For those of you who don't know J.A. (Joe) Konrath , he is a self publishing guru. He is in the Amazon million dollar club and has a very successful blog, where self published authors (like me) go to read any small piece of advice we can glean in the hopes of duplicating his success.
Every year, he posts his resolutions for the current year on his blog which he adds to the previous years' resolutions, creating a list that evolves with him. Like many other self pubbed authors, I was interested to see what his resolutions would be this year, since he seems to have accomplished nearly everything he has set out to do.
In reviewing his list for this year, it occurred to me that the advice might not be the best thing for newly published indie authors. For the first time, I felt uncomfortable by some of the things he said.
He stated that he had lived long enough to see some of his advice become obsolete, like finding an agent and publisher. While it is true, that finding an agent or publisher is no longer the push for most authors, I'm not sure that I agree with the rest. Konrath said that he rarely uses Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or other social media sites. He also said he is never going to do another book tour or official book signing. He's stopped public speaking and attending events. "Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email." He stated that removing himself from these things has not affected his book sales.
While that may work for him, I think that kind of thinking could be damaging to authors who have not achieved the level of success Konrath has. I'm not at a point in my writing career where I have enough fans to make my PR machine a thing of perpetual motion. I don't think new authors can blow off social media, doing public speaking, attending conferences, doing book signings, and meeting with fans. I'm not sure even established authors should.
Also, the "Get Over Yourself" thing. I know that Konrath is blunt and often irreverent, but one of the great things about self publishing is the interaction and feedback writers get from readers. I don't think you should ignore reviews. Of course there will always be people who don't like your writing, but maybe you can learn something from those reviews. It's also nice to see a good review to know that your hard work was appreciated. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to or enjoying reviews. It doesn't make me self centered or focused on being famous. It is the connection with another person, and knowing that that person liked my writing.
Readers and fans play an important role in our careers as authors. If they don't buy our books, then what's the point? Sure, I can write for myself, and I would continue to write even if I didn't publish. But the moment I hit that publish button, I had a responsibility to readers and fans, not only to continue to write the best books I can produce, but to interact with them and acknowledge their support of my efforts.
With the advent of social media, the ability of fans to interact with authors has become the norm. I do agree with Konrath when he says writing should always be an author's first priority. I even blogged about that subject myself. However, I have seen his resolution blog circulating among other authors, and quotes from his resolutions being touted as the next great Konrath advice, but I worry that new writers may take it too seriously.
Promoting and networking in social media should not come before writing, but I think it is a mistake to cut it out completely; and to relegate fans to email communication. Maybe that is where Konrath is at, and his fans only want his next book and nothing more. In that case, it works for him. As for me, I will continue to chat with fans and authors on social network sites; and if people go out of their way to leave a review for one of my books - good or bad, I will read it.
Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2013!