PSA: Authors, Write Books, Not War

On Facebook this morning, my husband linked to an article at The Daily Dot about the dangers of blogging/posting at work. Before I even clicked the link to read the post, I laughed bitterly and thought, “Yeah, if only my maxim could be that simple.” Because as an author, whether I talk about writing/publishing or not, everything I put on the Internet affects my work. All my words and pictures and links have the potential to affect my sales. My daughter, now making her first forays into social media, has been warned if she wouldn’t be comfortable seeing it on CNN Student News, she shouldn’t post it, but for authors and anyone whose public persona isn’t an outlet but a lifeline to a paycheck needs a tighter mantra. Every tweet, every Facebook post, every chat and private Instagram could elevate our profile, yes—and it could also stake us more thoroughly than any book we’ll ever write. Public posting for authors doesn’t simply risk getting us fired. Every word and pixel we put up for public consumption could tank our careers. And it’s well past time we started behaving that way.

I feel like so many posts I’ve written on my blog are variations on this theme, but this one matters enough to me that I’ll do it again and be more direct than ever. Authors: if you doubt for a second, don’t post on social media, don’t write that blog. If you’re trashing another author—of any caliber, any level of fame, you should not. You should use great caution and care when and if you review. You should be careful when you post tweets, status updates, and photos. You should behave as if every word you say is being heard by everyone in the entirety of the world, and everyone who loves them—but most importantly, you should assume the world is listening. And taking screenshots, and getting popcorn to watch in case you burn.

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Somehow it seems a myth has been started that authors, big or small, are owed something. In the past few weeks I feel like this entitlement keeps coming up in various forms in all genres of publishing, at all levels. Somehow even the most obscure excuse me, who the hell are you? authors have no issue with standing loudly at their pulpit of choice decrying the unfairness of not being chosen for conferences or awards or whatever the hell crawled in front of them that day. Reviews—God help us all, reviews. Authors writing reviews trashing other authors, then acting as if they’re Joan of Arc when everyone turns on them. Authors acting as if every complaint from a reader hurts their poor little feeeeeeelings—which, actually, that happens every day. And it’s why I have my besties on IM and in DM and on speed dial. When a review manages to wound me, I go to a trusted, vetted private source and I snarl and cast aspersions on penis size and sexual prowess and throw enough shade to cast eternal darkness on my enemy’s soul. And then I get over it and move on, the Internet never the wiser. I don’t, ever, broadcast that crap even in a private blog. I sure as hell don’t attack or argue with readers or reviewers. I suck it up. I move on.

Any author reading: you should too.

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Authors, what you are entitled to as a published, paid author is a paycheck for the works you sell. You are entitled to not being plagiarized. You are entitled to a fair market and fair pay. You are entitled to a level playing field. But what you are not entitled to is a special refrigerated train car for your very special snowflake. You are not entitled even to a car or a track to ride on. You are entitled to a chance. Everything beyond this you must earn.

I understand why this is such an unappealing concept, but I suggest anyone who wants to get ten feet in this business learn to swallow fast. Publishing has never been a graceful or kind affair, but right now, at this moment in time, it is nuclear war every single day. There is no safe house. There is no clear path. There is no Way to seek and follow. There is blood, terror, heart-rendering risk, and there is pain and betrayal. Those are your guarantees. Your promises I can make you as one who has been actively watching this stuff go down for almost twenty years and wading neck-deep into it for five.

What I can also promise you is that you will go nowhere without friends and allies, which means every word out of your mouth should be filtered to make sure you avoid making enemies.

I don’t think any author can be immune to hope and wistfulness, castles in the sky we wish to build foundations under—and those dreams are vital. But authors must remember, always, that other people are building foundations too, and if you steal other people’s stuff or hurl rocks at their heads, you will pay. If you build your foundations on the blood of your friends or while sniping and snarling at anyone who dares challenge you, your foundations will fall long before you get anywhere worth getting to. Every tweet you share, every Instagram you post marks your brand. It’s possible that it serves you to be a caustic, rotten asshole as your brand—possible, but even this must be polished and affected. And you’d better pray the risks of that approach pay off, because the odds are never in your favor.

