The Indie Author Community is a great place to be right now. There’s never been a better time to be a writer, in my opinion, and there are some really smart and engaged people out there.
Unfortunately, there’s also a dark side. And there are four things from the ‘dark side’ that I’m here to say that indie authors really need to stop.
Disavowing all professional help at any time – while I totally understand limited budgets and not being able to afford professional help, it’s really not right to then tell others that they do not need it. You are not them, and I’ve yet to read a self-edited book that was as good as one that had other eyes on it. And while some people *can* design their own covers, I’m the perfect example of why people should not – I can’t draw to save myself and I know it.
And while some of us (myself included) can format, if you’re not sure about styles nor how to deal with filtered HTML issues, perhaps you need to hire someone to help you.
Instead – Accept that indie author still need to hire outside of their own sphere of reference, and save for it. If you don’t have the necessary skills, find a helper! Your readers will thank you for it later. And you’ll learn from each of the processes. Not sure who to hire, or struggling to find people? We’ve got some really great lists of editors and other service providers on our group.
2) The phrase ‘if this isn’t allowed, admins please remove’. Not only is this at best, an ill-advised comment, it’s also a red flag to anyone that administrates or moderates a group that you’re not reading the rules, or don’t want to follow them, or are posting to too many groups at once.
At worst, it’s a sign that the poster is spamming everywhere with the same message – all of which generally amounts to ‘not really the sort of person active groups like to see’.
If you think that’s harsh, look at it another way. I moderate several large groups who have a blanket ‘no ads, no exceptions’ rule and between the active moderators, we delete between 14 and 40 spam messages a day. Someone saying ‘if this isn’t allowed, please delete’ just pushes people’s buttons. And nine times out of ten, it’s still something that people shouldn’t post.
Instead – Take a minute to read the rules, or if it says ‘if in doubt, contact us’, do so. If you don’t know who the moderators are, you can find them on Facebook under members then, ‘admins’. Please do however, give them time to answer.
Please also bear in mind that the rules are there for a reason – whether y0u feel it unfair that others have ruined it for you in the past or that your post shouldn’t be considered advertising because of (x), then ask yourself why you should be allowed to and others aren’t. And remember too, though readers don’t know everything about how the indie author community works, if they see authors that don’t follow the rules, they’re bound to consider you less readable.
3) Private messaging lots of people with a request to read your book – Not only is it against the rules of Facebook, it’s stupidly annoying to receive private messages from people that others barely know. It’s also important to remember that mass use of the messaging system is not only spamming, but you’re likely to put off people, especially if they’ve just added you/that’s your only contact with them.
BONUS bad idea – messaging people and adding them to events, groups and other places without their permission. It’s not OK to email your whole address book when you launch a book – it’s not OK to message people or post on their personal/professional walls. It’s not to add people to your groups. ASK, don’t assume.
Instead – consider actually using Facebook to interact with people – if you ASK for help instead of assuming it’s OK to message people and intrude (because that’s what messages are – you’re intruding on their personal space to ask for something, no matter how nicely) you’re more likely to get help. You can’t just add someone and do it straight away.
4) Tell another writer they have to help you because you’re waiting to be discovered/ telling people who have added you that if you they don’t buy your book they’re not being supportive/to defriend you – if you can’t see a problem with this one, I’m here to break it to you that writing is not like the field of dreams. We do not build it and they’ll come. It’s more like build, decorate, share, open house THEN they’ll come. And as above, using other authors to help you with your ‘open house’ is absolutely unfair. It’s one thing to get help from friends, it’s another to spam others. Accusing others of not helping when they don’t know how to help or expecting everyone that knows you to buy your book really is something that too many indie authors do, usually in desperation. Not everyone is placed to read your book all at once.
Instead – the two things to bear in mind is it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and that if you’re not marketing and are instead wasting all your time collecting friends, posting to their walls/messaging them and repeating again and again, not only are you running the risk of being banned from the networks you’re doing it on, you’re also driving people away instead of attracting them.
If you’re really struggling to promote, and you’re not sure what to do, there’s plenty of advice available in the indie author community – come join us, for example at the Indie Author Group and Indie Author Writing group on Facebook and join in – we’re strictly no ads, but there’s lots of great advice there and on our website!
Kai Viola is an expert marketer, community manager and Digital Steward. She's been blogging since before it was a thing. Recently, she's been working as an indie author support system, techie and moderator on some really big sites.
Her books can be found at Books by Kai and she's the managing editor and head creative of Stuff Writers Need.
Questions? Drop her a line on her contact form