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Thursday, July 12, 2012

GUEST BLOG: ALEKSANDR VOINOV

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Riptide Publishing. Click the tour banner to see the other stops on his tour.
Thanks for joining me on the Incursion virtual book tour! Feeling lucky? I’m giving away three prizes to commenters on any of the blog tour stops. Comment on this post (feel free to ask questions!) and you might win! The first winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate and a swag bag with assorted magnets, wrist-bands and other goodies. Two more lucky winners will receive swag bags as well. I ship internationally and will draw the winners from all commenters after the tour is over. Deadline for entry is 7/15/12. Please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you. Enjoy!

You can’t step on the internet (or especially Twitter) without stumbling over promo. Sometimes I get the sense that Twitter is predominantly invented so authors procrastinate from writing and shout “buy my book!” at each other.

Okay, that sounded cynical. It’s not that bad. I actually really enjoy Twitter, and I’ve got to know some awesome people (who also happen to be writers – or, the really rare species, readers!) and we’ve had fun and kept each other from writing, but basically, I see Twitter as a huge garden party, with the advantage that nobody tramples the grass and you can block people who are annoying or drunk.

I have to admit, I’ve bought books from authors I met on Twitter. But I can honestly say that I have never bought a book from a stranger on Twitter who shouted at me “Buy My Book!” Nor will I.

The biggest draw of the internet is that there are fewer barriers. You don’t need an excuse (or even a big reason) to strike up a conversation. “Wow, that was funny”, or “hey, nice to meet you, am a big fan”, which in the real world demand a lot more effort and a follow-up conversation. I’d seriously struggle to approach a stranger on the street and tell them “wow, love your haircut”, because in Britain, that would be inviting a punch in the face (you don’t even look at people on the bus or train or tube – I’m convinced there’s a paragraph of the law that forbids it on pain of death). On Twitter, that’s just being friendly and maybe striking up a conversation, or spending the time or being sociable.

Once you follow your favourite authors or authors you’re curious about, you realize what cool and funny and awesome people they are. Kari Gregg is hysterically funny on Twitter. Josh Lanyon is friendly and insightful, and Rachel Haimowitz is delightfully pervy. Megan Derr is great fun to talk to, too, and I try not to miss tweets from Nerine Dorman, Anne Tenino, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane. Or Kirby Crow. It’s my way to stalk and casually stay in touch with people whose work I admire, and if any of them tweet “hey, my book’s live NOW!”, I’m the first to run and buy it. (And I’m probably missing a few dozen author friends…)

But the point is, none of them run around going “BUY MY BOOK!” We’re having fun, hanging out, chatting, no strings attached.

There are authors whose tweetstream is nothing more than “Got an AWESOME REVIEW AT GOODREADS” or “I’m A BESTSELLER AT COFFE CUP BOOKS!” and, worse, retweet these two over and over and over again. If I’m their follower and I see the same tweet twenty times a day and nothing else, I’m bored. A few weeks later, I’m annoyed. A month later, I begin to hate them a little, and then comes the big author cull and I block them and might, if I feel especially vindictive, report them for spam (because, sorry, but automating two or three tweets and running them a hundred times a day IS spam).

Most of all, even if I see their book somewhere, my thought is not “oh, awesome, interesting book”, it’s “THAT’s the author who bored me and kept shouting at me to buy his/her book NOW!” and even if somebody recommends the book, and even if it sounds interesting and the cover is great and I would have bought it normally, I won’t.

That’s the big one for me. Promo is one thing, and in a way we all have to do it. Just look at which advertisements go “viral”. It’s the fun stuff, the touching stuff, things we care about anyway. You draw a lot more interest with something cool and interesting and funny (like the kid in the Darth Vader costume in the car advert, or a flash mob singing and dancing) than with “BUY MY BOOK” repeating fifty times until you’ve been unfollowed and blocked and reported for spam even by your grandmother.

I would argue that soft promo works much much better than the hard sell… build relationships, one at a time. Even if you don’t sell a million books, you might make a friend and have a good time, which is worth something. It’s actually the only promo I personally care about. I’m doing it to have fun with friends, not to sell books. And strangely, that does sell books.



Fighting with your back to the wall is all well and good—as long as you’ve chosen the right wall.

When the local authorities ask Kyle Juenger to hunt a shape-shifting Glyrinny spy, he can’t refuse. After all, he can use the reward to replace his paralyzed legs with cyberware, and maybe even to return to his home planet. Besides, he hates the morphs—those invasive, brain-eating monstrosities whose weapons cost him his legs.

Kyle’s best lead is the Scorpion, a mercenary ship armed to the teeth. Grimm, the Scorpion’s pilot and captain, fascinates Kyle. He’s everything Kyle lost with his legs, and he’s from the same home world. He’s also of the warrior caste—half priest, half savior. But Grimm’s been twisted by life as a merc, and Kyle’s stuck undercover as a criminal on the run.

