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.
31 thoughts on “Introduction to Kboards”
Sounds a little scary…like Goodreads! LOL. But I will share with other writers who might be interested in joining the forum. Thanks, Shawn!
It’s really not. For the most part, it is a friendly, nurturing environment. My best advice is to tune in and read a few threads before jumping in, and I know you would do fine.
So, Shawn, how much time do you spend there, on average? My time is so limited I’m hesitant to add anything more.
Initially, I spent a ton of time there – like a few hours every day. Now, much of the discussion and advice I see there is stuff I have seen before and I spend probably 20-30 minutes scanning through the topics to see if there’s anything new I should be aware of. Because it is in real time, it is the fastest place to get news as it happens.
I’m LOLing about complaining about reviewers. I’ve had an account a Kboards sincebefore it was Kboards, but primarily only lurk and then just posts/threads I stumble on where one of my sites is linked to it or someone asks me an opinion. But of my handful (maybe two handfuls) of posts, 2 or 3 of them are commenting about comments regarding a review I’ve done. (Luckily, they weren’t anything that was really a problem for either side of the equation.) But from my exposure to it, I agree with everything you’ve said here.
I think the only real danger of Kboards lies in becoming too comfortable in the insular feeling there. Because there are a limited number of posters who post regularly, it starts to feel like a semi-private conversation, which it definitely is not.
I have to LOL a bit, too, Al. When you reviewed my first book, the first thing I did was post how happy I was on Kboards. 🙂 That was the day I felt like I had made it!
I saw that post, too. 🙂
And…. now I am embarrassed.
LOL. Don’t be. 😀
I’ve found Kboards to be a mixed bag. I used to spend a lot of time there, but not as much anymore. It’s a goldmine of information. It’s also nice to have diversity, but sometimes that works against you. Too many opinions can create a murky (or no) consensus.
I also find that there are several members who (because of their anonymity) make claims that can’t be verified. I can’t blame them for staying under the radar, but it also works against them.
Overall, my motto is to stay away from these forums when I should be writing.
One thing I’ve seen this week is that several of the formerly anonymous poster have come out as their real identities, which is a nice, positive trend.
At the same time, your advice about writing instead of surfing is golden. 🙂
Oh! Kboards is a forum? Thanks Shawn. I had heard of Kboards before, but I assumed it was just another website. Now that I know it’s an actual forum I’ll check it out.
Yes, it is. Like any new place, it takes a little getting used to, which is why I advise lurking for a little while before jumping right in. I’ve learned a lot and made some great friends there, though.
I joined Kboards back when I was publishing my first novel, but I was always so overwhelmed by the interface and the firehose of posts that I never really got anything out of it. I have this reaction to most forum setups like this, alas. Absolute Write was another one. They’re just too much for me.
It took me awhile to get comfortable there, as well. Now that I am, though, I will say that it is one of my most valuable assets in my arsenal The nice thing is, you don’t even need to participate to learn a lot there. You can just lurk and pull a lot of information out.
You should share how you did that, Shawn. I found the return on time investment just too high.
No trick, really. Just spending a bunch of time reading virtually every post for a few months. Eventually, I got to the point that I recognized a lot of the same topics coming up again and again and learned that I could skip those. I will say this: when I started I was the newest of the noobs. Soon, I learned how to do just about everything in promoting and building a platform.
Why would we have an article about a forum? A writers’ forum? Forums are filled with catty and clique (y) people. Listing the great things about this one seems equivalent to a church member coming on and telling everybody why their congregation is so great.
I don’t want to be a jerk, but promoting a discussion forum is depressing. Why not post it on a bulletin board announcing rummage sales?
Sorry you didn’t like the post. I wrote it because what I’ve learned there has been a big part of my success. As popular as it is, I knew there were writers who aren’t aware of Kboards and I hoped to give them a chance to find the same great info. Maybe you’ll like my next post better. 🙂
This is where lurking comes in handy. 🙂 I’ve learned a ton the last couple of years from reading discussions on Kboards, KDP, CreateSpace, etc. I don’t actively participate much (unless I think I have some information that might help someone), because I don’t want to draw attention to myself (that’s the real me, not just the online me). But the knowledge gained has definitely made visiting those places worthwhile.
Honestly, I do a lot more lurking than posting any more, although I do chip in occasionally. I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with just hanging out and soaking up the information. Based on some of the info I’ve seen (people viewing the boards vs. people who are actually posting) a lot of people follow this strategy.
Also, writers, don’t think “fellow” writers who feel you have ruffled their feathers won’t run over to your book and *one-star* it out of spite without reading it, and worse, get their buds to join in as well.
Kenyon, I think Shawn warned of that as a possibility in his post, even though I hope that’s a rare occurrence. Still, forewarned is forearmed. I think, as Melinda and Shawn suggested, there’s lots to be gained from lurking on kboards. Just reading the old posts (particularly on a subject you’re curious about) can be incredibly helpful.
Thanks for the post, Shawn. I’m a kboards member and don’t post their that much, but I do enjoy lurking. There is valuable information to be had. And anytime anything wonky is happening with Amazon or another vendor, I like to check kboards to see if it’s a globabl issue (often people will post about it).
I’m also glad you mentioned the one-star thing. While I think it’s more exception than the rule, I think it’s important for people to know that possibility is out there. No one wants to be blindsided by something like that. That said, all the kboarders I’ve interacted with have been fairly helpful.
I’ve participated for more than three years there and never felt that the vengeful one star brigade has ever hit me. I think all my one stars come from people that honestly don’t like my books! However, some of my friends who post regularly over there are convinced it has happened to them.
I joined Kboards forever ago (it might still have been Kindle Boards at the time), but haven’t been back much since. Instead, I rely on people like you, Shawn, to tell me the important stuff. 😀
Seriously, it struck me as a great resource — I just haven’t devoted the time to figuring it all out. Perhaps I will. 🙂
😉 You know I will.
I joined Kindle Boards many moons ago and actually forgot about it. I’ve seen it mentioned here and there, but never went back to see what was going on. If I can find my user ID and password, I may go back and see what I’ve missed out on. Thanks Shawn!
Hi, Greta. Glad to serve as a little reminder. 🙂
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