How bad author behavior can cost you fans and sales
If you're reading this because of the title, you might be disappointed. No, we don’t have pics of JK Rowling flashing the crowd in NOLA for Mardi Gras beads. Sorry we disappointed you. But if you’re an author or aspiring author who is interested in building AND keeping a fanbase, this might be the article for you.
There are plenty of bad author behaviors that can cost you fans and book sales. If you work really hard at it, you could probably even invent some stuff we never would’ve even considered. (I mean, you’re writers, after all. Creativity is part of the gig.) But in our experience, here are the top bad author behaviors that’ll impact your career in the worst possible ways:
Ever been on Twitter or Facebook and have someone jump into a conversation uninvited to promote their book? That’s called book whacking, and it’s pretty much universally despised. Here are a few examples:
Long-story-short: book whacking doesn’t make anyone want to buy your book. All it succeeds in doing is pissing people off—and in the case of Goodreads forums, it can get you banned from certain groups.
We won’t name names here, but when George Michael tragically passed away, there was an author who immediately jumped on Facebook and posted that she was glad he’d died because she didn’t approve of his lifestyle. Not only is this a huge, disrespectful slap in the face to the man’s family, friends, and legions of grieving fans, it also came back to bite the author in the ass (as karma is want to do) in a big way. Angry folks (people who’d read her books and people who hadn’t) immediately took to Facebook and Twitter and blasted the author, stating that they’d forever boycott her work because of her insensitive, appalling remarks. Many of them also took their anger to Goodreads, where they revenge rated her books as 1-star reads. This is one instance where the author probably should’ve employed the old “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” adage.
The same can be said about bloggers. Even if you’re an author who doesn’t necessarily want blogger assistance in marketing your books, there’s no reason to purposefully offend them. For example, we recently had an author reply to one of our tweets and call bloggers “self-aggrandizing douches.” While we’re sure that there probably are bloggers out there who are self-aggrandizing douches, there are plenty who aren’t. We’d further venture that self-aggrandizing douches can be found in any profession (including among authors). The statement didn’t really offend us (we have a pretty thick skin). But who knows how many other bloggers followed that conversation and decided to actively boycott the author based on his remarks? Again, just like with any normal reader, name calling and unprovoked attacks on bloggers should be avoided.
Self-pity isn’t a good look on anyone. Whining about a lack of book sales or low fan engagement on social media or in Goodreads forums doesn’t help you sell books and it doesn’t help you gain or retain fans. Readers who stumble across those kinds of comments will find them off-putting. Feel free to whine to your family, friends, loved ones, dogs, potted plants...whatever helps. But keep that crap off social media.
Replying to reviews
No matter how temporarily satisfying it would be to savage the one-staring troll who gave your book baby a bad review in a war of words, to do so is an epically bad idea and should be avoided at all costs. Everyone (even the one-staring troll) is entitled to an opinion. Do. Not. Engage.
If you’re lucky enough to receive comments from fans, don’t ignore them. Reply to every single one of them. And don’t use the old “I’m too busy writing to respond to fan comments” excuse. We all know that’s complete bullshit. It only takes a moment to fire off a short email thanking fans and letting them know how much their support means to you. Never forget that without them, you wouldn’t have a career.
Remember that you’re not entitled to ANYTHING. No one owes you reviews or media coverage. No one has to read your book. Don’t demand anything of your readers or berate them for not supporting you or your new release in the way you’d hoped. Be thankful for whatever they’re willing to give you and don’t ask for anything more.
What about all you readers out there? Seen any cringe-worthy examples of authors behaving badly we should know about? (Or do you just want to talk about Captain Hook and/or Darynda Jones? We’re down with that, too.) We’d love to hear from you!