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Recently I've gotten three PM's from different authors. They all started out as friendly notes complimenting a post of mine, but then quickly turned into a long sales pitch for their books. To me this is spam. Please don't do it.  :) I realize most of the writers here are great people who follow the rules and all and I am sure the three who PM'd me didn't mean their messages to come across like spam. No hard feelings or anything, just thought I'd gently point it out.
 

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NYCKindleFan,

On behalf of the authors who are members of this forum, I apologize for the indiscretion of a few of my overenthusiastic, but probably well-meaning brethren. Most of us are wizened enough to know better. Truth is, any KB member (author or otherwise) instantly knows whether or not they are interested in a book and will purchase those titles without any cheerleading or shameful book-promoting tactics. I just want to clear the air that sending PMs to Kindle Board Members to encourage them to purchase particular book titles is neither the norm or an acceptable form of self-promotion. Hopefully your post will nip this issue in the bud before it becomes a problem.

(And yes, we authors do need to police ourselves before we go the way of the dinosaurs!).
 

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Carol,

I think we authors walk a very fine line regarding our promotional practices. If we were simply posting along on this forum exclusively as readers, we would avoid many of the pitfalls associated with self-promotion. However, although we have no reason to be ashamed of calling ourselves authors or mentioning our works, there are lines that are clearly drawn in the sand even if we don't notice them. Sending a PM to someone to thank them for purchasing a book is one thing. Sending a PM to persuade someone who showed interest in our books to purchase them is over the line. We may think that we are sending a harmless PM. But what happens when this practice becomes the norm? What do you think will happen if the majority of the authors who frequent this site sent PM's to other KB members requesting them to purchase our books? How long do you think the moderators (or the other KB members) will tolerate our presence? My motto is when in doubt to err on the side of caution.

I think the greatest danger posed by this situation is that it is one of those things we're authors are guilty by association. If one author behaves unethically, the entire group will unfortunately bear the backlash. I'll be honest, I'm not afraid to take chances in my book promotion practices. But I would never want to do anything that would smear the reputation of other authors just as I would not want to bear the cross that someone created for me in their mindless overenthusiasm.

 

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I've generally tried to stay out of the public discussions about "author behavior" here on KB, not so much because I don't have my own opinions, but because in the past when I've commented on some things I've inadvertently found myself doused with verbal gasoline and put to the torch (not here on KB, but the memory sticks with you). But in light of how things have changed, it's hard not to say something.

It's really a shame what's happened here on KB in what I think is only the last few months. When I first joined the forum back in late October after finally tiring of some of the things happening on some of the Amazon threads and Leslie convincing me to come here, KB was incredibly cool: here I was, one of (at the time) a very small number of authors plunged into a pool of people who loved to read! Sounds like heaven, doesn't it? Was it good for sales? Sure! Was it fun? Absolutely! Did I have to wave my book in everybody's face to get them to notice it? Good heavens, no. I just hung out and chatted like everybody else (hey, I'm a Kindle user, too) and had my book info in my signature. Other KBers found out I was an author and thought that was cool, and they checked out samples of my book, and bought it if they liked it. Sure, I put a thread out for my book (one at the time, more now), and lots of people read it (and *not* because I had "LIMITED TIME - BUY NOW FOR ONLY 99 CENTS!!!!" or some such marketing jargon in the title). We had the book club (thank you, Leslie!), and that was awesome. I felt like a very welcome person in a very special community, and not only made some good friends, but got a lot of great input from readers on my work. It has been very gratifying in a lot of ways.

