Writer’s blog: Stardate: 21.06.2013
It is my policy to comment on all the Amazon comments that my Romney and Marsh Files encourage – the warm, the tepid and the frosty. It wasn’t something that I determined to do from the outset, from the moment I went off the rails (self-published). It just sort of happened. I got a couple of good comments and I thought that it would be polite to say thanks (I was feeling a bit euphoric, naturally).
Of course, when one starts something like that one can start to feel obliged to continue the practice in case one hurts someone’s feelings. Like buying flowers for a spouse, or giving pocket money to offspring it can become a rod for one’s own back. That’s one reason why I do neither.
But to my mind, it has to be done for all the comments – the good, the bad and the fugly. If you ignore a comment that isn’t very complimentary, people would soon probably start thinking of you as some variety of chicken-shit – all right all the time things are going well, sucking up to the five star reviewers, but as soon as someone has a pop you retreat behind the curtain of invisibility that is your ISP number and sulk.
After I’d been commenting on comments for a few weeks, I started to see it as quite a good thing to do. Mostly, they don’t take longer than a text message or a tweet. It’s not a chore. Clearly, hardly anyone reads them – I’ve only had a handful of replies to my comments on comments – but those that noticed them seem to have been pleased at my engagement. And I’ve had some very interesting discussions with a couple of readers that I know led to a revision of the reader’s thinking of me as an author and more importantly of my writing – in a good way.
I still think that it makes sense and I cannot understand why more authors, especially the self-published desperados like me, don’t use the opportunity to engage with readers and, in so doing, demonstrate to other prospective downloaders who might be thinking about taking a chance on one’s books that one is a seriously nice bloke who, although one is obviously a really busy creative type can still find time in one’s cramped schedule to ‘reach out’ to one’s readers. Also, prospective downloaders might be persuaded to take a punt on a book if they see the author as prepared to engage with readers and show some gratitude for their time and trouble and purchase (if relevant).
So this week, I would really like to hear from self-publishers who do or don’t reply to comments and their reasons for their policy. Go on, share. Or are you a chicken-shit?
For those who are interested, I am still working on my two Acer Sansom novels. They are shaping up very nicely and I’m sure that they will be worth the wait.