Why do Indie Authors Promote Books to Other Indie Authors?
No offense intended to AuthorsDen or those writers who find the place to be a valuable way to network. Writers succeed when they network because that’s a great way to learn of new blogs, websites, and promotion ideas. My eyes glazed over at Author’sDen a long time ago because most of the people contacting me there were trying to sell me their books.
AuthorsDen isn’t unique in the buy-my-book plague that small-press and self-published authors visit upon each other. This happens on Twitter, Facebook and various author networking and discussion groups. In a sense, it’s SPAM. More importantly, Indie authors are not Indie authors’ primary audience.
It’s one thing to support each other with “congrats” and “yay” and other words of encouragement when a new book comes out. But that support isn’t going to include Indie authors buying the lion’s share of the new books. Think about an author’s networking group of a hundred members. Is it really likely that each of those one hundred members is going to buy a copy of everyone else’s book?
First, they can’t afford them even on Kindle at 99¢ a copy. For one thing, most Indie authors I know have mainstream author favorites whom they keep up with. Those books are usually more expensive (even on Kindle) but they’re a known thing if one always reads the new releases of several well-known authors. Indie authors are not rolling in dough, so they’re not going to be the first people on my target marketing list even though a few may buy my books. They’ve already spent their book budget on mainstream favorites and on the few Indie authors they know best.
Another author and I were talking about how the buy-my-book plague manifests on Twitter: (a) some authors tweet nothing but promotions for their books. This goes against the gurus’ advice who suggest varying numbers of non-promotional tweets to balance off the buy-my-book stuff; (b) a string of buy-my-book tweets is about as unlikely to be read as a string of advertisements during station breaks in the middle of your favorite TV show. Other than Super Bowl ads, nobody watches a string of ads; (c) My author friend told me her pet peeve is Indie authors whom she follows who say, “thanks for the follow” and then immediately deluge her with buy-my-book messages. Rude, she thinks, and so do I. We both unfollow people who do that.
I don’t know why so many Indie authors think they automatically deserve the support of all other Indie authors, especially when there’s an expectation those other authors will buy all their books. Even if they could afford all the books of all the other Indie authors in their group, when will they have time to read them?
If an Indie author has a full-time non-writing job and a family, s/he already has an overloaded plate when it comes to squeezing in writing time, much less unlimited reading time for every other Indie author’s book. I’m an author. I don’t have time to spend the day in a lawn chair reading books. I read in bed for 15-20 minutes a night before falling asleep. That’s it. At that rate, a full-length novel (which in my view is 85,00+ words) might take me ten days to finish. So, there’s obviously not enough “extra time” in any given month for picking up copies of all the Indie authors I know even if those books are free.
My writing day is already an overflowing cup. If you write and are trying to improve your craft and your marketing techniques, I support those efforts. Otherwise–unless I interview you on my blog or review your book–my support can’t go so far as to read everything you write. You aren’t the only you who wants me to do that. I don’t have the time. Your book needs to “earn” my reading time by floating through my consciousness multiple times just like any BIG NEW YORK PUBLISHER book. I see ads, reviews, author interviews and related articles about a big publisher’s latest book many times before I commit the time to read it. The same is true for an Indie author’s book: “it” has to convince me to read it.
Indie authors are doing about all they can to support each other through networking and other means of exchanging ideas and tips. Please don’t expect all of us to buy, much less read, several hundred Indie author books a year. That’s impossible. And since it is impossible, I don’t know why so many Indie authors think their colleagues are their primary audience.
We’re not and, truth be told, it’s offensive when other authors assume we unconditionally owe them that reading time.