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Why Indies get self promo wrong...

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Initial post: Jun 14, 2012 9:50:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 16, 2012 6:43:59 PM PDT
apatos99 says:
(This post was summarized and ended on page 72. The OP has officially declared it dead. It is now a hideout for authors who are being chased by man-eating vacuum cleaners. Feel free to come in and have a few drinks and a story. If you are a man-eating vacuum cleaner, understand we have no electric here.)

I was talking to a friend and had one of those realizations that only comes in that pre-awakning moment of conscious and is lost as soon as we jump out of bed looking for our first jolt of cafenine.

There are a lot of us Indies out there taking advantage of the digital age, self publishing and trying to shout to the world--hey--I wrote a book and its great. Then, we wonder why no one wants to read it. Hey, we worked hard on our blurb, payed someone to do a great cover, but nobody buys. We had friends write shining reviews and still nobody buys.

What is wrong with people? Can't they see how hard we worked, and our brilliant and original ideas? If we get one of the big six or a influential agent just to pick it up out of the slush pile, we'd be on the NY Times Best Seller List.

This is where we misunderstand and fail to see why being an Indie in a day an age where anyone can publish anything and sell it on is such a great thing, because we are so focused on becoming overnight sensations.

I'm just starting out on this journey, and I realized something. I'm making friends who I can share my ideas and thoughts with on writing. I'm not a writer, I'm a story teller and this is what it is all about. Someone I did not know, now hates my guts but is my friend, because I killed off her favorite character and mine in one of my novels. She cried and went immediately to the next chapter, to see if he been resurrected. After she was done, she contacted me, wanting to know. Why would I do that? I explained, it wasn't just for the fun of it-but that I was exploring the cost of war. How do you continue to fight when you have lost the very thing you refused to lose? Led to a great discussion, and now I have a best friend, I can't go a day without talking to.

That is what is all about. As a reader, I don't want to read something because the NY Times tells me it's the best book of the year. I want to discover something special in a dark corner of the Library. A story few have read that I can share with my friends. Something that touches the core of my soul, and makes me feel special. Like I'm the only one that gets what the author is trying to share---an intimate secret.

As an author and reader, you have to understand this quintessential truth. Nothing you write will ever be truly original. Everything has been done. It's not the story, but how you tell it and how you're characters come to live and sweep the reader along on an adrenaline rush of a ride. It's your passion and willingness to open and espouse the deepest secrets of your soul, that will capture the reader. And make them want to get to know you.

As an author, I want to be like Stephen King. (I don't write horror.) Mr King invites you over to his ramshackle condemned house for a few beers and a story. You are always compelled to go, even though in the back of your mind, you're wondering if you're not going to end up tied up in a dark basement, and be dismembered. You go because you know you're getting a great but scary story that makes you feel more alive than you ever have in your life.

As an author I want to the same. I'm strapping you in a roller-coaster, but this isn't in the day of tight state inspections and the paramount concern for safety. I'm strapping you in a wooden coaster, that wasn't designed by a program that computes the force of gravity on your body. There are no seat belts, but a lap bar you better hold onto, because you could possibly get thrown out, if your not careful. And oh yeah, did I mention that the structure is made out of rotting wood?

This might belong in the MOA forum, but I want to interact with readers and authors. I want to share intimate secrets, discuss writing philosphies--but no direct self promo. No links to your books or websites. Thank you for reading...and more importantly for commenting.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012 10:28:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 14, 2012 10:29:00 PM PDT
Brent Butler says:
Brian, you have some good points in your post, but also some dreck for the sake of alibis. If you just want to be a story teller, become a Scoutmaster and stick to campfires. If you want to distribute stories written in the English language, use it competently.

I'm not going to drive on the same road as someone who says, "All I need to do is get to the store and back ... it doesn't matter if there are a few dents in my car by the time I get back home".

How would you like a parent who says, "It only matters that my kids are exposed to information in their classes. It doesn't matter if they actually learn how to apply that knowledge and make good grades".

Don't make excuses for mediocrity or incompetence. If you sell a product, you are aspiring to be a professional ... as is any other Indy writer who sells their book at a price. Being a professional brings with it the responsibility to release a professionally competent product. Any excuse for not doing so is frankly just a pathetic alibi for laziness ... or incompetence ... or illiteracy.

