Thursday, June 04, 2009

Helping Each Other

Let's talk about the Internet, and why it is the greatest invention in the history of mankind.

Our success as a species has to do with a lot of things. Opposable thumbs. Large brains. Walking upright. Making tools and fire and wheels.

But the thing that allowed us to spread across the planet is language.

Language allows us to communicate with one another. Communication means we can cooperate better and share information. But this isn't the telephone, where the words are lost to time, or a book which is dependent on a print copy only available to a finite number of people.

The Internet is permanent, and accessible by everyone.

What a gift for authors, who need a way to spread the word of their existence in order to survive.

And yet, I don't see many authors doing this to the degree they could or should. And fans, who anxiously await an author's next book, then wonder why the next book never comes (hint: it's because the author was dropped by their publisher.)

Well, I do my damnedest to help other authors. Here are some of the ways I try to:

1. Links. Look in the sidebar, or on my website, and you'll see I link to hundreds of blogs and websites. This isn't just an one-sided endorsement by me, because mutual links help raise Google rankings for sites that reciprocate.

2. Newsletters. In at least one newsletter a year, I recommend books written by my peers to my fans. Imagine if all authors did this.

3. Reviews. I review my friends. We all should.

4. I mention books by my peers when I do interviews and speak in public.

5. Pimping. This goes beyond links and mentions. With several of my buddies, I push their books, and push pretty hard.

6. Blogging. I've been known to interview other authors on occasion.

So why aren't all authors doing this?

We aren't in competition with one another. We're not all islands unto ourselves. It doesn't detract from our sales to mention someone else's book. In fact, fans like these recommendations.

If you're an author, look at your links. Look at your newsletter. Look at your blog. Check how often you mention other authors in general (and me in particular.)

And if you're a fan, the best thing you can do to ensure an author you like continues to get published is to tell other people about their books. Either in person, or online via reviews, social networks, forums, listservs, etc.

Just imagine how many new people we could reach if we pooled our efforts.


N A Sharpe said...

That's great advice. Word of mouth advertising is the most effective type of advertising there is. When we are all out there supporting each other through blogs and social networks we do open doors to potential new audiences for each other.

Thanks for setting the example!

Nancy, from Just a Thought…

Karen from Mentor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexandra Sokoloff said...

I can personally testify that Joe is one of the most generous pimpers of other authors around. Really. No one does more. He inspires me to do better.

Thanks, Joe.

David H. Burton said...

I agree. And no one does this better than you do! We could all take a lot of lessons from you.

Karen from Mentor said...

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, I think that you're amazingly generous with your time and talent.
Your blog tour introduced me to so many cool people. It was so much fun as well as very enlightening for a variety of reasons.

I posted 10 reasons why I love Joe Konrath two days after I launched my blog. lol
I couldn't be MORE EXCITED that you're coming to visit on Tuesday. (see yesterday's'll be embarrassed)

(whew, fan mania anyone?)
get a grip woman.snap out of it!(gets slapped by Cher)
I'm ok now.
Karen :)

Bill Barnett said...

Great advise, Joe!

Just finished Afraid last night. Honesty, great book! I love books that I look forward to all day -- like so many, I read in bed before turning in -- and that's exactly what I got with this novel.

Well done! Thank you.

Lisa Katzenberger said...

Hey Joe, what really stuck out to me in this post is the idea that writers are not in competition with each other. Lots of great advice I hope to be able to follow someday as a published author. In the meantime, I’ll keep soaking up your advice on getting published. Thanks for your generosity! And great books!

Adam Ehad said...

Well, I am not sure if it is quite so simple. As you have said, people don't seem very active about pimping their mates, and I think that there is a subconscious reason for this. I just think that writers are new to the game of being pimpers as well...they are still getting used to it.

Mary Stella said...

I can't speak for authors of other genres, but I know that we romance fans and authors have a long time history of promoting each other. Way before the term "viral marketing" became a buzzword, we were turning our friends' books "cover out" in bookstores and recommending them to friends, or strangers we met wandering the bookstore aisles.

Maria V. Snyder said...

Excellent post. I do author interviews and give away copies of my friend's book for contest prizes on my blog (when I have the time).

And I'm helping you :) I'm writing an article for the Romance Writer's Report (a magazine that goes out to 10,000 members of RWA) on promotion and I'm quoting your blog - I hope you don't mind - in fact, I know you won't mind ;>

Maria V.

PS: It was fun to see you, if only for a few seconds in Lancaster, during your Afraid tour.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever feel like John the Baptist?

I follow this blog closely and I appreciate everything I have learned because I think you are way ahead of the curve. I found your recent post on ebooks fascinating.

You are right. This is not a competition and this model, which I think is fostered by MFA programs and the like, does not serve us well as a profession.

Nadine said...

You forgot "and make sure to leave comments on your friends'blogs" : )

Gayle Carline said...

One of the best things about being a writer is discovering that other writers have such generous hearts. They're willing to give advice, if you're willing to ask for it. We all know that, even if we write the same genre, we could never write each other's books.

I love to point to Joe's site, or Alexandra Sokoloff, or Barry Eisler - I also like to point people toward the other newbies, like Teresa Burrell (debut novelist with The Advocate), or semi-newbies, like Jeri Westerson (2nd novel Serpent in the Thorns due soon).

My audience isn't huge (yet), but I'm hoping my little ripple turns into a big wave.


Anonymous said...

My respect for an author always increases when I hear him/her talking about books besides their own.

Daniel Powell said...

You're a good man, Joe. Can I shoot you five questions via e-mail and post that interview on my blog?

I do make every effort to get your work into the hands of my students. I'll be a bit more proactive about doing that on my blog, also.

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, Maria! Fancy seein' you here!

I'm totally with Joe on this one, btw. Here's the best way you can help other authors...

Buy My Book

Seriously, I've got a kid in diapers and this is my full-time gig, people.

T. M. Hunter said...

I guess the question is whether or not one should only pimp out other writers whose books they've read...because I do that whenever possible.

Rabid Fox said...

It's always nice to see something closer to an altruistic relationship with other authors. Very nice post.

Anonymous said...

I agree that writers should support one another, and that this is not a competition. Recommendations, of blogs and of books, are a great means of support. I'm grateful for the reminder.

But, I get the impression that the blogs listed in your sidebar aren't honest recommendations, just mutual back-scratching. Someone offered to link to you, so you link to them. (Maybe I'm incorrect about this, but that is my impression.) So, as a reader, those recommendations mean nothing to me. I don't think you actually read those blogs. The links still boost google for both of you, so maybe that's solely what you're going for. But, as a reader, I don't trust them as actual recommendations.

We should support our fellow writers, but we should also support our readers, with honest recommendations. Do you review *all* your friends' books? If yes, do you allow yourself to honestly criticize where warranted? Or not review something you think wouldn't appeal to your readers?

I think I agree with you in principal, but not with the practice of it in such bulk. Recommendations have more value when readers know they've been earned.

Mary said...

Great advice!

I'm just starting to realize how much blogging, Twitter and other social networking tools can really help me to reach more people.

As an avid reader, the Internet has been a great place for me to learn, question, comment and become a better writer.