Monday, July 22, 2013

Readers and Authors, Together in Perfect Harmony

by Jennifer Harlow

**Okay, before I begin, I just want it known I in no way, shape, or form want you to think this is my way of asking you, my lovely readers, to do any of the below. If you decide to, more power to you. This is just for illumination purposes to let you know what goes on behind the scenes as a writer trying to market books.**

I've just published a book! Huzzah! what? How the frak do I get people to discover the damn thing? 1,000 books a day are published. A DAY. That's a lot of people screaming for readers attention. You mean I have to become a marketer as well? Um...huh? Okay, I'll just Google it. What the hell are book bloggers, street teams, Amazon analytics, head hurts. I want my Mommy.

I am not a good salesperson. I hate asking people for help. It physically hurts when I do. That's just how my daddy raised me. "You really can't count on anyone but yourself. Don't expect someone to give you a fish, learn to bait a lure, baby doll." And let's face it, any type of rejection stings and there is no shortage of it in the publishing world. So marketing, and relying on other people to help spread the word about my book, does not come naturally to me. But I query book bloggers, I'm semi-active on social media, and I now know what a street team is. But with more and more people publishing than ever before, the marketing noise is louder and more grating on readers and bloggers. 

I recently read a thread on KBoards about this very problem. Please note though, I'd say about 96% of authors don't engage in the behavior below, but that 4% is ruining it for us all. Both writers and readers commented. The consensus was overzealous authors with their constant selling and begging for reviews was putting readers off from reviewing any books and not joining mailing lists or social media. Readers are tuning all authors out, even those who aren't guilty of the offense. I know I've Un-Followed about a dozen writers on Twitter for just this reason. But dear readers, we need you. We need you now more than ever, not just to read our books but also help spread the word of it's wonders. To be it's champion. I commented that if we just explained why reviews and word of mouth are important, and also spread word to authors how to stop alienating the lifeblood of the industry, maybe things can improve. So, let's give it a whirl:

To authors: Readers want to interact with us. They want to hear about our new works, our process. What they don't want is every damn Facebook/Twitter post ten times a day to be about it. You get a nice review? Awesome, share. Do it seventeen times a day? Not so much. They want to know you're more than a SPAMbot. Readers want to hear about your life. Your family. They want you to ask them questions, then respond. The ratio of selling vs. being a human being should be at most 1:4, if that, which means no asking for reviews or newsletter sign ups or anything where they have to do something for you. Show them you have a personality because if they like you, they'll be more inclined to read your book. I know I've bought books from people just because they seemed like a good, interesting egg, and I was never let down. And if these wonderful people do go above and beyond for you, do the same. If they post a review or join your street team, send them something exclusive like a magnet or new story you've written. Show your appreciation. 

As for book bloggers, more and more are refusing to review self-published books not only because of the quality but also the majority have received threats, literal threats to their lives, for not reviewing a book. Send the query, if they want it they'll ask for it. Don't inundate them with e-mails and damn well no threats. You're a professional now, act like it.

To readers: Okay, first off, you bought our book? You don't owe us authors a damn thing after that. Not a review, not even to buy our next book. Giving an author a chance is more than enough. Our transaction is complete. That being said,it's hard out here for a pimp. My four, soon to be six by the end of the year, girls are working the corner with two million others on Kindle alone, they need any leg up they can get. (No pun intended) My bitches and I don't have the full force of Random House advertising, hell it's really just me in my basement with what little is in my checking account. So, you liked my wares and you're willing to help an author out because you are a man/woman among men, what can you do? First, tell people. Tell your mother, your sister, your local bookseller. Recommend, recommend, recommend. If you're on Goodreads/Tumblr/KBoards regularly anyway, start a thread. It only takes one connector to start a massive viral wave (See 50 Shades or Grumpy Cat.) Then you can honestly say you liked it before it was cool. 

Next on the author's wish list is reviews and author page likes, especially on Amazon. This is very, very important. They have these complicated algorithms where if you reach a certain amount of reviews or likes, you'll get more visibility in the system, which once again can make a book. Then there's street teams. Until a few months ago I didn't know what this was. Basically it's a group of readers around the country who spread word and promotional materials to bookstores/libraries/people in their area that an author made and sent them. Not comfortable with any of the above? Just sign up for the author's newsletter so you know when they have a new book out. You can always unsubscribe. Every little bit helps.

A good start, no? Readers and authors,working together because, you know what, we need each other. The circle of life: without authors readers wouldn't get their supply, and without readers, authors wouldn't have any incentive to write. Let's be good to each other. 

So, what have I forgotten or you wish I'd included for either party? What is effective marketing for you? Sound off in the comments below.             

Also, if you haven't already picked up a copy of my new book Justice, you're in luck. From 7/24-7/26 this week on Amazon it'll be free! Pick up a copy! And as if I weren't busy enough, on Aug 1st the third F.R.E.A.K.S. book, Death Takes A Holiday come out. it's available for pre-order HERE now.  The beautiful covers are below...


Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Jennifer,
Great post! I have an article on my website about just this topic: "How to Help the Author You Love" at

Jennifer Harlow said...

Will check it out