So here's the thing! Let's talk about people. Not just any old people, but Internet people, cyber people, people who are out there - like the truth! You remember the X Files! Yeah, I wanted to believe, I really did! I mean who wouldn't want to believe Gillian Anderson? And the Smoking Man was a brilliant character, but those aliens were a bit uncommunicative! And that black oily stuff wasn't very nice.
Well, I've sat in my house meeting these people, conversing with them, cavorting with them willy-nilly, and you know what? They live all over the world, in far-flung places like Thailand, Antarctica - or is that the Arctic? I always get confused between the two. One's at the bottom, and the other's at the top - of the world dummy! Hey, I bet you're impressed with my encyclopaedic knowledge of geography! (As an aside, I vaguely remember winning a bird book (that's a book about birds not a book that could fly) because of my score on a Geography test in the first year at Secondary School, but everything went downhill from there).
Anyway, I digress! So, one has penguins and the other has polar bears (see below), but neither of those wonderful creatures are people. Maybe the people from Antarctica are Eskimos (or Inuit) and live in igloos. How can you keep warm in an igloo? Are there modern igloos with central heating and hot running water? Oh well, what about an Internet connection? I suppose they use dongles for a sat-link download via the International Space Station, but what happens when the satellite's elliptical orbit moves out of range? So many questions! And not only that, how will the people get down from the Space Station now they've mothballed the Space Shuttle? Bugger that for a game of soldiers!
So, I was talking about all these wierd people spanning the globe that I've been dancing the tango with. Not only do they stem from a potpourrie of countries and different walks of life, but they're all a cornucopia of ages, they all have a variety of backgrounds, use different Internet browsers, and eat different foods! And yet, we meet in various places on common ground and talk a load of rubbish. Well, when I say rubbish, I don't mean me, of course, but all those other people. Heavens! You should read some of the rubbish they write. Sometimes, I wonder how I stay sane! Anyway, there's a bucketful of wonderful people out there - and when I say out there, I mean in here! Well yes, because they're all in my living room. Now, I wouldn't mind except there's a good programme on the television and I can't see or hear it! Will you shut the noise up and go and stand on the patio!
Now, don't get me wrong, I invited them all in - through Facebook, Twitter, G+, Kindleboards, Kindle User's Forum, my website and blog, and all the other Social Networking sites that any self-respecting writer ought to belong to, but sometimes... These sites are like chatrooms, and believe you me there's a lot of chatting that goes on - especially between certain people of a certain gender - nudge, nudge, a nod's as good as a wink! So, children are warned about these chatrooms, and that's a good thing because there are some seriously deranged people out there, but adults aren't warned, are they? I know, how terrifying is that? I mean, there could be serial killers, stalkers, or chocolate thieves posing as friends or fans of your writing in these places, just waiting to pounce as soon as you close your eyes or become distracted. I know, it doesn't bear thinking about.
But... and here's the thing, let's talk about all the fantastic people who tweet without expecting a tweet back; who follow you because it's the right thing to do regardless of where you're going; who share your book reviews and write on your Facebook wall without any thought of reciprocation; who read your blogs and say nice things about your style, humour, and subject matter; who Like and tag you, congratulate you, and remember your birthday because it's in the public domain and they make a point of finding out and putting it in their calendar. Thankfully, I have no serial killers, stalkers, or chocolate thieves in my living room except the ones residing in my own imagination - Well, maybe there are some chocolate thieves, but I know who they are and I have the CCTV and satellites trained on them. Chocolate thieves are probably the worst kind of low-lifes because they eat the evidence.
One last point about people before I go - fans! Now, I've had emails! I know, you're thinking there's a fine line between a fan and a psychopathic stalker who wants to break your leg because you've killed off a character, but I suppose we all have to pay the ferryman one way or another! They've said things like, "I love everything you've written", "When are you putting a sequel out because I don't think I can wait much longer?", "Have you got anything I can read NOW, so that I can sleep at night without taking the pills?" Well, not the last one, but I've had emails along those lines. Hey, I have fans! Well, one actually. I'm a celebrity! Maybe Ant & Dec will contact me about appearing on the next "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" or Oprah Winfrey will... Will ya look at that! The minute I get a sniff at the big time, Oprah shuts up shop!
Here’s the thing! Now, it might be that my eleven ebooks are total rubbish, and although I’ve had a couple of harsh reviews about two of my books because I like sex, I have had some 4 and 5-star reviews of two of my other books. Reviews, however, are not the subject of this blog – although reviews do deserve a blog of their own, and I will put index finger to keyboard in the near future.
