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N. E. White

How not to be *that* writer

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The other day on my Wordpress blog, I posted about what we moderators do here at Specifically, I wanted to let other folks just like me (new writers) know what they shouldn't do on discussions forums.

Below is an excerpt and below that are my initial thoughts on our new Promotion Zone.

******************************* is a place to read and talk about genre (Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Speculative/Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It) fiction. Many of the moderators, and members, review books, conduct author interviews, and do shout-outs about upcoming books hot in the genre industry.

We also have a discussion forum that's been running for decades. I think it started sometime in the mid or early 90s. Thatís likeÖforever in the land of the interweb.

Anyway, many of the site moderators have been here a very long time and they have seen it all come up in the forums. No matter how clever (not) the disguise, trolls, spammers, and bots are quickly recognized and destroyed by the volunteer moderators who do their best to keep this place clean and on target.

Thereís also something else we regularly have to trash Ė your dreams.

Yes, you, Iím talking to you spanking brand-new, desperate writer.

We know what you have been told. We know that some writer guru has said to visit forums and tell everyone about your new book. We know that they also said to post a snippet of your work and put it up for free. We know they said to use a link back to your book at every opportunity.

We know.

Know this, dear writer, you are not the only one to have just finished your masterpiece. You are not the only one that is desperate for feedback. Your ranks are legion. And, no, you are not special.

But, you say, how do I find readers! I didnít take the time to improve my craft enough to attract an agent! Nor did I build an author platform to launch my self-published career! I canít afford advertisements! Spamming discussion boards is the best way to reach readers!


Here are three simple guidelines to help you, shiny new writer, politely engage potential readers on a forum:

  1. Donít spam the writerís forum of a general fiction forum. Definitely donít spam the reader forums either, but the writerís forum? Why on earth would you do that? Thatís where the writers go. They are just like you. Yes, writers are readers too, but do you think another writer will look kindly at the claim that your vampire/steampunk/young-adult/werewolf story is the next big thing? Just donít spam.
  2. Learn the tools and etiquette for each forum. No two forums are alike. Some allow signatures with links. Some allow you to announce and post just about anything. And others donít. Forums are like communities, each with their own social norms and taboos. is one of those forums that want people to come to the site to, you know, discuss books and stories. But, even here we have tools that authors can use to let potential readers know a bit more about your work. Learn how to use a siteís built-in features to promote yourself. Yes, it takes time, but it can be well worth it if you gain a few dedicated readers who spread the word, rather than spamming hundreds that will ignore you.
  3. If you have just joined this forum, join in on one (or two) of the discussions. Get to know folks, engage them in a conversation or two. Find out what they are about and what their likes and dislikes might be. You might make new friends. Hell, you might even find a few things to read. If folks sense your sincerity and you happen to say something profound or interesting, donít be surprised when they look you up.

This week, the moderators at launched a new section: The Promotion Zone. This is a section on the site that is just for you, new writer. Someplace you can put up a thread introducing yourself and your work. Even though we are offering a spot for you to toot your horn (in a non-spammy sort of way), it doesn't mean folks are going to flock to your site or your sales will soar.

Exposure is good. I think the Promotion Zone is a good place to get a bit more exposure, but the best way to build readership is to produce a quality product and making it as widely available as you can with legitimate vendors (whether that's through traditional publishing or self-published). Word of mouth will do the rest.

Until later, noobie, keep writing and stop spamming.

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  1. MLSawyer's Avatar
    Not even a little spam? Hidden in between two slices of bread?

    Completely agree with what you have written. I think it's like Idol - all the people that get on that show thinking that they are superstars, only be told that they suck (which they do) but sometimes it needs to be said- perhaps not in the way that makes them cry though... But in the end those that have the skill and perseverance will perhaps one day succeed.

    Same with writing, I think some skill needs to be there but a heck of a lot of perseverance, hard work, sweat and tearsÖ and preferably a spam free diet.
  2. N. E. White's Avatar
    Well, if we're talking the real S.P.A.M., Not even the real spam.

    You are right, hard work and perseverance is what it seems to take. That and getting a little lucky. Oh, and that little thing called talent. But you got loads of that. So no worries there.
  3. MLSawyer's Avatar
    I have to admit I took a can of spam camping once... there was plenty of it left afterwards and we had to throw it in the bin as not even the local wild life wanted a bar of it!