I wish we could make a rule that every author or want-to-be author before they get WiFi access needs to read The Prince, and like license renewal we should ingest it again every so many years. When I first read Machiavelli, I hated him and his jaded view of politics. I still kind of hate him, though now it’s because I think he’s completely and utterly right and I wish he were not. What frustrated me about The Prince in college was this idea that the world was not a good, Disney-like place where nice people prevailed and everything, if we all worked hard and went to church and did good deeds, would be okay. This idea that people have to be calculating and sometimes nasty to get ahead made me sick.

The thing is, it’s true, and as authors? We need to stay well out of it, because no matter what our egos might tell us, we are not princes, not kings, not queens. We are barely courtiers. We are jesters every one. We are bards. We are servants, here at the whim and will of the populace, the public, and sometimes the prince himself. We are ruled by forces greater than we can control. We have moments of power, of fame, but everything we prize may be taken away at any time. Our great fame may be toppled by one ill-timed fall or misspeak. Our work will sometimes disappoint, yes, and sometimes our star will not shine as bright because of something we create, but we’ll be forgiven because everyone wants another tale. We are servants, always, and the princes and courtiers love to be served—but never scolded. The mob, the masses—they love our work, but as Twitter teaches us daily, the mob loves scandal more. It is transfixed by the public display of someone behaving badly, of being publicly burned for daring to step out of line. We may as authors, or even as possessors of souls, dislike this tendency, but we will have more luck attempting to roll back the ocean’s tide than we will quell this part of human nature. And as an author, we are in the worst positions in the world to do so.

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The sense of entitlement luring authors is our trap, because too many of us want to be movie stars. Or twitter stars. Or conference stars. Who of us does not want to be Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood at RT with all the fans and authors weeping like supplicants, so overcome by awe and nostalgia they can barely speak? We all want that, yes, but that adoration is not our birthright. Those ladies bought that status with grace, civility, and politic. They bought it with luck and perseverance and diligence. They did not stab their way to the top. They did not whine and cry their way or seethe about the horrible unfairness of it all. They worked. They behaved. They shone like stars. They earned that reverence.

Somehow though there is this idea that we may be all that by sockpuppet trickery, by flattery and bribes, by stepping on the necks of our fellows, by standing up and demanding we be honored. Somehow there is this idea that we may complain about bad reviews on Facebook—we’re all friends there, after all—and it will not taint us as soft-bellied complainers whose books no one wants to buy anymore. Somehow our personal blogs are an acceptable place to rant about any and everything we dislike in the world—and consumers should ignore the discomfort and dislike they feel in us now and still shop for our books.

I don’t think most people are thinking this deeply or even very shallowly when they post unwise things. Most authors mis-stepping in the social sphere are merely naive and untutored and foolish. The great irony for writers is that as a population we are the wallflowers, the outsiders who observe. The idea that we should also be media moguls is dangerous, and often leads to those melt-down blog posts we flock to like the trainwrecks they are: there but for a well-timed glass of wine and phone call go we all. No one is immune. Authors barely significant enough to float in a puddle drown in the same Twittercycle as decades-established bestsellers who could buy and sell us all on a whim. Sometimes these are momentary lapses in judgment. Sometimes the scandals are legitimate. Sometimes they represent deep philosophical struggles with no real answer.

Bloggers—book bloggers, readers, anyone not an author? They can have these public conversations far more safely. Scandal is lifeblood to bloggers more often than not. Controversy means hits. Negative reviews, even when authors foolishly firestorm, even when readers defy them as is their right (so long as they are not sent by the author), are good for blogs. Authors, you should not go here, and when you are compelled to do so anyway, you must be aware that every single word you say might lose you sales. You may disagree with me. You may burn and learn on your own. I certainly have done so, and many others have before me and many will in days to come. But this is my advice, and it comes from my heart, my soul, my being. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t be negative in public. Don’t snipe. Don’t disparage your fellows. Don’t diva. Don’t demand. Don’t assume. Don’t snarl, just don’t. Because while you think you’re digging yourself or someone else out, more often than not all you’re doing is carving out your grave.

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Traditionally published authors, stop snickering or hating on indie. Indie, stop mocking traditionally pubbed for being codependent. Everyone, stop whining and kvetching about how you’re being held back, about how the system is against you, about how you’re never picked for the ball, about how someone is taking your spot in the show. If you want a spot in the light, earn it. If want to go to the ball, work. If you want to win, play the game. If you want to shine, work on your glow. Be kind or at least gracious to your fellow performers. Remember that you are allowed to perform at all only by the permission and pleasure of your audience. Remember that to create your art you must be vulnerable, which means you will need friends and support more than you’ll need a sharp sword.

