Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Am I just being cynical?

I'm not sure, but....


....today I saw a tweet from a fellow author friend saying, Authors!  Join me on such and such a site, register on (insert name here) database. Promote your book!  This site also regularly runs competitions, for 'best cover', etc, though all the people who vote appear to be other writers.

I quite often see such tweets.  I got to wondering, as they say.  What is the point of these databases?  Does anyone ever look at them?  I bet they don't, but I'm asking because I'd like to know, and am happy to be proved wrong.

I wondered, then, if they're like Facebook, which is, I believe, just a huge vehicle for data mining and stealth marketing.  Do these author databases just exist to get all the contact details of hundreds of indie authors together in one place, so that they can be targeted for the sale of services such as book marketing, editing, cover illustration, etc?

Or is that just me being cynical?

19 comments:

  1. I really hope you're just being cynical! It's hard enough to be an indie author without worrying if seemingly innocuous writer's communities are really vampires.

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  2. Nothing sinister, Mack; I just wondered if that is the purpose of them. Imagine you're a 'book marketing expert' trying to sell your services - that's where you'd look, isn't it? One of these databases. Most of them aren't writer communities, anyway, because most people just register with them and that's that. I'd be interested to know who actually sets them up...

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  3. I absolutely agree with you, Terry. And Mack, no need to be paranoid, just apply a dose of healthy realism, I'd say, when encountering such posts.

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  4. I think some of them are genuine ...but I always wonder who is going to look at them? I was asked to register on a couple, that promised a huge visiting public and more sales, but I still think that the best sales come from personal recommendation and my own hard work, not a pic of me and a list of my books. Interesting if someone who runs these sites responds to your blog!!

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  5. Carol - absolutely. I still reckon that some of them just sell on your details to people who are selling things - just like Facebook sells on everyone's details to huge marketing companies. Why do you think they want you to 'like' various products??!! Yes, agree - I think that even the ones that are genuine are pointless because no-one ever looks at them. That's where my sales come from, too; I have put my books (and ME!) on sites before and seen no increase in sales or interest. It's like all these sites that want you to pay to be featured - the only people who look on the sites are other authors. The reading public don't know they exist, and care even less, I would imagine!

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  6. Terry, you're dead right: even the ones set up by people in the publishing biz are an attempt to glean a list. The practice of entering one's website or personal details in databases or "directories", as they like to call them, went south a few years ago. Those that still exist are there to pick off stragglers and to trawl data from writers exploring the new self-publish/e-publish options. You are therefore 100% correct.

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  8. Thanks, Ian - are you in the publishing biz? I was sure I'd hit the nail on the head, as I couldn't see any other purpose for these sites and 'registers' - I would imagine the ones popping up all over the place in the last year are set up by people who want to flog authors their marketing services, then, etc! Or to be sold as business leads, as I said :)

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  9. Interesting post, something I've not even thought about nor a road I've ventured down.

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  10. Enjoyed reading through your blogs, Terry. I'm only starting out on social media and have wondered about the merits of a lot of 'strategies' that appear to have limited coverage. Even on Twitter, isn't quality of followers more important than quantity?

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  11. I believe you have a vallied point. They might be created for decent reasons, but stealth marketeers must find them useful too and I think such people would be more likely to use them.

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  12. I think you're right to be cynical, or, at the very least, skeptical. Depends on what each site offers, but they're in it to make money or they won't keep at it for long. As a reader, I have so many places to find books and wouldn't even know about such sites. As an author, I want to get known by good reviews, not by paying to be featured or whatever.

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  13. Susan, I couldn't agree more re quality of followers. I started out with the aim of getting loads and loads, and now see that it's pretty pointless; I wish I had fewer now so that I didn't lose track of people. Thanks, I'm delighted you like reading my posts! Sorry I've taken so long to reply - I've just changed my comments so that I have to approve them first (I was getting lots of spam posted) and I forget to look at them!

    Colin, Susan - I imagine most of these sites ARE started with good intentions, but I imagine that stealth marketing is what they're mostly used for! Yes, readers don't even know such sites exist - they run competitions (like 'best book cover') in order to attract new writers, but what those writers don't realise is that outside that site such an accolade means nothing, as no-one else knows about it. You don't usually have to be featured on these sites but I would imagine that the people who set them up eventually hope to attract advertisers.

    Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting!

