We just passed the six-week mark since the Amazing Free Book Giveaway Weekend, and it’s time to start evaluating the entire process for success or failure. I’ll crunch the numbers later, but right now I want to discuss one of the “softer” aspects of the AFBGW.
As part of the AFBGW, I went out to LinkedIn and joined a few writers’ groups.
I joined these groups because it’s a quick way to reach a lot of people at one time. Writers are (presumably) readers as well, and some of these groups have membership up in the five-digits. With one post, I could (presumably) reach thousands and those posts could (presumably) drive traffic to my blog, my AFBGW promotion, and my books. In addition, the groups can (presumably) provide a venue in which to discuss Things Writerly, and I looked forward to entering discussions on style, debates on the value of writing disciplines, and reading posts on marketing strategies.
What I found was very different.
Echo Echo Echo
I found a surprising amount of duplication between these groups. Members who post in the Aspiring Writers group will copy their post verbatim over on the Fiction Writers Guild (and to the Literary Fiction Writers Group, and to the Let’s Talk About Writing group, and…and). Though I didn’t analyze it, I would hazard that this duplication accounts for anywhere from a quarter to a third of the new posts on a given day. That’s a lot of noise in the signal.
An even larger proportion of content is simply adverts, and I don’t mean blatantly promotional posts like the ones I made about my own AFBGW. I mean posts about a (presumably) writerly topic like, say, the use of adverbs. Click on the topic, read the post, and it’s a push for the writer’s editorial service. Common adverts posing as posts:
- Book promotion posts (…guilty as charged, but at least I was honest about what the post was)
- Posts touting an interview with the author
- Posts bragging on a review of the author’s work
- Posts that are nothing but a link to a post on the author’s blog (which takes the discussion out of LinkedIn and is therefore useless)
- Posts driving readers to the poster’s editorial business
- Posts driving readers to the poster’s publishing business
- Posts driving readers to the poster’s latest book on the topic of the post
Posts of these types account for at least two-thirds of the new posts in every single group I joined.
[cracklecrackle] Are we reaching? [cracklecrackle]
Nearly the entire remainder of posts (we’re down to somewhere between 25-30% of the entire content, now) can be categorized as
- Newbies asking about the most basic topics
- “How long should my chapter be?” [smh]
- Discussions from the barely computer-literate trying to self-publish
- “How do I save this as a PDF?” [rtfm]
- Discussions of the “rules” of writing
- Don’t get me started…
- Questions by
trollspedants spoiling for a fightlooking for a chance to pontificatestate their views
- Here’s a tell: anyone posting an outrageous blanket statement is just trying to goad you
- Poseurs who have few (if any) legitimate credits, and whose posts are filled with puffery and advice regurgitated from the latest issue of Writer’s Digest
- There’s one guy who likes to propose broad topics with sage-like style. I clicked a post, which took me to his blog, on which he had listed his (one) novel. There was a typo on the cover of his novel. (And if you’re wondering, it’s spelled “deceit,” not “deceipt.”
Is Any of it Worthwhile?
It’s not that there are no legitimate voices to be heard in these groups. It’s not that it’s all rubbish.
During the past six weeks, I have met a handful of nice, thoughtful, reasonable, talented, and experienced writers. Unfortunately, these people tend to be quiet, reserved, and polite; i.e., they’re almost never listed as “top influencers” in these groups, and their comments are often shouted down by the floggers, the pedants, and the poseurs.
But overall, is it worthwhile?
- For the newbie seeking advice, the danger is this: Half the posters on LinkedIn are idiots, a quarter are poseurs, and a quarter have something legitimate to say; but how do you tell them apart?
- For the established author, the only value I can see is in providing a venue for promotion. I haven’t seen any content on the industry, on marketing, or on craft that an experienced author wouldn’t already know or that couldn’t be gained with greater ease from a different source.
- For the experienced but un-established author (like myself) the discussions are–almost without exception–banal and repetitious. Any pleasure I might get from providing good, time-tested advice to a newbie is completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of duff-headed advice from wankers. The networking aspect is the only aspect of true value, but even there the signal to noise ratio is dismal, driving LinkedIn’s usefulness downward.
Overall, it’s a time-suck. Overall, it’s a black hole waiting to draw you over its event horizon.
Overall, it’s wiser to spend the time writing.