The site currently known as Kboards started life as KindleBoards, a website primarily dedicated to talking about that new-fangled reading device, Amazon’s Kindle. Kboards is a booming site for both readers and writers, with over 80,000 registered users and 2.5 million posts. For writers, there’s more to it than just an opportunity to rub elbows with readers. A sub-board of Kboards is The Writer’s Café, which has become one of the go-to places for up-to-the-second information about publishing, with a strong emphasis on independent publishing.
When I started my own publishing journey early in 2012, I had every intention of signing on with an assisted (read: vanity) publisher. Luckily for me, I prefer to act slowly, so I did a fair amount of research before I signed on the dotted line. I found a lot of help right here on Indies Unlimited and the rest of what I needed on Kboards. Finding these websites ended up saving me over $4,000 in publishing my first book alone.
To post and participate on Kboards, you need to register an account and choose a username. I chose to use my own name there, but many writers prefer to be anonymous, choosing names like “Ima Writer” instead of their real name.
So, what is Kboards, and, more specifically, The Writer’s Café? Essentially, it is just a message board, with page after page of topics posted by other writers. It’s like a fast-running river, though, so if a topic doesn’t get any responses (a thread automatically moves to the top of Page One when someone comments on it) it can disappear very quickly. “Popcorn Threads” about controversial subjects can generate hundreds of responses, and stay on Page One for several days.
Here’s what I love about Kboards:
Diversity. There is an incredible range of experiences and expertise to be found in The Writer’s Café. When I was a brand new writer, I was able to interact with Indie superstars like Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, Elle Casey, Russell Blake, Mimi Strong, and many others. There are also writers of every type and genre – including some I didn’t know existed until I started hanging out there.
Vetting. There is no official vetting process for services or websites at Kboards, but many of the regulars love to investigate, and they are incredibly thorough. Occasionally, a scammer with a “new program” will pop up on the site, asking people to give it a try. It is a pleasure to watch them slowly but surely dig their way into an early grave. It’s a great place to announce a legitimate new business aimed at authors, but a horrible place to try to perpetuate a scam.
Helpfulness. Many of the writers who hang out there are incredibly giving of their time. When I was struggling to launch my second book properly, one of the board superstars took me under her wing and gave me great advice. It saved that book for me. There are threads every day where people post their covers, their blurbs, their whole marketing plan, looking for feedback, and they get it. There are threads there every day that make me proud to be an indie.
Moderators. The Writer’s Café is a pretty heavily moderated board, and that’s a very good thing, if you ask me. The mods do a pretty incredible job of giving people freedom of expression while reining in bad behavior. Their work, along with the profanity blocker, makes this site one of the more gentle places on the internet.
Timeliness. It operates in real-time, so when a new wrinkle hits our world, there will be a thread about it almost instantaneously. A major change, like the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, will provoke a feeding frenzy of posts, with speculation that may or may not prove to be correct. It’s a great way to look at things from all angles, though.
Here’s what doesn’t work quite as well:
Anyone can, and does, post advice. As I mentioned, there are a number of superstar indies who share their advice there. There are also people who do not do well at all who also share their advice. I remember a particular poster who gave advice in nearly every thread. Much of it struck me as ill-advised, so I checked them out. Their expertise was teaching others how to sell books, but every book they had published was below a 1,000,000 ranking. Be careful who you take advice from.
The One Star Review Brigade. There is some evidence that some jealous posters will “one star” your books if they don’t agree with what you post, or if they think you are bragging about your sales or reviews. This has caused a lot of posters to post anonymously now and remove their books from their signatures. That’s too bad, because it makes it harder to tell the qualifications someone has for giving advice. I have elected to continue to post under my own name and leave my books in my signature, but I no longer participate in threads that talk about sales or review numbers.
Posters with an axe to grind. There are posters who seem to live to post about a single topic and will post their opinions, not always based in fact, over and over in every thread that deals with that topic. Luckily, Kboards has a great feature where you can block any poster you want and you’ll never know they are posting.
Privacy. There really isn’t any privacy – writers get so comfortable there that they forget it is a public, Google-searchable board and treat it more like a closed group. It’s not. There have been instances where writers have complained about readers or reviewers only to have it show up on someone’s search or news alert and cause a brouhaha.
Like any internet forum, The Writer’s Café has highs and lows. For me, the highs consistently outweigh the lows. There are times when I choose not to post or participate regularly, but I still check in every day to see if there’s anything new in indie publishing that I might have missed.