I’m going to get on my soap box for just a minute today.
I generally leave my soap box sitting in a corner to be used only rarely, but I felt that I needed to pull it out today and touch on a subject that has been on my mind lately. The writing community is an awesome thing to be a part of. Authors who are working on building their platforms can find a lot of fabulous friends who will be happy to help support them,.
The key word here is “friends.”
Not random stangers. Not someone who “liked” or commented once on a status update of yours. Not someone you saw belonged to one of the many Facebook groups you belong to. The writing community is a tight knit group, and even though new friends are always happily welcomed, those who are stopping by only to push their own agenda are going to have a more difficult time.
Something I’ve found happening quite often lately, personally and with other authors, is getting a message from an author or aspiring writer they don’t know asking for favors. It might be something as simple as “I liked your page. Will you like mine in return?” or it might be something that requires a bit more like “I enjoy your books, can you read one of mine and tell me what you think?”
Let’s take the “Like” exchange to start off with. Me liking your page doesn’t do a lot of good for you, other than give you one more “Like.” If I don’t know who you are, even if I “like” your page, it’s unlikely that I’ll see, like, and comment on your posts, especially if it’s not a genre I read, like male/male romance.
Also, I’m not really your tartget audience. You want actual interested readers to like your page, not other authors who have no real connection to you or your books. And to be perfectly honest, it’s not polite and will start you of in a less than agreeable spot with your new “friend.” There are plenty of Facebook groups out there to exchange “Likes.” I don’t participate in them because I won’t “Like” and page I don’t actually like or know anything about. Please don’t solicit “Likes” from other authors out of the blue. If I know you and enjoy your work, I will “Like” you page. I don’t ask every author I meet to “Like” my page because I assume they probably feel the same way I do.
Now, on to asking for larger favors.
Reading an entire book, or even a short story, takes a lot of time. That’s not something I have a ton of, and I assume the majority of people I meet are in the same situation. The only people I ask to read something for me are close friends I know who, A) have the time and B) actually want to read it. Don’t ask strangers to read your writing. Just don’t.
On that same note, don’t randomly ask people to share you announcements or sales or new releases. If you have a relationship with that person and know they have a blog or page where they share that sort of thing, ASK AWAY! Most authors will be happy to help. I get requests to share things about erotica or gruesome horror or something similar. Most of my fans and readers are teens. I don’t share those types of posts. People who know me and what I write know that.
Being online takes away people’s inhibitions in many ways. You wouldn’t ask a stranger on the street to do a favor for you, especially one that is time consuming or might cause problems for them. Don’t do it online either.
I don’t want this to sound like I don’t want to help other authors. Those who know me know that I spend a lot of time helping other authors with promotions, graphics, book covers, formatting, review/critiques, advice, whatever they need. I want other authors to succeed. I want books and reading to succeed. I love helping other authors, but being asked to do something for someone I don’t even know sends a message of “You Owe Me,” just because we’re both authors. That’s not how it works. Like every other business, you have to build relationships, not just take the “buy my book,” “like my page” approach. It doesn’t work.