Friday, September 7, 2012

Why Authors Everywhere Need A Wake-Up Call

Hey you. Yes, you, crazy author. Take your fingers away from the keyboard, keep your eyes on the screen, and read these words for the next few minutes. It might just save your career.

If you've been thinking of leaving a nasty reply to someone who left an unkind review about your book, stop.
If you've been contemplating pulling a John Locke and buying 5-star reviews to sell your work, stop.
If you've been hovering over the idea of creating a false account and writing glowing reviews for your own books, and scathing reviews for your competition, seriously, STOP.

Do you have any idea what you're doing by thinking of these things? Even if only thinking about them in theory? I'll tell you what you're doing; you're essentially aiming to ruin whatever reputation you planned on having to your name. You're planning on blacklisting yourself from tons of bloggers who would actually consider you for review, but now won't even give you the time of day because you're what we call a 'badly behaving author'. You're setting yourself on fire, laughing about it, and while you keep inwardly hoping the fire department comes and hoses you down, you secretly know they're never going to come.

Okay, so the last bit was a little on the dramatic side, but it isn't without cause. Authors, have you seen the news lately? Been on Twitter? How about Goodreads, or Facebook? Crawled out from under a rock in the last year? If you have, chances are you know exactly what I'm talking about, or at the very least you know a bit of what I'm talking about. It's called drama, and we're begging you, both well behaving authors and bloggers alike, to quit stirring the damn pot.

Every day now, the writing world doesn't go by without some new article concerning authors and their less-than-tasteful actions. Buying reviews to make themselves look good, instigating fights on social media sites, sock-puppeting to make other authors look bad in your genre. And I'm here to tell you this has got to stop.

Stay with me here, as I'm sure some of you are already rolling your eyes, probably muttering something under your breath and close to clicking out of the page. Because, quite frankly, I've had just about enough of this madness. We're authors, writers of the written word, crafters of worlds beyond imagination, inventors of bright and beautiful characters that speak to the souls of those who pick up our books, thumb through the pages, and find a new home to fall in love with.

Do you know what we are not? Bullies.
Do you know what you are becoming by faking reviews and fighting with readers? A bully.

You, yes you, are destroying the world we love the most. The world where authors and bloggers cross bridges together, make friendships that can last lifetimes, and share this very friendship love with the readers who read bloggers and look up to us authors. This is supposed to be a give-and-give relationship, from all of us. Instead, we show readers a battlefield, a tenuous relationship where bloggers are afraid to review certain ends of the book market for fear of retribution, a place where authors have to cause public fits just to get a reaction of their writing. And it sickens me.

I'm going to share a little secret with you guys. When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer. Shocking, right? Not really. But I'll share something with you that I'm sure all writers can agree with. When I dreamt of being a writer, I never dreamt of being mean to my prospective readers. I never dreamt of having to fake reviews just to sell an extra copy per month. I just wanted to write, find people who liked my writing, and talk to them. That's it. To me, that was success, and to this day it still is. I may not be JK Rowling rich, or heck even John Locke rich, but I'm rich for the connections I've made with bloggers-turned-friends, with fellow authors, and with the very readers I dreamt of sharing my writing with. And no paycheck, no amount of pressure to make myself 'look good' on Amazon with fake reviews, no desire to bash a negative review, will change that. Because I'll never do these things. And neither will any author who values their readerbase, their brand, their own integrity.

So seriously, crazy authors out there, don't do it. Your writing is good enough to sell on its own. Trust me, if you believe in it, so will everyone else.

Besides, lying never gets you anywhere good in life anyway. Want to know how I know that?

I'll share one last secret with you.

When I first began writing on RPG forums, I wasn't very popular. In fact, my characters were kind of hated. Too perfect, too dramatic, too emotional. So one day I made a new character, under a new username and claimed to be a different person entirely. I talked to my too perfect characters under this fake identity, and for a while I thought it was working. But my friends saw right through it. Not only was I laughed at it for it, but it taught me a lesson; don't lie, don't claim to be someone else and think it's okay.

13 comments:

  1. Gracias for this, sonrisa... All Authors should truly take this very seriously... I want a long lasting body of work that is is respected, revered, and sought after for años/years to come... I love great reviews of course, but if I get all great reviews I have nothing to motivate me to keep being creatively the very best writer/poet/author I long to be... Quick deceitful success is short lived and gone tomorrow.... I want success that slowly but surely builds and is built on an honest trust worthy reputation that will endure the test of tiempo/time, sonrisa... God Bless and be well, Native

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  2. Well put! Couldn't agree more. There is room for everyone, no need for the negativity.

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  3. Amen and amen, as they said in the fire-and-brimstone church in which I was raised. Every time a new 'scandal' comes out in FB or Twit-land, I am embarrassed for writers (and readers) everywhere...

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  4. Amen! Fantastic post. I agreed with everything you wrote. :)

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  5. There will always be liars, cheaters and bullies. After this post, maybe there will be one or two fewer.
    Diane M. Haynes

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  6. Other writers are not my competitors. I've never understood the idea of being hostile to other authors. It's not a zero-sum game. If my fellow author succeeds, it will introduce more readers to my genre, and those readers might look for similar books to enjoy once they've finished the one that brought the genre to their attention.

    I suppose it's natural for people to be a little envious of another's success, but in no way does their success limit or preclude yours. We all have a better chance of success if we help and support one another.

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    1. Absolutely. I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling a little envious of another's success. After all, we're all human- jealousy and envy are two natural emotions we play into.

      But does that mean we should be attacking another? Definitely not. The saying, 'there's power in greater numbers' holds weight in this instance. We should be banding together, making friends and smart connections that could one day help another out. We should be engaging bloggers and reviewers, thanking them for their time and reviews. Instead, some in our industry like to play back-stabbers and sabotage others, snarl and snip at readers. It's a shame, really.

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  7. amen, Alivia, amen... without integrity, we are nothing more than chimpanzees who walk upright and wear better clothes.

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  8. Completely agreed! I also find it frustrating now as a new author myself, that I cannot leave an honest review of someone else's book, good or bad, without my motives being called into question. I have a degree in Literature and I suddenly can't be trusted as a reader now that I'm a writer. Ugh!

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  9. Amen! Also, your last paragraph made me laugh - I did RPG forums as well and that was a common trick that everyone could instantly see through. An especially apt example.

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