author C.C.Cole's blog

Monday, January 23, 2012

On New Author Back Scratching

As I continue to ponder over controversial topics involving new authors, there’s another issue moving amongst us in cyber-space.  We help each other.  It’s great.  Features, interviews, Likes, and sometimes, depending on the author(s), we purchase and review each other’s books (not suggesting the latter’s a fit for all).  I have a habit of doing what I want, so if I want to review a book, I buy it, read it and post a review if above two stars, if not email, as written before.

The question I have is, leaving out purchases and reviews, do the “Likes,” and features help with sales?  What about interviews?  I’ve done radio, blog and podcast interviews, but as a new author, it’s quite a dream indeed to be interviewed on a radio show then hit a bestseller list. 

Let’s bring the question to something more specific:  Tweeting.  Does hyper-tweeting others’ books outside of reviews help?  I love to tweet, so why not tweet about a colleague's new work?  But, does tweeting about reviews help? If I forget to tweet a virtual friend, is that a betrayal?  Am I making a battalion of on-line new author enemies by asking these questions? 

I don’t consider myself any kind of oracle of answers to these questions, but the answers, if out there, are important for the new author.  I don't mind doing favors for talented people.  If we’re going the distance to do all this work for our virtual writer friends, will they “Like” and “Tweet” for us?  Who gets the most results?  Are we taking sales away from ourselves by using so much energy promoting others?  Another question:  Are we driving away our blog traffic?

Let’s turn the question around.  I know writers that self-promote only.  Sure, they may throw out a tweet or two for someone, but I had no idea a year ago that some writers on social sites say Hi, join the networking, and on twitter, tweet so much about themselves it’s like a Xerox machine.  And one of them may be C.C.Cole!  I never point out defects in others without also pointing out I may not be so different.

This virtual back scratching gets complicated quickly.  I don’t consider myself outside of this loop; as I’ve checked out blogs and FB fan pages.  But now, when asked to do so, now I expect a bit of quid pro quo.   For months I found myself Liking FB pages from DMs on Twitter, and finally thought, “Hey, why can’t they do that for me?”  So now, I ask.  It’s hardly an obligation on the part of either writer.  Ask me to follow your blog, I ask to follow my blog.  I've never directly asked for someone to buy my books and haven't seen others do that often.  "Check out my book" translates for most readers.

So, what’s to be learned from all of this virtual back scratching for the new author?  I say quid pro quo for the simple things, such as a tweet, at least, sometimes.  Check out a FB page and “Like” it.  No biggie, these aren’t lies.  You've seen the pages, you've seen the author profiles.  False reviews?  No.  Joining blogs?  Up to the author.  Purchasing books?  Totally up to the author, and don’t expect a return there; when one gets involved in money, that gets a bit personal, so tread lightly. 

Promotion is necessary.  New authors, in the beginning, your best friends are other authors.  Some will get more mileage out of the promotion you give them.  But that's life; it doesn't help to make on-line enemies.   Plenty of people are available to provide that service.


  1. See, this is exactly what has soured my taste for social media in general and self promotion in particular. When I talk about a book I liked on my blog or on twitter it's not because I'm expecting something in return, its because I really and genuinely liked that book.
    Conversely I don't get on twitter and tell people to check out my book because it just doesn't look professional. Stephen King doesn't need to get on twitter and urge people to buy his books. For that matter neither does Amanda Hocking. Amanda Hocking is ON twitter, but she's not tweeting about her books 24/7. I'm not saying social media isn't important, but I don't buy in to the "Followers are buyers" philosophy. That way of thinking ends in following for no other reason than to receive a followbacks, and buying an author's books simply because you hope they'll buy yours.
    Call me an idealist, but I'd really rather people follow me because they were genuinely interested in what I have to SAY. I'd rather they buy my books because they have some genuine interest in my writing.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Al! I do believe we new authors are in such a different position than King or Hocking the comparison doesn't really mix, but I do see your point. But someone invented "spam" a long time ago, and the consequences are that we must promote someone other than ourselves. Thanks again. C

  3. We don't mind helping other authors promo their work. We don't feel like it reduces our own sales because everyone's writing styles are so different, as are readers' tastes. We have a review policy of posting mainly favorable reviews, but honest reviews. This is important. If we read a book that is so poor in quality that we cannot give a positive review, then we simply post no review. As far as back-scratching is concerned, we agree with you. We are much more likely to retweet someone's message if they regularly retweet ours. That said, we don't merely use social media to promote our books and those of others, although that is our main purpose. We also enjoy the friendships and camaraderie we've found among authors and readers. It's a joy to communicate with people who commiserate, make us laugh, enjoy a smile on us, or give helpful advice.
    Great post, by the way. Gave us a lot to think about!

  4. You're so right, C.C. A new writer's best friends can be other writers. I can say nice (and true) things about your book that you would blush to say about your own work, and you can do the same for me. :) But the whole reciprocity thing? Best not to count on it. And frankly, there are days when I'm just too blogged out to visit your blog. But on the whole, I think the more you give, the more you get.
    Interesting discussion!

  5. Thank you Norah! And I completely understand being blogged out, never enough time.

  6. Thank you Norah! And I completely understand being blogged out, never enough time.

  7. I have no idea why that double posted. Sigh..