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Archive for October, 2011

There are many good books out there but I am having trouble finding them. Ever since I came across Jess C. Scott’s teenage blog novel, Eyeleash, I’ve known that some very talented writers will emerge from the epublishing revolution.

The trouble is, so many bad ones are overwhelming them.

The marketing tactics used by some of the bad writers show enormous creativity. It’s frustrating that their creative energy doesn’t get channelled into their books. I don’t doubt that these authors are working very hard. But their methods in some cases are so fraudulent that I’m surprised they’re legal.

Amazon seems to encourage the worst of them. Anything that sells books is OK with Amazon.

So for readers it is becoming more and more important to have an expert guide with you when venturing into the Amazon jungle.

One such guide, I’ve discovered, is book blogger Vanessa Wu, who writes very readable reviews. Unlike many bloggers, she is not there just to serve indie writers. She reviews a whole range of authors, from Jane Austen to Stephen King and her insights are both witty and incisive. The indie authors she singles out are well worth investigating, I’ve found.

Of course, it’s a little off-putting that her focus is on erotica which, being a respectable English gentleman, I don’t read. But it would be a great shame if, like Henry James’s character, John Marcher, we wasted our lives and denied ourselves the greatest pleasures because we were afraid of the Beast in the Jungle.

The picture is a famous optical illusion. Can you spot the hidden tiger? It helps if you can read.

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I have not written very much in my blog recently because I’ve been busy reading.

Mainly I’ve been reading a lot of self-published authors. Not just their books. Their internet articles too.

It seems to me that self-published authors have to write about 1,000 free words for every 100 words they want you to buy. This is called self-promotion.

Most of these self-published authors are very articulate.  In their articles. Probably because they’ve written so many. It’s a shame that most of their books aren’t any good.

Many of the articles are saying the same things in more or less the same words. The conventional wisdom is that if you are an unsuccessful self-published author, the way to become successful is to be very active on Twitter and Facebook and to blog a lot.

“That’s absolute crap!” says Scott Nicholson.

I have no idea if Scott Nicholson is successful or not. He has certainly done a lot of self-promotion. But if he is succesful, self-promotion had nothing to do with it. He attributes whatever success he has had to the quality of his work and to luck. Yes, luck!

That’s also how John Locke succeeeded, according to Scott.

John Locke got lucky with some Amazon algorithms, and to that, you can attribute probably 950,000 of his sales. If you think differently, and if you follow the blueprint in his guidebook and expect to sell a million books, please let me know if you make it. Locke’s genius can’t be reproduced, nor can his timing, situation, and luck.

What about Amanda Hocking’s success, Scott?

It was timing, Amazon algorithms, and luck.

J.A. Konrath?

Joe rarely shows up on Twitter and Facebook. And he’s the first to admit he got lucky.

It’s amazing that in this age of the internet, when there is rapid dissemination of information across the globe and a comprehensive audit trail that can be searched in seconds, opinions such as this should even exist. Scott writes with a tone of authority in a guest blog for a site specialising in advice to writers that is run by a team of experienced editors. But he writes absolute crap.

Let’s see how John Locke, in his own words, explains his success in a recent article in the Daily Mail.

I decided to buy advertising space in a mall in Louisville, Kentucky, in front of a bookshop … I tried other advertising: I bought online magazine ads, book trailers in movie theaters, and hired a publicist for £1,500 a month for three months. I sent out 100,000 press releases.

After a year of my time and more than £25,000 spent, I found I was selling 50 books a month, at 21p profit per sale.

Then in November 2010, I wrote a blog that got more than 5,000 hits in a day.

The emails started coming in and I began corresponding with my readers.

Scott Nicholson is right to advise writers to “be special” but anyone who thinks they are going to get lucky by being special is going to be waiting a long time.

John Locke didn’t just get lucky with his books. He didn’t just get lucky with his blog. He was a determined business man who knew a thing or two about marketing, invested a lot of time and capital, made some smart decisions and took risks.

As an e-publishing guru, Scott is plain misleading. I will not therefore be signing up for Scott’s newletter. I haven’t bookmarked his website. I won’t follow him on Twitter, like his Facebook page or sample any of his more than 20 Kindle books.

But I’ve no ill-feelings for Scott. I wish him luck on his indie journey.

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