I just can’t help myself

I know, I’m my own worst enemy. But I stuck up another stupid promo thread on Amazon. I just can’t help myself. If something seems funny to me I just have to go with it. It’s some sort of weird compulsion. Comedy tourettes or something. When James Everington dared me to tag Oblivious as Erotica on Amazon, just for a laugh, I came so very close to doing it. I talked myself down on that one, fortunately. But now Stavrogin (aka Oli Johns) has suggested a joint promo game where we try and see who gets the most downvotes. It’s not fair, how can I resist that kind of temptation?

Anyway, it’s here. And funnily enough it isn’t attracting the ire I thought it might – yet. Five downvotes so far, but one of them is Stavrogin and another is me logging in as my missus so I could disagree with myself. Next week it’s Stavrogin’s turn so let’s see if he can beat me. (He started the game last week and managed a measly one downvote – terrible, must do better). Long gone are the days, it seems, when a single post could generate 50 or 60 disgruntled forum users. Apathy is the worst. We’ve got to try and ignite some interest again, somehow…


11 thoughts on “I just can’t help myself

  1. Neil Schiller May 31, 2011 / 3:46 pm

    Hahahah, you’re not wrong James. Loved it. Cake – the new drug sweeping the streets. And Nonce-sense. Genius.

  2. Marion June 1, 2011 / 10:19 pm

    There’s got to be a better way! I don’t know what it is. But there has to be. I think I’d like to open up an internet cafe/bookstore/launderette/wine bar. It would not only have indie POD’s lining the walls and a book rental system, but it would also have a couple of fully loaded kindles people could “borrow” and browse through while waiting for their clothes to dry. Any investors?

    • Neil Schiller June 2, 2011 / 9:26 am

      Marion, if I had the money… 😀

      Actually, I think it ultimately comes down to marketing. (God, that term gives me cold shivers). What I mean is, on Amazon we’re tagged very much as ‘indies’ or ‘self-published’ or whatever. That covers a breadth of people, of varying quality, doing very different things. In actual fact I think there is a subsection of work within that that is literary, is edgy, is alternative. On Amazon it isn’t distinguished from anything else. I think we need a storefront that promotes ‘alt’ work in a way that would attract readers of the kind of thing we’re doing. For instance, I mentioned in my review of your work a few other authors I think it kind of sits in the same category as. I’m convinced there are readers out there of these authors that need pointing towards your book. How do they find it on Amazon? Would they find it in an alt-literature storefront? I’d bet that would work better.

  3. James Everington June 2, 2011 / 9:57 am

    Marion – when I’m rich and famous, I’m in!

    Neil – it’s a great point. A lot of fiction self-published on the Kindle etc. is no different from the bestsellers the main publishers are still doing. Nothing wrong with that, I like some bestsellers, and they deserve their shot at the big time. But you’re right, there’s also a whole load of writing that’s more unconventional that the Kindle has allowed a wider readership for. Alt Fiction or whatever you want to call it; I don’t think it would do to define it too much, but books like yours, some of Dan’s, some of mine etc. would all fit in there. (Marion I really must apologise for not reading yours yet. I promise when I do though I’ll spell it correctly, unlike Neil…!)

    Not sure where this realisation leaves us though, other than doing what we’re doing – finding writers like ourselves and forming little informal networks of support… Any ideas?

  4. Neil Schiller June 2, 2011 / 10:40 am

    James, not at the moment really, no. Dan’s Year Zero tag for a lot of these guys was a good lead I think, but what else you do with that kind of thing I’m not sure at the moment. Unfortunately, it’s kind of all about branding isn’t it? I keep coming back to that Rebel Inc. imprint I used to rabidly buy everything from because I knew there was a link between all their titles and it was an easy chain for me to follow to find other writers I’d like. I’m convinced there’s something in that idea, a loose brand categorisation. I found Dan by tracking back the Year Zero tag in Larry Harrison’s book, and then became aware of Marion (although I’d already ‘found’ her book by accident), and Oli Johns (or Stavrogin) the same way. So that association thing works. But is everyone as committed as me to track back tags like that and actively search out commonality? Perhaps not. Perhaps they need it demonstrating to them more easily. I don’t know.

