Once upon a time I belonged to a reader’s forum. (Actually I still belong to it, but that doesn’t have the same ring.) I’m not terribly active on the forum because I don’t read as much as most of the really active posters do, but I do pop in about once a day to see if there’s anything going on. When I do post, I try to stay on topic and not just flog my books. That just seems rude. Like the guy at the party who can’t talk about anything but himself.
Well, a few months ago I noticed someone new posting. Mostly I noticed her because she drove me crazy. She would post pretty provoking questions and then use them as a forum to talk about her book. It frustrated me on two levels. One, the topics tended to be something I wanted to discuss in general terms, not just in terms of her book which I had not read (and based on her flogging, I don’t want to now.) Two, I found myself doing the same thing. She would start a conversation and state categorically that something didn’t work causing me to feel the need to defend myself, using my own titles. (For example, menage. The original topic was sex scenes in novels and then she went and stated that menage didn’t work as romance because it “never” explored the emotional fall out. My book Trio was all about the emotional fallout. I got a negative review because of it.)
It made me feel like a used car salesman. “Look at this little beauty here! 70,000 words and lots of deep emotion. It was only ever driven by a little old lady to go to church!”
So I quit reading her posts. When I noticed she was the last one to comment on something, I skipped it. The loss of a chance to engage in an intelligent debate balanced out by the absence of that dirty feeling of hawking my books.
Tonight I visited my forum and noticed the writer in question was missing. Had been missing. Hmm. I did just recently get fourth quarter royalty statements from two of my publishers so my guess is that she got hers as well and decided the sales (or lack thereof) weren’t worth the hassle.
So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re a writer looking to promote yourself on a forum, be a member of the forum, not a promoter. Think about what you’re saying before you post it too. People judge you by those little snippets and if they decide they don’t like you, they aren’t going to go looking for your book. Just because you talk about something constantly doesn’t mean people are going to want to listen. Like a person who constantly talks about their dog or their grandkids or their car, we don’t care anymore.
So for now it’s safe to go back on the forum … until the next new author gets the brilliant idea to promote their book by being controversial.