I passed a quote recently, along the lines of, ‘if you want to change the world, start with those closest to you.’ That may not have been it exactly, but the message was to not discount small contributions to the improvement of the whole. Think local. Look after your own, etc. Surely, if each of us concentrated on improving the lives and circumstances of those in their own circles some things would improve; maybe not everything, but some things.
Since I spend a lot of time on the periphery of various indie author groups (I don’t currently have a book to promote, so I’m not dug in) I was drawn to consider the implications of the above sentiment to us, the small-time writers. And I found that there is definitely room for it.
You see, I read a ton of indie titles and I always hope the review is appreciated by the author, even though I almost never hear from them. Authors, after all, are warned repeatedly that it’s bad form to contact readers post-review, for fear of being deemed a badly-behaving-author. (It’s a shame too, because I adore meeting new authors.)
What I have made very little effort to do is pay any attention to which books have even the most tenuous connection to myself. I mean, I have 373 Goodreads friends, 1332/1333 Twitter following/followers, Facebook likes, forum connection, blog commenters, etc. There are a lot of ways that I am tied into the digital book world and that means a lot of ways that other authors and I pass each-other by.
So, I decided I wanted to change that. What use are all those connections if everyone ignores them in pursuit of more new connections they can further ignore in search of ever more new connections? It doesn’t matter how high your ‘friend’ count is if you never pay any attention to them or them to you. Social media is a powerful tool, but here it is failing.
I’m taking action, if only in a small way. I spent this afternoon scouring my Goodreads friend list to find out how many of them were authors and of those authors, how many of their books I own. While this was a relatively simple task, it was a bit of an OCD, just keep plodding away at it kind of thing. There were a surprising number. You see, I didn’t even realise that. Fat lot of good all those social connections were doing any of us!
A few of them were sent to me by the authors, but the vast majority I picked up from Amazon or Smashwords, either because I recognised them as being by someone I ‘know’ or by mere coincidence.
Having created a fairly thorough list of friends’ books (barring any unknown pen names and such) I’m challenging myself to read only from it, for the next month. Obviously, I won’t be able to read them all but I bet I can make a dent.
If I’m lucky one or two of them may choose to repay the favour, but that’s really not the point here. The point is that these are people I know, in a remote sort of way, and there isn’t any reason that I shouldn’t give them a little more attention and effort than complete strangers. I’m starting with those closest to me. If others decided to do the same, imagine how we might help each-other.
Here’s the list I’m working from, in case anyone’s curious.