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  14. I agree, less is more and quality followers are ultimately what I am looking for. I mainly use social media to meet other authors who share the same philosophy and are willing to 'pay it forward'. There is a lot to be learned from 'quality' authors and I've made a few really great connections around the world that I never would have 'met' had I not joined these sites. I don't really expect to sell more books by joining these sites but I rather I hope to learn and share valuable information. In the end, I believe it is the quality of our writing that will increase our sales. And I have to agree with Susan regarding reviews. There is nothing like an honest review that you did not have to solicit.
    Great blog by the way, Terry. And speaking of Twitter, that's where I met you - thanks so much for the retweets :D

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  15. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Megan! I have to say that I do find readers via Twitter, in fact most of my regular readers have come via that site, but yes, it's much more than that, and thank you for your retweets too! It was Twitter that got me started in the first place as I used it to publicise a free promotion over a year ago (when they were still worth doing!), but it's more about the networking side of things, yes. And I have to agree - I love those good reviews from total strangers! Not that the ones from people you 'know' via Twitter mean any less, of course; as an example, I first 'met' one of my favourite lovely readers called Judee because she tweeted to me that she had really enjoyed one of my books, and now she's become a 'friend'. I suppose the aim is to have so many regular readers that you can't get to know them all, but in the meantime I really like to get to know the people who like my books and take the trouble to let other people know about them too!!!

    Thank goodness for Twitter, for so many things (we seem to have got off the original subject, but never mind!)

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  16. Facebook scares me and I think its creepy. Btw, good to connect with you on Twitter. I'm cynical too, its a good place to be, but then, I'm biased.

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  17. Hi Jaye! Yes, thank you and ditto re connections. I didn't actually mean social networking sites, though, because without them very few people would ever sell any books! what I was talking about is these sites that spring up, the latest of which is Authorsdb. They seem to be just registers on which authors can post all their details, and promise 'more exposure', but I can't see to whom, as the only people who ever look at them are other authors. Ditto imitations of the Independent Authors Network. I'm sure no-one even knows they exist, apart from the indie authors themselves!

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  18. Great blog post Terry. You've certainly raised some interesting questions here and I agree it’s wise to tread cautiously.
    As someone who is a technophobe and not consistently engaged in social media, I've recently signed up to a few author sites. I must admit I’ve had very positive experiences of the three that I am most engaged with.
    The first one is ASMSG or Authors’ Social Media Support Group. The group’s founder, R. Grey Hoover is committed to raising the profile of Indie authors and encourages members to support each other in event promotions. In my experience you get exactly what it says on the tin – great author support.
    Ditto with The Independent Author Network. Author members from both groups generously support and endorse my book via Twitter. Before I joined them, I found twitter intimidating, as I’m quite shy, so I have to say I am immensely grateful for the contacts and sense of on-line community they afford me.

    I also love the ethos of Awesome Indies or AIAFiction. A book must come up to an acceptable standard before an author can join this group. Their aim is to raise the standard of independently published work and acknowledge authors whose work is of similar standard to books produced by traditional publishers.
    So you can tell I’m an advocate, but feel I could not get involved in many more as it would be far too time consuming.
    Equally I’m delighted to have made contact with you Terry and wish you the very best of luck with your new book.






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    1. Hi Mary, thanks for commenting, and your perseverance! Yes - I have no doubt that such groups as #ASMSG are supportive, ditto the IAI, but as you can see the ones I meant were such things as Authorsdb, and a couple of other ones which I'd rather not name here, which are just directories. ASMSG and IAI are, I am sure, worth joining because you give each other support and advice, ditto IAI, and for that they are good, whereas these directories are just that - directories. However, my point is that they are not actually looked at by anyone except authors. I am on a KIndle user group on FB, 280 members with only 4 authors. They're all avid readers, 99% on Kindle, it's a very active group. I did a survey - not one of them even knew of the existence of these directories, or would go looking for such a thing. To sum up - yes, I can see the point of groups, if you are a group sort of person (I'm not, but know many are), from a support point of view, but the directories like Authorsdb and various others (lazy beagle is another) - I can't see the point of them at all, apart from for stealth marketing - see Ian Hough's comment, above!

      As for the other site you mentioned - you now have to pay to be on it. Before it became a paid site, if you didn't donate to them you didn't get featured... I used to promote them regularly on Twitter and FB, and recommend other authors to them, but I didn't pay them the 'optional donation'. When it came to promoting my own book on there, when it was on special offer, I was told I'd applied too late. Thanks..... Needless to say, my book has now been taken off in the 'clean sweep' (I don't mind that as it had some typos in, fair enough). Makes me wonder if you can pay to be considered of an acceptable standard. I have read a few of the books featured on there and thought them rather amateur and wooden in content, though, yes, perfectly proofread, edited, etc. The friends of some of the 'approved reviewers' books are all on there. Oh, you can pay to have your book edited by them, too.... I think much of it is a load of horseshit, to be honest!!!!

      Equally delighted to have made contact with you, Mary! Though hopefully we will not always be discussing things so controversial! xx

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