A Note to Authors: Please Shut Up

We’re in a whole new year now, a few weeks in even and I’ve been reflecting back on 2012 as I meander my way into remembering to put ’13 on anything I write or post. One of the things I’ve been thinking of is that there sure were a lot of ‘author blowups’. Authors freaking out on their blogs. Freaking out on Facebook. Freaking out on websites dedicted to calling out ‘bullies’. Freaking out about reviews, other authors, readers and the list goes on and on and on and on….

Here’s my hope for 2013: Fewer Authors Behaving Badly.

Why? Well, it makes us all look so bad. It alienates our readers when they stumble upon these diatribes. It also makes people less willing to talk about our books. Hell, if I know I’m going to get jumped all over, I don’t want to say anything. And when people don’t talk about our books, for better or worse, those books die on the vine. Especially in today’s world when there are so many more books and so many more ways to find them. Books get lost wayyyy too easily if we don’t allow those who read them to feel about them however they want to feel.

So how do we stop these author blowups?

Authors, you need to shut up.

I know it’s hard when someone is harsh about your book(s). Trust me, I have cried over a review before. It stinks, especially if a reviewer is making their comments a personal attack on your life, your person and your skill, rather than talking about what they liked or didn’t like about the particular book. We put our hearts into this, it’s hard not to take things personally.

But that dosn’t mean we need to put those feelings out in to the universe in the form of blogs, tweets or facebook posts. Talk to your friends, talk to your spouse, talk to your Mom, but don’t respond. You can’t argue how someone FELT about your book. They aren’t wrong. Even if they’re harsh, they’re not wrong. They have a right to feel how they feel, and if they feel it strongly enough, a right to post it on a review or a website.

Not only do they have the right, but we NEED them to do it. You know when people buy a book from an author they haven’t bought before? When people love their book… or when people HATE it. They buy it because they want to see if it’s as good as someone said, or as bad as someone said. Buying our books is what we want. And there will be people who LOVE your book and wonder why anyone hated it, people who bought the book because they heard something harsh about it.

I guess I see it this way: Writing a book is my business. Publishing a book is partly my business. Promoting a book is my business. But how a reader responds to my book after that… it’s none of my business. I can’t write to please them (and I don’t because I’d never catch that dragon’s tail), so I can’t get pissy about it if they do or don’t. At least not in public. 🙂 Maybe at home I’ll complain to the cats.

But please, stop having hissy fits in public. It just doesn’t help anyone.

(Cross posted to my Jess Michaels site).

  • Too bad there isn’t a class to teach writers how to grow thicker skin, particularly in the social media sphere. Being a writer really isn’t that far removed from having a 9-5 day job… you still have to watch what you say because you never know who might be listening, what might get you into hot water.

    I think so many authors who don’t want to be involved in social media have been thrust into it because they feel like they have to have a presence in order to compete with so many others. This unwillingness to be there in the first place can lead to not really understanding how far-reaching a bitch-fest or freak-out might go.

    Or maybe it’s just that mob mentality at work. You get one riled up, and in short working order you’ve got a witch hunt on your hands.

    Having discussions about politics and personal beliefs doesn’t bother me because I feel like authors do have the wiggle room to express their opinions, even if its a “hot” or controversial topic. It’s when those opinions turn into attacks against other authors, readers, reviewers, and even organizations that I feel like a line has been crossed.