Writes And Wrongs: About Amazon And The Reader Communities

Best-selling author Shiloh Walker pens this bi-weekly column of online advice for writers. Walker is a full-time author who is published in both e-book and traditional print formats. Now she shares her experience and advice to help aspiring and published authors figure out the "Writes and Wrongs" of the digital world.

An Outsider’s Perspective

So I don’t hang out much in reader communities anywhere, at least not anymore. I’ll hit blogs or the occasional forum—poke my head in on Lora Leigh’s forum from time to time, and every now and then, peek into the Jeaniene Frost’s  …I grin every time I go there because the mods are wonderful and they make me laugh.

I just don’t hang out in the reader communities too much—at least not enough to actively participate. Every once in a while, I do. And I lurk in some places. It’s amazing the things you can see when you lurk. What sort of things do I see lurking on Amazon’s reader communities?

The same stuff I see elsewhere. I see authors who actually know how to interact with readers…interact, you know, that key part of social media I talked about a few months ago? Where you actually socialize with readers and not just bash them over the head with the… OH! HEY, YOU READ. GO BUY MY BOOK guerilla-readerfare tactics?

Then I see the guerilla-readerfare promo attacks. Those onslaughts of promo that start with something along the lines of…I’d like to discuss my new book and end with something along the lines of now be sure to check out my book and the majority of the topic is all about…you guessed it…my new book.

There’s a pattern with this type of author and the only time they ever really interact is when they try to push something on you. It’s that hardsell tactic that just doesn’t tend to work all that well. 

For those who don’t get outright irritated (FYI, I’m not that person—I get irritated), it seems many just tend to tune this sort out. In short, this writer almost becomes ‘white noise’. 

Yes, repeated exposure of a name can do some good, but if a writer has gotten to where they’ve become a nuisance…they can lose sales. And if the writer has gotten to the point to where h/she has become "white noise", well…are this writer really getting the desired attention?

Another thing to keep in mind—while every community is different, some readers are more comfortable discussing things without an author presence. It’s less of an issue if you’re wearing your ‘reader hat’ so to speak. If you go in as an author, it can be off-putting to some—I’m not talking about using a different name—keep your name, by all means, but remember, this is a reader community. If you go in and try to shift the focus of the group, that doesn’t always settle well and it can reflect badly on you in the long run. Your best bet could be to just go with the flow.

The authors who seem to be more popular are the ones who keep it easy, keep it casual and focus on a love of books, instead of a love of themselves…

- Shiloh Walker

Check back for the next installment of Shiloh Walker's column in two weeks. Seeking more specific advice? You can ask the author any questions about the "writes and wrongs" of online behavior here. Your question might even get featured in an upcoming article. And of course, you can also follow the Shiloh Walker online daily at her website, on her Facebook page and via Twitter.