Writing is hard. Publishing is harder. It is an arena you enter where the rules change and the efficacy of all your best weapons will abruptly, unfairly cease and you must build new ones while arrows come at your head. It is a world where nothing is real and seldom constant. It is a career where everything you have you will earn, and where gifts and luck and happy accidents, success stumbled upon, can be a greater burden than climbing the ladder. Publishing is a slog, and fame and success are not guaranteed. Never, not one time has waging war, from the mildest whine to the most vicious peer attack, advanced a career. But collectively and singularly, those acts have ended many.

Write books, authors. Write stories. Channel your emotions, your fears, your vulnerabilities into your work. Swallow the hurt and give voice to a song. In your books, which is what you are here for in the first place. Everywhere else? Post about cats and beards and the cupcake you had instead of dinner. Better to be banal than a bitch. Because readers will flock to the cats and the cupcakes and possibly bring you baked goods and collars with your cover art as collars to singings. But they’ll get a front row seat to watch the bitch go down.

Every. Single. Time.

59 Comments on “PSA: Authors, Write Books, Not War”

  1. Excellent post, as always. I really appreciated this comment: “Our work will sometimes disappoint, yes, and sometimes our star will not shine as bright because of something we create, but we’ll be forgiven because everyone wants another tale.” Of course readers would love every book they read to be a masterpiece, especially by authors they adore. Unfortunately, that’s unrealistic. However, it’s not unrealistic to ask people to simply be polite to each other. However, it is unrealistic to think that all of them will. But don’t engage. I will read mediocre books all day long by nice authors, but avoid a masterpiece by an author who has attacked a review or reader. I can’t enjoy a book written by somebody I don’t respect. It takes all of the fun out of it.

    • I think the problem is there is a sidebar issue that sometimes readers and reviewers can be very caustic, more so than is possibly best or productive to culture and society. But for authors to engage in this debate directly is dangerous and has no winning outcome. We can gently redirect our fans if we find out this is being done on our behalf—something I have done. We can say careful, generalized things about constructive conversations and respect. But mostly we most not fly this flag.

      And honestly, mostly we need to come to terms with the ugly truth that the anonymity of the Internet, no matter what safeguards we try to put up, will mean that the nasty side of the mob mentality will always thrive here. At best it can be mitigated, but never by authors.

      • I can certainly understand why authors would get upset with some of the negative reviews out there. But I think most readers, including myself, ignore the theatrics and focus on the issues the reviewer had with the story. If those issues don’t bother me, then I still buy the book. But once an attack comes from the author, that’s an author I will not read. Life’s too short and my TBR mountain is too high.

  2. I’m in complete agreement. I’ve begun so many facebook updates and tweets only to cancel them before I post. It’s easy to forget in this social media age that the internet isn’t a private place even among your friends. I’m just a cover artist, but there have been times when a client has made me mouth-foamingly angry. My first instinct is to turn to facebook to spew my vitriol but the nature of this business means that one unkind word or misunderstood word and I never get another commission. Social media is a wonderful way to interact with people all over the world but if you wouldn’t say it to that person’s face then don’t post it online.

    • See, for you if a reader takes offense it’s no big, but it’s good for you to stay in good standing with authors and publishers…which brings readers in by default. And yeah, really most of this is common courtesy for everyone. But it’s very different when it’s your career on the line every time. I don’t think people really follow through on that cause and effect in their heads.

  3. Heidi, I rarely comment on posts, but in this case I wanted to chime in. I buy books, alot of them. Often. I also tend to use social media in various forms to find out about new books, authors, release dates, etc. But I get very uncomfortable when there are negative things about others, conferences and general anger / bashing of anything or anyone. So when that happens, inevitably I immediately stop following the feed / blog / site, which means I’ll no longer get the purchasing information and will more than like remember the mean things that were said if I see a book come up elsewhere. The flip side of that is I also remember the nice things said, the shares of a book by another author just to help out, or a friendly face that I’ve met at a gathering. I agree with you – readers notice and it does have an affect on my purchasing and my impression of the author.

  4. Reblogged this on Red Hot Romance and commented:
    This is such an amazing article. I have to reblog this because this is so very true. As authors we have to ensure that our readers come first. Not some backwards view on what we should receive.

    I write for my readers. I write because I have a passion to write. I write because I love it. I also am one of those authors that answers every emails from readers personally. I’m easily accessible on Facebook and love talking to readers.

    But that’s me.

    Amazing blog post. Well written and stated and so very, very true.

    Been there. Done that. Got the T-Shirt.

    Thank you Heidi Cullinan for writing this article and sharing it to the world. I know I’m sharing it as well.

  5. This was a fantastic post, Heidi. I’ve seen a couple of really horrible interactions between authors and reviewers/bloggers lately. In this instance, I’m not totally blaming the authors, although yes, sometimes the less said in retaliation the better. But, I honestly think bloggers and reviewers can learn a lot from this post as well. I do blog and I do reviews on a very small scale. I also attempt to write, so I think I can see things from both sides. What I think is important when reviewing and discussing an author’s baby, for that is what it feels like when I write…it’s my baby, is that the reviewer/blogger also keep in mind they need to be respectful of the hard work; the blood, sweat and tears, if you will, of what that author went through to publish that work. So, not only do I think it’s wrong for authors to argue and fight publicly with those who may give them a less than stellar review, I also believe it is wrong for the reviewer/blogger to attack an author’s work. There is a way to give criticism, for lack of a better word, very constructively.

    I guess I want to say be kind when interacting with each other. Somethings cannot erase bad impressions left by words that were spoken harshly. And whether an author, reviewer, or blogger, we all share some responsibility for keeping things civil. Really, people need to think….is lashing out in a fit of pique something anyone wants to be remembered for?

    • I agree that being civil and kind is important, but I think there’s one big misconception in your statement that can (and has recently) lead to a lot of problems- “it is wrong for the reviewer/blogger to attack an author’s work. There is a way to give criticism, for lack of a better word, very constructively.”
      Reviews are not to provide feedback to the author. Reviews are for the reader. It is fair for reviews to be utterly unhelpful for the author- “I didn’t like this book at all. I never want to read it again.” Not at all helpful for the author, but a perfectly valid review. “This book was horribly written with terrible characters.” Also a valid review, and likely even harder for the author to take. But the mindset that a book is your baby or snowflake or whatever needs to die a very fast death if anyone but your best friends are going to be reading it.

      • There’s another whole essay I keep meaning to write about reviews: I firmly believe some of our issues right now is the definition, purpose, and forum for how art is reviewed is altering before our eyes. Here’s an article just yesterday asking if artists and reviewers can be friends: but it largely is referencing traditional paid professional reviews.

        As an author I want all my readers to be able to review on Goodreads and Amazon and everywhere freely. Especially on my books that are overall positively reviewed, there are some seriously angry/hurt reviews—because the reader feels left out of the whole. I want to protect that right.

        For bloggers, though: it depends on their goal. I have a whole review page on my website where I link to reviews. But man, there are a lot of positive reviews I can’t include because I can’t pull a single quote. If the blog doesn’t care, if they don’t want that kind of reflection back from my publisher or authors, that’s fine. But I think this speaks to the changing nature of everything right now: who are we reviewing for? What is the goal? I think there are a lot of answers and sometimes venues aren’t really sure.

        Which really only brings home the point that it would be good for us all to be gentle with each other and have dialog. I think what a lot of authors are (poorly) trying to say is it’s hard for readers to want us to be engaged on social media but then not be hurt when reviews are personally insulting on a seventh-grade level. Now–some readers then say they would rather we go back and write books and leave the public arena. It all keeps cycling back to us being in the Wild West and nobody knows the rules.

        I will always argue, though, that while authors have every right to feel hurt, as the professionals in the room, they should rise above the fray and either turn the other cheek or elevate the discussions productively and with grace and aplomb.

        • I agree, Heidi. The rules are not set in stone, but ultimately the author is the professional in these situations and should behave as such.

          Good post, btw. I thought I said it before but it looks like I didn’t. Sorry about that. 🙂

  6. Heidi, I want to give you a medal and a gold star. YES to all of this. Some writers forget that this isn’t the old days when bad press in the papers blew over in a night. The internet is forever, and social media can keep stories alive forever.

  7. Heidi, great post. Authors are not the only ones in this situation. There are many days when I’m incredibly frustrated by a patient but I would never, NEVER complain about a patient online. Even if you don’t using their names or say anything specific (HIPPA, of course), it is career suicide. No one wants a dentist that complains about her patients. Authors, and ALL professionals, have to realize that the internet isn’t private and everything you say or do online can come back to haunt you.

