The first two weeks of February are #ethicalauthors weeks here at 10 Minute Novelists.
As an author and a reader, I got to thinking about authors who misbehave and how that can affect their readers and how it affects their art and their writing.
Love your reader!
There are lots of ways to love your readers. Write about things you are passionate about. Engage with them. Appreciate them because really, they didn’t have to one-click and buy your book. They didn’t have to give you a five-star review. Always be giving back to them. It’s a lot to keep up with but loving your reader is easy.
There is more to this loving your reader stuff than just the above list. If you love your readers and want love in return, then be an author they can be proud of supporting. There are so many authors I’m proud to support. But several times in the last year or two, I’ve been terribly disappointed in authors I loved. Not because of their opinions on controversial topics, although unless writing about controversial topics is what they do, but it’s usually best to stay away from politics, religion, etc.
How not to love your reader:
Post hateful messages on your social media. Your readers don’t deserve a huffy rant directed at them. For instance, if you become a successful author, you will get a lot of messages and probably a lot of questions. A huffy rant about how busy you are and how you don’t have time to answer questions and people should just look in the FAQ is not loving your reader. It’s not exactly unethical to do this but it’s rude and being rude only ever helped Oscar the Grouch’s career.
There was a pretty infamous situation last year involving an author stalking a troll. I loved her book. Loved it. Sang its praises all over the place, tweeted her, and took a screenshot when she tweeted me back. Then stalker-gate happened. It quickly became difficult to promote said book and said author even though I really loved the book. Don’t put your reader in that position. Yikes. If ever you have an urge to stalk someone over a bad review, get up and back away from the laptop. Go on vacation! You obviously need a break.
Don’t ask your readers to pick sides. Let’s pretend that you are a writer that had a bad experience with a blogger. This can happen and it is best kept out of the spotlight. Definitely don’t tweet about it. Later on, if the blogger has a difficulty, don’t go gloating about it anywhere but to your best friend and maybe not even then. It happens all the time that an author will encourage his/her readers to go after a blogger or reviewer and the reverse is true as well. Do not engage!
In this day and age, selling books has a lot to do with relationships both with potential readers and with other authors. It’s a wonderful and helpful thing to work with other authors and to promote each other. There is a line. Observe the line! If it feels yucky, it probably is.
Self-promotion is tricky. On social media, there is a strong temptation to self-promote a lot. You can even schedule tweets! Many people schedule promotional tweets which is totally fine. But you need to do more than that. While you want to promote yourself and your work, you aren’t creating relationships or loving your readers if it’s all you ever do. Give the poor people a break! Be cute, funny, or charming about two thirds of the time. The other third, you can say “buy my book.” You aren’t going to have any readers who love you if you harass them to death. Except your mom. Does your mom count? No and she’s probably not on social media anyway.
Love your art
Last summer, I met a fellow parent when we set up next to each other on the beach. My mom, of course, told everyone on the beach that I was a writer. Who needs self-promotion when one’s mom is around? My mom is like a one-man street team. Anyway, he was interested because he had an idea for a book. It wasn’t a bad idea, but there was nothing different about his idea. There are probably two hundred books out there with the same premise. His plan was to quit his job as a successful lawyer and be a stay-at-home dad who writes best-selling books. Hahaha! Poor guy. First of all, writing with children around is not what we call easy. It is hard and probably had something to do with the creation of 10 Minute Novelists in the first place. Secondly, that isn’t how it works. If you like to write and your plan is to make a lot of money then take a hundred steps back right into your law office, sit down at your desk, and practice law.
Loving your art means a couple of things. It means love it so much that you do it even though the reality that you will strike it rich and a movie will be made from your book is miniscule. You will get struck by lightning before this happens.
It also means to respect your art and your fellow artists. Many writers go into writing with this mindset: I read this or that crappy book and I know I can write a better book so I will! Listen, reading one book in one genre does not mean that every book in that genre is bad. Twilight is an excellent example. While there were obviously plenty of people who didn’t care for it, there were plenty of people who did. Writing because you think you can do a better job is not a reason to write.
There are authors out there who wrote books that I really did not care for. I’m sure I’m not alone here. Publicly bashing these authors, even if you aren’t a successful author yet and only seven people follow you on Twitter, is not okay. Don’t do it. Love your fellow author because we are all in this together. Superiority complexes won’t get you anywhere. Kindness will get you connections friends who are willing to promote your work.
Love yourself enough to love your brand and to keep it positive. Be the author that other authors want to be friends with. It will only be a benefit to your career.
Happy writing and think before you tweet!
A.E. Snow is a writer, mother, pet wrangler, and lives for books and publishing. She lives in a tiny mountain town with her husband, two children, three cats, a dog, and a partridge in a pear tree. A.E. has been writing since she was six. These days, she writes Young Adult, Chick-lit and Romance. She is proud to be a 10 Minute Novelist. Visit her website for more info about her new releases. www.aesnowauthor.wordpress.com