My do’s and don’t’s

So I’ve got some do’s & dont’s.  These are mine… just mine.  But I wanted to throw them out there.

DO:

  • remember your readers are entitled to an opinion…whether they liked your books or not.
  • remember your readers might not have liked one book… that doesn’t mean they won’t like another book.
  • remember to have a sense of humor.  makes this business a lot easier.
  • remember that book isn’t your baby.  really. and even if you have to think it is?  Well…I’ve got kids, and mine, much as I love them, they have flaws.  So…if you do have to look at your book as your baby, remember it’s probably going to have flaws.  Be prepared to fix them-not defend them to your dying breath.  Your kids deserve that devotion.  The book doesn’t.  Books deserve professional attention, not fire-breathing dragon-mama behavior.
  • remember that your setting a professional image. With every fricking thing you do or tweet or facebook or say or blog.  And it’s really, really easy to say things that can be taken the wrong way… especially online.

DON’T:

  • confuse what you write with who you are.  Writing erotica is all well good and good.  Doesn’t mean everything you say or do has to be related to sex.  Believe it or not, that turns readers and potentials agents and editors off.  Some good advice I heard on twitter?  If you wouldn’t say it a stranger on a bus?  Don’t say it to your readers.
  • expect everybody to love everything you write.  It will not happen.  You cannot please everybody.  Be prepared for that.
  • try to please to everybody.  You’ll wear yourself and just be disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
  • say anything you’re not willing to own.
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GoodReads & Bad Promo… a mini rant

So I’m on GoodReads.  But I don’t do much there-just keep my profile up, approve the friend requests & add in new books I buy when I remember.  If I was any sort of organized, I could probably organize my books, the books I want, the books I’ve read through there a lot better.  That’s a ramble for another today, though. Today isn’t about rambles.  It’s about ranting.

Dear GoodReads Authors:

  • If you are recommending your own books to me, please stop.  It’s annoying.  And no, I’m not the only one who thinks so… ask the readers… they get annoyed, too.  Many of them go and unfriend when happens too often.
  • ©Disney|UP

  • If you are friending me just to pimp your books?  Don’t bother. Because I will not buy you.  There is such a thing as subtly.  Use a dictionary and look it up.
  • If you send me a message asking me to recommend your books to my friends-after all, ‘I’m self-published and I am my own marketing and publicity team’, not only will I not check your book out, your name now goes on my list of authors I’m not very likely to buy… yes, I realize self-pubbed authors have to handle marketing & publicity on their own.  That’s a hard gig.  That’s why I’m not a fan of going that route-it’s too much hard work.  But you signed up for it.  You do that hard work.  Don’t try to enlist me.  And when you try to enlist others, whether readers or authors through such hard-sell tactics, you actually do more harm than good… you might get a few who do that, but true word of mouth does you a lot more good than… “please oh please oh please buy my book’ (That tactic didn’t work for Doug the dog in UP when he was trying to talk the bird into his prisoner.  It’s not going to work for you either.)
  • Stop bleating about how wonderful your books are.  We all want to think our books are awesome.  We really, really do.  But if you can’t actually interact with people withoutsinging your own praises?  You’ve lost people before you’ve really even had a chance to hook them.
  • And if you’re wondering who this is directed to…well, I’m not naming names-that’s not cool, it’s not professional, but for crying out loud, if you’re one of bajillion that keep recommending your own books to me????  Or you friended me just to pimp your books??? Or you’re one of the numerous self-pubbed authors who messaged me thinking you could get me to recommend your books to others???? Yes.  I’m sorry, I don’t want to be harsh, but yep, it’s directed toward you.

Subtly… it can do you a world of good.

And on occasion, so can sending out a good, old-fashioned, smack-them-over-the-message like this.  When you annoy readers, you lose readers.

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Possible new comment policy…

Lately I’m having people leave promotional comments on my blog.

Things like… “Oh, hey…that’s great…now why don’t you come check out my blog and my books.”

