In my last blog post I talked about the pitfalls of membership in cross-promotional author collectives. This week I’d like to talk about using author groups in a way that won’t bankrupt your integrity.
1. ALWAYS read the free sample of an author’s work before you recommend it.
2. Build relationships with authors whose writing you admire. If there are 300 authors in the group, start sampling the ones who write in a genre you enjoy. If you can’t stop turning pages, tweet it like crazy, offer to read and review their books, invite them to guest post on your blog, then cross your fingers and hope they feel the same about your work. If so, these people will form your core group of supporters. Promote them regularly. Drop their names in forums you belong to, pass them on to bloggers, re-tweet their tweets. Let them know you have their back.
2. Don’t waste your time on authors whose free samples are full of typos, bad grammar, and poor technique. Close the window as fast as you can and move on to the next one. Life is too short to read crap, never mind recommending it to your friends.
3. Although you don’t want to read crap, you do want to support an author with potential. I define potential as my ability to rate sample chapters a solid three stars, which means there’s a lot to like but the author could benefit from some coaching. Always give honest, constructive criticism layered into your appreciation for their strengths. Authors hunger for great reviews but they also appreciate feedback that will make their work better. Don’t be a jackass and trash a book and its rating for trashing’s sake. As an author, if I can’t give a book a solid 3 stars, I don’t review it at all.
4. When a fellow author loves and promotes your book and wants you to reciprocate, read the sample. If you love it or see potential, act accordingly. If you hate it, bow out as tactfully as you can. Staying true to yourself won’t make you wildly popular with some members of your group, but going out of your way to support the work you truly love will gain you a loyal group of colleagues who won’t forget about you after a single tweet, tag, and like.