When ‘Liking’ Gets Out of Hand

Yesterday, someone on a writer’s loop posted that Amazon does something special with rankings if an author’s page gets 40+ ‘likes’. I thought that was interesting and was wondering what would happen when that number was hit when several authors jumped on the bandwagon and ‘liked’ the original poster’s page at Amazon.

It snowballed straight into hell from there. Everyone started liking each other’s pages, and I started getting really annoyed.

These days, does a writer have to employ gimmicks and back-scratching to sell books?

AJ and I talked last night about what we want and expect from our writing, because lately it seems it’s all about the bottom line. Instead of working out plot points and character quirks, we’re discussing how to market our titles. Both of us want to earn money doing what we love, but we don’t want to resort to tricks and blackmail to do it.

In a perfect world, our titles would find readers who would love them, and this would happen because of an attractive cover, an interesting blurb, and more importantly, because the story was good and word of mouth was carrying that news along.

But a lot of ebooks are being released every day now, especially in the m/m genre. It’s hard for a reader to notice one book in a sea of other books. Electronic publishing has made it easy and convenient for the reader to download new material, even as it’s created the unfortunate side effect of making it harder to find the really good stuff.

I’m the first to admit there’s a lot of bad writing in this genre. Some publishers have gold sparkles in their eyes and are accepting any manuscript they can slap a cover on and get out the door. Flooding the market with mediocre crap isn’t helpful, and titles that should get more attention languish and die, unnoticed, while our genre in general gets labeled cheap and shoddy.

It’s all too easy for AJ and I to get discouraged and ask ourselves why we do this, because honestly, sitting hunched over a laptop, day after day, to produce something no one will read is kind of stupid, isn’t it? There are so many other, more interesting ways to spend time!

And yet we keep doing it. Why?

__________

Phoenix Rising has a release date! Visit Dreamspinner to read the excerpt.

About Theo Fenraven

Theo Fenraven lives in St Paul, MN, where it is really cold most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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10 Responses to When ‘Liking’ Gets Out of Hand

  1. AJ Rose says:

    I thought about joining the ‘liking’ bit, because I can use all the help I can get, but when I quit writing last night, there were 44 emails in that string. This morning? 77. I don’t have time to go through and do all those likes. Not to mention, it feels dishonest, feeding the numbers like that. I want to earn that.

    • Yeah, that was my feeling, too. It’s phony, doing it that way. Deceitful. Gives the impression that many people really did like your page as opposed to clicking ‘like’ just to get one in return.

      There’s a lot about the writing business that’s ugly.

  2. W. Lotus says:

    Aren’t there other ways to get the word out about your books without resorting to tricks you feel are beneath you? Or perhaps would the results of resorting to those tricks (increased sales and return customers) be enough to justify the tricks?

    Goddess, using “tricks” and “return customers” in this context is giving me all sorts of images that do NOT help place this into a more positive light…

    • Writing has become a dog eat dog business. There are so many mediocre writers getting published these days that the good ones are being buried in a sea of swill. I can’t blame them for trying to get to the head of the pack, but if this is what it takes to sell, I’m not interested.

    • AJ Rose says:

      (For some reason there’s no reply link on your latest comment, but that’s what I’m replying to.)

      The other way to get sales is to write a good story, do the best you can to promote it, and hope. Too much of it is luck, right place at the right time in the right climate for the story. There’s no way to control it. The best we can do is plug away, keep at it, and maybe some day, one person will recommend it to their friend, who will tell another person, who will tell another two or three, or write a review on Amazon or GoodReads that other people will see… It’s a crapshoot. And it’s disheartening as hell.

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