FYI.  This is rude.

If you’re a writer, you should be able to figure out a clever way to catch attention, which will then entice people to click on your name.  If you can’t do it that way…well, you’re not going to do it the other way, not on my blog.  Sorry.  It annoys me.

So I’m pondering a new comment policy.  If people leave promotional comments, I think I might reserve the right to edit them as I see fit…things like

“come check out my blog…”

They will become…

“come check out my boogers…”

Childish on my part?  Hey, maybe.  I can own my childishness.  But, you know… it’s kind of childish and unprofessional to spam somebody else’s blog.

Besides, you want attention, otherwise you wouldn’t be leaving promo comments on my blog…and this will get you attention.  Really.  It WILL catch people’s interest.  Except I’ll also remove all links when I do it, so they won’t be clicking right through.

Writers, come on.  Be polite.  Don’t spam other people’s blogs.  It’s rude.

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Courtesy….it does count, and other ramblings

Yesterday, the night before…on twitter, well.  It was interesting.

It started when a guy’s email to an agent went public.  In short…the guy was a jerk.  I’m not linking to it, but basically, the guy received a polite rejection and then responds with a note along the lines of… thanks, you moronic female.  Go back to your second-rate hack writers.  Apparently I’m too brilliant for you to understand.

Insulting in so many ways.

  1. Struck me as chauvinistic.
  2. Insulted every one of the agent’s writers
  3. Um… the arrogance.

How did it go public?  Well, the agent posted it to her blog.

Personally, I have no problems with that part-there was later a haiku contest, and that?  Well, I see no point in it.  Also, tons of people join in on the bandwagon, and knowing human nature, I imagine many of them were doing it in hopes to make their names stand out to the agent.  Eh, that isn’t likely.

So here are some thoughts on this subject and courtesy in general.

A disclaimer though-a lot of people are assuming the writers who are jumping in are doing this to either impress in agent, or just because other writer friends are…I rarely do anything just because other people do it.  Actually, I’m more likely to do the opposite-that’s kind of how I am-I have a contrary nature.  And I’ve got an agent-one I love and adore-I knew I’d love her when I was asking around about her and was told this:  “Well, she’s blunt.”  *G*  That’s how I am.  It was a writer/agent match made in heaven.  As I don’t need an agent, and as I don’t know the agent, or the writer, I don’t really have a pony in this race.  But I don’t need to have a pony in the race to have some thoughts on the subject.

My thoughts….in a random, nonsensical string.

Courtesy counts.  On both sides.

