The room is large. You’re amazed at just how many people have decided to attend this event. As you look around, you see that many people appear to be enjoying themselves, mixing freely with others. But yes, there are clearly some who appear lost in the crowd. That’s logical; the sheer number of people is a bit intimidating. After all, you are at this networking event with thousands, if not millions, of people from all over the world, and you want to make the most of it. You’ve just written a book. It was hard work, and you want to get the word out; the world is waiting.
You decide to start from the front of the room and work your way back. Without hesitation, you walk up to a guy and say hello. When he freely returns the greeting, you say, “Yes! It’s finally here! The paperback edition of my new novel! I hope you will consider buying it. I would also appreciate it if you read and review it on Amazon.”
You don’t notice that he looks at you strangely, because you’ve already moved on to the next person. Once again, your hello is returned. And you say, “I’ve just written a book. Please visit my website and download my free short story.”
He looks at you as if to say, “Are you effing kidding me?” but you’ve already moved on to the third person. She actually says hello to you first, so that must mean she’s really interested in your work. Despite the fact that she’s connected with 15,237 other people in the room, you are certain that your accomplishments are the only ones that will matter. You never even consider that she may have written a book (or several), recorded a CD (or several), or perhaps is a talented artist, teacher, speaker, entrepreneur, doctor, photographer, or animal welfare advocate. Why should you care about her? Hell! You’ve just written a book!
Sidling up to her, you say, “Please like my Facebook page, read and review my new book, and don’t forget to pass this message on to all of your friends. Oh, and by the way, why not check out what I’m doing on Instagram?”
(breaks from sarcasm)
Okay, so the scene I’ve just described should sound a bit silly (a lot silly), because most of us (I hope!) would not be quite this bold, thoughtless, or narcissistic at a live networking event. However, this is the way a whole lot of people behave every single day by sending self-serving Auto DMs (direct messages) on Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, and I have never, not once, shown any interest in a person because he/she sent me an Auto DM. Why would I be interested in the work of another person who thinks I exist only to support his/her work and appears oblivious to who I am and what I do.
Depending on my mood, I will ignore the DM or unfollow the person. Once in a while I’ve sent back sarcastic responses, but these days I try to resist that temptation.
I’ve discussed the Auto DM habit with many of my fellow authors, and I’ve yet to have someone tell me, “Yes, I love being spammed and having a stranger tell me what I can do for him.”
In closing, let’s go back to the live networking event. In most cases, people strike up conversations with one another, ask about the other person, and, if it fits, exchange information. When a respectful two-way connection is made, it may lead to a casual business relationship, a working business relationship, or perhaps a friendship.
Some of you who send Auto DMs may say, “But I do care about the other person!” And to that I say, “Perception is everything. If you behave like a narcissist, I’m going to see you that way.” Other people might tell me that Auto DMs do work with some people. I’m sure they do, but do you have any idea how many people you are turning off who might be interested in your work if approached respectfully? How many potential business relationships you are nipping in the bud? Do you truly want to be perceived as being all about yourself? Is it worth it?
Remember: Even though you’re sending an electronic message, this is the real world.
What are your experiences with Auto DMs?
Blogs, guest blogs & interviews from lisettebrodey.com.
PJ Webb is an award winning indie author of fantasy and mystery. Originally from New York, she now lives in North Carolina with her husband and their two cats. Her first book, Transformation, is also the first in her Prince of the Blood Vampire Chronicles. She has recently released the second book, Evolution, and is currently editing the third and fourth books in the series. She hasn’t limited herself to the subject of vampires, however. Her newest book, Lora Lee, the first in her paranormal Cliff House series, has just been released.
Time to chat with PJ!
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
So far, I haven’t had any problem, but I would imagine the only challenge really is having enough to write about. Other than that, in my opinion, series are the absolute most fun to write and financially make the most sense. You don’t have to say good-bye to characters you’ve written into being and come to love as quickly, and it gives you a better opportunity to hold on to new readers until they’re steadfast fans.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
My first book was born out of a desire not to stay up all night worrying about events that were unfolding in my life that were beyond my control. I decided the time could be better spent doing something creative, and so I began to write a story about a character who lost everything and managed to cope with that loss and reinvent himself in the process. You see, my husband and I were about to lose everything we owned including our livelihood in 2011 due to the recession. To be honest, I guess I chose fantasy because I was looking for an escape from reality, and through my experience with writing, I now have an understanding that nothing ever stays the same. There are only different degrees of change, and it’s not those changes that define us but what we do with them that matters.