    • That’s a really good point, Heather. Probably we all could use a refresher. I always wonder if this is something that will someday go away by and large. My daughter is growing up with social media and learning her lessons at twelve. Me, I began learning my online lessons in my late twenties, and social media only in the last eight years. Sometimes I wonder if this is the world changing too fast for us to make social adjustments.

  8. First, jaredrackler, you are not “just” a cover artist. You are a cover artist! You are awesome!

    I wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog post over the weekend about ignoring bad book reviews, essentially saying that authors give away their power when they let the people who leave nasty reviews sap their time and emotional energy. Life is short. Go write your next book.

    But more than that, *this is the job you signed up for.* If you publish a book in the Internet age, you are inviting people to tell you, publicly, what they think of your book. A certain portion of them will hate it and say so in very nasty ways. That is GUARANTEED. It’s part of the job description. Deal with it.

    A work of fiction is a dialogue between the author and the audience. Sometimes, if people give you a bad review, it’s because their end of the conversation sucked. You can’t control that. Conversely, you’ll have readers who bring glorious minds to your work, those whose conversation with your story will transcend what you wrote. Treasure those readers.

    Authors of fiction are sensitive creatures. We have to be, to get inside the skins of our characters. Your customers don’t want to see your crazy. Channel it into your characters, and do like your mama always told you. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

  9. As you said, this has all been said before, but needs to be said again, and again and again, until authors get it. One important point that you got that is often forgotten, is that authors are also seen as responsible for the actions of their fans. That’s not something that can always be controlled, but even an attempt to stop or at least redirect the focus will be noted, and will be appreciated.

    I have been attacked by rapid fans twice- once when I stated in a review that I wouldn’t be buying anything more from an author whose editing standards had plummeted, and a second time when I said that an author’s foray into a new genre didn’t work for me. In the first instance the author did nothing publicly, and in her forum had her assistant say that “some people out there are horrible and have no empathy for personal problems that authors experience”, which led to another round of trash talking. In the second instance, the author commented on twitter that reviews of all types were helping people who would be the right fit for the new book find it, and then discussed her new puppy. All of the fans didn’t go away, but many did. Guess who I’ve continued to buy and support, and who has general goodwill among bloggers and reviews, and who I’ve never touched again, and who’s got a bad reputation and has had problems with other bloggers, including DA?

      • You know, I didn’t realize how badly street-teams were perceived since I started a forum on my website for fans and initially called it that. All I wanted to do was ask longtime fans for help promoting the re-release of their favorite series, mostly with ideas and pull quotes (and they’ve been amazing). But wow, street team is a totally dirty word. So mostly I call it “the forum where we hang out.” Damon Suede calls it the Cull-de-sac, but I ignore him.

        • I quit three Street Teams, when they became a gathering place for “Mean Girls,” and uber competitive. I was there to help promote the author on my own time, and maybe read an ARC or two, but that’s it. When people started calling people out for NOT posting the author’s advertising on their personal Facebook pages, I left.

          I’m all about keeping my volunteer work FUN! When it becomes a “job,” I’m out.

    • Very early on in my publishing career I gave away a book on Goodreads, and the recipient then very openly trashed and mocked it with her friends. In a private (and then small) gay romance book group, I basically was sad about it, and that was all. This was when I learned I can’t ever do that because the whole group, or so it seemed, went and mocked the reader back. While that felt good for my ego, it wasn’t great for my image. I stepped in and mitigated damage as best I could, but mostly I was lucky I learned that lesson on a small scale.

  10. “Better to be banal than a bitch.” Succinctly put, Heidi.

    As reader, but also a small business owner, I troubles me when authors completely disregard the fact that they are small business owners. Their books are their “product,” and they are the creative, production, management and publicity team. Everything they say and do, on Social Media, is publicity for their books. And, yes, there IS such a thing as BAD publicity.

    I saw an author have an epic meltdown on their Facebook page, because someone had the audacity to return a book. GASP. Of course there were the obligatory”you’re right,” “what a terrible person that horrid book returner must be” responses. What was sadly missing, was perspective.

    I may not agree with Amazon’s book return policy, but that is THEIR corporate policy. People who don’t like it, don’t have to sell their products there. All that crazed rant did, was turn me off as a reader. Will I continue to read the author’s work? Probably, but it won’t not be a “must-buy,” “buy-now,” or “must-pre-order” purchase, as it was in the past. I will likely wait for a sale or giveaway to get future books.