  • This guy received a polite rejection.  There was no reason for him to be an ass.  And he was an ass.  When he got an auto reply,  he was an even bigger ass.
  • This guy, if my research proves correct, isn’t an aspiring writer.  It would appear there is an assumption that he is an aspiring writer, but I think he’s already published.  Aspiring writers are going make more mistakes-that’s how we learn, and even then, really, there’s no reason for rudeness.  The guy’s website?  If that’s him in the pictures?  He’s also not young-as in…he’s not fresh out of high school, still trying to figure things out.  Had he either been younger or an aspiring author, or both…maybe I would have had a different reaction, but I don’t know.  Because regardless, his response was flat out rude and he should have behaved with a little more courtesy.
  • As he is already published, he should know the drill.  If you wanted to be treated with professional courtesy, you have to act with professional courtesy.
  • I have no problem with the guy’s letter being posted on an agent’s blog-it serves as a reminder for one very simple rule:  courtesy counts.
  • Now had it been me?  Would I have posted his letter?  I dunno.  Maybe.  Possibly-I might have closed comments-you can make a point without letting something become a free-for-all.
  • I wouldn’t have done a silly haiki contest-don’t see the point.
  • There is no part of the publishing circle that is unimportant.  This goes from the unpublished writer straight to the reader.  We need all of us-because we were all unpublished at one point.  And without no readers, who would buy our books?  We all matter.  But not one of us matter any more than the other.
  • Writers who think they are the end all, be all of brilliance?  Um… get over yourself.  Really.  Seriously.
  • If you’re inside the business, you will learn/have learned that very often, you get subjected to rude (and often bizarre) behavior.   And sadly…this is not uncommon.  It’s part of the business, so we deal with it.  We all deal with it in different ways.
  • Publishing is not a rainbow world.  There are no unicorns, daisies and ponies awaiting you once you sign a contract.  It’s a tough business and unfortunately you’re going to find many unpleasant people.
  • You will also find some amazing friends…some will be fellow writers.  Some may be your agents, some may your publishers, some may be your editors, some may be your readers.  But go into this world with your eyes open, because it will save you a lot of disappointment.
  • It strikes me that some people see this fiasco as the ‘end’ of this writer’s career-it’s not, not unless he stops writing, and I don’t see that happen.  Now whether or not his career goes anywhere could depend of 1) is he talented 2) is this indicative of his professionalism?  But this isn’t going to put an end to his career-thinking this put a huge black mark against him in the annals of agent history? Eh, agents look for talent and they look for professionalism.  If he has enough talent to catch the eye of an agent, and if he can act professionally, I don’t think that agent isn’t going to care about this.  The internet is a small world, and yes, things live forever on it, but agents are all about business.  If this guy pens a book that an agent sees as the next mega-blockbuster, do you really the agent is smart to walk away from that?
  • Now… I don’t know that I would want to be that agent-actually, I know I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t want to work with him, period, ever, forever and a day, not unless he adjusts his attitude, but  agents do/can/will continue to work with difficult authors.
  • It also strikes me that some people think this guy has become the victim of a bully…like he’s the dorky kid at high school being picked on by the popular kids. I’ve got a different view point~kind of an outsider view point, maybe because I don’t tend to join in on a lot of the discussions, even though I do observe.  What I saw happen was a guy took a potshot at a woman because he didn’t like what she had to tell him.  She swung back…publicly, and man, she had a hell of a right hook.  Now he’s dealing with those consequences.
  • Do not set people in the publishing industry (writers, editors, agents) up on some sort of pedestal.  Don’t.  They are just people, and like all people, they will make mistakes.  When you put people on a pedestal, they are going to fall off, and that leaves you very, very disappointed.
  • Jumping on a bandwagon doesn’t accomplish much.  Following a crowd doesn’t accomplish much.  Human nature, being what it is, I imagine some of the people commenting about the original note were trying to be clever, witty, etc, etc in hopes of catching the agent’s eye and making her remember them.  This agent is hugely popular.  She probably sees this A LOT.  Following the crowd doesn’t make anybody stand out.  Jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t make you stand out.  Me, personally?  The comments I remember the most are the politely-written, dissenting opinions.
  • It is not an easy business, and the writing is actually the easiest part.  If you want to go into it, that’s great…but do it with your eyes open.

Some things that have made me kind of sad…a lot of unpublished writers seem to think that speaking up against what they feel is wrong is automatic black mark against them.   It’s not.  It really, really isn’t.  Standing up for what you feel is wrong isn’t going to ruin your chances at finding an agent.  Trust me.  If you’ve got talent, if you’ve got a strong voice, and if you got a powerful story, that’s what an agent looks for.  They are not going to look back over your blogging history and wonder if you ever stood up against something you felt was wrong.  They may go look at your blog, but if you’ve got an interesting one, a professional presence, that’s probably all that matters.

So.  There ya go.

The vast majority of us do try to be courteous, even when we’re handed the opposite and it happens more often than you would believe. Editors who have to walk around a hotel with their badges flipped around because otherwise they basically get accosted, even in the middle of private conversations, by total strangers who want to pitch ideas.  Authors who have readers come up in the middle of booksignings with a manuscript and want them to read their manuscript-yes, this happens.  I was at a fellow writer’s blog and saw a comment by another writer who was told by an unpublished writer that this writer OWED the unpublished writer-because the writer was published, and the unpublished writer wasn’t.  Agents who can’t have a meal without being approached and having an idea pitched at them.    I had a reader get furious with me because I asked her to please delete a picture she had taken of me with my daughter-she had no right to take a picture of my child, but she was utterly furious when I tried to explain, “Please understand, but I don’t let people take pictures of my kids.”

