For many indie authors (and Kindle aficionados), this post will fall into the “water is wet” category of late-breaking news, but I’ve found it’s foolish to make assumptions about what others know and don’t, especially when it comes to the rapidly-changing face of digital publishing and the internet.
The Best Resource Out There
Kindleboards (www.kindleboards.com) is a site that has to be at the top of every digital self-publisher’s bookmarks list. It is a supremely helpful site that, in digital publishing terms, has been around since the Stone Age (about 3 years) providing a forum space for budding digital authors, Kindle book lovers, and geek and gadget people in general.
The forum section boasts around 55,000 registered users and several thousand are online at any one time. A subset of those are writers (detailed below), but many more thousands are readers interested in one thing: digital books.
From an indie writer’s perspective, the Writers’ Café (www.kindleboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html) sub-forum on the site is a post-graduate course on everything it takes to format, design, publish, and promote a digital publication. If you can think of a question as it applies to digital publishing, you’ll most likely get an answer…and usually one based on experience and not guesswork. The Writers’ Café represents the toil, experiments, and successes of hundreds if not thousands of writers. Many of today’s more popular digital writers (Amanda Hocking, David Dalglish, Deborah Geary, and many others) got their start in and often frequent the Café.
In just my first few weeks lurking and then contributing to the WC, I learned how to “go free” with my titles for promotional purposes, the smartest way to participate in a Librarything Giveaway, how best to use Goodreads, and how to use KDP Select to its best advantage. I’ve used the forum to test book covers, blog ideas, and to share insights.
Like every other internet forum in existence, etiquette plays a critical role in how much you get out of Kindleboards. There are a couple of particular hot button issues you should be aware of if you don’t want to ostracize yourself.
Not surprisingly, Kindleboards users–being locked-in on the digital world–are bright people, savvy to the ways of the internet. The writers, especially, are attuned to how the internet can be used to promote and sell books; if there’s a way to game a system and promote a title, they’ve thought of it. So, as you can imagine, no one appreciates writers–especially new members of the forum–promoting outside the rules laid down by the moderators.
Keep this in mind:
- The Book Bazaar sub-forum is the only area where self-promotion is allowed, and even then it is limited to one “mention” per week.
- “Ghost” posts where one puts a thinly veiled topic up in order to shout about a book is not appreciated and easily seen through by most forum users.
- All authors are allowed to use their forum signature to put clickable book covers as a passive self-promotion, but the size of the signature (140px high X 800px wide) is strongly patrolled.
- “Fire and forget” posts are especially scorned, i.e., posting once or twice with a link to one’s books, then never showing up again.
All these rules are discussed in the Forum Decorum section: http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,36.0.html
The moderators of the board and many users of the board will point out–forcefully–that KB is meant for courteous transactions between members. Trolling, flaming, baiting, bad language, and outright rudeness are often reported and can be grounds for banning. Conversely, celebrating others’ successes and triumphs is encouraged and expected.
Quid Pro Quo
It’s generally understood that the Writers’ Café is a place for learning and exchanging ideas. You will learn more in a week reading Kindleboards threads than a month simply browsing the internet. So, conversely, if you have news or an item of interest, the assumption is that you will share it after verifying it to the best of your abilities. Don’t be shy about putting something out there.
Some members of KB have been around the block multiple times and it doesn’t always show in their online profile. The person with a measly “32 posts” next to their username might be a veteran traditional writer, publisher, editor, or agent. I’ve seen both old-timers and newbies on the forum make the mistake of equating “time on KB” to “time in the world”, often to their embarrassment. Use your head when replying or adding to a conversation and avoid being prescriptive or condescending; there’s a decent chance you’re conversing with someone who may know as much or more than you about a topic.
I’ve only just started exploring the greater KB beyond the Writers’ Café and I’m excited about the connections I might make with readers. True promotion, I’ve been told, is in forging relationships, not shoving links to my books in people’s faces. I don’t know what the percentage of readers is on KB, but even if it’s a 70/30 split between readers/writers (which I think is high), that means there are almost 40,000 readers waiting to get involved in a conversation.
This is going to be fun.