Now look where we are. "Author" is no longer a very complimentary term in the minds of many people on this board (which is truly ironic considering the relationship readers and authors are supposed to have!). There are now "authors" and there are "non-author members." The author-related threads are now segregated away from the mainstream of the board, because people are tired of seeing used car-type sales pitches fired at them constantly - it's like watching those old Ronco Veg-O-Matic ads on TV. Authors are only allowed to bump their book threads once a week, and there are a bunch of other rules now (like the "sock puppet" rule and authors not being able to post in the bargain book threads, etc.). Before all the used car salesmen-turned-authors arrived and Harvey and the mods were forced to do something because they were getting so many complaints, READERS (now known as "non-author members") bumped the book threads because they wanted to ask questions or wanted to give the author feedback. All without shouting from the rooftops that YOU REALLY WANT TO READ (BUY) MY BOOK!!!!!!! (Okay, a small exaggeration in my typography there, but not by much).

It's gotten to the point where I'm reluctant to post something that's just about my books, because I don't want to be lumped into the same category as the used car salesmen by the non-author members; unfortunately, I am anyway, because I'm an "author," and most of the newer members don't know (or probably care) if I'm any different from the used car salesmen. Sure, I'll post a new thread for a new book, but I hate just making a post to bump any of my book threads up (and I try to have some reasonable excuse to do so for my own reasons, not just because of the rules). But if I don't bump the threads myself now, it's likely that nobody else will: very few readers frequent those threads anymore because of the deluge of obnoxious "buy me!" or "my book is great!" threads that have caused so many people to turn away in disgust. And we used to be able to make a new thread about cool things that were happening with our books without people thinking it was a nuisance. Now we can't.

A few of the authors who are comparatively new here see KB as a place where they can get "free advertising" for their books. Technically that's true, but nobody here wants to be advertised to in the discussion threads. And if authors keep "advertising" using the used car salesman model, eventually the need-for-rules process that began with us being segregated into the Book Bazaar will eventually lead to either banishment of any sort of author-generated book threads and/or having to, in fact, pay for banner ads or some such. Before a few months ago, the only real rules on this entire forum were that people be nice and respectful to one another. Rules like the ones we have now are only made because people do things that negatively impact other people, and the abusers don't stop that behavior when they're asked nicely. Then the rules come and often negatively impact some of the people who were playing nice to begin with.

I also believe that some of the other authors - of the *responsible* variety - who were very active participants on this board have dropped off drastically in their participation here. That's really a tragedy, because they brought a richness to this forum that was one of the things that made KB special. Sure, a number of us still post and are active here, but it's nothing like it used to be.

Anyway, I guess that's about all I have to say on this topic. It won't change anything, because those folks whose errant behavior caused the rules to be put in place to begin with will continue to push to the limit and beyond until authors either lose all privileges to talk about their work or - rapture! - the abusers finally get banished from the forum (which I don't expect will happen). Why? Because if they're making sales here (or even if they *think* they're making sales here), they know their aggressive marketing tactics are working and there's no incentive for them to stop. And newer authors will see this "pattern for success" and emulate it, too, to everyone's detriment. Most will abide by the letter of the law - mostly - but at least some will break it in spirit with every post they can.

Okay, enough on this. Sorry, but I just had to get that out of my system. It's time to get back to writing...
 

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Kreelan:

You and I have known each other for over a year - from those early DTP forum posts. There is nothing tragic in the be a member of this forum. I'm a Kindleboarder first, love the experience and have made many new friends here. I have invited many authors here, and just let the In dependant Author's Guild know that Kindleboards is a great and worthwhile experience. It is a monument to Harvey and the other moderators that they have create a community that can sustain both every kindle interest and support the notion of change. I look forward to many years of membership here, and if the rules become astringent (and they are far from that) and when my 22 are banned for whatever reason, I shall still be here with no regrets. Balance is coming because I am sure there another 50 or so authors in the wings eager to join the conversation.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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Mike, as one of those "non-author members" I thought that the new (recent) division would work out well for everyone. It seemed like a very good solution. (A solution, or an alternate way of doing things, really was needed if only because of the sheer volume of advertising.)

