On Public Book Recommendations

For the last week I’ve been responding to a lot of tweets (on Twitter) about requests for books. Basically, someone tweets the world to ask for a book recommendation and I reply. A lot of authors seem to do this, based on the other replies I’ve seen, and I’ve decided I really don’t think it’s worth my time. Here’s why.

First of all, most of the other authors I see reply to these posts seem to follow a simple pattern:

Tweeter: I just finished my last book. Can someone please recommend a good book for me to read.
Author: @Tweeter read this: www.amazon.com/my.book.bla

Or something along those lines. Well, that was thoughtless and, frankly, a bit rude. I don’t like the bluntness of it, or the self-agrandising. Here was my initial style:

Tweeter: I just finished my last book. Can someone please recommend a good boo for me to read.
Me v1) @Tweeter, what types of books do you like?
Me v2) @Tweeter, what’s your preferred genre(s)?

OK, so this is me trying to be helpful, but I did this maybe 15 times and got 2 replies, neither of them in my genre. How about this:

Tweeter: I just finished my last book. Can someone please recommend a good boo for me to read.
Me v1) @Tweeter, I recommend XXXXX by YYYYY and Equivocal Destines (by me).
Me v2) @Tweeter, This week I’m recommending Equivocal Destines and everything Discworld, because, Terry Pratchett 🙂

I started by looking through (briefly) the person’s profile (tweets and pics) to see if they might actually be interested, then I recommended my book (if I thought they’d be interested) and something else which I also think is excellent. Choice is good, right? The response? A could of “thanks” replies.

Tweeter: I just finished my last book. Can someone please recommend a good boo for me to read.
Me: @Tweeter, This week I’m recommending and everything Discworld .

The same thing, less work for the person asking for the recommendation. The results? A couple of “thanks” replies, lots of Favorites and Retweets, mostly by bots and advertising services.

So what was the actual result of all of this? Well, my book sales and rentals went up precisely 0 – zero – units. My guess is it’s at least as much related to my genre as anything else, but that doesn’t change the result (or lack thereof). Most of the people requesting book recommendations seemed to be interested in historical fiction (whatever that is), biographies and various other genres which are FAAAAAR away from mine. This type of “helping by sharing” might be helpful if you write in one of those genres, but it’s a waste of my time since the recipients seem disinterested in my recommendations. That’s their right, it just means I have to find other ways to be helpful online.

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