Helping Out Authors

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.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Promotion, On Publishing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Helping Out Authors

  1. Quite the legit bottom line, good sir. I wish my bottom line was as discerning as yours. I made the mistake of agreeing to read/review a number of books which … well, let’s just say they’re rather far from my preferred book-type. Live and learn, I suppose.

  2. kingmidget says:

    My problem with these promotional support groups is that I refuse to promote something unless I’ve read it first. I simply cannot recommend to people that they buy a book unless I read it and think it’s worth their hard-earned pennies. I appreciate that others have promoted my books, whether they have read them or not, but I’m not willing to go there. Everybody I’ve promoted on a blog is a book that I read. For me, it can’t be any other way.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      There’s a difference between “promotion” and “announcement”, I believe. I am perfectly happy to let readers of my blog know that someone whom I follow is releasing a new book, and to provide links for information on that book. That, to my mind, is different than giving a book a personal recommendation.

      I just need to make sure that I make it clear which is which.

  3. Dave Higgins says:

    As I have an abhorrence of not finishing a book I start, I am almost the opposite of Misha when a book does not grab me in the first few pages; I sit down and push through until I am certain it is not just slow to start.

    I have published reviews of books I did not love. For me, the secret is to be honest. In each review I attempted to describe why the book was not right for me; as this was more often stylistic than fundamental, it still allows people whose tastes differ to judge.

    While I agree with kingmidget that you need to read a book before you can say it is great, it is possible to do some promotion without reading it; the clearest example would be circulating the release date of a book by an author whose previous works you enjoyed with a message that the new book looked interesting.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      My reading habits have really changed over the past year–these days I seem to have no energy for reading. I have to confess that I use my Kindle more for games than for books. Maybe if I take some time off from writing that will change.

      I don’t enjoy writing reviews of books that I don’t like. I have heard the arguments that it is important for readers to get both positive and negative reviews, and I agree, but I figure there are plenty of other people (like you) who are willing to take the time to write a clear and honest negative review.

      • Dave Higgins says:

        Writing reviews of books you do not like it definitely harder. I am possibly a little odd in the head, in that I enjoy the intellectual challenge of being fair about a book I personally did not love.

  4. ksbeth says:

    good idea and thank you for being sincere and thoughtful in your efforts

  5. Seems that your path is the right way to go.

  6. Tuan Ho says:

    As soon as I get more time on my hands, I’m definitely buying a copy of your book just because you like Con-Air. 🙂

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