Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Author Etiquette - Playing Nice in the Author Sandbox

Greetings authors and readers. Welcome to SNSD. What’s my topic? The author sandbox, of course. And why do I use a sandbox? Well let’s see, there’s lots of authors out there, plenty of them just like the picture on the left. Many of them write different things, have varied points of view, and many different methods they use to create things just like those kids. So, that's where my analogy comes from.

However, you may ask, what prompted me to write this blog? Several weeks ago, I got a PM through Facebook where an author who I barely talked to through FB or online period, messaged me about buying her book with the link. Now mind you, I hadn’t talked to this person at all, but yet she pm’s me to buy her book? How infuriating. Why? Well, because messaging me to buy your book is much like spamming. It's like a salesman coming to your door unannounced. I shudder to think that this person has done this to others, especially non-authors. How annoying! *shakes head*

That’s only one example of what not to do to your fellow authors and readers. And don't forget, your fellow authors can also be your readers. So, here’s a small list of things I've heard my fellow authors and readers talk about when they speak of author etiquette.

1.      Be professional: At all times we must maintain a level of professionalism. Now, we all like to let our hair down and get crazy on FB because it’s so easy to say things online behind a keyboard instead of in person. Keep your posts on FB, your emails, and tweets positive. Don’t bitch about other authors, your publishers, editors, cover artists, reviewers and most importantly readers in public. No one likes to be called out on the “stage” so please, if you must rant, do it with your BFF’s and not online.

2.      Treat each other with respect: This goes back to professionalism. We must be respectful of our peers. For example, one of my fellow authors blogged about receiving an email from another writer about the genre she writes and how she couldn’t associate with her anymore because of what she wrote. Really? o.O I mean, what should it matter what that other author thought and why should my friend care what the other thinks of the genre she writes. If you don’t like something another author writes, why tell them? I mean, what is the old adage? If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.

3.      Don’t OVERPROMO: I’m sure this is a tricky one. What exactly is over-promoing? How much is TOO MUCH? I would guess the answer would be to the point of annoyance. I try not to do it. Perhaps once a week in the FB groups, about the books. I share blogs, tweet them, and send out newsletters now quarterly about my work. Those who do it more often is fine with them, but some do it way too much. I’d just say, temper it to where you feel comfortable.

4.      Don’t use someone else’s wall as your personal billboard: An author mentioned this to me. Someone posted an excerpt of their book on the author’s FB wall. *shakes head* Now, that takes some guile. I leave my wall open because I do like when people leave me a pic of a nice looking man, or a message, but when authors put links to their work on my wall, especially when I don't talk with them on the regular, that is an automatic delete and block. 

5.      Share the joy of success with authors: When you get positive news, don’t feel bad about sharing it. And when others have it, make sure you do it too. When they get positive reviews, high rankings on Amazon, best sellers, and or awards, say congrats. I’m sure when people see that congrats, it makes them feel awesome. The world of writing is a lonely business. Apart from close friends or family, FB might be our only other source of interaction. Make it enjoyable.

6.      Pay it Forward: Every author should be willing to do things to make other authors, new and seasoned, feel good about themselves and help out when needed. Do you have expertise in one area that another doesn’t? Help them, share your knowledge. Open the door on your blog if you have one to your fellow authors when they have releases and need to promo. Help with beta reads if you have time, proofing, and when you do that, don’t be nasty about it. Kindly tell the author, no this might not work, try this instead. Be critical, but be respectfully critical.

I’m sure there are other things that we could discuss, but that's the gist of what I've gotten from other authors and readers. I'm no expert, but since the author pool grows by leaps and bounds every single day, we all take note of a lot of things and instead of having the newbies come in with no knowledge, I thought I'd share it. 

As I said, we’re all in this humongous sandbox together. We might as well play nice to make this experience as pleasant as possible for everyone. 


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Sharita - you nailed every point. :)

jean hart stewart said...

Absolutely great post. Wish every author would read it...

Terry Tyler said...

That's a good post. I'll tell you one of the worst things I've heard, as you obviously use FB a lot - a certain writer had been messaging other writers with whom she had no contact at all, asking them to leave her 5* reviews for her book because she's trying to get an agent, and to ask their friends to as well. Maybe you got one of these messages! She didn't offer the book, or even say what it was about - it was clear that she didn't even want them to read it, she just wanted them to post a review. If you want to know which author it was, ask me!!!

S.Lira said...

@Tina Thank you

S.Lira said...

@Jean, thanks so much

<3 And given the latest blow up about Chelsea Cain, this is appropriate

S.Lira said...


Thank is awful. Ridiculous. I wouldn't do that!