There have been a couple of posts in the past few days that expressed dissatisfaction with the new system. These posts were all made by authors. I'm assuming that if any of these authors have specific suggestions for further improvement, they're telling the mods directly. Meanwhile, what would you, or other authors, prefer from the "non-author members"? I find it sad that there is a divide between (some of the) writers and the non-writers here. If an author is here as a Kindle-interested person, and fully participating in some of the non-advertising threads as well, then that author shouldn't have to feel unwanted. If an author is here ONLY for the free advertising, then I don't really care whether they're made to feel like a used-car salesman. And I think we can all tell the difference. But since the same rules have to apply to everyone, what would you suggest that the non-authors can do to bridge that divide, without opening the doors to endless ads? (I don't mean forum changes; that's up to the mods. Just... I dunno... attitude, I guess... what would the authors prefer?)
 

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NYCKindleFan said:
Recently I've gotten three PM's from different authors. They all started out as friendly notes complimenting a post of mine, but then quickly turned into a long sales pitch for their books. To me this is spam. Please don't do it. :) I realize most of the writers here are great people who follow the rules and all and I am sure the three who PM'd me didn't mean their messages to come across like spam. No hard feelings or anything, just thought I'd gently point it out.
Won't do it. Promise.
 

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Susan:

I've said this before and I will say it again, any author who feels segregated has done it themselves. I post here, and there, in the morning, at midnight - just loving it. I get book recommendations, I tell jokes, I learn about wonderful things, like neversleeps to be a new mommy, and I even get nutrition facts. I learn from my fellow authors, but most of all I listen to the readers and contribute what I can on Kindle ideas. I only promote my books in the bazaar, and even then, in these posts I try to keep to discussing the craft, the "what I do . . " Of course, I will mention a book during those discussions, for credibility, but no link. I think some authors are dissatisfied because they sold more books when mixed in with the Book Corner. That's true. I used to get 10 to 20 new readers a day with half the threads. Now I get 1 new reader a day, if I'm lucky - but that's not what I'm here for primarily. I'd be lying if I said that wasn't why I came. I heard KH's trumpet call like the rest of us. BUT, now that I'm here, in the words of W S Gilbert (Ruddigore), "my eyes are fully opened to my" wonderful situation. If I never get another new reader here, I don't care. The reader response to me - the "love" - is mutual and it's like attending the Church of the Holy Kindledom. I'll put my money in the plate like my neighbor and become a model citizen.

In short, if authors leave because they feel segregated, I'm sorry to see yer go, but to leave all this for such a minor reason. Oh well.

Edward C. Patterson
Nils desperandum
 

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Susan in VA said:
Mike, as one of those "non-author members" I thought that the new (recent) division would work out well for everyone. It seemed like a very good solution. (A solution, or an alternate way of doing things, really was needed if only because of the sheer volume of advertising.)
Susan, there's nothing wrong with the rules. I agree that they were necessary and the mods came up with a pretty good solution.

The problem is with those (as Mike called them) used car salesmen that continually put a toe over the line in order to promote their books. It reminds me of when I was a kid living in Miami (back in the Dark Ages). One of the major streets was lined with used car lots. The salesmen would leap out into the road to flag people down and try to drag them into the lots. Some of that goes on here, too, even with the new rules. That's what we object to.

And just a reminder to everyone, authors are members, too.
 

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BTW, and I make this as a suggestion to the authors who peddle in the Bazaar, I have donated the royalties for my last 30 sales here at Kindleboards back to Kindleboards. I mean, I get the same royalty that Dan Brown gets - $ .35 (of course, he gets that on 5 million books so that's a lot of quarters). I will continue to recycle my royalties back into this very worthy board.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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I do go into all the "book" threads, and I do read some of the threads about the books.  But as was said, I do not like being pushed.  I like Ed, but his books do absolutely nothing to me and I probably won't buy any, but he is a very valuable member of the boards and contributes a lot to our lives.  Those threads that have titles or even content in caps, forget it I won't go there, mark 'em as read, and even if the book is supposedly good, I won't buy it for that very reason - do not yell at me, do not grab my arm and try to pull me in.

