Sunday, March 27, 2011

Discussion Board Posting- Comment and let us know your thoughts!

Discussion Board Posting on Amazon: Is it a Do or Dont?

The purpose of this message is to “enlighten” you on discussion boards (specifically Amazon but it is applicable to others, especially author boards). On the surface, these seem like a good idea and in many cases . . . they are. The problem is, with over 200,000 books published per year in the United States alone, there is intense and often time fierce competition for attention and readers. Unfortunately, though most authors tend to do the right thing, there are plenty that are out to “burn” other authors in an attempt to bolster their own popularity (basically, aggressively eliminate competition).
There have been numerous authors over the last couple of years who have been victims of “cyber bullying” (as well as others). This is when an individual or group of online users utilizes the web to discredit, coerce, harass, threaten, etc another user.
Below is a list of things to keep in mind before engaging in any community when utilizing your true identity:
1.       Do your best to stay with reputable discussion boards, especially.
2.       Avoid revealing too much personal information about yourself. I know it can be easy to let loose some details as you get more heavily involved but being cautious with this group of people that you just don’t know is highly advisable. Cyber bullies have been known to collect as much personal information as possible and remember: “what you say can and will be used against you”.
3.       Avoid political or hot topic discussions such as abortion, religion, racial relations, etc. That is best saved for forums where you are anonymous. These kind of topics garner extremely deep feelings with a number of people and, just as you hear about all of the time, have driven people to be out of character. Stick to the books so to speak.
4.       Be careful about sharing tips and tricks. It is okay to do that somewhat (I do it) but don’t give away any big time connections that you have in a forum. Remember, there is a difference between being collegiate and being taken advantage of.
5.       If things start to get hot, get out! Matter of fact, I would recommend having a separate email address just for this kind of thing. That way, you can always let it go if things get rough.  Also keep in mind that memories are short. If you get out of dodge quick enough, it won’t take long for the bullies to forget you and move on to someone else, minimizing any damage.
6.       Don’t over promote your book. Funny enough, consumers and other authors are finicky. Everyone knows you need to get the word out but there is a fine line between getting the word out and spamming and that line is drawn by the observer so it is difficult to even pinpoint. It’s something that you need to get a feel for.
A little warning about Amazon discussion boards. I have personally known numerous people who have run into trouble on these forums. They get heated pretty easily. Unless a discussion is specifically asking for authors to post books that meet their criteria (and some do), you are probably wasting your time. Optimizing Amazon is specifically about getting your book to pop up organically. Since many discussion boards view promoting your book as spam, you’re better off spending your time elsewhere unless you find one that is specifically looking for books like yours and they are asking for it.
Cyber bullies on Amazon are known to mess with reviews. The problem with Amazon is they tend not to care all that much about lesser known authors. They address paying customer concerns but even if you are a customer, when you approach them as an author, that is what you are and they are not always interested in going out of their way for you. That means that fixing review issues can be a tough gig with them (if someone maliciously posts a negative review, a group of people getting together to vote your reviews as not helpful, etc).
The good news is that Amazon has bots in place that often pick up large scale blitzes and they will remove the damage on their own. They care about their review system since they are famous for it. I know it has been mentioned once, but it bears repeating. If things get too hot in a discussion board, get out! Very little is worth driving up your blood pressure over, especially discussion boards.



  1. I agree with you... sometimes the smartest things to do are... knowing when to debate (only when it's friendly)... and knowing when to stop - and get out.

  2. Thanks for the info...very good advice.