Here are our top tips for authors who want to avoid Grinch-y acts of literary asshattery and keep their fans, while continuing to gain new ones:
DO NOT ENGAGE
We know this is a tough one. Some jackass—equipped with nothing more than a username and a bad attitude—attacks your book baby on Amazon and/or Goodreads, and you’re expected to do nothing about it? Yep. That’s right. Do. Nothing. Don’t reply. Don’t get defensive. Don’t list out all the inaccuracies (or grammatical errors) in the negative review. Don’t ask your loyal fans to flame the reviewer to avenge your good name. The fact is that every reader is entitled to voice an opinion, even if it’s not an opinion you like. That’s what freedom of speech is all about, baby. No one has to read and take the time to review your book. The fact that someone did so should be celebrated. And if your support of freedom of speech doesn’t extend to letting someone bad-mouth your book baby, consider this before engaging in a flame war with a reviewer or blogger: such behavior can cause people who haven’t even read your book to go out and 1-star your ass in retaliation. Don’t believe us? Check out these examples of author comments on reviews gone horribly, horribly awry:
Long-story-short, if you can’t ignore negative reviews, don’t read them. Like, ever.
No one likes spam
We understand that self-promotion is a necessary evil in the publishing biz. It’s a fact that no one will market your work with as much passion as you can. But there’s a fine line between promotion and spam, and once an author crosses over to the Dark Side, there’s no amount of back-peddling that can win back annoyed readers. Some of the main places you should avoid self-promotion:
Further, while it’s perfectly acceptable to self-promote on Twitter, don’t over promote. As a general rule, self-promotional tweets shouldn’t amount to more than 20% of your total Twitter content.
second coming of Nora Roberts, it is NEVER OK to be a jerk to the readers who make your entire career possible. That kind of bad behavior WILL come back to bite you on the ass. (It’s called karma, folks. Look it up.)
Don’t be rude to bloggers
If a book blogger refuses a proffered ARC, simply move on with your life. Don’t snap back and let the blogger know they’re missing out on the next #1 NYT Bestseller. If you don’t believe this kind of behavior is a bad idea, just ask the Get Off My Lawn Guy.
Don’t ignore the little people
Once you hit all the bestseller lists (because, come on, we know you totally are!), don’t become so busy that you forget the little people (the readers and bloggers) who got you to the top. No matter how busy you get, don’t ignore fan mail. Try to respond to every email and interview request you can, even if it’s a one-line reply. People will appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to acknowledge their messages.
If you can’t say anything nice…
Once you’ve published, if you decide to review the books of other authors, choose your words carefully. We’re not saying you can no longer provide constructive criticism as an author, but think about this: if you slam the work of an author who is less successful than you, you could be seen by your fans as someone who picks on the little guy. And if you slam the work of an author who is more successful than you, it could be seen as sour grapes. Either way, your negative words about someone else’s work could reflect poorly on you. Everyone’s heard the old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” It’s at least worth considering.
This advice applies to bashing someone else’s political and religious views, as well. Keeping a nice, clear separation between church (your personal views) and state (your author persona) will benefit your career in the long run.
What about all of you out there? Seen any examples of authors being Grinches? Why not share with the class? Leave a message below or drop us a line. We love hearing from authors, just not the grinchy ones.