    In addition, my interactions with that person have all but stopped. I doubt they noticed, but the rant left a bad impression on me. And, there is NOTHING worse than losing a loyal “customer.” Especially one who likes to make recommendations.

    • In twenty years of battering my head against the publishing industry, I’ve never had any success/advancement complaining about my lot. I’ve only made strides through research, investigation, risk, and hard, hard work. I think a lot of this complaining comes from the mistaken idea that writing a book is easy and good books are always rewarded. Writing a book is difficult and publishing has nothing at all to do with rewarding quality and “good.” That’s a truth no one wants to swallow, because it makes the brass ring so much harder to see, let along claim.

      • Too true. It’s “magic” combination of HARD work, time, talent, and sometimes, dumb luck.

        It takes brass cojones to be an author and I have great respect for folks who do the work.

  11. You are so right. This post illustrates some of the many, many reasons I hold you in such esteem–you get people, you get situations, and you get the point across. You do it in your fiction better than just about anyone, and you do it here on your blog too. Gawd, If I didn’t like you so much, I’d be jealous. 🙂 Thanks for such a wonderful, timely post, Heidi. ❤

  12. Great article Heidi and great advice all around. I’ve unfriended many lately as the political atmosphere gears up. That is my pet peeve. I maintain that no one really cares about author’s political leanings and that an author page isn’t the place for the rants, calling names, etc.

    Negative reviews don’t bother me. If you’ve written more than one word and published it, they happen. I read books and don’t like books all the time. My problem with reviews is when the reviewer tries to assign a reason for the choices made, which they can’t possibly know and for which they are always 100% wrong, or when they get personal. Then I grab the phone for a confab with a bestie.

    Cursing on social media is also something I don’t like. It reflects on the person. While I might curse in private, I’ll never do it in public. Part of putting your best foot (face) forward. My rule of thumb: never put anything up on social media I wouldn’t want my teenage grandson to see or read. That keeps me in line better than anything.

    Hugs, Heidi. Love you!

    • Oh my god. I curse ALL THE TIME. You’ll just have to put out a tip jar for me. Though I admit I cleaned up my sailor-speak in this one because in the past when my essays have gone viral I notice the pingbacks usually have language warnings.

      You’re still gonna have to wash my mouth out, though, Brita. I’m just gonna warn you now.

  13. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I believe that you should publish more on this topic, it may
    not be a taboo subject but typically people don’t discuss these issues.

    To the next! Cheers!!

  14. Pingback: Links: Thursday, March 13th | Love in the Margins

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  16. Reblogged this on bookreviewsbykatblog and commented:
    In the light of the C.J. Cliff War on a the Reviewer Lana, I am sharing this post – Ms Cullian has put it so eloquently I needed to share. I write HONEST Reviews – But I try to ensure that I do not bash the author nor assume that everyone will have the same opinion as I do, I try to impart some balance to my negatives. And in some instances when I realise that the book has nothing wrong other than that it is not for me – I tend to contact the author and say I would rather not give a low review due to it only being so off my sphere of reading genre. the Majority are happy for my review – and they get posted anyway.

  17. Pingback: PSA: Authors- Write Books, Not War | Illuminite Caliginosus

  18. If I blogged about writing, I would reblog this excellent post. Alas, my blog focuses on tips for pet care, humor and Purrseidon, the kitten who loves water.
    I tie some Purrseidon posts to my books, since the series I’m currently working on is from a cat’s POV. Occasionally I’ll announce a new book. but the majority of the time, I stick to info-graphics for pet care: nutrition, training, etc. Thus far, I haven’t had any issues with negativity on FB, etc. However, it is very good to know what other authors deal with and the best way to deal with it, should I begin to be attacked for writing from a cat’s POV – or whatever else someone dislikes.

  19. Wow, this post certainly stimulated a lot of conversations. Good post. I have so much I want to say because this is one of those topics that make me pull out my soapbox and megaphone. But I won’t. 🙂 I enjoyed the post and comments.

