Some of you may know I've been off work for a couple of weeks with a busted up leg. I've spent more days than I care to remember lying on the floor of our living room desperately trying to get comfy. Doped up on more painkillers than I can even name I've been unable to focus on reading or writing, but what I have been doing is spending a lot of time tinkering about on the site, watching the awesome The League on Netflix, and farting about on Facebook.
Part of what I've been doing with with the tinkering of the site has been reaching out to other websites, magazines, people on Facebook and other organisations that I thought shared a love of horror, and what I've found has been somewhat saddening and frankly really off putting.
I remember a time not so long ago when everyone in the horror community ( I'm obviously not talking about the big leaguers here) was willing to help each other out. You would see posts about books that folk loved, posts that people actually got involved in a had great discussions. They would share posts, link to websites and holy mother of crap leave comments on websites. There seemed to be a shared sense of belonging, people actually took pleasure is seeing another author succeed. It was a good time. However in the past year or so there has been a slow and insidious decline in this sense of community, and it bothers me.
Before I go any further this isn't about me and the site.
I get over 200,000 visits a month from a very large unique visitor base, and it's growing every month.
My site allows be to see the number of pages visited, how long people spend on the site etc, and it shows that people are reading it.
So this post is not about me.
The site is growing really well yes any help in sharing is greatly appreciated but this post is more about the general malaise in the community.
This is about the people that the site was set up to help those working in the trenches of horror fiction, horror films and horror in general. Please don't take this as bragging or me stroking my ego, I know that when compared to places like Fangoria, Dread Central etc I'm a small fish.
For a start Facebook has become a sea of "look at me posts", the constant feed of "look at my new book" has resulted in zero interaction between authors no one comments anymore. Well when I say no one, what I really mean is no one except the same old faces. I use that term with the utmost sense of endearment. These few seem like the last bastion of the old ways, desperately trying to cling on to the old way of life. And I salute you guys, you ROCK!
I was talking to a few writers yesterday, and we all said the same thing 1000's of followers, fans or friends and it's the same ten or so people liking sharing and commenting. What's everyone else doing? I know Facebook limits the reach of your posts, but not to the extent that less than 1% see the posts. Do the rest of you not care? Are you really too busy to spare a second to hit the share button?
Then there are other websites. I must have put out fifty or so requests for a link swap, most of them to sites that get smaller viewing figures than mine. My reason for this if I can use my sites google standing to help boost that of others then great. More sites getting promoted means more exposure for you guys. And if these sites link back to me then again you guys get more exposure. Do you know how many replies I got 4.
Pretty poor, I think it's all part of the same disease that is plaguing the community.
Things have changed over the past few years, for a start there are hell of lot of you out there writing, and making films. And you are all chasing the magical golden pie, you want your slice, some of want the slice with that extra bit of frosting on top. Fair play to you all, I'm sure being a full time successful writer is your dream job. And therein lies the problem it's a dream job, one that doesn't really exist anymore. You have more chance of winning the lottery than become rich and successful from writing.
There is no pie anymore, there is no slice, christ there are just crumbs now, so stop fighting over the crumbs like a bunch of feral pigeons. The pie is never coming back, but if we work together there just might be a chance of a slice of pie or maybe even a cup cake. (sorry for all the cake references I really just want some cake right now).
There is this misconception that if a reader buys a book from writer X then they won't buy a book from writer Y. Which is utter nonsense, if that reader likes writer X he's going to to read all of their stuff, then look for something else. If they see X on Facebook, Twitter or even X's own website saying they love what Y has just written, then the chances are that reader will go and buy a book from Y. Readers have very little brand loyalty these days, they shop around, they look for recommendations, and most of them know Amazon is worthless when it comes to this. They know any system that allows a reader to leave a one star review for a book just because it took more than a day to arrive in the post is just fucked.
It is almost as though some of you think that your are all competing against each other you're not. Choosing a book isn't like deciding between Heinz Baked Beans and Branston Baked Beans, a consumer will buy more than one "brand of book" (by the way Branston is the best). They go into bookshops to buy one book, and come out with a bagfull of them. And if you embrace the love and become a community member then you might just find yourself in that bag of books.
Word of mouth is the key, you'll sell more books from word of mouth than any amount of spam on social media. I'm not going to go into my thoughts on kindle sales, that's a whole new post, but don't do it, giveaways don't equate to readership.
So come guys lets gets this sense of community back, lets start talking sharing and bigging up those writers that we like.
It's the same for websites, we are just a different breed of writer, there is no exclusive readership, I read and share loads of other sites, I don't care if they are more successful than mine, get more comments than me or more shares on Facebook, all I care about is the genre. So any website owner or blogger out there take your head out your arse and start promoting other sites, it will help you in the long run. There seems to be some hostility among certain website camps out there, and I'll be honest here there was a time where I would go charging in like a rabid pitbull, but those days have gone. I now realise that no one wins in this situation there is never a right or wrong on the internet, there is only ever two lots of people shouting over each other. Just this morning I saw some passive aggressive bullshit that "wouldn't name names" about other websites, on a thread that had nothing to do with it. STOP IT! STOP IT NOW.
If us website owners just stopped acting like babies and got rid of our egos and focused on promoting this genre we all profess to love we might just get genre back on its feet.