GREETINGS! This is your elusive blog host, reporting with a bit of literary shrapnel that embedded in my brain some time ago, and has festered enough to warrant a post of its own. Today we’re talking about:


Tweet-Reading an Indie Gem

OR

How I Decided to Use Twitter to Boost the Signal 
of Some Awesome Indie Writers

This past weekend, I finished tweet-reading a YA mystery indie read, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire, by Paul Ramey (@PaulRamey), recently published by Nine Muse Press (@NineMusePress). It was a wonderful book, full of gothic Victorian mystery, witch hunts, young love, interfering busybodies, rare books, trap doors, trespassing, ghost tours, herbal lore, and one hyped-up barista.

The tweet-read marathon was great fun. As I read, and certain observations popped into my head, I’d tweet it with the #EdgarWilde hashtag. If a character did something that delighted me – or made me cringe – I tweeted that, too.

I loved seeing the retweets, and receiving the questions and observations from curious Twitter followers who wanted to know more about the book — or who tweeted me to say that they had read the book, and thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

And before anyone asks:

     No one asked me to do this. Not Paul Ramey, not Nine Muse Press.

     I certainly wasn’t paid for it, or given a kickback of any sort.

     I just started a good book, realized I was hooked into it for the long haul…..

                                                                     …..and decided I would tweet the journey.

The Tweet-Reading Idea

The idea for tweet-reading came to me several months ago, when the Fifty Shades of Grey hype was at it’s highest. I saw on Twitter where an agent I followed had decided to tweet her reaction to the book as she read it, so people could get a gauge for whether or not the book was “all that.”

The funny thing is, I had no interest in Fifty Shades of Grey – still don’t. Never read it, have no intention of doing so.

BUT….the woman’s tweets drew me in. She tweeted what she loved and hated about the book (though mostly she tweeted the awful or absurd). She was specific enough to give a person a sense of the book, but general enough to not give away any major plot points. Before long I found myself sitting back and thinking, “Y’know, what would this approach do for other indie authors, if people routinely tweet-read books they actually liked?”

Someone would pay attention, I decided, just like I was – to a book I have no use for, and have no intention of reading.

But if it was a good book….

     …..one that I really liked, or was fairly certain I would like….

                     …..if I was honest with my opinions, but gracious and fair with my wording…..

                                   ……then at least a few readers (I hoped) would notice

                                                                        and

                                    …..an indie author would get a much needed shot in the arm.

So I did just that. I started by tweet-reading Amanda McCrina’s (@9inchsnails) His Own Good Sword (soon to be rereleased on May 7th), and had a grand time. Nor do I think I lost any followers from my ongoing stream of tweets about Tyren and his rapidly deteriorating world. If you’re a reader/blogger/writer following other reader/blogger/writers on Twitter, that’s what you signed up for, right??

And who else to tweet about books to, than other avid readers who know the value of a good book?

Word of Mouth Works Best

As a potter who has done her share of art shows and bazaars, sold her work on Etsy, and put her work in shops hoping for that one angelic collector who likes my work — I’ve learned that Word of Mouth is the best advertising any starting-from-scratch artist can have.

Business cards are great. So are websites, and blog interviews. Working the little desk at a fair or show is great, too. But the REAL trick to bringing in more customers is to have satisfied customers.

This is because satisfied customers tell other people – and they become your next round of customers.

Same thing applies to books. I am FAR more likely to pick up a book and read it if it has been recommended to me by a friend. Most people are that way. The marketing guru putting book trailers on Goodreads doesn’t know squat about my book preferences, but my friends do.

It means a lot to know that my friends are “satisfied customers” in the reading arena.The trick is to make sure that other people know that there ARE, in fact, gold nuggets out there, that are not coming from mainstream presses.

All that glitters…

With small presses and self-publishers churning out books at a crazy rate nowadays, there appears to be – from some angles, anyway – a real glut of indie literature. We’ve all encountered the lemons and the gold nuggets – sometimes given away for free.

For example, I picked up a copy of Jabberwocky, by Daniel Coleman, for free – and then realized why it was free. It was MONUMENTALLY horrible. I cannot even begin to tell you how much. I hung in there till around the 23% mark and then bailed. I had to. My sanity depended on it.

On the other hand, I heard last December that J Birch’s (@jbirchwriter) Gasher Creek was doing a promotional run on Amazon – for free – for a limited number of days; and since I couldn’t remember when I’d last tried to read a western, I decided to take a chance on his tale of a wild west town gone haywire.

O my goodness. I am so glad I picked it up. More than that – I wish I had paid for it — it’s that good. It was a phenomenal romp of an adventure story, and I heartily recommend it.

But that’s the thing. You can’t even look at a “free” label and assume the book is a lemon. It very well could be; but then again it might not.

And the price tag doesn’t always correlate with the quality, either. I paid a whopping $2 for Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire, and around $4 for The Sauder Diaries by Michel Vaillancourt. Both books were easily worth twice what I paid. No joke.

Pick and Choose

At some point, I would be interested to know how many people purchased a book I tweet-read in real time, and what they thought of the book once they finally got their hands on it. Every person is different, and literary tastes are as varied as fingerprints. I try to give honest reviews – whether in my tweets, or here on my blog – and to neither be too effusive with my praise nor too sparing.

But the bottom line is that we are all different. Which is why:

     1.  I am not the only person who needs to be tweet-reading all these great books.
 
     2. Other people need to tweet-read books I’ve never read.

     3.  We all need to be choosy with the books we tweet-read – or just recommend, period.

I usually read through the first few chapters to get a feel for a book before I put myself out there and tweet about it. I need to know that the book has a solid enough hook that I will follow it to the end, even if the author surprises me along with the way with plot arcs or twists that I would have done differently, given my druthers.

Careful selection, a bit of preliminary reading, and then some well-timed tweets could do the trick.

After all, there is a LOT of talent out there – and it’s time to get the word out, one recommendation at a time.

Want to see the kind of thing I’m talking about? 
Get on Twitter and look up the #EdgarWilde hashtag.

Did I cover every possible aspect of this idea? Certainly not.

I’d be thrilled to hear from you – your thoughts on what works, 
what doesn’t, how such efforts could backfire if ill-timed or ill-worded.

Thoughts, comments, insights — let me know in the comments below!

And as always — thanks for reading!!!

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