Recently I have been invited to join various groups of bloggers who share promotional efforts, announcing releases, cover reveals, blog tours, and the like.
I have given the matter a lot of thought, and I think that forming groups for promotion is a very positive and very necessary step. Given the tilted playing field, self-published authors have to work together.
However, I have to be very careful regarding what I agree to do. I am perfectly happy reposting book announcements and such. If someone wants to submit a guest post to my blog I will consider it and probably say yes. I’ve done a couple of interviews with authors, and I like doing that. I want to help out other authors. I just have to make it very clear that I may not be able to recommend their books.
It’s not them, it’s me. I’m a writer, and I think I’m a pretty good one. But I’m not a book blogger. I’m not a good reader. In fact, I’m a really awful one.
I don’t read consistently. When I’m writing I read very little, and usually just old books that I have reread so many times that I know them by heart. When I read new fiction I am very picky. Finicky, like Morris The Cat in the old 9 Lives commercials. I’ll read a few pages and if it doesn’t happen to fit the mood I’m in at the moment, I’ll put it aside and try something else.
I also have atypical tastes, which is a polite way to say that I’m freakin’ weird. A list of my favorite books would include things like Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren, William Burroughs’ Wild Boys, Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Clive Barker’s Imagica, George Effinger’s What Entropy Means To Me, Tim Power’s Last Call, G K Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, and Phillip Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.
I’m something of an epistemological masochist. I like it when an author messes with my head, keeps me in the dark, sets up riddles that have no answers, and in general refuses to play nice with my perceptions of reality. I lose interest in stories that are too easy–I want to have to work at it to figure out what’s going on.
So the kind of books that I like are usually books that don’t sell very well. (It’s the same thing with movies. I have learned not to rave about movies too much, because there are people who will avoid any film that I like, on the grounds that anything I like has got to be too weird for general consumption.) (Which is totally not fair. Yes, I love The City Of Lost Children, but I also love Con Air, which is linear to the point of banality.)
I am not going to write about books that I don’t like in my blog. Since I tend not to like a lot of books that are very good books and popular with a lot of other people, this means that I am not going to participate in a lot of book tours. For this reason, I can’t really commit to being a part of any structured group.
I am happy to check out other author’s books, and I actually buy quite a few simply because I know someone who knows the author. Some I have tried and set aside (but the great thing about e-books is that I still have them on my Kindle and can try them again later, and I frequently find that something that doesn’t interest me on one day is a great read when I’m in a different frame of mind.)
The bottom line is this–if I write about a book, it’s because it’s a book that I personally have read and enjoyed. I will tell you what I liked about it and why and do my best to let you know what to expect.