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
I do. I have a new book coming out soon entitled Colette’s Diary. It’s about one of the characters that is prevalent in books one and two in my Prince of the Blood Vampire Chronicles. She’s a French courtesan in the court of Louis XV who goes on to live many lifetimes. I had hoped for its release in time for Valentine’s Day, but that appears to have been wishful thinking on my part. Realistically, it should be launched by mid-March.
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
I think there is really only one. That our books lack proper editing. Unfortunately, in the beginning of the independent author rush many inferior self-published books, those introduced by one book writers who had jumped on the bandwagon with inferior editing, were submitted to Amazon, and they have left a daunting reputation for the good indie author to overcome.
Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very well while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?
I don’t think there’s any easy answers. The problem is getting our books seen, and there are at least three ideas that I know of to that end. Some say social media is a waste of time. Some say you should follow the guidelines publishing houses use to create attention, while others say to draw up a budget and pay for advertising. All I know is that at the moment there are millions of Indie authors, and add to that all of the traditionally published authors and what you have is a big mountain to climb. All of us want the same thing, potential readers to be able to see our books and love them. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your story is, how beautiful and eye catching your cover, or how grabbing your description. It doesn’t even matter how many excellent reviews you have, or your awards, for that matter. If you’re not in the top 100 in your particular genre, you’re not going to be seen. Of course, all of those good qualities are very important once you are noticed. You have to try every possibility, and if one thing isn’t working, move on. Even better, if you have the time and money, try all of them at once.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
The road to success is a hard one, even for published authors because they now have to promote themselves unless, of course, they happen to be a star and seventy-five percent aren’t. The art of self-promotion doesn’t come easy for everyone either, and those that are talented in that regard definitely have the edge, but don’t give up on your dreams. If you just keep believing in yourself, you’ll eventually find your way. You may not be a NY Times Best Selling Author, but you will find a following of loyal readers who appreciate your work. Most importantly, get an editor that you can trust to edit your books properly. There are so many horror stories about indie authors hiring editors that have not done the proper job, and they’ve suffered unnecessarily because of it. Make sure you hire someone who’s recommended highly by other authors that you know, or check them out carefully. It doesn’t matter how amazing your story is if it isn’t properly edited, critics are sure to have a field day with it, and it’s not something that you’ll live down easily.
There are so many conflicting opinions out there about everything related to publishing: e-book pricing, book promotion, social media usage etc. How do you sort through it all to figure out what works best for you?
The only way to find out what works best for you is to get in there and start, and if you find one things isn’t working, try something else until you hit on the best solutions for yourself.
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I’m just beginning to realize, that for me, social media is probably not the best way for my books to be seen, and it’s also begun eating up way to much precious time that I need for writing, but I would never give it up entirely. I’ve met too many wonderful and talented authors who have become great friends, and I’ve learned a lot from them, so I intend to continue, but not as strongly as I used to. I need time to explore different avenues now. As I mentioned earlier, you need to realize when it’s time to move on.
Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do?Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?
Yes, only because it so very important. After the cover, that’s the next thing that determines a reader’s possible interest, or lack thereof, and furthermore, how can you possibly sum up in so few words that which took so many to write?
Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?
My first book, Transformation, from my Prince of the Blood Vampire Chronicles will always be my favorite because of how it healed the heartache I was feeling and gave me the strength to reinvent myself and go on.
Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?
All of us pour our heart and our souls into our work, and getting a bad review is devastating. I don’t think any of us have gotten so tough skinned that it no longer hurts. In fact, I think I could liken it to a state of grieving and most would agree with me. Eventually, you have to come to terms though, and realize that not everyone is going to appreciate your work, no matter how perfect it is, and not only that, but they aren’t going to care how hard and long you worked, or how devastating they’re words are going to be. If it’s the only bad review mixed in with a number of great reviews though, you’ve got to just get over it and move on. It’s only when all, or many of the reviews you’ve gotten are similarly critical that you need to take a serious look at whether they’re right or not, and if you find that what’s said is true, then do something about it. Otherwise, don’t fret over it. There will be plenty more good reviews to come, and they’ll water down that bad one until it hardly matters at all.
Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?
Yes, but not because of immediate sales. If you have a blog site and put out a newsletter, it’s a great way to start compiling your readers list.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
If you could duplicate the knowledge from any single person’s head and have it magically put into your own brain, whose knowledge would you like to have? And why.
Anne Rice. She’s my favorite writer, and while I wouldn’t want to copy her style, I would love to write as well and would relish being as adored for my books as she is.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Loyalty, kindness, and honesty.
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
Somewhere in Time and Interview with the Vampire.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
My husband and I lived on our 36’ Christ Craft boat, Somewhere in Time, for fifteen months.