Well, there are people out there who feel compelled to comment on it. Blog about it. Share their disapproval over it. From what I've seen, it's mostly traditionally published authors with large followings leading the charge to shun anyone who dares post this image.
My official take: Good grief, people get butthurt over the most innocuous things, don't they?
As a general rule, I try to keep the self-promotion down to a dull roar. I have a fanpage for link-sharing, but I admit I have begun to neglect that page due to Facebook's bizarre need to ensure no posts are ever seen by anybody who likes your page. On my personal (yet not very personal) page, I settle for sharing snark, whining-for-the-sake-of-a-laugh, and ranting about random annoyances. That tends to keep people engaged, so stick with what works, right? I see nothing wrong with occasionally asking for a like or posting a reminder that I sure would like to sell a book or two.
Here's the thing: It seems the majority of complaints seem to center on the 'audacity' of authors who might want to encourage a little word-of-mouth. Believe me, I know all too well what it's like to have a self-promotion addict on your feed. And I'm a big fan of being respectful and not overstepping boundaries. A lot of people aren't. But most people are bright enough to know where to draw the line and don't tiptoe past it.
But this image? It's not forcing you into action. It's just there. In one click, you can make it disappear. Nobody is holding a gun to your head, dragging you to Amazon to post a review. Chillax, guys. It'll be okay. Don't cry, chickabees.
What bugs me, when a writer posts disparaging comments about this kind of image, is that people jump on the bandwagon and start throwing around slams at anybody who has ever shared a link to their book. Somehow, it gets twisted around into this assumption that authors expect readers to promote for them and they need to do it themselves, damn it!
It's a harsh reminder that people don't get the writing thing. They don't grasp that royalty checks don't go very far. They don't grasp how hard it is to get a book to stand out from the gazillion other books available for purchase. They don't get that we're all just working schlubs, trying to make it from one tax season to the next.
I probably wouldn't share this image, because I don't like to be pushy. But here's a reason or two why I might feel the urge to share an image like it:
- Sometimes, a royalty check almost covers my electric bill.
- I get to look at a royalty check and then put it aside for taxes. Then, when it's time to pay my taxes, I watch most of my royalties go to the government.
- I had a great sales year in 2012. I bought a camera. Not a car. Not a house. Not a vacation to the Bahamas. A camera.
- I have a day job. I used to have a good paying day job, until the job market imploded. Now, I work retail because that's all I can find. I qualify for food stamps. I don't take them, but I qualify. Selling books keeps me from living in my car.
- Know what my marketing budget is? Well, I have a coffee mug I fill with any spare change I acquire. Right now, I've accumulated about $14.57. So my marketing budget is currently $14.57. Imagine what I could do if I find a quarter in the parking lot!
- On occasion, I splurge on something stupid and self-indulgent. Then I kick myself for it for months on end, because I should have spent it on an advertisement that might result in a book sale or two.
- Sometimes, on hour nine of an endless work shift, I have to avoid curling up in the fetal position and crying, because I know I have to go home and find the mental sharpness to write or edit.
- Jeez, I need a new pair of sneakers. Mine really smell, and the sole is coming off of the right one.
See, we just get a little excited about our stories. We want you to get excited about them, too. It makes our creative little hearts skip a beat when we imagine you calling your best friend up to discuss our books. It makes us giddy when we get a message from a reader who understands exactly what we were trying to convey with a story. We like connecting with readers. We like watching them get excited about our book, a book, any book at all.
Maybe that's part of why the controversy about this silly little image bothers me. There are a lot of readers out there who are voracious in the search for something more to read. The advent of the ebook has really enhanced that desire to share a newly discovered author, or hunt out the work of somebody who sounds like they might be right up your alley. I think poo-pooing this concept holds a level of disregard for those avid readers. I'm a reader, as well as a writer. I have stumbled upon many awesome authors online. When I find a story that I adore, I want to share it. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want a signed copy. I want others to discover the awesomeness, as well, because I want that author to have reason to keep on writing awesome stories. Damn it, I'm going to click that like button.
Reader opinion matters. Reader reviews matter. No matter how much banner space on websites we as authors buy, we will never have a better advertiser than someone armed with a sagging bookshelf and a smoking Kindle. Readers are our walking billboards. We need them and their social network pages. Without them, we're just neurotics without a creative outlet. And that would just be bad for society, don't you think?
On that note, like my page. Buy my books. And for the love of all that is holy, SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!