While a lot of people think the mess with the agent & writer was a horrid awful thing…well, if it served a purpose…if maybe it keeps some other writers from doing that, and they learned a lesson, maybe it’s not a bad thing.

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On author etiquette

I’m on vacation…so while you’re reading this, maybe I’m relaxing.  Will read comments when I get back.

Sleep|See More LOLcats

Sleep|See More LOLcats

So I saw a tweet to this blog post:

Author Etiquette: Should They Respond to All Reviews?

I started to respond there, but figured hey… I always need blog fodder.  So I’ll do it here.

The post stemmed from Malle Vallik’s post @ RTB.

Malle’s tips were:  (as copied from Sarah’s blog)

  1. Respond to people who comment on your blog
  2. Authors should thank all reviewers who review their books, even if review not positive
  3. Comment on several blogs per day
  4. Don’t use commenting as an opportunity to self-promote
  5. Think before publishing comment

These tips can definitely help get your name out.  I do get hits on my blog from comments made elsewhere, and I know from experience how screwing up with tips 4 & 5 can cause all sorts of hell.

But each author is going to have to decide what works for them.

So here’s my rundown/variation of the tips.

Respond to people who comment on your blog

  • I respond to the questions.  I can’t always respond to all comments and many times, if I did, I’d just be repeating myself which is as annoying for readers sometimes as it is for me to do it.
  • Due to my issues with repetitive stress injuries, I don’t spend as much time on my blog, or other blogs.  Decided I had to either do what I can, or stop blogging.  Figured the do-what-I-can route was the better one.

Authors should thank all reviewers who review their books, even if review not positive

  • If I’m made aware of a review, I will thank the reviewer.  But ALL reviewers?  That would require setting up google alerts just to keep on top of them and would become very time consuming.
  • When the reviewer/review site shares the link, I do say thanks, whether the review is good or bad.
  • I can a) get lost in the business of writing b) I can write… c) find the middle ground.  I choose C.  I think I’ve found the right mix for me.

Comment on several blogs per day

  • As I said above, I can either get lost in the business of writing, I can write, or I can find the middle ground.  I think I’ve found it-I do the social thing, but I don’t get lost in it.  That is never good for an author.  It’s amazing how much time can be spent on blogs, and how much more productive that time can be – writing-wise, if you focus on writing.

Don’t use commenting as an opportunity to self-promote

  • Absolutely agree. It’s damned annoying to be involved in a fun discussion, or even just be reading a fun discussion and out pops author Ziora Zobrite from XYUZ Eroticus Publishing to tell you about her wicked, wild and wonderful M/F/M/M romance centered around a centaur, a shapeshifting unicorn, a lost prince and his intended bride.  (And if there is a Ziora, and XYUZ Eroticus publishing with that storyline…my apologies.  And now I’m gonna go buy a lotto ticket because damn, I must be psychic).
  • If somebody mentions your stuff, or asks about something and you can discuss it without making it a memememME post, I wouldn’t much care, but that’s not as easy as one might think…as evidenced by how many authors do it the complete and utter WRONG way.

Think before publishing comment

  • Absolutely agree.
  • I’ve got no problem being honest and expressing my thoughts, but the method of delivery makes all the difference.
  • If your delivery comes off like a bull in a china shop?  You might want to ask yourself what you’re hoping to accomplish.
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It boggles the mind…

How irate some writers get over a negative review.

Authors don’t like negative reviews. It’s not written anywhere that we have to like them.

And likewise, it’s not written anywhere that we should handle a negative review with good grace.

But crying out loud, it oughta be. Other than amusing/irritating/insulting readers and making the author feel better for five seconds, going off the deep end over a negative review changes nothing and makes the author look like an ass.

A reader hated a book. The writer gets insulted and immediately writes a long-winded, condescending reply about the reader’s intelligence, her common sense and her lack of simple human decency (all the while displaying a decided lack of all three) and this does…what, exactly?

Does the reader suddenly love your book?

Are other readers clamoring to get in line and read the book?

Are bestselling authors and aspiring authors suddenly bombarding your inbox with witty repartee and complimenting you on your brilliance and courage for standing up to somebody who dared…gasp…to voice an opinion?

Please.

Reviews are one opinion. Chances are those opinions won’t impact the buying decisions of that many readers. But going after a reader for having a fricking opinion…yeah, that will have an impact, but not the desired one.

Somehow, I don’t think ending up on the never, ever, ever to be bought list was the intended result here.

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The Facts of Life For An Author

A little before us writers hit the ‘puberty’ stage, our teachers take us aside from the non-writers and introduce to the facts of life.

Oh, wait… that’s the birds and the bees talk I’ve been debating about having with the bratlet.

But it’s not a bad idea. Especially when I see long time, very popular talented writers making…. hmmmmm… how to put this politely…I don’t think there is a way. Sadly, some writers are in dangerous need of a brain-to fingertips-to keyboard filter.

There are certain facts of life for a writer and there’s just no way around them.

  • Writers will get bad reviews.
  • Writers cannot please everybody.
  • Writers will on occasion get sucky covers.
  • Writers will on occasion have an editor that either doesn’t care for their writing or doesn’t care for the writer as a person.
  • Writers will get ideas rejected.
  • Writers will get frustrated.

These are just the facts of life. Nothing can change them. The bestsellers have it happen and the new author just starting out will have it happen. Going all Hyde on displeased readers, unimpressed reviewers, editors, etc will not keep it from happening again.

And…if you do it in public…you risk making an ass of yourself. No matter how well you think it’s justified, no matter how much work you put into a book, no matter how nervous you are about the book, no matter what, you run that risk.

Writers want to think that everybody is going to love every single word they’ve written. I’ve said more than once that I’d read a grocery list written by Nora Roberts or PBW-I’d love to think that somebody out there will one day say, I’d read Shiloh Walker’s grocery list, I love her that much, I don’t expect it. I can’t please everybody. No writer can.

What you have to do is write the best book you can…and then let it go at that. If you have unhappy readers, you can either wallow in misery, taking every word to heart and get depressed, you can get offended and totally pissed, or you can analyze what made them unhappy. Is there a reason? Was the book less than your best or did the book just not mesh with the reader’s taste?

If the book wasn’t as good as it could have been, try to fix that on the next story.

If the story just didn’t mesh, you have to just let it go and move on. I speak from experience about this. I get bored easy so I don’t always write the same ‘type’ of story. I don’t want to be just a ‘romantica’ author. I don’t want to be just a ‘paranormal’ author. Yet the readers who started reading me through my erotic romances aren’t always happy when they realize that some of my books aren’t erotic.

I’m fine with that. Yeah, it sucks that they don’t enjoy my writing enough to read everything I’ve written and judge it on it’s own merit, but that’s the way it goes.

Some are a little disappointed when the book they picked up has no paranormal elements. Again, I’d like them to judge the book on it’s own merit and not compare it to what I’ve written in the past and expect the same genre, but the reader is entitled to like what they want to and dislike what they want to.

I’ve had a couple of less than wonderful covers and I’ve had editors that I seriously clashed with. I’ve had lousy reviews and I’ve had reviews who’ve basically said the book wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

But for every negative thing, there’s been five or ten or a hundred positive. When I get negative feedback, I go back, evaluate and see if maybe there was something I could improve on. If there is…then I make an effort to do so. If the negativity comes because the reader just didn’t mesh with the story (ie: they expected erotic romance and it was more mainstream) I’m fine with that. I wrote the story the way it played out in my head, I wrote the best story I could and that’s all I can do.

The very worst thing a writer can do is throw a public hissy fit over these things. Well, unless it’s implying the negativity is part of some huge conspiracy.

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Not gonna happen, is it?

Okay, so apparently some people like shooting themselves in the foot. 

Just a little piece of advice… if you’re an author… don’t go insulting a popular, big selling author online.  It makes you look bad.  Bad in front of industry professionals, bad in front of readers.  Not saying it has to be an author-lovefest out there, but when you are discussing a fellow author, you better remember that readers will be seeing your comments.  If it’s something petty or insulting, you’re not going to impress those readers. 

Plus, it’s unprofessional.  Majorly unprofessional. 

Oye.  Image…it counts, people.  Man, does it count.

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It's never a good idea for an author…

Okay, listen up.

It’s never a good idea for an author or any other publishing professional to try taking on a reader in a public forum.

It is just plain stupid.

I don’t think that the author ought to feel obligated to kiss tail.  Not at all.  Anybody that knows me will probably tell you that I’m more likely to kick somebody in the butt than kiss it…particularly if they make clear that I should kiss butt.

But you can refuse to kiss butt and still be professional. 

Folks, it is just plain dumb to insult a reader.  Period.  The readers are the reason we can sell books.  They don’t buy, we don’t sell, we don’t make money.  Even if you think you’re justified, it’s not a good idea to throw down with a reader.  Because I can guarantee you that there will be readers out there who don’t like how you handled it and they just might decide to … stop buying your books.  I really don’t have to explain why this is a bad idea, do I?

More, it’s been made clear on several industry blogs that editors and agents do read blogs. They see you acting like an ass, you’re probably going to end up on their list of those who aren’t worth the trouble. 

I really, really wish some people would get a clue, get a grip, and shut up.  If you can’t talk without making yourself (and others through association) look like a moron, then just don’t say anything.  Please.  You’re giving the industry a black eye and those of us who have worked our tails off are getting tired of it.

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ABB

Authors Behaving Badly.

You know there’s a problem with there’s actually an acronym for it. I never would have imagined there would such an issue with some authors making an ass of themselves, especially not considering how hard I’ve worked to get where I am and I assume others have as well.

Yet we still have it.  Sadly, it reflects badly not just on the ABB but it tends to cast a dark shadow on others.  Personally, I’m not too concerned about that, because the typical reader seems to realize that one author acting like an ass doesn’t mean others are going to.

But man, some authors are just determined to make fools of themselves.

Some words for the wise… or maybe I should say the unwise. Because the wise don’t make these stupid screw ups.

  1. Do NOT ever ever ever put anything in an email, on a forum, anywhere that you wouldn’t want your readers, a boss, your parents to read.  Nothing is ever 100% private on the web, confidentiality doesn’t exist in email.  Sorry.  It’s just a fact.
  2. If you’re getting ready to go off a rant, you need to take a long, deep breath and think, Would I say this crap to my boss or customers at the day job? If this answer is no, then don’t say it online.  If you’re still inclined, take another deep breath…and don’t let it out until you pass out.  If that sounds harsh, I’m sorry, but it will save you a lot of embarassment, and it could prevent you from putting an ugly stain on your career.  FYI, this is some very tongue in cheek humor and I don’t really want anybody passing out because I said so, but regardless…it’s good advice.
  3. Whatever your rant is, read it through.  PLEASE.  If the entire fricking thing is in all caps, if you’re missing words, mispelling words and basically sounding like a sputtering teen who was just told they couldn’t have that keg party, start over.  Or better yet…refer to advice comment #2.
  4. Remember you are in a profession.  Whether you write full time or just part time, remember it’s a profession.  If you ever want to get to the point to where you write full time, it would be best if you act like a profession-al.  Hey, did you all notice?  Profession-al starts with profession!  Hmmmm…

Now for those who don’t know what I’m going on about, just ignore me.  

UPDATE… *G*  Thanks to Charlene, there will be a follow up post to this on TuesdayWednesday~the writer classification system.

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