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Think Before You Speak

September 19, 2012

I’ve had conversations in the past—and been part of public discussion—about asshole authors. On many occasions, I’ve been asked why it is that, once I see an author behaving badly, I can’t read their books anymore. Shouldn’t I be able to separate the author from the work? And, quite frankly, no. I can’t. An author’s attitude, whether it be a public meltdown or little things that come through either in personal interaction or from public conversations, seriously colors whether or not I can enjoy their work. Once an author has, in no uncertain terms, proved themselves to be jerks, arrogant, or otherwise unpleasant, I stop buying their books. I also tend to lament the money I’ve already spent on them.

I envy people who can divorce themselves from that emotional reaction. I have a list of several authors I simply don’t buy, don’t read, and generally avoid like the plague. Most of those authors were put on that list due to public idiocy, public bad behavior, or private interaction where they showed their true colors because the general reading public wasn’t privy to their behavior. The words from those authors, in those books, become soured to me. I can’t read the work without being constantly reminded that—even if the book is a work of art—the hand that crafted that work of art is an ugly one.

My belief is that I don’t want to reward unpleasant people with my money. I don’t want to add to their sales figures or their positive reviews. I don’t want to encourage them in their work, and so I stop buying, stop reviewing, and stop recommending them. It’s the only thing I, as a reader, can do. I can vote with my wallet. Now, my one sale may mean nothing to these authors, as most of them have swelled heads because they are big fish in a little pond, but—for me—it’s a big deal. It’s my only option to register my dissatisfaction with the author and their behavior.

Authors need to be careful. Readers, especially in this digital age where interaction can be had in the blink of an eye on Twitter, are judging you. They are questioning what you say, how you say it. They look at your politics, your tone, your attitude toward fellow authors and your audience. They hear when you call pirates thieves who deserve to die, and they notice when you snipe about a nasty review as if you are infallible. It is so important to be professional, to be civil, to be polite. But authors who have chips on their shoulders, superiority complexes, and overblown egos (which run rampant in this genre, and I’ve no idea why!) need to know that their behavior does cost them sales, and that readers’ memories are long. At least, this reader’s memory is long, and I know I can’t be the only one. 😉 And the bigger the stink, the more embedded that memory is.

Before you speak, think. Think about your goals. Your career. Your audience. Your public persona. Remember that you’re being judged by those who may buy your books. And then—only then—should you continue with that Tweet or forum message or blog post. Once you’ve said it, you’ve said it. In the day and age of microsecond screen shots and finger wagging bloggers, there is no taking back an ill spoken word. Take care and don’t be an author behaving badly who sours readers on their work.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 19, 2012 2:29 pm

    I remember when an author spewed all sorts of things on Twitter, throwing a complete shit-storm about something. I don’t even remember what it was ABOUT, but I remember thinking ‘Holy shit! How unprofessional!’ You’re definitely right. Readers (and fellow authors) will remember when you pull something like that. It doesn’t matter if you deleted the tweets 15 minutes later. Those who saw it will remember it, if not the issue you retaliated about, then at least they’ll remember their reaction to it.

    I’m in the same camp with you, as usual. Once an author acts that way, it’s very difficult for me to read their work without it being soured. Sometimes, I manage better than others, but for the most part, I have that short list I won’t read because the marketing director in me wants to shake them and tell them they’re doing it wrong. XD

    Good post!

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