Things writers should NOT do, part 2

Hi, kids!

So this whole writing thing can bring you down. It can stress you out, maybe make you say stupid things and do even stupider things.

Yes, a lot of this should be obvious. But to some, maybe not.

I blogged about that HERE, with regard to responding to a bad review (hint: DON’T).

And here’s another example of unprofessional and rude behavior. In this case, an author took offense at a forum administrator’s moving of his thread to a more appropriate section of the forum. That forum was the “small press/self-published” thread. The author had a very public meltdown on the forum, then took the nasties to Twitter, where he continued his insults. Read the comments on that blog that documented his behavior/meltdown, because many of those commenters note more of this author’s claims.

Author Chuck Wendig also blogged about this other author’s behavior, here. (NOTE to those with delicate sensibilities: Chuck can be a little profane/irreverent) Read the comments there, too.

It seems that one of the things that the meltdown author was having an issue about was being defined as “self-published.” That’s why his posts were moved to the more appropriate “self-published/small press” thread at the forum. It was an odd thing for him to take exception to, because the name of his publishing company, as posted in his diatribes, was HIS. Since he clearly is a self-published author, his behavior spread a malodorous cloud over other (and probably the vast majority of) indie authors who work hard, put out good products, and interact with their readers and other writers professionally and helpfully.

Granted, the author’s behavior probably did garner him publicity and probably some sales. After all, a man claiming he sells as much as he does and compares himself to big names in his genre is sure to attract some curiosity. People will want to see if he can put his money where his mouth is. But would you really want to sell books like that? Wouldn’t you rather cultivate readers by producing good works and being helpful and approachable? That’s what gets readers on board with you for the long term. And they’ll tell their friends about your work.

Someone amazed at your douchery might be a one-time reader, but is probably going to think of you more as a circus show because of your online antics than a writer whose work they genuinely enjoy and want to follow. You may get him or her to buy one copy of your book, but chances are, that’s the only copy he or she will buy. And they most likely will not tell their friends to support your work.

Remember, as an author, you are a public personage. You will be judged not only on your work, but also based on what you post online, and how you come across.

So, with that in mind:
1) Don’t like a policy on a forum? Politely email the administrator in a private message and ask about the policy. If it’s not to your liking, thank the admin and take your interactions elsewhere, to a forum whose policies you prefer.
2) Don’t air your dirty laundry. That is, don’t publicly post your indignation/pissiness/weird issues online.
3) Stressed out about writing? Cranky about it? Stay away from the interwebs. That’s what I do. Read a book or a magazine or watch something interesting on TV. Go to a movie. Go work out. Something. But don’t put yourself into a situation in which you might have a meltdown or come across as snappish or prickly.

Publishing — whether indie or traditional — is a business. A professional business. You’re working in that business. Why would somebody want to shop at (let alone be a return customer of) the giant store of unprofessional asshattery in writing when they could shop at the approachable, professional, and courteous shop of a writer who subscribes to the “treat others as you would like to be treated” adage?

I tend to prefer the latter.

Happy reading, happy writing.

4 thoughts on “Things writers should NOT do, part 2

  1. Your advice can extend to anyone in the business of entertaining others. The consuming public wants to like you. Be likeable. Your career will last longer.

    • So true. But I wonder if in the writing world, this sort of public persona kind of thing is different in the sense that writing is traditionally a solitary, out-of-the-public eye pursuit. In years past, curmudgeonly and hermit-like authors could be that way; it seemed to add to their mystique and perhaps readers felt they could still sort of “relate” to the author through his or her work and not engage with said author. There was almost an expectation that writers were like monks, and just didn’t engage much. Now, in the age of social media, it seems that more and more, writers are interacting more with people, both online and in person and that there’s a new expectation — writers MUST engage, because so much of the business of writing and promotion now falls on their shoulders. Whereas in the past, it was sort of expected that people involved in movies, TV, or music were always in the public and engaging with the public, that wasn’t so much part of a writer’s life. Books provide a layer of distance from the author. After all, you don’t SEE the writer in images within the pages. Perhaps the ethos of “you’re in public now so stop behaving like an asshat” hasn’t yet permeated the writing and publishing world to the extent that it might have in the other entertainment industries. Must ponder. Thanks.

      • Well said. Twitter might be the worst thing to happen to writers. It’s too easy to react emotionally… and even easier to regret it!

  2. Pingback: More things you shouldn’t do as an author « Andi Marquette

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