Have you ever gone to any of the reader lists associated with a retailer? I’d say most of us have and for good reason. One, we are curious if any readers are discussing our book. Two, to see if maybe there is a trend or new genre you should be writing in. Three, to let readers know about your book. So, yes, we check out the various reader forums at places like Amazon, Sony, Barnes and Noble, and many others.
When you go to these forums at the retailers you might be faced with the unexpected.
Please note: I am just reporting on what I’ve found. I’m not looking for a war. I’m not saying it is everywhere (I hope it isn't) and certainly does not include review orientated websites for readers and authors, and I’ve only been to the romance genre forum sections at retailer sites.
There seems to be a trend on these forums to bash authors. That’s right, at first glance you might think it is a fluke that these people are so upset with an author. But if you view how the forums are set up they completely forbid authors to post on the forums. There may be one section set aside for authors to announce a book or to "shamelessly self-promote", and that’s about it. Heaven help you if you don’t read the rules set up in these forums.
Even if you do read the rules watch out for your signature file, make sure you don’t self promote. Just having a website listed in your signature can be perceived as self promotion. Sometimes I see posts in the “rants” defending an author or authors in general, let’s say you wouldn’t want to be that person.
Let’s face it, we are solitary creatures, that is why we write alone. To go out and promote our work is one of the most difficult aspects of being an author. It would be nice if just publishing the book could alert all the readers. But, unless we toot our horns no one if going to know our book is out there.
The whole undertone of the retailer reader forums makes me wonder what the heck authors have done to deserve all the horrid opinions of us. Yes, I’ve seen some authors go overboard on the self promotion, but they really are a small number and usually stop when called out on it. I can even understand the readers wanting to discuss a book without the author there, let’s face it not everyone is going to like our book. But still, the attacks and attitude toward authors is scary.
I wonder, how the authors have become the enemy. Why would readers take offense to what an author might say? Even if an author did not post in their discussion, don’t they realize the author will read it? A person can write their opinion without being cruel.
Posts can be made in the “author” sections, and make sure that is the only place you post. I wonder if authors shouldn’t start a RANT section in that area against some reader posts. I can sure understand how an author could get upset. And let’s face it, posting to other authors isn’t exactly much of a promotion.
After visiting these forums I can understand why so many readers don’t post. They are even turned off by these forums to the point they won’t post a review, even if they love the story. Many of the reviews have become a sounding board for this current attitude that author is always wrong.
With luck you will have a much nicer experience on the retailer reader forums. I for one will avoid them. All the bad vibes makes it difficult to write, so I won't go back. I love to chat with my readers and friends on the internet, I don’t want to become afraid to post. I can say that if I faced these nasty remarks when I started publishing I might not have continued.
There are good places out there to talk to your readers, most are through review sites like Coffee Time Romance and More, The Romance Studio and others where they want authors and readers to come together. You can promote where it is fun to talk to everyone. Heavens, you can’t expect everyone to like you, but you shouldn’t have to put on steel armor just to make an announcement.
My advice, find reader/author sites and join in, don’t be shy. See how others post in these sites to be sure it is the right atmosphere and a place you want to join. Be careful at the retailer forums, I really hate to say that, but I don’t see any up-side for an author on them. You can post in the restricted area for authors, just don’t over step the boundary and then too, you are probably posting to the choir.
A concerned author,
PS Update to: My Best Promotion Ever in the comment area of that post.