“While I like to hope I have changed your world…”

I noticed on Instagram yesterday another writer yet again announcing a new book release as if it is an upcoming Apollo moon launch. We’re all getting a daily countdown. It was ten days to go… then eight days… six, five, four, yesterday three, and I presume today will be two…

[Apollo Saturn V rocket on display. Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Photo by me, 2014.]

And that’s not the end of it.

It all makes me want to bash my head down on my desk repeatedly.

I do like that author most of the time. I’m mentioning that purely as an example. It is all too common behavior.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with posting on Instagram or Twitter or elsewhere on social media that you will soon have a new book out, or do…

…I have done it (and I hope I will be able to do it again). Mentioning it can be social. After all, it is certainly a life accomplishment and is at least as important as another photo of your cat or what you had for lunch:

It is just that I find some writers wildly overdo it. “Good for you,” seeing it the first time, I smile. “Well done. I know the feeling.” However, seeing it for about the sixth time in three days, I’m now thinking: “That’s enough. I have a memory.” By the twelfth or so time the book is pushed at me, I’m feeling: “Uh, stop it now. You’re getting on my nerves.”

If I ask myself what has led me actually to BUY a book by an “indie” author I’ve first encountered online, off the top of my head here I feel it has usually been as a result of three main factors:

  1. I’m intrigued by the story insofar as I have learned about it. (Apologies in advance, but if you write about the Zurundian magical Herders of Dawn on the planet Duralani, I probably won’t buy your book. The book may well be, uh, stellar, and I wish you all the best. But it’s just not my personal reading taste.)
  2. I have come to believe, based on what I’ve seen of their social media and/or blog I have probably followed for some time, that the author is genuine, talented, and I will enjoy and perhaps even learn something from the book. (And I may even pick up some writing pointers for my own next book.)
  3. The author did NOT annoy me by constantly shoving the book at me on social media such as Instagram.

That’s me. No doubt you have your own approach. Mine have not yet led me astray: I’ve enjoyed every “indie” book I have ever read – and I’ve read a dozen or so since starting this blog.

I’ve been blogging on here since late 2013. I have also watched as many author blogger contemporaries – many of whom I followed and engaged with – have blogged less and less (to the point a blog post is now rather a surprise) and with some even vanishing. Usually I think such happens due to increasing disenchantment: too many seem to have started blogging thinking if they just put up a web site and announce they have a book, doing that will sell (hopefully lots of) books…

…and it slowly dawns on them that it simply doesn’t work that way.

My guess is I have a modest flow of new novel readers only because as I have kept writing books I have also made sure I have regularly posted on my blog here: the two go hand in hand. Maintaining a living blog (meaning one updated at least two or three times a month) helps to keep many long-time followers and attract new blog visitors as well; reading on the net is in many respects a habit, and if you begin to post erratically to barely at all certainly that habit gives way and visitors drop off. Fewer and fewer will come to know who you are, what you are doing, and what you have done

[Excerpt from Distances: Atlantic Lives, 1996-1997. Paperback. Click to expand.]

“If we don’t all grow old together.” We hope we will, but at the very least the writing shall always live. While I like to hope I have changed your world for the better with one or more of my novels, mundane necessity also demands I keep my daily aims more grounded.

It requires tenacity to maintain a daily(ish) author blog, but the blog is in its way just as necessary to an author as writing the book(s) because it is (I believe) the essential way to get the word out about your writing(s) to both the most interested and the widest readership. New visitors pop by in the first place because they want to, they see you are book-talking (amongst perhaps other related things), and if they like what they see they will probably be back. And some eventually may even become interested enough in what they see that they may indeed choose to fork over their hard-earned money for something you wrote… and hopefully they will love it and tell their friends and family, and so on…

Social media is different, which is why I urge every new writer to be careful posting in places like hashtag-crazy Instagram: it’s not the same as your personal blog, which may be your “bookshop front,” so to speak. There’s a line between “getting the word out” vs. possibly “spamming”; and it is imperative nowadays to know where that line is. Think about it this way: if you would be aggravated seeing something like it pop up in your timeline over and over and over and over to the point you might even like to unfollow, lots of other people out there will probably be just as aggravated if you do it to them.

Have a good writing and/or reading day, wherever you are in the world. 🙂