Greetings fellow newbs! Liz here again, with a tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek look at life as a professional rookie in the publishing biz. Today, I am going to advise you about how to avoid one of my former Bad Habits—social networking with PMS.
Now, I’m using the phrase “Pre-Menstrual” pretty loosely. Anyone who has had a rash of bad news in a row, or a series of crappy days, or been fired from their day job can relate to this “mood.” It does not require a rush of hormones or even a bottle of wine to trigger it (although combining those things with any of the above-mentioned “life events” does not help, to be certain).
I am also tossing “using email” and “texting” into the “social networking” basket of activity. You’ll see what I mean forthwith.
We’ve all been there. It’s “time to tweet” or whatever you call your regimented, allotted, carefully planned hours spent online promoting your platform and your books. You are scrolling through the timeline or the feed or the Pin board or whatever you use and keep smacking up against all those posts about authors you despise, books you abhor, review sites that ignore you, books that made you want to gag being made into movies, the usual.
The temptation rises, as your gut starts to churn.
Just what do those books have that your backlist doesn’t anyway? Yours are better! All 200 or so of your loyal fans/closest friends say so. Why do those snotty b*tches at XYZ Book Reviews keep rejecting you and going on and on and on about all those crappy books?
Ears burning, you concoct what you consider to be a pithy, pointed, look-how-funny-I-am post or tweet with a clear-only-to-you slap upside the head of said individual or entity. You smile, close your laptop and move on with your day, your preachy point made.
Or, let’s say you are about to compose an email to your BFF excoriating a book or an author or a blogger/reviewer who just ripped you a new one, literarily speaking, in a review or some other posting. In the heat of the hormones/moment/ bottom of the wine bottle you have to find that person’s email so that you can include it in your “poor me help me do something about this” email to your bestie. In the process, you manage to include said meanie-head IN the email because how best to find someone’s email address? Put it in the “to” line and let it autofill.
Well, not to burst your bubble or anything but your “pithy and pointed” is a lot of people’s “bitchy and mean-spirited.” And your failure to think first, email later may just bite you in the butt really hard.
Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t give advice regarding things that I have not personally experienced (read: “screwed up”). I promise you that I have done every possible “wrong thing” on Facebook, twitter and in emails. It stings. But as I always say: you gotta take what you can from every experience both good and rotten, learn and move on.
So a few basic DON’Ts from your pal Liz in reverse order, Dave Letterman style (yes this dates me don’t remind me):
10. Don’t take everything online personally. That person’s success is not your failure. Them gaining new readers is not stealing from you no matter how much alike your books may be. This is a hard concept for those of us with highly competitive natures. But it is a stone cold truth.
9. Don’t speak ill of anyone, ever, for any reason online. Your facebook and twitter personas represent you NOT as “a person” but as “an author.” Piss off current or future readers at your peril. If you must be super-political, consider how you are presenting your argument before you hit post. If you must re-post a meme, think hard about what it says about you as an author asking that people pay you for your books.
8. Reconsider sending any email with anything negative in it. If you must complain, pick up the phone and call someone, complain verbally and pray that that Snowden guy over in Russia isn’t listening and recording. Even if you delete every single email you ever wrote, between screen shots and the ability to rebuild entire hard drives, your emails never (ever) really go away.
7. Use an egg timer, or your smart phone or whatever. If you are ROYALLY PISSED OFF by something an author or reviewer or other individual has said or done to you, set the timer for 10 minutes and do nothing about it during that period. If you are still inclined to rip them to shreds in public (i.e. online or in an email) set the thing for 10 more and then 10 more until you are calm. Then, sleep on it.
6. Don’t respond to negative reviews. Ever.
5. Consider carefully what you say responding to positive ones. You don’t want to come across as sucking up, because most reviewers don’t really value that. My rule? If I come across a review or one is pointed out to me, I will say “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book.” It’s not that I am not so grateful for great reviews that I’m honest-to-gosh willing to come over and clean your house, dear reader/reviewer. It’s just that I have to be careful as “the author” with how desperate for said great reviews I appear to be.
4. Don’t suck up to famous or even semi-famous people on line. This does not mean you can’t follow and comment on their blogs, twitter feeds, facebook posts, Pin boards, Tumblers, and respond to their every single utterance on reddit. It just means, don’t suck up. Those folks put their trousers on one leg at a time, just like you. They might love admirers and fans (and don’t we all) but would really respect and value you (and potentially, someday be willing to assist or advise you) if you keep the squee-ing fan girl at bay and interact with them professionally. That said, the line for sucking up to Liz forms to my left.
3. Do NOT under any circumstances no matter how hard you bite your tongue or sit on both of your hands EVER (ever, ever) mention your own book or review or best seller status or other shiny thing on a chain of posts or tweets about someone else’s book, review or shiny thing. This is called “hijacking.” I have done it a couple of times much to my chagrin and shame. It’s a rookie error. The moment I realized how juvenile it was? When it happened to me on one of my post threads.
2. When offering your congratulations to a fellow author on a best seller notice or award or new contract, or a blogger when they hit 8 zillion likes or whatever, mean it. Or don’t offer it. It’s way too tempting to say “congrats—must be nice,” or “wow, you sure did work for that,” or (funny but entirely not okay) “congratulations. That sure was fast.” Just don’t do it. The implication on the other side of something like that (“…you non-dues-paying hack.”) is just too wide open for interpretation and trust me, you will not come out looking good over it.
Which leads me to the golden rule…
1. If you can’t say anything nice, get the hell off the internet. It’ll still be there tomorrow, when you’re in a better mood. Be nice. It burns more calories.
My latest release is another Kindle World/Love Brothers crossover novella.
LOVE TRIAGE is a hot little number and will only set you back a buck .99!
Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6W7N59
And admire the lovely trailer here: