There has been a lot of controversy in the book world for the last week on both Twitter and Instagram. In case you haven’t been following, two authors are being called out for two separate controversies. The first involves author Dean Klein being an absolute monster to a book blogger who was posting a solicited review that swerved toward the negative. The second incident involved author Natasha Tynes shaming a metro employee for eating on the train. Now Tynes’ book deal is being put on hold and Klein’s Goodreads rating has dropped to an abysmal 1.29 average rating.
I am not here to discuss the right and wrong of either situation. What I do want to talk about today is etiquette and consequences. I think one of the rather unintended consequences of putting your book out into the world is the loss of anonymity to many degrees. Often, I encounter the misconception that your personal page does not need to be locked down and private in order for you to keep your personal life out of the limelight. In the age of internet communication it becomes virtually impossible to keep anything private so my first tip to authors is this: if you want personal social media that you don’t need the entire world seeing, lock it down with as many privacy settings as you can. What you say and do can have real world consequences in terms of your career.
Now that we have established that everything you post online has the potential to come out, we should talk about your interactions with fans, reviewers, and others in the general populace. Remember nothing is private. With that said, my advice is: JUST BE A GOOD PERSON. There are going to be bad reviews and people that do not like your work. Learn from it. Don’t be blind to negative feedback because some of the criticism will be invaluable feedback. When you receive negativity, handle it with dignity. Don’t rip apart your critic and tell them they are wrong. AND HEAVEN FORBID don’t stir up trouble just to stir up trouble. Your reviewers are your best marketing tool. Appreciate them.
A note for reviewers: Be valuable and be kind. It is easy to say negative things about a book. It is not easy to say them in a positive constructive way. As a writer, a publisher, and a bookseller I can safely say that constructive negative feedback is valuable whether an author wants to hear it or not. Honesty should be your focus, but not at the cost of tearing the author down.
My last little piece to discuss deals with the selling of your book. I had written previously about selling your book and getting your book in stores here. Many of you writers are natural introverts. The idea of handselling can be terrifying. It is not for everyone, but don’t sit behind your signing table and not take the time to greet people and chat with them about your book and your process. If you choose not to do this, don’t be upset at your hosts if you don’t sell any books. People need to believe in you and your story.
The publishing scene has changed tremendously in the last ten years. It is a wide, new world, and there are positives and negatives to that. What it all boils down to though is be kind and believe in your work. At the end of the day that is all that will really matter.