None of these are qualities I will tolerate in an author. Lots of people can tell good stories. Many of them can tell them in a way that effectively communicates ... that is ... good use of language. There are too many books by people that are BOTH good story tellers and good writers to bother with the amateur wannabees who spend more time making excuses for their errors after they publish than fixing them before they publish.

Posted on Jun 14, 2012 10:40:21 PM PDT
Kribu says:
Calling a considerable part of your potential reader base "annal retentive" (whatever that means - someone who is in charge of retaining annals?) because they, unlike you, notice typos and grammar issues, is quite possibly one of the things self-published authors get wrong when trying to promote their own writing.

Also, everything that Brent says above.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 11:01:01 PM PDT
Dustydavy says:
Anal retentive means that you can hold your feces in. Anal expulsive means that you can not. They are Freudian ideas about the second life stage that a person goes through. Anal retentive people are thought to be too uptight. They are the people who don't use the bathroom in public places.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 1:43:09 AM PDT
Kribu says:
I know what anal-retentive means, thanks.

Annal and anal are two rather different words, however. Only one letter's difference, but it does matter!

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 2:04:22 AM PDT
S. Clapp says:
Most of us don't mind a type-o, misspellings or other grammerical errors here and there. The problem with a lot of these Indie book are the amount of mistakes are making them hard to read. I don't want to read a book and have to think wait what did he mean by that? well I think he means this but the sentence really says that. Too many mistakes make the book hard to read and understand. Remember as an author you trying to convey a story to your audience, you don't want that message to be lost out of your own carelessness and lack of proof reading.

If you cannot proof it yourself give 10 or so pages to friends or a family members, or even other indie authors to look over, at least that would be an improvement over what I see going on

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 4:57:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 4:59:18 AM PDT
Rick G says:

I think you have a lot of good in your post. I love the part about being a storyteller and making friends along the way. There is much awesomeness there and I think it shows a very positive attitude.

I will agree with Brent's point, though. Being a storyteller is all well and good, but being a writer/author/novelist and putting one's work out there for sale in a public forum demands a level of professionalism too. We owe it to the people giving us a chance to not only put out the best stories we can tell, but to also present them in the highest-quality format we can, while maintaining as gracious of an attitude as possible in the face of the criticism that will no-doubt be forthcoming.

ps: edit, you really should fill in your profile to at least point to your author page. With a post like yours, I don't doubt you'll have a few people clicking through to see what you're all about.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 6:24:30 AM PDT
apatos99 says:
Kind of a two edged sword here, but I'll comment anway. I did say if I received a review saying I had typos or grammars, I go back through looking for them. Just because you don't catch them the first time, doesn't mean, they aren't there. Besides you'd be suprised at how refreshed your eyes become, after you put it down for awhile.

But in general, when I'm reading and really hooked, I don't notice. It has to be a serious mistake like once in a Tom Clancy novel the line of dialogue is labled with the wrong character in the dialogue tag. That brought things screeching to a halt.

I also think it is real important, to be able to keep reading and writing mode seperate or you'll never be able to enjoy a book again.

Thanks Rick, for joining and contributing. Eaxctly the kind of discussion I was hoping to get.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 6:52:35 AM PDT
apatos99 says:
Brent I guess I was going for the metaphor, to keep things nice and sweet. To write a book, you have to know the rules, and have a firm grasp on the english language and how to use it.

Take the raging debate on dialague tags for instance. Do I use them? Yes, especially when i have discussion between three or people. Between two, if it is a rapidfire back and forth, I drop it, occasionaly using a tag linked with action to show a particular reaction.

My point was simply this. Faulkner, Hemingway, are writers who use the language to create the literay equivelent of fine french cuisine meal. King is a story teller who writes the equivelent of a fat cheesburger with greasy fries. I would in no way compare myself to King, but use the popular examples to define my point.

Quote: I'm not going to drive on the same road as someone who says, "All I need to do is get to the store and back ... it doesn't matter if there are a few dents in my car by the time I get back home".

I know what you meant, but aren't you the least curious as to where those dents come from? What if, bigfoot haunts that particular stretch?

Brent, you do bring up good points and I'm hopingthis stimulates some great conversation. Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 7:01:27 AM PDT
apatos99 says:
As an author, if someone says you have typos, you need to go back and check it out. I agree a hundred percent, that your product needs to be as perfect as possible. You may think your perfect, but I swear just opening your manuscript on Word, can put in errors.

But as a reader, when I see that review (if i bother to check them out at all) it doesn't dissuade me in the least.

I have an author friend who got blasted with a one star review, and the example the reviewer used was that the author had some quotations marks the wrong way. (if you accidently leave a space between your punctuation and the quotation mark that can happen).

Now if I read it and there are alot of grammar errors, run on sentences, and just a fundamental lack of being able to put words together so they flow, then yeah the review was well earned.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 7:09:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2012 7:10:21 AM PDT
Esse says:
Brian said: "But in general, when I'm reading and really hooked, I don't notice. It has to be a serious mistake like once in a Tom Clancy novel the line of dialogue is labled with the wrong character in the dialogue tag. That brought things screeching to a halt."

That's how you read and unfortunately, your reading style isn't universal. There are a lot of readers who find that an incorrect homophone or choppy sentence brings the reading experience screeching to a halt. I don't think they're being overly picky. Rather, their threshold for error tolerance is simply lower than yours. I think this is where a lot of self-pubbers miss their audiences, particularly when they insist on quality of story over quality of writing. For many readers, the two are inseparable.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 7:20:15 AM PDT
apatos99 says:
Choppy sentence or a particular word that jars you out the world you're are trying to immerse yourself in. A very important point!

Your sentences set the pace and should flow together naturally until you want to bring the story to a screeching halt to give the reader a chance to digest or reflect on something.

Pacing is everything and should both come naturally and be designed at the same time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 7:36:01 AM PDT
Rick G says:
"the reviewer used was that the author had some quotations marks the wrong way."

Smart quotes are a PiTA. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 8:52:52 AM PDT

I want to be a cook like Gordon Ramsey. I want to take customers taste buds on a wild ride through the culinary ecstasy of the flavors from around the world. If somebody complains about my food I might try tasting it to see if they are right. But when I eat I don't savor each bite. I just shovel it in as fast as I can. When I hear restaurant reviewers who complain about a dish being too spicy or dried out or watered down I just think "Eh, they're being too picky."

I want to be a photographer like Ansel Adams. I want people to look at my pictures and be whisked by rocket ship to a distant land. I want them to hear the cries of the seagulls and crashing of the waves and to smell the salt water while they are sitting in their home. If somebody complains about how my pictures look I might check over them to see if I could have used a different filter because I am proud of my work. But when I look at pictures I flip through them as fast as I can so that I am bombarded with the flow of images. I don't take time to look over every detail of a picture. I just take it in and move on. So when I hear people complain that a studio sold them pictures that were too dark or out of focus I just think "Eh, they're just too picky."

Get the point?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 9:28:41 AM PDT
T.J., exactly! I, too, use the gourmet food/chef metaphor when comparing writing quality. You are right on the money. I am also a self-published author and had to learn the hard way how important it is to proofread...and proofread again...and again...then get someone else to do it again! I don't know that you can ever truly perfect a manuscript as far as those pesky little errors go (i.e. missing words--"She went into house...", or extra words--"He picked up a the gun...", etc), as I have seen some bloopers in everything from traditionally published novels to textbooks. However, I think the idea is to keep them to an absolute minimum because they become terribly distracting. Many readers can forgive one or two throughout an entire work, but I've seen them on every page in some self-published books! Not good.

Brian, as authors who put our works up for sale, we have to consider the fact that the reader is paying for them! Even if it's a mere $2.50, we have professed, by placing our novels in a public arena for purchase, that our work is comparable to any traditionally published book out there. We are saying, "Spend your money on me just as confidently as you'd spend it on King or Rowling or Hemingway." Many of us don't have the budget to spend lots on professional editing services, granted. But that's why we have to be super-extra-ultra-particular about things like punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, plot construction, and so forth. It matters. It's not just story, because you might have the next Lord Of The Rings, but no one's going to realize it if typos and poor grammar and basic incomprehension keep yanking the reader out of the plot.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 9:54:30 AM PDT
Carole, very well said!