For my first blog I'd like to talk about the dilemma that is ebook marketing, promotion, advertising, etc. There’s been a few people blogging about this black art as if they knew what they were talking about – do they? How did they find out? Where’s the objective evidence? I’ve got a PhD, so I know about research, objective evidence, statistical significance, etc., and I haven’t seen the figures – show me the damn figures to prove that any of it works.
Social networking it’s called – Facebook, Fan Pages, Twitter, Kindleboards, Amazon Forums, Bookbuzzr, Goodreads, but there are thousands (maybe millions) of sites out there, and new ones sprouting up every day. Here’s a link to get you started: http://traffikd.com/social-media-websites/ Also, there’s guest blogging, featured author, featured book, ebook giveaways, etc.
Call me a whore, but I ventured down this road into purgatory. I joined Twitter http://twitter.com/ (timellis13) and started tweeting, retweeting, following and being followed, but did it result in any of my ebooks going viral (definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_phenomenon)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!
I’d joined Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1117655869 way back when, but hadn’t bothered with it. Then, when I Kindled all my books, I thought I’d have another stab. I joined Writing Kindle Books – a group of likeminded ebook authors who chatter, tag, like, tweet, moan, groan, love, share, and Digg each other like any extended family. I’ve made a lot of friends, but has the word got out about my books? Have just one of the wonderful titles on offer shot off into the stratosphere? The answer – in case you were wondering – is a down-to-earth NO!
I saw a FB friend with a widget, and I lusted after it. I joined the free part of Bookbuzzr or fReado – there’s a premium (pay) membership as well - and I uploaded all my books onto the site. I got those nifty widgets. Here – take a look – http://timellis.weebly.com/my-books.html – do they make you want to read, steal, download, or otherwise purloin my books? Have these widgets (and the automated tweets) resulted in a conflagration of sales (a fire sale)? The answer – in case you were wondering – is NO!
The Amazon Kindle/book forums were the place to be. Like Danny Gillan http://susannefromsweden.wordpress.com/ I ventured on there, hunted out the UK and USA forums for the different genres I write in, made some acquaintances in the fantasy forum, advertised my books, but to a large extent the squatters in the threads made it quite clear that authors promoting their books are lower than a snake’s belly and viewed as the second coming of Bubonic Plague (definition and nice picture here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague). Anyway, I persisted, until I got an email from the wonderful people in Customer Services at Amazon saying my posts were not posts, but blatant self promotion and if I didn’t stop it my forum rights would be curtailed – told off good and proper. I tracked over a Baker’s dozen of threads and received notification by email of new posts – everybody was doing it, but they picked on me! I’m not tracking any threads now. I’m not posting on anymore threads either – I know when I’m not wanted. Did this embarrassing sortie into the Amazon jungle of forums result in me being compared to Steig Larsson, JRR Tolkien, Arthur C Clarke, or any of the other dead greats? The answer – if you were wondering – is a resounding NO!
I went on the Kindleboards. I got told off because I had too many books – the covers looked very nice all lined up next to each other – but apparently, I wasn’t meant to advertise on any forum except the self-promotion forum. I chatted, introduced myself, talked about esoteric things, made observations, asked questions, jumped from thread to thread with casual abandon, exuded wonderfulness, but did any of my books become bestsellers, a top-ten chartbuster, a mover or a shaker? The answer – if you were wondering – is a Top Ten NO!
I gave some books away: http://indiebookblogger.blogspot.com/2011/04/free-ebooks-galore.html, and put myself about a bit: http://indieebooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/knowledge-of-time-second-civilization.html?spref=tw, and in a couple of other places that I can’t remember (note to self – must write things down!). Did these forays into the blogosphere turn any of my books into blockbusters? Was my email clogged up with agent’s begging to represent me, or publishers offering me six-figure advances, or Steven Spielberg wanting the film rights to at least one of my books? The answer – if you were wondering – is a big fat NO!
I could talk about Amanda Hocking, but I’m not going to. She’s now signed for a traditional publisher so she doesn’t have to do any Social networking. Now there’s an idea!
This is my incursion into blogging. Will it result in sales, spikes in the Excel chart, emails from Amazon saying I'm now in their Top Ten all-time favourites and they'd like me to come back to the forums? The answer - if you were wondering is - let's wait and see!
Please feel free to tell me if I've missed something, or you've been offended by anything I've mentioned. And if you like it, feel free to Tweet and Share - you never know - I might get a sale!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.