That doesn’t stop Grimm from coming on to Kyle, or from insisting he’s more than the sum of his past and his useless legs. But Kyle has other concerns—like tracking a dangerous morph who could be wearing anyone’s face. And as if things weren’t complicated enough, Kyle can’t tell if Grimm is part of the solution . . . or part of the problem.

About the Author: Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he makes his living editing dodgy business English so it makes sense (and doesn’t melt anybody’s brain). He published five novels and many short stories in his native language, then switched to English and hasn’t looked back. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.

In his spare time, he goes weightlifting, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He singlehandedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects and interests. His current interests include World War II, espionage, medieval tournaments, and prisoners of war. He loves traveling, action movies, and spy novels.

Visit Aleksandr’s website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com, his blog at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

8 comments:

Aija said...

Great post, Aleks. :)
Frankly, I rejoined twitter just so I could stalk (and maybe talk to) you and, to my amazement, it worked! :D Then I met other people from GR there and somehow I found myself talking with more and more of 'em. At the time I thought that they were just readers like me, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the BIG majority were actually authors themselves! So what did I do? Went and bought their books. At that point I didn't really care if they'll satisfy me as a reader - primarily I wanted to support them. :) Now I've become addicted to twitter 'cause all my favourite authors are there and they are so fun to talk to! ^^

But it hasn't been all roses - met one author who spammed ALL THE TIME! I'm a very tolerant person, if I do say so myself, but after a few months I had had enough.. But some promotion at different times the first week or so after the book has come out is totally OK - otherwise I might not even know the book is out. :)

Kassandra said...

I've actually taken a break from Twitter the last couple months for this very reason. I hate the spam from some of the authors I have picked up. Perhaps a thorough cleansing is in order so I can go back and enjoy the comments from the authors/artists that I adore.

Kassandra
sionedkla@gmail.com

Val Kovalin said...

This is a good post! I'd sort of let my whole Twitter presence wither up and die some time back because I couldn't think of what to post. Maybe that's why people spam -- so they don't have to put time into thinking of what to say. You'd think they'd know better, ha, ha! But you make a good point about soft promo.

(No swag for me, thanks. Just commenting to comment.)

mrsmarit said...

I actually never use twitter.. for this very reason. I honestly stick to Goodreads for my author news but maybe it's time to dip my toes in the twitter pool and start small. Most of the authors you named are personal favorites.

Aleksandr Voinov said...

Aija - Yep. I think the way to make Twitter work is to focus on the cool and fun people and ban and block the people abusing that communication channel. And relentless, merciless hard-selling in my view is abuse. I've bought books written by casual writer friends and contacts on Twitter, but never after some stranger went "BUY MY BOOK". So if it doesn't work for me, I assume it works for nobody else - so why do it? :)

Kassandra - I think you're well within your rights to cut off offenders. I know I do, and it makes Twitter a much better place for me generally (and now I really enjoy it).

Val - Feel free to come back. I'm on there to chat and share cool links. Also, it's much faster than checking out websites, so I'm also on there to stay current what the topics are, what the overall buzz is, and just simply be silly and have fun with friends, whether they are authors or readers or agents or publishers or innocent bystanders.


MrsMarit - Thanks for commenting (also, please leave your email address so I can add you to the prize draw)! I think Twitter is a good place, but since it's relatively new, some people are still working out how to use it effectively (both authors and readers), what's allowable, what's polite. We're discovering it by trial and error. Personally, now that I've worked out what I like and hoe I want to use it (casually, to connect and stay current rather than to go out there and sell books), I wouldn't want to miss it.

Emily said...

I agree with you on the annoyance of the BUY ME! posts. I've stopped using tweeting cause it got so bad. Now, the only thing I use it for is to track a few select authors and to post about contests since I know a couple of my friends follow me and they like me posting those links. But it annoys me to no end when I keep getting the "Here's a great review!" or "Buy Me!" links. Often, if an author posts about a great review, I'm less inclined to believe the review. It just seems like the author paid them to do it or something you know? Like it's not as honest a review. If I'm up in the air about a book, I'll go look up reviews for it on goodreads or something.

I figure I'll eventually go back and start reusing twitter, but as for now, I'm still a bit upset about it. Plus, I prefer communicating through blogs like this. I feel like you get to know a lot more about the authors through their posts then through a simple tweet. Anyways, thanks for the post and for letting me rant!!

tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

aleksandr said...

Emily - Yes, Twitter is great for banter and sharing links (like to blog posts), but not necessarily for content. I also agree about reviews (I tweet about some, but I'd never tweet about each and every one of them- that would have *me* bored, let alone my followers and friends). Thanks for stopping by!

aleksandr said...

MrsMarit - I'll need your email address to enter you into the draw for the price. :)

Thanks!