Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cybernocturnalism 6.5: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
Compiled and Introduced by Anthony Servante

Cybernocks: Read My Book!


Cybernocturnalism refers to the current trend of self-publishing “horror” (and other genres) in ebook form, marketing the work on social media, and creating a deluge of product whereby it is becoming harder and harder to find quality writing in a medium that requires only a modicum of attention to editing, book covers, and proofreading. In Cybernocturnalism VI: The Seeds of Horror (see adjacent article on this blog), I invited several authors who were new to the ebook market and a handful who were about to enter the market to be interviewed to gauge their expectations about becoming cyber-authors in an overcrowded market. Then I invited two published authors from the traditional paper book market to address our participants’ expectations with some “real world” advice. When the interviews went live, I left the door wide open for the participants to answer our two traditional authors’ responses.

That didn’t happen, though I give kudos to Rod Labbe for trying to carry the Comments section virtually on his own (there was one other person who tried to light the fire of commentary, to no avail). So, I decided to conduct a survey for my Friendship Circle on Facebook that would address this area of Cybernocturnalism that was not addressed sufficiently in part VI. Thus we have part 6.5.

I suppose you are wondering why I called it “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee”? Well, because many self-published writers think social media alone is enough to garner a readership for their ebook, that the sheer numbers of "friends" alone should constitute a decent amount of sales. Which is why the survey addresses these specific areas of expectations. Here is what our "friends" think by way of this survey.

A Survey for Authors and Writers

I. When you accept a new friend on Facebook (or any social media), do you expect them to:
1. Buy your books.
2. Like your page.
3. Review your books.
II. When you accept a new friend, who is also a writer, do you intend to:
1. Buy their books.
2. Like their page.
3. Review their books.
III. Is I or II most likely?
IV. If you have a thousand Facebook friends, do you believe that you should sell one thousand of your books? 500? 100? 10?
V. Do you give as much promotion to authors and writers as you expect to get for yourself from them? What's the percentage? 50-50? 10-90? 90-10? Or some other combination?

I will take serious answers and place the stats on my blog. This is Cybernocturnalism 6.5: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Thanks for your time and participation. Try to keep the cracks to a minimum.

Note: I cut off comments to this survey as soon as the “cracks” started. By that time there was a discernible pattern to inform a thesis. Thankfully, Steven Savile, author of “Vampire Wars”, was first to pick up the gauntlet and slew the bad metaphor by answering the survey questions. Luckily, we had a very nice group of writers, established and newcomers, participate in the survey. It is an important topic and I thank each of you for your answers. Here are the responses to the survey, uncensored, uncut, and unabridged. 

The Survey Responses:

Steven Savile I: no no no. II no no no IV 1000 facebook friends might related to 2-3 avid readers, 50 casual readers who enjoyed one book, 950 people trying to sell me their books. V I try to share stuff I think might be of interest to people, and hope for the same in return.

Morgan Griffith I may not have been published enough to qualify for your survey, but personally I don't expect anything of any on my friends list. I buy books that interest me and that's how it should be for everyone. Expectations and obligations don't enter into the picture.

Eric A Shelman I would say the answer to the first question is that I "hope" they do all of the three, but realize some people friend me for other reasons, such as my music on YouTube. With regard to the second question, I do intend to, at one point, buy and read at least their most popular book to determine if their style is for me, and if I do that, I will surely review their books(s). #2 is more likely right away, because I currently write more than I read, despite my best intentions. As for #3, liking their page, of course I will do. #4: A thousand Facebook friends means nothing - I only hope for the best, I do not expect anything and don't think it does any good. It is what it is, as they say. As for the last one, 50/50 ... the authors that I promote tend to promote me right back. There are some, however, who are so excited about their own happenings, that it does not happen. That's okay ... when their sales begin to settle after an initial release, they will seek out cross-promotion strategies with other authors rather than just the one-way street.

Michael H. Hanson Survey Answers:

I. When you accept a new friend on Facebook (or any social media), do you expect them to:

1. Buy your books. - Nope

2. Like your page. - Not Necessarily

3. Review your books. - Nope

II. When you accept a new friend, who is also a writer, do you intend to:

1. Buy their books. - Not Necessarily

2. Like their page. - Yes

3. Review their books. - Not Necessarily

III. Is I or II most likely? - Not sure I understand the question

IV. If you have a thousand Facebook friends, do you believe that you should sell one thousand of your books? 500? 100? 10?

- I honestly have no expectations of selling ANY of my books to any of my FB friends. This is not cynicism. Just cold, harsh experience since I joined FB in 2009. I get wonderful feedback from lots of folks about my poetry, but have literally sold ZERO copies of my poetry books to any of them. FB is a free way to market to family, friends, and fellow writers/poets, but in the end they are not the audience we as writers and poets really need to be reaching to truly start selling our work.

V. Do you give as much promotion to authors and writers as you expect to get for yourself from them? What's the percentage? 50-50? 10-90? 90-10? Or some other combination?

- I have no expectation of any other writer promoting my work, period... with the exception of anthologies I have created... I expect the authors in the anthologies I produce to do their share of marketing. As for those few friends kind enough to "share" any of my marketing posts, I "do" make an effort to "Like" their posts and also "share" an equal number of publishing announcements they make on their pages, assuming they are also writers or poets.... so I guess the answer to this last question is that I try to give a 50-50 reciprocation to all publishing favors done for me by fellow writers/poets. How successful I truly am at that? I really don't know...

Alyn Day ^^^ Pretty much what I was going to say.

Kat Yares Answers:
I. When I accept a new friend, I expect nothing from them.
II. I will generally like their page. If they write in a genre I like, I might buy their books, depending on funds at the moment.
III. ?
IV. The number of friends I have on FB has no bearing on the number of books I expect to sell.
V. I used to promote most of my author/filmmaking friends on FB. With the last few promotions I've done - I've found only about 10 of them will help promote my work. And yes, I took names and yes, those will be the authors I promote in the future.

Rob Meyer I would prefer 3 in the first part and one in the second (with reviews for those books I like), but my most serious expectation is that the person be interesting in their posts. Better an interesting friend than a dull salesperson.

Lisa Lane I. When you accept a new friend on Facebook (or any social media), do you expect them to:

1. Buy your books.

2. Like your page.
It would be nice, but I don't expect it.

3. Review your books.

II. When you accept a new friend, who is also a writer, do you intend to:

1. Buy their books.
Only if they interest me.

2. Like their page.
If I've taken an interest in their work and/or they've liked my page.

3. Review their books.
Only if I read and enjoyed them.

III. Is I or II most likely?
I think it depends on the friend.

IV. If you have a thousand Facebook friends, do you believe that you should sell one thousand of your books? 500? 100? 10?
I can't really set a number.

V. Do you give as much promotion to authors and writers as you expect to get for yourself from them? What's the percentage? 50-50? 10-90? 90-10? Or some other combination?
I'd say 60-40. I'm pretty supportive, but I do have to believe in the author and/or book. I won't promote a book I haven't read (although I will share Amazon buys).

Todd Brown the first one I would say - I dont put any stock in receiving anything when it comes to a friend request, however, if a person likes my author page on facebook, I see them as a POTENTIAL customer.

Todd Brown 2. if a writer likes my page, I always try to reciprocate and like their author page. if they have a book that appears interesting, I will buy it. and if I buy a book, good or bad, I will leave a review.

Todd Brown 3. #2 is most likely

Todd Brown 4. I dont base my sales hopes on facebook friend numbers. people are inundated with requests through that media so I just see it as one small piece of the way to get my stuff in front of others.

Todd Brown 5. I feel that is a lopsided relationship. there are a core few that I feel do as much for me as I do for them, a few that I think do MORE for me, and a majority who are really good at taking and give nothing in return.

Chet Williamson No expectations and no obligations. I'm on Facebook for fun. I'll do a marketing post when I have a new project out, and occasionally remind people that I have books and audiobooks for sale, but generally I just post what strikes my fancy. And if Facebook friends get too "markety," I'll hide their posts.

Richard Lee Byers I don't expect anything, and I'm not disappointed if I don't get anything. But if somebody tries my stuff, I appreciate it.

Amy Frischmann I invite all to my page, I don't commercialize my products on their pages nor would I like them to do the same. I am a writer and also play games on here so if you would me like to reveiw your book or works in the making then ask, don't shove it in my face and be like if you don't read my stuff then I am unfriending you. I like what people post, I tend to like some I also comment on some. Be a friend not an ass

Lisa Tuttle I don't expect ANY of those things. I will "promote" another author only to the extent that if I've read and liked their book I might say so on FB. But I don't see social media as any sort of quid pro quo exchange, and although I kind of have to promote my own books, I keep it to a minimum, and get fed up with other writers if they are constantly banging on about their publications and encouraging you to buy them.

David Whitman I don't expect anything. I've found that FB probably isn't the best place to sell books, though I've definitely had a few sales this way. I've never asked anyone on FB to like any of my book pages.

Barbara Custer I don't want my posting or anyone else's to be a constant "buy my book buy my book." I may ask someone to "like" my page, and I would be glad to like their page, too. Mostly, though I like getting to know people and their interests.

Pam Uphoff I don't friend people, writers or not, with the expectation of them doing anything for me. I friend people with the assumption that they want to participate in the sorts of discussions they've seen me in around here or other places. I have around 600 friends, and probably sell a dozen books from facebook mentions.

John Peet With all these no's I would not know any of you write nor would I have the chance to check anything out that you all have worked on?? Most books I buy are from people I find on facebook. I get the e-books but still seems like a lot of negativity in regards to the question. I find bands this way too. I like finding new things to read and new music to listen to but if you don't tell me what you do or share a page with me I would never be the wiser to ask "hi are you a writer or a band" that would be an automatic delete if I kept posting that on peoples pages lol…

Pam Uphoff I talk about my stuff all the time. But I don't expect my friends to advertise for me. I can be annoying and rude all by myself, and then the blame goes where it ought. Like this: in the middle of someone's thread.

Addendum courtesy of Tony Tremblay  from his 6-18-14 post on Facebook: 

"If EVERY post you make is only about YOUR:
1) Book
2) Short stories
3) How many words you wrote today
4) Some review you got
5) An acceptance
6) How you came up with a brilliant idea about your WIP last night

...then people like me are going to start to pass over your postings. I understand your need to promote and market, but if you are a fledgling or unknown writer to me, the only way I am going to take the extra effort to notice your book is if I know a little something about YOU! We don't have to be best friends, and I don't have to know all your most personal details or dirty little secrets (in fact, I prefer it if I don't). But I do want to know who your influences are, Do you read a lot? Do you have a sense of humor? Can I relate to you on any level other than someone who's trying to sell me a book! I don't have to agree with you on any subject or all of them, I just want to know if you are an interesting person, if you are, you just might be an interesting author to me also.

Anyway, after seeing three posts this morning from authors who ONLY write about what I've posted above, I just wanted to vent."

Thanks, Tony. Very apropos. 

Now we've heard what our "friends" think of the marketing of ebooks from their own lips (as opposed from someone else's lips, I suppose), but it was what we needed to hear. The commonality seems to be people do not join Facebook to find something to read and would rather not be marketed to. But Facebook makes for such a nice Swap Meet atmosphere that it's hard to resist the urge to push one's ebook. Mostly, that is frowned upon.

Anyway, I ended the survey with Pam’s sardonic yet gritty example of the lengths Cybernocks go through to place their ebook ad on a Facebook friend’s timeline or, in this case, survey. And yes I let her ad remain in the thread, but only allow the link here because if I post a picture of her book, then everyone will want their ebook cover posted as well. You see, that's the point. Every ebook author =does= want their ebook publicized on Facebook, blogs, Goodreads, and so on. Any publicity is good publicity, even sardonic links. 

Because the internet has no limit to occupants, as in a restaurant seating area, the deluge of ebooks has bloated the market even though the seams continue to stretch to accommodate even more new e-authors everyday. When will the seams burst? Probably never. But that does not bode well for ebook authors who have stories that are competitive with the traditionally published paper books. David Moody, author of the ebook “Haters”, was the exception. He was found at the cusp of the Cybernock expansion. But now it may be too late for the other talent that is in that great avalanche of ebooks. So, newcomers, wake up and smell the coffee. It’s a whole new market, and the avalanche has only begun.

Honestly, however: Good luck, one and all. 

1 comment:

  1. There are various tricks to getting your book noticed as an e-book. One way is the "Book Bomb", this requires a group of influential people to get all of their readers/facebook friends to buy a book (usually when on sale) all within a short period of time. This will push the book to the top of Amazon's Best Seller list for the day and might get other people to buy the book. Another is giving away your ebook for free for a short time in hopes of getting reviews. Expect to give away a few hundred copies for each review you might get. However, those reviews will also affect how Amazon lists your book. If you get lucky and someone of note gets a copy of your book, they may recommend it to others and that may have a major effect on sales. For instance, if your children's book is highly praised by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as being perfect for their children, then you might see sales jump tremendously.

    Facebook often strikes me as being as useful a tool for selling a book as Thanksgiving dinner. If you are the center of attention, then you might get sales, but if you are competing with others for attention, no one will even look at your stuff.