NicolIn this post I urge Indie Authors to reclaim Twitter as a social media tool, as a platform to INTERACT with readers and other authors rather than use it as a one way sewer pipe full of “BUY MY BOOK” excrement.

I’m seeing more and more blog posts with headings along the lines of “The Indie Author’s Guide to Twitter”.  Although I think it’s great that people are sharing knowledge and information, the title should really be “How to Abuse Social Media” because that’s what most of these posts amount to.

The idea behind Twitter is to express yourself in 140 characters.  Yes, there are twitter accounts that are set up for no other reason than to spam out links.  They are bad.  But when an indie author does it it suddenly makes it okay?  No it doesn’t.  It just makes that indie author a spammer too.

SOCIAL media

Social Media: the clue is in the name.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to be social requires discourse.  I’m not seeing that with many indie authors.  The vast majority of their tweets are dedicated to promoting their wares.  If legitimate people follow you then they’ll do so because they are interested in you and your work to begin with.  You don’t have to spend every waking (and non-waking automated) minute blitzing their feed with how great you and your work is.

If someone wants to see adverts then they can turn off their adblocker or turn on their TV, radio, or read a newspaper or magazine.  What most of these “guides” encourage indie authors to do is to spam their followers with information that they already know.  Oh, you have a book available on Amazon?  I guess I missed that fact the first 500 times you posted it….

Until recently my Twitter feed was swamped by the same six or seven accounts.  They had nothing to say, but they were tweeting it out loud and clear.  So much so that I was missing tweets from people who actually had something to say.  My feed was full of Retweets, Retweets of Retweets, crowing about 5* reviews and quotes…. oh the endless quotes!  I’ve begun to remove those accounts and I now see a whole range of diverse tweets from many interesting people.

Here are the main culprits for the decline in Twitter interaction:

Follow as many people as possible

I’ve seen the advice that you should follow as many people as possible because that’s the ONLY way to gain followers!  Ahhhh no.  That’s the quickest way to end up in the circle-jerk of #TeamFollowback.  Like attracts like, it’s the nature of the universe.  You will gain followers if you have something interesting to say, are helpful and genuine.  Sure, it can be a slow process, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either.  It makes more sense to me to grow from a small number of followers who are interested in what I have to say than thousands who will never read my tweets.  Crazy eh?

Unfollow those pesky non-followers…

I see the tip ‘unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back’ often, because apparently a 1:1 ratio of following to followers is a good thing.  No, it’s not.  That shows that you really don’t care about the content of the people you follow as long as they follow you back.  When I see an account that follows 30k+ accounts that says to me that that account has no interest in my tweets.  They just want my follow.  Really, are they going to be reading ANY of the thousands of tweets that hit their feeds every second.  No, no they’re not.

Automate Those Tweets

Why waste your time on tweeting out when you can simply automate it?  You’re out shopping.  Oh no, how will people know that you have a book out, or a promotion on?!  Don’t worry your pretty little head!  ACME generic tweet app will save the day.  What about when you sleep?  No problem!  Auto-tweet the hell out of that too because people in different timezones might have missed your spamming very important self promotion marketing tweets.  Champion!  That way there can be no escape from swamping your followers’ feeds.

Retweet EVERYTHING!

Another popular ‘top tip’ is to retweet the love.  See #RT #authorRT or any number of a dozen hashtags and you must mindlessly hit that Retweet button, regardless of whether you know, like, or have even read the contents.  It’s the law!  Sounds great doesn’t it?  Well no.  Not really.  You’re supposed to be building a brand.  Your brand should be built on trust and integrity.  Your readers should be able to trust that what you write is good, and what you promote is as good as, or better than your own work.  They should have faith that you have the integrity to be actually supporting what you’re sharing rather than clicking (or automating) the Retweet button without a second thought.  If you genuinely think some information is useful, or your followers might enjoy it then Retweet away.

Have a Professional Presence

It’s right that Indie Authors should project a professional image, but by abusing the twitter platform with endless self promotion they’re doing themselves no favours.  Being indie – Independent – is about being in control of your own destiny, and to me, having the integrity that ‘Big Business’ doesn’t.  On twitter I follow those have something to say, not just continuous veiled “Buy my book” tweets.  And those that follow me, I’d like to think that they are interested in what I have to say.  You know, being social and all that.

Don’t try and emulate the ‘Big 6’ accounts.  Your readership is at a grass roots level, they want to interact with you, so don’t let them down by industrialising your social media platforms.

I now check out every account that follows me, and if they (a) are a real person (b) post real tweets and (c) don’t have feed full of RTs and automated crap then I’ll follow back.  Nine times out of ten, if I don’t follow back then after a couple of days they unfollow and I feel vindicated in my decision not to follow that account.  After a little while, some of those accounts will pop up as followers again.  Annoying.

That’s enough from me.  So don’t forget: BUY MY BOOK!

Available now:

The Deluge of Elias by David NicolLong after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.

The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.

Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon US

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon UK

Hannibal House by David Nicol‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Hannibal House from Amazon US

Hannibal House from Amazon UK

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads