Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why Authors Should Strive NOT to be Negative Nancies and Debby Downers

Social media and internet interaction can and will make or break an author. Whether it's another blog or an author's own blog, the author's attitude can either be a positive draw for readers or send them in search of less whiny and less bitter writers. No matter how good the author's books, if a reader reads snarky or critical or woe-is-me driven author's comments, those authors and their writing become less and less appealing.

With minimal searching, you'll find plenty social media cringe moments, and you'll discover glaring examples of oh-my-gosh-she-did-not moments. This is not an author-bashing post. No need, any author that exhibits these behavior handily succeeds at bashing his or her career and writing efforts all on their own.

I've observed these particular actions and have witnessed over the last two or three years the effects certain behaviors have on a writer's potential to draw, maintain, and expand their readership.

Insult your reviewers and readers or present yourself in a negative manner, and it just ain't happening, baby, no matter how many books you write or how many times you recreate yourself with another pseudonym, especially should you continue to exhibit those same off-putting tactics.

Here are a few of the examples of what what not to do:

Use your Former Writer-Based Blog as a Reader's Blog, with your Comments turned off. Why would an author think that walling off their reader access would be welcoming and encourage a connection with said readers? Is it any wonder, an author might ponder, in blog posts, why sales and readership have dropped? Um, well...

Make Comments about Reader Reviews either in Reply to Negative Reviews or Insulting Negative Reviewer on your Author Blog. Although blog posts may even be deleted after the fact,  those that read them while they were on the internet for all to see do not forget. Insulting reviewers and calling them names -- real bright, GE. Fail!

Lament on your Blog about Lack of Sales and Blame Reviewers, Other Writers for their Competition, Timing, Other Author's Successes, etc. As a reader, I am not interested in reading posts where the author whines about lack of sales, poor judgement, other author's successes, blah, blah, blah. Straight up, I'm heading on over to that awful successful author's blog or Amazon author page, if you mention the other author(s), and buy one of their books. Not, um, yours. Great move, Sherlock, for pointing out that your books aren't selling. After all, there must be a reason why, right?

Discuss Personal Issues, such as Hygiene Techniques, etc., when your Writing has NOTHING to do with Any of that Stuff. Share about the Police Procedural class you are taking if you write suspense or the conference having to do with the Thrillers or Suspense. I do not care about or want to hear about what should remain your private quirks or personal grooming habits. I'm interested in your books. (Not to say if you're personal info adds to the interest toward your books. You were a lounge singer, and the book is about a lounge singer framed for murder.) Why waste your time and your readers time with irrelevant silliness?

Use your Blog Posts as an Excuse to Share Foul Language or Gross-Out Factors for Shock Value. You are building your writing persona and this is who the writer part of you is and you'll do whatever the eff you want. Sure. Have at it. No problem here with an F-bomb dropped in an appropriate place or a called for expletive, but if you choose to share all forms of body fluid descriptors, curse words, name calling (Yeah, B--ches!), etc., I suggest you keep it up, just like you can keep your books and your writing. The majority of readers -- and it is a majority of whatever niche your genre falls in that you are trying to reach and connect with -- are not interested in adolescent displays of character flaws and shameless attention getting attempts. Edgy is appropriate and even welcome for some genres; however, the lack of professionalism and out-right rudeness is not. No, thanks, I'll pass on those bleeping books of yours. 

Whine about your Earlier Success not being Your Current Success. Yeah, I want to know that you sold say 7,000 books in a month in 2010, but you are not selling well now. Tell me that, and how you are struggling for an audience now, and I'll rush right over to Amazon and download your most recent book with 1-click. Not.

Act Out Online in a Forum or in Blog Comments and Continue to Rehash the Event on Your Blog. You did something you should not be proud of and that would have bettered your career had it not happened in the first place. If you haven't apologized for perhaps attacking another person (reviewer, author, etc.), then do so, and move on. It was ugliness the first time it happened, and rehashing ugly, as though you're proud of your actions, does not pretty up ugly at all. Do I want to read the writing of someone who would do that in the first place? Er, iffy. Do I want to read the books of someone who won't let it go and brags about it? No, thank you, very much!

Create Controversy in the Name of Being Whoever You Decide Your Current Psuedonym of the Moment Might Be at the Present Time. What a turn off! You insult, argue, snipe at, criticize, etc., and then complain that everyone misunderstands you and that wasn't your intent at all. Perception, it is said, is 99% of reality. Fact is you did act in a manner that was perceived as being negative, and regardless of your over-filtered opinion of your intention, we as readers ain't buying it. Nor your books. 

Attack Other Authors on their Blogs. Writers that are readers as well as readers that are non-writers read author blogs. It's a great way to keep up with what's going on in the writing world, book releases, controversies, etc. Reading your bitter hateful comments encourages me to visit your blog to see who in the world might act that way, then I see self-designed covers that look cartoonish and don't depict the genre. (What the heck are those books about?) Next, just to satisfy my curiosity, I pop over to Amazon and download a sample of your most recent book. Quickly, I discover that you are unable to judge the quality of your own writing and cover design, and I can so see you have reason to be so bitter. Please, accept my apology for my earlier lack of understanding.

Share about your Awesome Sales Numbers then Ask me to Buy Your Books and Memorabilia because the Tax Man has come a-knocking. Um, really? I think I'll belly up the bar and pass.

Release Sub-par Unedited Material and Offer Replacement Copies once your Book has been Edited. Not interested. If I struggled to read your book the first time and your grammar, word usage, punctuation sucked, do you really think I'm going to make another attempt to read your supposed cleaned-up version? Why not do it right the first time and build your reputation as an author, not derail or tear it down? Embarrassing, unprofessional, and not acceptable.

Post Release Dates of Published Books and then Repeatedly Miss those Projected Dates. Missing projected dates can happen, legitimately and infrequently, but if you can't meet your own self-imposed release dates on a consistent basis, perhaps state you have a release coming in the Spring of 2013 or in several months, then surprise us with an early release. Continue to disappoint and your potential releases cease to matter or have relevance. I will no longer look forward to your books or believe you. Yawn.

Note to Self:

These behaviors, actions, and characteristics are negative and a hindrance to a writer's career and a deterrent toward books sales. DO NOT do these things! Focus instead on presenting a positive, professional image that is appealing and interesting to readers in your genre and beyond, while first and foremost, writing good books.

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