Thank you NYC for starting this thread and thank you Mike for a very well written post, thank you Gertie and Ed and J for your understanding of us non-authors.
 

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Right on, Anju. Of course, I must confess that I write to be read, and any reader that objects to the material nature to publishing need only apply to be for a free book. I'll gladly oblige, because my writing career is not the principle source of my income nor will it ever be. It is however my legacy and relies on readers to carry me home. [email protected]

Edward C. Patterson
 

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kreelanwarrior said:
Anyway, I guess that's about all I have to say on this topic. It won't change anything, because those folks whose errant behavior caused the rules to be put in place to begin with will continue to push to the limit and beyond until authors either lose all privileges to talk about their work or - rapture! - the abusers finally get banished from the forum (which I don't expect will happen). Why? Because if they're making sales here (or even if they *think* they're making sales here), they know their aggressive marketing tactics are working and there's no incentive for them to stop. And newer authors will see this "pattern for success" and emulate it, too, to everyone's detriment. Most will abide by the letter of the law - mostly - but at least some will break it in spirit with every post they can.

Okay, enough on this. Sorry, but I just had to get that out of my system. It's time to get back to writing...
Thank you, Mike, for expressing my feelings so well. I have never thought of you as an author, although I have bought your book. I think of you as a valuble board member, who happens to write. I enjoy your insights and look forward to your posts. However, I too am very tired of the "used car salesmen." I am to the point of wondering if a 50 posts to the board limit before an author could premote their book would keep some of the shouters from taking away from what was once an exceptional place for Kindles and readers.
 

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Gertie Kindle 'Turn to Page 390' said:
And just a reminder to everyone, authors are members, too.
It's so interesting to hear "authors are members too" when there's discussion about the rule for a book promotion. I think no one ever said the authors are not member and should stay only in The Book Bazaar. Everyone loves to talk to the author and mingle with the author. I mean everyone is a member of KB and love to read a book with the Kindle. We are here to discuss various topics. The only difference is the authors want to promote their books as well and this brings up the conflict between members when it became too much. I think the best way to promote a book is put it in the signature and be active in the other discussions. I sometime see the signature and realize the person is a author and check out the book. It is good to find new books/stories. It will be so hard to find one in the huge Amazon bookstore.
 

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NYCKindleFan said:
Recently I've gotten three PM's from different authors. They all started out as friendly notes complimenting a post of mine, but then quickly turned into a long sales pitch for their books. To me this is spam.
I've gotten a PM like this once, but did not reply to it.

It is spam, and it is distasteful. I think most writers here try to stick to the rules and post about their works where appropriate. But for those who are sending what they think are harmless PM "suggestions," yeah, you're making the rest of us look bad. The fact that we're allowed to post about our books at all is generous, we don't need to pester people privately in hopes of scoring an extra 35 cents in royalties.
 

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It's been said before, but I will say it again. We all know who the people are who are on Kindleboards to be members of the community versus those who are only here to sell more books. We know because those who are here to participate are our friends. We know you each as individual participants in this wonderful place. I, for one, am not concerned about the "used car salesmen" making all authors look bad. In fact, I will buy your books simply to support you BECAUSE you are a member of a community I value. I will take the time to read your books because it's fun to discover new authors and more fun that I might "know" you somewhat! I am thrilled to pieces to have an opportunity to talk with people who can write since I love to read. I can't write at all (creatively challenged), so what you do is somewhat of a miracle to me.

Take note those of you who are here only to push your books: That is your right and I have no problems with it. However, please do as has been asked in this thread and DO NOT PM us. It has happened to me as well, and it is not okay. I also do not accept telephone solicitations, so don't call either. :D

The rest of you, we love you. :) Never fear. You do not have to defend yourselves every time someone steps out of line, but I personally do appreciate the fact that you know how to be a member of the community and have the courtesy to treat the rest of us as fellow community members rather than potential ONLY as potential purchasers. ;)

EllenR
 
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