  20. I tend to recite Ma’s words from a Little House book when I’m tempted to vent. From memory:

    if Wisdom’s ways you wisely seek
    Five things observe with care
    Of whom you speak
    To whom you speak
    And how, and when, and where

    And to borrow from the Lego Movie, it must be true because it rhymes. 🙂

  21. Wow. Best article on writing I’ve read in a while. Excellent points made; message received. I love the way you phrased your views on the publishing industry and our place in it. There are so many people looking to shine, it’d be pretty hard for us all to be kings and queens, huh? But we are proud courtiers. 🙂

  22. I agree, Heidi. I am an Indie author who is all about building up other Indie authors. I’m also an avid reader/blogger. If I have something “not so positive” I wish to say about a particular book I review, such as grammatical issues I find in the book, I try to do that on a personal level, or at least in a subtle, non-critical way in my review.

    I, along with four other Indie authors, have actually created a new site a few weeks ago specifically for helping Indie authors shine. We are all seasoned authors who personally review the books we vet and list on our site based on literary industry standards as well as our own standards for the site. We hope to become THE next best place for bloggers/readers to find their next great read (with the confidence of not wasting their time and money on a not-so-great literary piece), and a place where authors can receive honest feedback about their work.

    If we deem it unfit for our standards, we decline the title with helpful but professional advice on how to improve it. We also invite the author to resubmit once these changes have been made.

    I’d be happy to share the link with your readers, with your permission, of course.

    Great post!

  23. I get your premise and I get both sides of the argument. But I think this is symptomatic of an even larger problem. And that problem, is pretty much, social media. People have become unhinged as of late and they’ll say anything behind the safety and security of their keyboards. I’ve watched it on both sides. Authors who trash other authors- who’ve become so popular that they’ll start rumors and bash someone. And their loyal readership will form camps and take to social media in some romantic gangwar. And on the flip side I’ve seen readers on places like goodreads eviscerate an author because of some violation of the romance sacred cow. People who’ve established a reputation for being nasty human beings-who’ve achieved some kind of z list celebrity status and then here comes all of their followers. Meanwhile, I’m watching this fallout happen and I’m weeping for the future of humanity.
    But then again, I’ve read books that have caused me to toss them across the room in anger because something inside of the book is extraordinarily offensive. And it’s rooted in perhaps the author not knowing any better in the best case scenario- or knowing better but thinking about book sales and what the ‘community’ demands.
    And I think it all flows back to a sense of entitlement on all sides.
    I’ve said it before in private messages with friends, but I think – culturally- we’ve entered into a neo romantic era. A state of being where nothing is more important than a way a certain thing ‘feels’. It doesn’t’ have to be true. It just has to feel good. For instance, RWA allowed a book about a Nazi captor and a Jewish prisoner to fall in love, come together after the Jewish woman came into her inevitable Christianity, and ran off together. and I remember staring at this thing like, Whisky Tango Foxtrot, over?
    Or, the gay slave master and his slave and their inevitable love….
    and I was like…..please, Jesus, fix this.
    And the heavens opened up and I heard a voice say, “Yeah, I’ve got nothin’.
    And I think this era has allowed us to approach things like this, things we shouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, because this form of erasure – romanticizes a terrible part of our history. I understand the gesture. But at the same time, if it causes someone to glance over those dark parts of humanity and say, well, it’s possible it ALL wasn’t as bad as we think it was.
    We’re wrong.
    So I get the knee jerk wanna grab a pitchfork, the townsfolk, and slay the beast.
    But if someone depicts something in their book that the reader isn’t exactly in tune with and suddenly the pitchforks come out? No. A reader, reviewer, is entitled to read and review, buy or not buy what they want. But the reader is not entitled to the author writing what the reader wants. The customer is not always right.
    And it isn’t fair that authors are afraid to approach subjects or deal with things in a way certain readers may not like, perhaps along the lines of realism, which may bruise their sensibilities, for fear of fallout. But the only way I think this can be addressed, is to write what you write, and shut off the social media. Let the marketplace handle it. And step away. I think often times our over involvement, and the proximity to readers/ reviewers that social media has provided, has made for awkward and sometimes confrontational moments that sends shivers through the industry.

  24. Pingback: PSA: Authors, Write Books, Not War | Enrique Cruz

  25. So, this article seems to have had a resurgence while I was away at a con. There are a lot of comments I’m about to go moderate, and I’ll let them all stand, but my brain is leaking out my ears still from Too Many People, so I have no comments. And if there’s a big argument or something I’ll close comments, because I can’t adjudicate a two-year-old post while trying to write books and handle post-con contacts. But I’m glad this is speaking to people, so if we can all keep playing nice, have at it as long as you like.

  26. Pingback: I Cannot Be Silent: Why Writers Must Oppose Trump | Althea Claire Duffy

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