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 10:02:35 AM PDT
HJ Leonard says:
Carole and T.J., From a reader, thank you so much! Excellent posts, both.

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 10:08:32 AM PDT
Brent Butler says:
@Carole: "Even if it's a mere $2.50"

A book for sale at any price is a professional effort of some quality, but the price is virtually irrelevant. I'm also paying with hours of my life when I read a book. The value of those hours goes far beyond any number of dollars. I want an author to respect the time I will spend reading their book, and make sure it is written competently.

@Brian: If I start a book that is a continuous stream of wretched writing, I'll bet you any amount of money you want to place on the wager that it wasn't dictated to Bigfoot.

No, I don't care why a book is badly written. I don't want it to waste my time regardless of the reason.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 10:21:54 AM PDT
Brent, you're absolutely right! Readers certainly do commit their time to our books, not just their money. Another good reason for self-published and Indie authors to do everything in our power to make them worthwhile! That's why I like the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon and use it religiously before purchasing. Granted, some books have technical or mechanical issues later in the story, but I think most of us can get a pretty good idea from the previews whether the author has put forth a concerted effort to avoid errors. That is, if the preview isn't taken up with credits and pictures and other fluff that might do better at the end of the book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 10:38:58 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 10:57:18 AM PDT
Rick G says:

Just FYI, talking about your style, methodology, etc etc is fine. But mentioning your book and the story behind it is probably crossing the Amazon line to self promotion, which you can only do in the MOA forum.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 11:31:08 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 8, 2012 5:29:53 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 11:33:11 AM PDT
Rick G says:
No worries, MM. :)

Posted on Jun 15, 2012 11:36:36 AM PDT
Doodlist Me says:
Interesting thread.
I am an avid reader who cannot write. I want to, but, I am aware that I do not have the skills and imagination required to do so. I have started dozens and dozens of stories. I have yet to finish one.
Someone told me recently; "writing is a craft that must be continually honed. With every story told, you should get better. Your writing should improve."

Now, I do not mind the occasional misspelled word. Or even now and again, a word that is used incorrectly. I do not enjoy a book with errors in every sentence, every paragraph and on every page. It makes a book impossible to read and absorb if I am trying to understand the meaning behind every badly written word.
I think I have a strange brain...I find that my mind automatically fills in missing words, and ignores doubled words. Even some grammatical errors are automatically corrected while I read.
And so, most of these small typos that make other readers a little nuts, don't bother me so much. I don't notice a many of them unless I force myself to read each line individually. (Nutty, right?)
I find major and minor mistakes in traditionally published books, just as I have found them in indie books.
My main focus is the story. Does it move me in some way? Does it make me smile? Laugh? Cry? Hate? Love? In other words, did you, as the writer, make me connect to your characters? Did I believe in them? If you can do that, you have me.
And I will be a loyal fan. I will buy any book you have written. IF...the subject matter is appealing. In most genres.
I agree that authors should take pride in their work. For many, learning what a verb is, and how to structure a sentence would be a good start.
I must admit, I have returned "free" books to Amazon because they were so poorly written. Yes, I did say I return 'free' books...
Even a brain like mine, with its own built in spell check and auto correct, can only take so much...

So, to those of you who do what I cannot, I admire you for having the courage to at least try to write. And to finish a story? Wow. Awesome. But, my goodness, learn how to use spell check and find a proof reader and editor. If you really want to be a writer, hone your craft...Please.
I will continue to follow your career, maybe not as a fan, but rather someone who admires your courage for "putting yourself out there."
But honestly, if your writing doesn't improve over time, how can you expect me to spend my hard earned money on your books?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 11:41:49 AM PDT
Rick G says:
This actually sums up a good chunk of my thoughts of the current SP Boom. Outside of the fluke hits, the ones who survive will be those who weather the storm of criticism by putting their heads down, working hard, and continually honing their craft. i.e. earning it. What a concept, right? :)
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Initial post:  Jun 14, 2012
Latest post:  May 15, 2014

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