    I look at Amazon forums, and that Murakami thread has been a great success hasn’t it? Suddenly a load of people are jumping on it and recommending other authors that are similar. Which is great. That’s how I find the next thing to read – by recommendation, by association. And I’m sure lots of others do too. I hate marketing, I hate the idea of branding things, but it seems to me that a lot of us could benefit from a common banner somewhere and somehow. Maybe an idea will hit me, who knows. I’ll leave it fermenting in the back of my brain for now.

    I like that literature cloud site – don’t know whether you’ve seen it? http://www.literature-map.com/ There might be an idea in there somewhere. That one is obviously dedicated to mainstream published authors, but what about an alternative one? See, putting my real cynical head on, there’s a part of me that likes to seek out alternative things. Partially because I tend to like them, but partially because I like to find things for myself and probably partially because I still cling to the idea that it’s kind of cool. Hahah. How many people are there out there that can be swayed by something looking kind of cool, like you’re one of the first to arrive at something before everyone else? That sounds horrible and cynical and advertising scumbag-like doesn’t it? ‘Let’s define a demographic’. I’ll have Bill Hicks telling me to “go kill myself… oh Bill, you’re so funny, no, it’s not a joke, seriously, go kill yourself”… But does it kind of make sense? Or am I talking shite?

  5. James Everington June 2, 2011 / 11:57 am

    Hi – yes I’ve seen that literatue cloud and it is really good: looks like you can add people to it, but need 10 postive votes to get declared a real writer before you go on there.

    A similar idea for alternative writers would be great, although I’ve no idea how to do it in practical terms… will have a think.

  6. James Everington June 3, 2011 / 8:12 am

    Neil –

    Put on your analyst hat and see if this sounds like something workable – a page on my blog, or new webpage (not sure yet) where myself (and selected other readers) add indie books they’ve read. For each book:

    The reader lists two other indie books they think are similar, and
    The author is contacted if possible to list two other indie books they think are similar

    The similar books are added, both to the original entry, and as entries in their own right, with cross references back. The authors of those new books are contacted to add two similar books… etc. etc.

    Example I add Book A, and say is is similar to Book B and C.
    Book A’s author says like Books D and C
    Book B author not contactable
    Book C author says like Books E and F
    Book D author says there book like B and E

    Ends up:

    If you like Book A you might like B, C, D
    If you like Book B you might like A, D
    If you like Book C you might like A, B, E, F

    No one can add there own book to the page – books are only added by being read by the site moderators, or being suggested by other indie authors. Gradually each book will get a network of connections with other, similar, indie books…


  7. Neil Schiller June 3, 2011 / 12:03 pm

    James, I think that’s a really good idea. If it was set up as textual, like blog articles which introduce the next book and the two the contributor thinks they’re similar to, and then there is a more general overview page with perhaps a graphic that shows the books added so far in a kind of modular relationship tree or something – that would be great. Might be a bit of a pain keeping on top of the graphic but I think I could so something simple in Visio that can be kept up to date easily enough and then exported as a jpg…

  8. Neil Schiller June 3, 2011 / 12:07 pm

    The other thing I did a year or two back as part of my course was a poster trying to convey the ideas in my thesis for display in the university. (It was a course requirement). But I used the London tube map conceptually as the guy did in that piece of art ‘The Great Bear’. Maybe something similar to that kind of idea? I’ll stick it up in a post to see what you think…

  9. James Everington June 3, 2011 / 2:41 pm

    Good ideas. ..

    I’ll have a crack at a rough thing next week – got a weekend full of weddings and stuff, so won’t be until then…

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